The India–Pakistan conflict in light of general theories of war, rivalry, and deterrence

John A. Vasquez

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines the India–Pakistan conflict in light of international relations theory. What can some of these theories tell us about the causes of the conflict, why the conflict goes to war, why it persists, and whether nuclear weapons will increase or decrease the probability of war? Two major theories will be the focus of the analysis: the steps to war explanation and classical deterrence theory, with an emphasis on the former. The chapter will begin with an overview of the steps to war explanation. It will then review some of the research on that explanation. Next, this explanation will be utilized to see how it can explain the India–Pakistan conflict and what new insights it might offer. Then, deterrence theory will be reviewed and criticized in light of the steps to war explanation. Lastly, the possibility of deterrence failure in the India–Pakistan conflict will be discussed. The steps to war explanation attempts to make sense of a welter of empirical findings on war by thinking about what these findings tell us about the foreign policy behavior between two or more states that makes them go to war. Since I have presented this explanation both in detailed and summary form, I will give only a brief overview here.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe India-Pakistan Conflict
Subtitle of host publicationAn Enduring Rivalry
EditorsT V Paul
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9780511616112
ISBN (Print)9780521855198
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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