India’s Once & Future Sea Power

James Holmes, an associate professor of strategy at the US Naval War College and co-author of ‘Red Star over the Pacific’, an Atlantic Monthly Best Book of 2010, has written an interesting article for The Diplomat on India’s Sea Power. We recomend reading the article and the associated MSR piece ‘India’s Growing Maritime Power’.

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India’s Once & Future Sea Power

By James Holmes (Originally published in The Diplomat)

It’s an honour when an éminence grise of Arun Prakash’s stature takes note of one’s work, even to gently criticize it. Adm. Prakash, a former Indian Navy chief of staff and present chairman of the National Maritime Foundation, takes to the pages of a Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars monograph to explain the ‘Rationale and Implications of India’s Growing Maritime Power.’ Prakash outlines two ‘flawed assumptions’ underlying mine and two colleagues’ recent book on Indian Naval Strategy in the 21st Century. In his words, we posit that

1. ‘…a grand historical narrative is required to bolster support for a maritime build-up and strategy, and that if India does not have a ‘usable past,’ it should perhaps create one.’

2. ‘…the shape and size of the Indian Navy represents the physical manifestation of society’s political and strategic culture, and that India’s national leadership is motivated by history and philosophical traditions, in its employment of military power.’

These ideas, says Prakash, reflect Western habits of mind and thus fit India uncomfortably. He nonetheless appears to agree [continue reading….]

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