The India-Pakistan rivalry is one of the five percent of international conflicts that have been labeled as intractable. In thirty-five years this armed standoff will be a century old, and the chances of realizing that dubious anniversary seem quite good. The rivalry is one reason why South Asia remains the least-integrated region in the world. Despite recent steps toward normalization, the future could be as unpromising as the last sixty-five years.
'Shooting for a Century' is the first comprehensive survey of the deep historical, cultural, and strategic differences that make it probable this conflict will endure, despite many efforts by the international community to resolve it. Stephen Cohen develops a comprehensive theory of why the dispute is intractable and suggests ways in which it may be ameliorated. He draws on his rich and varied experiences in South Asia in exploring the character, depth, and origin of Indian and Pakistani attitudes toward each other. He proffers ways in which the tensions might be ameliorated, including a more active role for the United States on a range of issues that divide the nations.
In the past fifteen years the stakes have become higher for both countries: each has acquired nuclear weapons and had multiple crises, and Pakistan has shown signs of failure. Ironically, India is booming, but the time for normalization may not have come yet, and there are groups on both sides that would oppose it.
Can the two states resolve the many territorial and identity issues that divide them? Are there possibilities for their cooperation on one level, even if antagonisms remain? Should normalization from the bottom up be encouraged, or do they have to agree on resolving strategic conflicts first? Cohen provides an authoritative and instructive examination of these and similarly important topics.