After the Cold War, the language of nuclear strategy has become an over-stretched jargon of confusio . This is a dangerous trend and will have damaging effects on the nuclear discourse. Nuclear strategy is one that has never been tested but is evolving. It meanders unchartered in the conflict zone of South Asia through logic, reasoning and most dangerously, biased end-means relationships. The spirit of nuclear deterrence is suffering the same fate as Karl Von Clausewitz’ Copernican Revolution. To understand this argument, readers need to understand Clausewitz, the prophet of peace and not war.

In war colleges and universities world over, ‘War an Instrument of Policy’ is the most romanced, flirted and oft quoted concept of Clausewitz. In the past century, this quotation has been misused to justify violence, aggression, militarism, wars, revolutions, internal instability and camouflaged personal ambitions. Due to a crude mixture of hate, historical predispositions, biases and distortions created by translators, Clausewitz came to be seen as a devil’s disciple, a blood-thirsty villain and, in the words of Liddell Hart, the ‘Mahdi of Mass’. Ambitious statesmen and generals were quick to grasp his concepts to justify violence. In a matrix of illogical ends-means relationship, nations plunged into needless bloodshed and prolonged misery. USA twice bombed Japan and General Douglas McArthur advocated bombing Manchuria. Jehuda Lothar Wallach sums up this distortion as: “many people who have never read a single word of Von Clausewitz’ teachings, recite and quote without hesitation the passage ‘war is merely the continuation of policy by other means’. But only a few know that with this statement, they have embarked upon a controversial subject, which constitutes the principal part of Clausewitz’ whole theory.”

According to Michael Handel, “Clausewitz’ greatest contribution to the study of war and his Copernican Revolution was his emphasis on the centrality of politics in war previously seen as an exclusive and discreet activity by generals.” In a nutshell, the ultimate objective of all conflicts was peace. It may surprise many, but total war was ruled out by Clausewitz. The entire concept of war as an instrument of policy was based on the dissuasive use of limited conflicts to give peace the primacy in tandem with statecraft.

After the Cold War, the interpretations of nuclear strategy have passed on from Bernard Brodie, Lawrence Freedman, Peter Paret, Ken Booth and Thomas Schelling to research organisations and individuals in the same league as Liddle Hart and Marshal Foch. The debate of Cold War that excluded India now includes India expected to replicate the role of USSR to Pakistan’s stability.

The recent flurry of articles in newspapers in Washington Post and US research organisations is a reflection of similar distortions that Clausewitz’ treatise on war went through. Many organisations, funded for specific political purposes have launched a one-sided propaganda on Pakistan’s nuclear policy from multiple directions. Yet they have chosen to ignore two fundamental determinants i.e. bad political governance and India, the precursor to nuclear arms race in South Asia. Rather they show affinity for both.

The near completion of Zarb-e-Azb, the final counter terrorism operation in Pakistan manifesting the capabilities of law enforcement and intelligence agencies is diabolical to the political governance marred by inefficiency, corruption and Panama Papers. Yet the target of vilification remains the vastly organized and efficient armed forces. Despite the fatal trajectory of bad governance they themselves asses, they back civil supremacy through individuals who are part and not solution to the governance issues. This means what I have maintained for over two decades, instability of Pakistan is an important policy goal.

Conspicuously, similar alarms are not raised about India’s advancement in defensive shields and intercontinental capabilities. In fact USA has a treaty with India, nuclear supplier’s group trades with them while Israel and Russia are assisting India in surveillance, early warning and integrated defensive shields to enhance their second and residual strike capabilities. Permitting India such posturing in a volatile region with the hope that civilian supremacy alternated by instability will provide a pretext to rid Pakistan of nukes is like pinning hopes on a calculus whose entire determinants are variable. This is a very dangerous nuclear chess game driven by global agendas.

A recent joint report by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center has been blown out of proportion.  It is no coincidence that it coincided with the issue of F-16s and President Obama’s prediction of instability in Pakistan. The report concludes that Pakistan is rapidly expanding its nuclear capabilities in fear of its arch-rival, India. Amazingly Michael Kreppn views India’s nuclear capability “as a political tool, a prestige item, not something you use on a battlefield,” Krepon alleges that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are seen as “things you have to be willing to use” to guarantee stability. In the context of primacy of politics in warfare, this argument is flawed. It is the worst kind of neo-realism with the prejudice against Pakistan.  Neo-Clausewitzians if ever, existed in USA.

First, nuclear weapons like the military instrument are an extension of politics. The nuclear policy reflects the policy of a country framed at the highest levels. In Pakistan the nuclear body is headed by the Prime Minister. The security of the country against all forms of threat is reflected in the Constitution, National Security, Foreign and Defence Policies. Pakistan’s nuclear policy is about dissuasion and minimum parity, not annihilation of any country. Pakistan wants peaceful resolution of all crises with India as mandated by numerous UNSC Resolutions, international arbitration and a nuclear free South Asia. Do not caste Pakistanis as trigger happy Neo Clausewitzians.

Secondly, this study like many others does not raise a whimper when India embarks on raising the ante of tensions in the region and upgrades its capabilities to a higher level. The flux thus generated warrants a counter flux.  In his comments Krepon chooses to ignore that the calculus of a Deterrence Regime also includes defensive measures like missile defence and second strike capabilities. When India displays capabilities of space launched vehicles, high altitude bombers and missile defence shields around its vulnerable points, it provokes Pakistan to a higher level of nuclear arms race. The flawed logic also ignores India’s undetermined capacity and capability in the thorium route, a subject that shall never be refuted.

 The writer is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a political economist.