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Masculinity Operates In Both U.S. And Indian Nuclear Weapon Discourses

Masculinity Operates In Both U.S. And Indian Nuclear Weapon Discourses


Masculinity operates in both U.S. and Indian nuclear weapon discourses–marking their nuclear programs as rational, responsible action engaged in strategic interdependence to meet their economic and political interests, and other programs as inadequate, irrational, or in need of supervision.

In the News

“Pakistan [has] consistently challenged the territorial status quo even when though it was a relatively inferior military power in the India-Pakistan dyad…therefore, nuclear weapons in Pakistani possession would have only exacerbated the latter’s inclination for a military resolution of the territorial conflict…Given its penchant for risk-taking, it also posed a fundamental threat to the Indian state.”

“The difference in these two nuclear equations is not simply a matter of their nuclear and military strategies. It is equally a product of their unique nuclear histories. India’s nuclear history disproves the linear model of nuclear weapons proliferation where insecurity vis-à-vis a bigger and hostile nuclear power is the principal source of a state’s motivation to pursue nuclear weapons (as was the case with the Soviet Union, China and to a certain extent both the United Kingdom and France). Pakistan rather than China was the most important reason for India to go nuclear.”

“India’s reactions to the Chinese nuclear threat in the 1960s and the Pakistani nuclear threat in the 1980s were markedly different…As the Pakistani nuclear program matured into an existential threat, India prepared for ‘catalytic’ response. This ‘differential response’ can only be understood by taking into account not only the variation in India’s perceptions of the Chinese and the Pakistani nuclear threat, but also the methods which Indian decision-makers employed to counter them….First, rather than perceiving Chinese nuclear capability as a direct threat, New Delhi situated China’s quest for nuclear weapons in the great power nuclear rivalry of the Cold War. The threat perception vis-à-vis Pakistan was entirely different: Islamabad’s nuclear drive was considered as an existential threat given its historical penchant for revisionism in South Asia.”


Insight from Peace Science

  • In U.S./Indian nuclear weapon discourse, the U.S. marks India as an inferior, potentially irresponsible, non-Western country that must be watched with its nuclear technology use.
  • Similarly, India engages in its own “internal” othering of Pakistan,  drawing clear distinctions between the characteristics it shares with the U.S. (democracy, pluralism, and secularism) and the characteristics of Pakistan, who is represented as host to terrorist groups and as not fully politically evolved.


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