As the world’s largest democracy and the dominant regional power in South Asia, India has become a cornerstone for U.S. strategy in the Indo-Pacific. USIP works to inform policymakers and practitioners through research, analysis and convening on India’s growing strategic partnership with the United States, in addition to the regional conflict dynamics. Priority themes of focus for the USIP India program include the bilateral tensions between India and China; the emerging strategic balance between India and its nuclear-armed neighbors; and regional conflict drivers — including complex post-colonial disputes, fragile democratic institutions, climate and resource pressures, and competition among a growing, heterogeneous population.
While the Ukraine war continues to dominate policymakers’ attention, the Biden administration has engaged in a series of diplomatic initiatives with allies and partners across the Indo-Pacific region over the course of the last two months. The message is clear: Washington sees the Indo-Pacific as the world’s principal geostrategic region, with a host of challenges to meet — like competition with China and climate change — and opportunities to seize, particularly related to technology and the economy.
Our world’s spate of disasters so recently unimaginable — European cities pulverized by war, Earth’s decaying climate or 6 million dead from pandemic disease — evokes a national security question: What other “unthinkable” crises must American citizens and policymakers anticipate? A singular threat is warfare around our planet’s one spot where three nuclear-armed states stubbornly contest long-unresolved border conflicts. Largely unnoted in national security news coverage, the conflicts embroiling China, India and Pakistan are growing more complex and dangerous. A USIP study shows the urgency for U.S. policymakers of working to reduce the risks.
Security, territorial and political tensions between Southern Asia’s three nuclear states — Pakistan, India and China — "have gotten worse over the past few years," says USIP's Daniel Markey. "These are countries that have been at war a number of times… that [makes] these hostilities difficult to manage."
Beginning in June 2021, USIP convened a group of senior experts to assess concerns that recent geopolitical and technological trends increasingly threaten the tenuous stability of Southern Asia. Over seven virtual plenary sessions, the senior study group assessed the changing capabilities, doctrines, threat perceptions and crisis response behavior of the main regional nuclear actors. Their final report summarizes those findings, considers U.S. policy options and identifies priority recommendations for the resolution or mitigation of core disputes, the enhancement of regional strategic stability, and the management of potential future crises.
The U.S. Institute of Peace and His Holiness the Dalai Lama have joined to strengthen the abilities of youth leaders to build peace in the world’s most violent regions. These leaders are among their countries’ most effective peacebuilders. The dialogue with the Dalai Lama helps them to build the personal resilience they need to work against the tensions or violence in their homelands.