The Cold War on the Periphery: The United States, India, and Pakistan

Overview

Focusing on the two tumultuous decades framed by Indian independence in 1947 and the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965, The Cold War on the Periphery explores the evolution of American policy toward the subcontinent. McMahon analyzes the motivations behind America's pursuit of Pakistan and India as strategic Cold War prizes. He also examines the profound consequences--for U.S. regional and global foreign policy and for South Asian stability--of America's complex political, military, ...

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Overview

Focusing on the two tumultuous decades framed by Indian independence in 1947 and the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965, The Cold War on the Periphery explores the evolution of American policy toward the subcontinent. McMahon analyzes the motivations behind America's pursuit of Pakistan and India as strategic Cold War prizes. He also examines the profound consequences--for U.S. regional and global foreign policy and for South Asian stability--of America's complex political, military, and economic commitments on the subcontinent.

McMahon argues that the Pakistani-American alliance, consummated in 1954, was a monumental strategic blunder. Secured primarily to bolster the defense perimeter in the Middle East, the alliance increased Indo-Pakistani hostility, undermined regional stability, and led India to seek closer ties with the Soviet Union. Through his examination of the volatile region across four presidencies, McMahon reveals the American strategic vision to have been "surprinsgly ill defined, inconsistent, and even contradictory" because of its exaggerated anxiety about the Soviet threat and America's failure to incorporate the interests and concerns of developing nations into foreign policy.

The Cold War on the Periphery addresses fundamental questions about the global reach of postwar American foreign policy. Why, McMahon asks, did areas possessing few of the essential prerequisites of economic-military power become objects of intense concern for the United States? How did the national security interests of the United States become so expansive that they extended far beyond the industrial core nations of Western Europe and East Asia to embrace nations on the Third World periphery? And what combination of economic, political, and ideological variables best explain the motives that led the United States to seek friends and allies in virtually every corner of the planet?

McMahon's lucid analysis of Indo-Pakistani-Americna relations powerfully reveals how U.S. policy was driven, as he puts it, "by a series of amorphous--and largely illusory--military, strategic, and psychological fears" about American vulnerability that not only wasted American resources but also plunged South Asia into the vortex of the Cold War.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Reviews in American History

A magnificent book, written with remarkable clarity... The best book we have on the process of American involvement in South Asia, 1945-1965, and a critique of Cold War policies in the Third World.

Foreign Affairs
Argues that the U.S. alliance with Pakistan in1945 was a monumental strategic blunder that increased Indo-Pakistani hostility, undermined regional stability, and led India to seek closer ties with the Soviet Union. . . . This study is a model of its kind.
Reviews in American History
A magnificent book, written with remarkable clarity . . . The best book we have on the process of American involvement in South Asia, 1945-1965, and a critique of Cold War policies in the Third World.
Library Journal
McMahon (history, Univ. of Florida) examines U.S. foreign policy toward India and Pakistan from the late 1940s until the mid-1960s as a case study in Cold War politics. He concludes that ``American policy-makers never succeeded in constructing a rational, effective approach'' to further U.S. interests in stability for the South Asian subcontinent. In addition, he holds that the U.S. alliance with Pakistan in 1954 exacerbated regional tensions, pushing India to seek closer ties with the Soviet Union and ultimately leading to the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965. In a fluently written account, McMahon plumbs the intricacies of regional diplomacy and demonstrates the illusions through which the Cold War beclouded American diplomatic perceptions. A brief summary chapter on events subsequent to 1965 would have more fully assessed the legacy of this period of American foreign policy. Recommended for academic libraries.-James Rhodes, Luther Coll., Decorah, Ia.
Booknews
McMahon (history, U. of Florida) explores the evolution of American policy toward the South Asian subcontinent, analyzing the motivations behind America's pursuit of Pakistan and India as strategic Cold War prizes. He also examines the profound consequences--for US regional and global foreign policy and for South Asian stability--of America's complex political, military, and economic commitments on the subcontinent. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231082266
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 3/6/1994
  • Pages: 431
  • Product dimensions: 6.39 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.34 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction 1
1 Defining a Regional Policy, 1947-1950 11
2 Establishing Bilateral Relations, 1947-1950 36
3 Losing Grounds with India, 1950-1953 80
4 Tilting Toward Pakistan, 1950-1953 123
5 Forging an Alliance, 1953-1954 154
6 Paying the Costs, 1954-1957 189
7 Balancing the Scales, 1957-1961 232
8 Tilting Toward India, 1961-1963 272
9 Reaping the Whirlwind, 1963-1965 305
Conclusion 337
Notes 349
Bibliography 405
Index 419
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