Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Escalation Control, Deterrence Diplomacy and America's Role in South Asia's Nuclear Crises

Chakma, Bhumitra


Dr Bhumitra Chakma
Senior Lecturer, Director of the South Asia Project and Director of Postgraduate Studies (Research and Taught Programmes)


This article assesses the significance of American diplomatic intervention in the de-escalation of two South Asian nuclear crises - the 1999 Kargil conflict and the 2001-2002 military stand-off. The American role in those crises is often referred to as crisis manager or secondary in the context of the region's strategic and crisis stability. A careful analysis of American diplomatic interventions, however, reveals that the role is much greater, conceptualized here as deterrence diplomacy, meaning intense, focused diplomatic activity specifically to forestall crisis escalation and the outbreak of large-scale Indo-Pakistani war. More than is commonly realized, the United States was integral in the crisis strategies of both countries. It played a pivotal role preventing crisis escalation and the outbreak of large-scale conflict between India and Pakistan in both confrontations. And the American role was instrumental in the termination of those confrontations, particularly the Kargil conflict. Without America's effective deterrence diplomacy, any of the past South Asian crises could have escalated to the nuclear level. No global generalization can be made from this analysis because it is mostly South Asia specific. However, it is plausible to argue that the United States, as the key systemic power, will have an important role in future regional deterrence.


Chakma, B. (2012). Escalation Control, Deterrence Diplomacy and America's Role in South Asia's Nuclear Crises. Contemporary Security Policy, 33(3), 554-576.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Dec 10, 2012
Publication Date Dec 1, 2012
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal Contemporary Security Policy
Print ISSN 1352-3260
Electronic ISSN 1743-8764
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 33
Issue 3
Pages 554-576
Keywords REF 2014 submission*
Public URL
Publisher URL