Perspective | Oped


THE USE of force and the INDIAN WAY
Shivshankar Menon
e have all heard the statement that "war is diplomacy by other means" attributed to Clausewitz. The actual statement was more nuanced but this will serve for our present purpose. We are also familiar with the corollary that "diplomacy is war by other means". Each contains enough truth to justify the cliché. That truth is that war and diplomacy, military force and international relations, are Siamese twins, joined together at birth for life. 


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October 8, 2011
Delhi’s new role in Kabul
October 7, 2011
Taking on the Congress
October 6, 2011
Pakistan’s positive move
October 5, 2011
Plan panel relents
October 4, 2011
BJP’s power games
October 3, 2011
Myanmar on the cusp of change
October 2, 2011
An uneasy truce
October 1, 2011
Becoming powerless
September 30, 2011




Steve Jobs (1955-2011)
I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever got to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

A poet at heart
BY Harihar Swarup
versatile genius, Kambar (74) has been a prominent scholar, playwright, novelist, composer, folklorist and poet. He is also known to be a good folk singer. Angiyalangi (Shirt over Shirt) produced in 1975 shows a man's disappointment over his wife's ugliness, forcing him to think of marrying again. But once he realises her moral beauty, he drops the idea of a second marriage.



THE USE of force and the INDIAN WAY
Shivshankar Menon

Soldiers from Gurkha rifles in action at a border post on the western front.
Soldiers from Gurkha rifles in action at a border post on the western front.

We have all heard the statement that "war is diplomacy by other means" attributed to Clausewitz. The actual statement was more nuanced but this will serve for our present purpose. We are also familiar with the corollary that "diplomacy is war by other means". Each contains enough truth to justify the cliché. That truth is that war and diplomacy, military force and international relations, are Siamese twins, joined together at birth for life.

Militaries have always provided states with an instrument for effective diplomacy, mainly through the threat of the use of force or, in the case of a militarily weaker state, the ability to withstand military attack or engage in attrition. The actual use of force in most, if not all, cases demonstrates the failure of diplomacy.

The issue is, therefore, not whether militaries and force are important in international relations but how important they are, and their role.

The role of force

Force is an inescapable factor in international relations, whether through its actual use or in the threat of its use. It is much more so in international society than within the nation states in which we have organised our societies. This is because alternative forms of legitimacy are much less developed in international society than in our domestic societies with their complex systems of laws and domestic political legitimacy. International society is only now beginning to arrive at commonly accepted definitions of laws for some activities. Where such laws exist, such as the laws of war or the law of the sea, they are underdeveloped, or not universally accepted, or not always respected in practice.

In other words, while domestic societies have evolved or are evolving towards rule of law, international society is still much closer to primeval anarchy, where to a very great extent "the strong do as they will and the weak do as they must."

The last sixty years have seen a dramatic increase in the frequency of conflict and its intensity, between and within societies. This is a result of new technologies of force and their widespread dissemination. In fact we seem to be entering a phase of increasing militarisation of international relations. Look at recent developments in the Middle East, where conventional air power, covert and Special Forces, and internet social media have been used in new tactical combinations with old fashioned propaganda and international institutions to change regimes and create political outcomes.

Secondly, as technology has developed, newer forms of power also have increasing effect. For instance today cyber actions in virtual space have kinetic effects that were once only possible through the use of traditional military force.

The state no longer has a monopoly of violence, and technology has empowered small groups and individuals to the point where they can pose credible threats to society, if not the state itself. We have only to think of the recent lethality of terrorist groups and their attacks.

Limits on use of force

Paradoxically, though military force is the ultimate and preponderant sanction in international society, and its use is more widespread than ever, it is less and less the preferred option. This is due to the paradox of conflict. The higher the effect of force, the less likely it is to be used. If the emergence of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction changed international relations fundamentally, they also highlighted the use of force for deterrence rather than as an actual sanction, as a means of influencing an adversary's behaviour through the threat of force rather than its application.

Today there are limits to the utility of force in international relations. As Sun Tzu said two millennia ago: "To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting". (Sun Tzu: Art of War III.2.).

Order, justice and resolution are the normally desired outcomes of any conflict. Force has a pivotal role in restoring order. But it can do very little on its own in ensuring justice and a final resolution of the causes of conflict.

Other limits come from recent factors such as technologies and their widespread dissemination.

Taken as a whole, the experience of using military force against terrorism and extremism since September 11, 2001 reveals these limits under today's conditions. In many cases the strategic outcomes created by the post 9/11 use of force have been the opposite of those originally intended.

And in today's situation, in a world of weapons of mass destruction, it becomes essential that the basically anarchic practice of international relations with the powerful calling the shots be regulated or moderated. This could be achieved by evolving new norms of international behaviour and by democratising international governance and its mechanisms. In fact such a process is now a compelling necessity. As experiences of 9/11, Iraq and Afghanistan show, a different approach to international relations is long overdue. As power is more and more diffused internationally, this different approach to international relations will become all the more necessary.

The Role of Military

These developments make it necessary to re-examine the role and utility of the conventional military as traditionally configured and organised. What is the conventional military's relevance when the spectrum of conflict is wider than ever before and when force is widely held and used in international society outside the military?

It can be argued that as traditionally configured, the militaries of most powers are irrelevant to large portions of today's broader spectrum of conflict. The traditional military is no longer the sole or major instrument to deal with the wider spectrum of conflict, a spectrum that is wider than ever before in history, in new domains like cyberspace and outer space and extending to the economy, society and social and political psychology.

Cyberspace as a domain is an example where rigid hierarchies and structures go against the nature of the domain and the technology itself, which is best handled by small groups or individuals, often acting on their own. We have shown the capacity to adapt to such challenges before. For instance, every democracy that has a developed Special Forces capability has kept it outside the traditional military command structure and uses it to activate the sub-conventional spectrum of conflict.

The expanded spectrum requires that we seek jointedness, that much used but less practiced word, not just between services but with the other instruments of state power. Today's spectrum requires a holistic integration of all the instruments of state power, the armed forces, the intelligence agencies, our scientific and technological resources, soft power instruments and others.

In other words we need much closer coordination between civil and military power. In my experience. even minor actions by the military have foreign policy consequences. The military is therefore both an important adjunct and component of diplomacy.

There is also a need to restructure militaries to learn the lessons of a decade or more of counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism. While different doctrines and theories have been applied in the last decade, their results in practice can at best be described as mixed. In fact some of the best results are those that we have developed from our own experience in India in dealing with insurgency and cross-border infiltration and terrorism.

Militaries today are faced with a choice: they can stick to what they know and do best, at the risk of reduced relevance. Or else they can reorder themselves to deal with the new challenges that face us, rethinking doctrines and practices from the tactical to the operational to the strategic and even the grand strategic level.

At this stage, I can imagine some of you thinking that this is all very well in theory but what about the use of the military in diplomacy. Should India not be doing much more military diplomacy, particularly when armed forces play such an important role in the internal politics of countries in our neighbourhood? Of course we must, and we do so where we can. The Indian armed forces' increasing contacts with the world have been a very useful adjunct to our diplomacy and have brought our armed forces, and by extension the country, respect for professionalism and competence.

But we must also remember that when the military is in power in a country, as it has been for an extended period in some of our neighbours, they behave as politicians do, with their primary purpose changing to staying in power. Secondly, if they respond to your diplomatic approaches it is because of what you represent, the strength and capacity of your country, not individual brilliance or attractiveness or professional fellow feeling. When you speak for a strong, prosperous and united India you will be listened to and are effective, in or out of uniform.

The Indian Experience

Is there an Indian doctrine for the use of force in statecraft? This is not a question that one normally expects to ask about a power that is a declared nuclear weapon state with the world's second largest standing army. But India achieved independence in a unique manner; through a freedom movement dedicated to truth and non-violence, and has displayed both ambiguity and opposition to classical power politics. In the circumstances posing the question is understandable and legitimate.

While India may have achieved independence after a non-violent struggle, it was a struggle that Gandhiji described as non-violence of the strong. As far back as 1928 Gandhiji wrote, "If there was a national government, whilst I should not take any direct part in any war, I can conceive of occasions when it would be my duty to vote for the military training of those who wish to take it.... It is not possible to make a person or society non-violent by compulsion."

Faced with the tribal raiders sent by Pakistan into Kashmir in October 1947, Gandhiji said that it was right for the Union Government to save the fair city by rushing troops to Srinagar. He added that he would rather that the defenders be wiped out to the last man in clearing Kashmir's soil of the raiders rather 
than submit.

In saying so, Gandhiji was entirely in keeping with a long Indian tradition which has regarded the use of force as legitimate in certain circumstances, namely, if there is no alternative way of securing justice. This is in essence a doctrine for the defensive use of force, when all other avenues are exhausted.

The lesson that comes through very clearly in both the major Indian epics, which deal with wars of necessity, is also apparent in Kautilya, the original realist, and in Ashoka, the convert to idealism. Ashoka and Kautilya were both products of a highly evolved and intricate tradition of statecraft which must have preceded them for centuries. A simple reading of the Arthashastra suffices to prove how in Indian strategic culture, as early as the third century before Christ, the use of force was limited both by practical and moral considerations.

In the Indian tradition the use of force is legitimate not just if it is in a good cause and its results will be good. Instead, this was a doctrine that saw force as necessary in certain circumstances, to obtain justice, when all other means are exhausted, and which also recognised that force was not always the most effective or efficient means to this end.

The other lesson that Indian thinkers have consistently drawn from history is of the perils of weakness. The colonial narrative of India's history, stressing "outside" invasions and rulers had as its corollary the conviction that India must avoid weakness at all costs lest that history be repeated.

India as a Nuclear State

This strategic culture is also reflected in the Indian nuclear doctrine, with its emphasis on minimal deterrence, no first use, and its direct linkage to nuclear disarmament. We have made it clear that while we need nuclear weapons for our own security, it is our goal to work for a world free of nuclear weapons. We are ready to undertake the necessary obligations to achieve that goal in a time-bound programme agreed to and implemented by all nuclear weapon and other states.

In sum, there is an Indian way, an Indian view and an Indian practice in the use and role of force.

How do we apply this approach in today's complicated situation of multiple threats, rapid shifts in the balance of power and growing Indian interests abroad? We are now in a world where the geopolitical centre of gravity is shifting to Asia and its surrounding oceans. In Asia itself, several strategic rivalries contribute to uncertainty. We are in the midst of a global shift in the balance of power and in a time of great change, far from the certainties of the Cold War or other eras. And the global power shift has immediate consequences in our immediate vicinity.

In grand strategic terms the primary purpose of Indian military power remains the defence of India's territorial integrity (on land, sea, air and in space), and to prepare for the threats of war that exist. This task on the Asian landmass does not change.

We should now also be leveraging our geopolitical potential to develop our maritime capabilities, fulfilling our responsibilities and contributing to maritime security in the Indian Ocean littoral, critical as this is to our ability to transform India and ensure her security.


The role of militaries in international relations will continue to be influenced by the changing character of the threats that we face, but the essential role of the military to protect and further a country's interests is likely to endure, even as the means adopted to apply or threaten force continue to evolve.

India as a society and nation has by and large made wise choices in the past on matters relating to the use of force, showing strategic restraint and realism. We have contributed force to internationally legitimate uses such as UN peacekeeping, while limiting its domestic deployment. Today we are in a position to make a greater contribution to global public goods in areas such as maritime security.

At the same time we are moving towards an Indian doctrine for the use of force, though this is a work in progress.

Excerpts from the Cariappa Memorial Lecture delivered in New Delhi by the National Security Adviser



Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever got to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.


I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out, they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out, I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

Love & loss

I was lucky - I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents' garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation - the Macintosh - a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started ? Well, as Apple grew, we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologise for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me - I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the world's first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

Destiny & death

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumour on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.



A poet at heart
BY Harihar Swarup

"If you ask me, which is my best work, I would say none of my work has given me complete satisfaction. That is the reason why I have been able to write for the last four decades. I can only express myself through my writings", says Bharatiya Jnanpith Awardee Chandrasekhar Kambar.

A versatile genius, Kambar (74) has been a prominent scholar, playwright, novelist, composer, folklorist and poet. He is also known to be a good folk singer. Angiyalangi (Shirt over Shirt) produced in 1975 shows a man's disappointment over his wife's ugliness, forcing him to think of marrying again. But once he realises her moral beauty, he drops the idea of a second marriage.

In his lengthy narrative poem Helaatena Kela( Listen, I will tell you) in the early 1960s, Kambar introduced some of the recurring themes which he would often return to in his later works. Themes of tradition and modernity, crises of feudalism, native identities, colonialism, march of history, sea, loss of faith, the death of God and several related themes explored in his plays, novels and poetry.

He also directed films, notably Kadu Kudre ( Wild Horse) in 1978. Some of his early short plays like Norcissus were staged in 1972 and Chelesha (Man with Spectacles) were staged in 1975.

Born in Ghodageru village in Belgavi district of Karnataka, Kambar was the third son in the family. From an early age he was interested in folk arts, local culture and ritual. His favorite Kannada writers include Kumara Vyas, Basavanna and Gopal Krishna Adiga and among the Engish writers are W B Yeast and Shakespeare.

Owing to poverty, he was forced to drop out of school but Jagadguru Siddaram Swami of Savalagi Math blessed him and took care of all his primary and and high school expenses. After his post graduation, he went on to secure his Ph.D from Karnataka University, Dharwar.

After a brief stint at the University of Chicago, he taught at Bangalore University for over two decades and was a Fulbright scholar. He served as the chairman of National School of Drama, New Delhi from 1996 to 2000 and as President of Karnataka Natak Acakemy from 1980 to 1983.

Kambar is also the founder Vice-Chancellor of the Kannada University, Hampi. The university is said to bear his stamp as even the buildings , constructed according to his vision, reflected the style in vogue in the Vijaynagar empire. His grand vision of Kannada literature and Karnataka culture is also reflected in the architecture, choice of the courses and subjects, selection of the faculty and the activities.

He is a strong votary for imparting school education through Kannada language as the medium of instruction. Only the mother tongue, he says, can ensure an experience while learning through other languages only gives people information.

Many of Kambar's works have been translated into English and several Indian languages.

As many as seven Kannada literateurs before Kambar have been the recipients of the Jnanpith Award and Kambar is a worthy torch-bearer of that tradition. Endowed with an impish sense of humour, the writer is known to speak his mind. He once suggested, with tongue-in-cheek, that there should be a cultural exchange between the literateurs and politicians. The versatile man of letters values criticism but is firmly of the opinion that criticism must always be positive.



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