by Kingston Reif
Published in the Washington Times, May 29, 2008
James T. Hackett’s column on India’s strategic posture suffers from two major problems (“India’s missile power lifts off,” Commentary, May 22). First, emphasizing the threat to India posed by China obscures the fact that China is set to overtake the United States as India’s largest bilateral trade partner. Moreover, China and India recently announced that New Delhi plans to host a second round of joint military exercises with Beijing this year.
Though India understandably is taking the necessary precautions to prepare itself for any contingency, growing economic and military ties will do more than ballistic missiles to reduce the likelihood of war between India and China.
Second, while effective Indian missile defenses could in theory limit the damage caused by a missile attack against India, they would not bolster deterrence because India already has the ability to target China and Pakistan with its ballistic missiles.
Though the benefits of Indian missile defenses would be minimal at best, the costs could be grave. Indian missile defenses could cause China and Pakistan to reassess the viability of their credible minimum deterrents, thereby exacerbating an already existing arms race in the region.