BHARAT RAKSHAK MONITOR - Volume 6(1) Jul-Aug 2003


Stephen P Cohen: South Asia Analyst
A Review

J L Khayyam Coelho


"Would you" he asked, in that winsomely beguiling voice that editors use when they want you to do something particularly unpalatable, "be interested in doing a review on Cohen's latest article? It's just a short thing, in the Washington Quarterly, won't take much time". Editors too, can be quite economical with the truth when they have to be. But I had been aware, peripherally at any rate, of Dr. Cohen's work for quite awhile - as is anyone who is interested in the American view of India, although I had not read him "seriously" before. So when the editors of the Monitor asked me to review his latest article in The Washington Quarterly, I was quite happy to oblige as it would give me an opportunity to get to grips with one of the better known of the US nomenclature on the Subcontinent's affairs.

So this article began as a review of Stephen P Cohen's recent article "The Jihadist Threat to Pakistan".1 It became clear, however, that to properly understand Cohen a somewhat more in-depth look at his work was required. Consequently, I began to look through his body of work on India and Pakistan. It was not, as I had imagined, an easy task. In fact, I can only describe the entire experience as more than a little "jarring". For it becomes evident soon enough, that his writings on India although strewn with all the correct phrases, are twisted just enough to give any Indian reading his work, that strange feeling you get when you try and read something using your wife's glasses.

I kept at it of course, although primarily because the Monitor's editors simply wouldn't accept my "it's completely weird" excuse. "Just describe your experience", I was told in soothingly dulcet tones, "maybe others get the same feeling reading him". I'm not quite sure about that, but I think the editors are correct, the Cohen phenomena certainly needs an explanation. After all, Dr Cohen and his colleagues are supposedly experts on our region which they label, strangely enough, as "South Asia" (more on that a little later); and are frequently cited as "advising the US State Department" on Sub continental affairs. Consequently, it is well worth the time and effort to try and understand his point of view and to take a closer look at his work.

The aim of this article is to explore a way for Indians to read and understand the phenomena of the "South Asia" analyst, whose advise forms the framework within which the decision making elites of the United States act. Look on this article not so much as a review of Cohen's article per se but instead as a first attempt to deconstruct the proto-typical "South Asia expert advising the US State Department". Consequently, while the article is "embedded" (to use a currently fashionable term) here, this review will actually range across a number of articles written by Dr Cohen recently. By embedding his article within this review but not being limited by it, I hope to be able to draw out the essence of Dr Cohen's work and his relationship to the Subcontinent.

In the next two sections, I'll set the stage to explore the Wonderland like world of Dr Cohen and explain his methodology. The fourth and fifth sections, on what I refer to as "Cohenism", form the core of this article. They detail and critique some of Dr Cohen's recent writings on India and Pakistan respectively. Those two sections, in effect, look at what our proto-typical South Asia analyst actually does and how he uses his methodology to do it. And while someone else would no doubt be better qualified, I'll ask you to bear with me as a guide into the fascinating world of the "South Asia" analyst in the Washington Beltway.

Into the Looking Glass

Now is not this ridiculous, and is not this preposterous? A through paced absurdity, explain it if you can.
-Chorus of Dragoons in "Patience" by Gilbert and Sullivan

Where to begin? Lets start with the usual. Stephen Philip Cohen, his bio data informs us,2 is a former Professor of History and Political Science, at the University of Illinois at Urbana; former Director of the Program in Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security, University of Illinois; Member, Policy Planning Staff, U.S. Department of State (1985-87); Scholar-in-Residence, Ford Foundation, New Delhi and current Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution. The titles are as impressive as Dr Cohen's long association with the Subcontinents affairs. Cohen began his ascent to his current position as the US doyen of "South Asia" strategic studies in 1979 when he co-authored a book called India: Emergent power? Since then he has been the author of a number of books3-8 and innumerable articles on Indo-Pakistan affairs. He has long been the epitome of US political scholarship on the Subcontinent.

Dr Cohen's knowledge of the Subcontinent is deep and wide ranging. It would not be an exaggeration to say that his knowledge of the Subcontinent probably has no equal anywhere outside India. The strange part, is the use that he makes of his knowledge. Specifically, there appears to be a long standing and fairly clear agenda, which can only be described as "anti-Indian". Cohen is incredibly careful not to appear overtly hostile to India in any one article. But; taken as a whole, his constant disparaging remarks and contemptuous style display a clear pattern. He writes cleverly enough, however, so that he is just "nice enough" to the Indians to, on a naive reading, come across as being "balanced" instead of biased. How he does this I will explain below, and it is a process well worth knowing.

Dr Cohen has reached the happy state of a "South Asia" analysts nirvana, where right wing Pakistani commentators call him pro-India while others see him as pro-Pakistan and where some Indian's see him as anti-Indian and some as pro-Indian. He even has a smallish constituency in both India and Pakistan that see him as pro-India and pro-Pakistan. Sadly, despite what all his happy little groupies believe, and as we shall see, Professor Cohen is anything but what they believe him to be. If there is one thing that is absolutely guaranteed to hold the interest of any person, it is to find out what others say about you. It's even more interesting when the "other" is someone vaguely familiar and whom you'd assumed had very little antipathy towards you. Finding out that this vaguely held assumption is false can be more than a little disconcerting, and in Dr Cohen's work, it is decidedly unsettling. He spends an inordinate amount of time sniping cattily at India which is at first surprising, then wearying and after a while, tedious - he's not inflammatory, I thought, just silly. While reading his various articles, I kept asking myself the obvious question, what's his problem? Why the deliberate contempt? Had some Indian been particularly nasty to him in his younger days?

It wasn't until I stumbled on an article written by Shekhar Gupta in the Indian Express that the pieces began to fall into place. Consider this little vignette that Gupta, who calls himself a "disciple of Cohen", reveals:9 Many Indians see him as being overly friendly to the Pakistanis. Many Pakistanis similarly say he has flipped to India's side. Cohen, however, has written landmark books on both armies and loves them. Can you imagine, he asks, if India had not been partitioned and this was one army? He recalls Field Marshall Auchinleck telling him in an interview more than three decades ago that his greatest regret was that Mountbatten had partitioned such a fine army. "If India had not been partitioned," Cohen says to me, "I would have been sitting here not with you but with a Chinese and we would be talking about how to contain this mighty India that straddles all the oil routes, dominates central Asia and so on."

The first time I read this statement I was simply flabbergasted. I kept reading it again and again, wondering what on earth was this Cohen chap all about? Can a "scholar" truly reduce one of the great tragedies of the 20th Century to the banal statement that the Partition of India, with his horrific consequences, was a "Good Thing" because otherwise he might have had to chat with a Chinese on how to "contain" India? As I re-read the statement, I wondered, how to explain or even describe such a world view. It beggars the imagination. (Not, of course, that this is unusual in US thinking. In fact Dr Cohen's attitude is rather reminiscent of Nixon and Kissinger's irritation with Indira Gandhi, when she moved to stop the Pakistan Army's genocide in Bangladesh, because it interfered with their wooing of Beijing - but those were mere politicians, Dr Cohen is supposed to be a "scholar"!) Bemused, I wondered what next? Would Dr Cohen, (Cohen is a Jewish name), also be of the opinion that the Holocaust was a "Good Thing" because of it's role in the creation of Israel? That the best cure for a headache is a lobotomy? Or is such an attitude only reserved for us?

I also wondered why Shekhar Gupta was so pleased about being a "disciple" of Dr Cohen? And about the influential Pakistani, Khaled Ahmed's description of Dr Cohen as a "friend" of Pakistan's while writing that:10As an American, his views may differ from ours but his consideration of the Indo-Pak equation does not give proof of a pro-India bias. His latest book, India: Emerging Power, actually tilts quite obviously in favour of Pakistan when it criticises India's conduct of foreign policy and the behaviour of its foreign policy elite. In diplomacy he gives more credit to Pakistan, despite its limited resources, than to India. His earlier books on Pakistan army and the Brasstacks military exercise show a fine preference for Pakistan.

Although the degree of subservience inherent in the characterisation of an individual as a "friend" of an entire nation is a little strange, I understand why a Pakistani may look for friends in funny places. Pakistan's has worked long and hard to ensure that it has none in it's neighbourhood. What is difficult to understand is why supposedly "intelligent" people such as Gupta and Ahmed would be so foolish as to miss the obvious? Khaled Ahmed is wrong. Dr Cohen is no friend of Pakistan or it's people. He is in truth, a friend and supporter of the Pakistani Army, and even then it is certainly not because he "loves" them. Ahmed is however, correct in describing Dr Cohen's anti-Indian tendencies.

To grasp Cohen's world view one needs to understand a fundamental truth, a truth so simple and commonplace that it seems to miss most Indian and Pakistani commentators: and that is that Cohen, like all his compatriots, is neither friend nor foe of either India or Pakistan. His fundamental purpose is to protect what he believes to be the interests of the United States within the Subcontinent. And what he believes is that India is a threat to US interests. Reading his work as a body makes this one truth jump up and grab you by the neck. He seems to be utterly convinced of this, and absolutely determined to ensure that Pakistan is protected so that it can act as a US ally to "contain" whatever monsters he sees in India.

It is not clear whether Cohen even understands what US interests in India actually are, or even whether he cares. It seems to be enough for him that he considers India dangerous and that therefore defines what he believes US interests to be - containing India via Pakistan. And that, in essence, is the problem with Dr Cohen. At the heart of Cohen's vision of US strategic interests in India, lies this facile idea: That India must be "contained" and only Pakistan is vituperative, and foolish enough, to try to do that openly. Cohen is a friend of the Pakistani Army precisely because he knows that it is the only institution in Pakistan capable of maintaining it's "hate-India" rage decade after decade. In this sense, Cohen's pro-Pakistani leanings are simply part of the balancing act required to ensure that the US has leverage over India. Nothing more. Or as Pakistan's General Aslam Beg has so eloquently put it: Pakistan is simply a condom that the US uses and discards at will. It is Cohen's job to ensure that this prophylactic is always available for American use.

Although I shall, through necessity, be a little unkind to Dr Cohen - while giving credit where credit is due - during the course of this review, I do not fault him for his views. He simply does what he must to further what he believes to be the interests of the United States. And he does it extremely well. His acolytes in India and Pakistan are living testimony to his superb skills. He is neither anti-Indian nor pro-Pakistan per se. These terms are utterly irrelevant to understanding Cohen, or for that matter, the "proto-typical South Asia expert". He would be as much "pro-India" and "anti-Pakistan" were Pakistan to be in India's place and have a population of over a billion with the natural resources, economic base and technological skill to dominate the Indian Ocean and possibly challenge US supremacy within the region.

If there is a fault, it lies in Indians and Pakistanis like Shekhar Gupta and Khaled Ahmed, vacuous enough to overlay terms such as "friend" or "foe" to Dr. Cohen and his colleagues in the various "South Asia" studies departments of the US. (Of course, the more general query as to why the US and it's academic cohorts so despise democracies in developing countries and prefer to maintain ties with every tin pot third world dictator is another question entirely. And outside the scope of this article). The key therefore, to ensure that we do not career madly and haphazardly through an intellectual fog, a la our friends Gupta and Ahmed, and to understand Cohen's body of work, is to situate it in the correct Indo-Pakistan context. From an Indian point of view, Cohen is certainly no "friend" as he seems to consider India a threat to US interests. From a Pakistani point of view he is indeed a "friend" of Pakistan's provided it's understood that his primary aims are US interests. Furthermore, he is a cheerleader of Pakistan's Army only in so far as it is obedient to US diktats and does not challenge the US - an increasingly difficult position to hold in a post 9-11world.

To maintain the viability of Pakistan as a counter-weight to India requires the Americans to constantly massage the fragile Pakistani ego. To large sections of the ruling Anglophone Pakistani elite anything with the word "India" in it is anathema. And that's where the term "South Asia" seems to fit in. It's a rather curious fact that the only three groups of people who seem to use this term with a religious fervour are Americans, Pakistanis and elements of the Indian left, primarily the Marxists. The Americans, like Cohen, use it in a dual sense, as a geographical region to indicate the Subcontinent and otherwise to play down the significance of India within the Subcontinent. They seem to dislike the term "subcontinent" as it gives too much "special" status to India since the word itself is almost automatically prefaced with the word "Indian". Were it not for the certainty of universal derision, not to mention giving their silly little psy-war game away, we'd soon hear talk of the "South Asian" ocean as well.

The Pakistanis of course, never use "India" at all if it can be avoided. Rather unfortunately for them, since 9-11 the word "Pakistan" is quite de trop these days, so they prefer to use the ambiguous "South Asian" terminology. And the Indian left/Marxists, whose first instinct is to deny the reality of India itself, are still lost in their dream of the Withering of the State and prefer the "South Asia" terminology to avoid any possible accusation, (from whom, I wonder?), that they may be "nationalistic" or - God forbid - be thought of as being unsophisticated enough to value their country. At any rate, the provenance of this curious term, "South Asia", should be noted: for it will become more and more common as India's role on the world stage grows, as a method to subtly downplay the nation's achievements and significance.

In fact, the use of this term has already become a partial identifier for a clique of Americans, Pakistanis and Indians who seem to share a degree of "like-mindedness" with respect to India. A note:- Although I do, it may not be entirely fair or correct to either Dr Cohen or other US specialists on the Subcontinent to use the term "South Asia analyst" interchangeably with Dr Cohen. However, if any Indian spends some time exploring the US political view of India it soon becomes clear that; while various analysts differ in their opinions, there exists a cadre with a degree of commonality in their views, based on a wariness of India, and which occasionally manifests itself in their contemptuous utterances about India. Consequently, they can be safely tucked under the "South Asia analyst" rubric. So, while it may not be "fair", it has a degree of accuracy that I think justifies the interchange ability.

Cohen's methodology

"Is not my logic absolute? Would not a three-year-old child of most deficient intellect be convinced by it?"
-Jules de Grandin in "Satan's Stepson" by Seabury Quinn

So how does Dr Cohen do what he does? If indeed, he is a supporter of the worst aspect of Pakistan, how does he do it? What exactly is his methodology to get away with his perpetual support for the Pakistani Army against India, and against the Pakistani people? They are after all the worst bunch of mass murderers since the Khmer Rouge had free rein in Cambodia.11 And how does he still do it in the post 9-11 world? His standard methodology is a dual prong strategy. For India, he uses a subtle form of repetitive reinforcement of a set number of anti-Indian points that he emphasizes in virtually every article he writes. The only difference is in the set of points he uses in any given article. But where Dr Cohen really excels is in a brilliant smoke and mirrors trick that he uses to devastating effect to promote the welfare of the Pakistani military. The main aim here is to understand this trick. His critiques of India, although clever, I will detail in the next section. But to explain his Pakistan defence I first need to take a little detour.

During the height of the cold war, when the US seemed to be supporting every tin pot third world dictator around, American journalist developed a neat little trick to cover US behaviour abroad which contradicted the US' much talked about love of democracy. I call it the American Journalists Information Trick or AJIT for short. (The acronym is pronounced as "ah-jeet", a Goan word for an enema, quite appropriate as you'll see). Common sense dictated that these journalists had to inform their readers of at least part of the truth. Clearly, bald faced lying about what some US backed psychopath was doing wouldn't do. To easy to get caught. So they developed what they referred to as "balance". They would freely indicate that so-and-so wasn't a terribly nice man, but, they said, under the circumstances, the other option would be even worse. And anyway, the poor put upon psychopath had no choice. He was defending freedom. And people really ought to understand that that was a difficult task.

Fairly standard so far? But there's a bit more to it than just that. The AJIT has been adopted almost wholesale by any journalist who wants to push a barrow. There are two key ideas necessary to understand and practice the AJIT effectively. The first is to appear balanced. So if you don't like X and want to push Y what an AJIT practitioner says is: "Sure X and Y are both rotten scoundrels, but what the heck, Y is just a little less rotten than X so lets support Y". Note that anyone questioning said practitioner is immediately told that the article was "balanced". This is the mirror part of the trick. But by itself, that is not enough. The heart of the AJIT trick is something else, the "smoke" part. The "smoke" part of the trick which blindsides you is to ensure that the only alternatives available to the reader are X and Y.

That is the magical bit. You see, the key is not to inform the reader or lie to them, but to keep them ignorant of alternatives. It's not to influence your choice but to constrain the very choices you have so that the only reasonable choice to make is the one that they want you to make. Simple, brilliant and effective. For the illusion of choice and freedom remains, but there is no danger of you making the "wrong" choice. Whatever you choose, out AJIT practitioner wins. For example, what if there were X, Y and Z choices? The trick is that our practitioner doesn't really care if you choose X or Y. He just wants you to think he does. What he really wants is to hide Z from your sight. Once he does that he wins. This is the key to the trick. During the cold war, there were only two choices, "their side" or "ours". Those were the only options given to the world. In India, we of course know that there was a third option. Neither side.

Cohen's methodology pulls the same little AJIT "smoke & mirrors" trick on us. When faced with the obvious question such as "how do we solve the Pakistan problem", Cohen's invariant reply is "by backing the Pakistan Army". And, to those who quibble with his solution, he pulls out the AJIT. And correspondingly, the only options he offers are "crazy mullahs" or "the bad but not crazy Pakistan Army", keeping at all times the idea of Pakistani democracy at bay, knowing full well that within those parameters the choice, after 9-11 must be, even for a "deficient three-year-old", the Pakistani Army. Of course, Dr Cohen has a number of other tricks that he uses with superb aplomb and effect. For example, a standard variation of the AJIT is to separate the smoke & mirror parts, although it is most effective when combined. I will detail some of these in the next two sections along with the use of his heavy cavalry, the AJIT. (I really regret saying this but; while there is no doubt that Dr Cohen is certainly the most vehement non-Pakistani anti-Indian writer anywhere, he is also without a doubt very, very good at what he does).

Cohenism I: The "South Asia" analyst at work on India

I dare say that's an idea which has already occurred to you, but with the weight of my great mind behind it, no doubt it strikes the imagination more forcibly.
-Lord Peter Wimsey in "Strong Poison" by Dorothy L. Sayers

Having, hopefully, set the stage, lets have a look at the actual output of our South Asia analysts great mind. In this section, I'll concentrate on India and on the essence of the set of ideas that Dr Cohen repeatedly uses in his writings, and in the next on Pakistan. Naturally, given the nature of the subject there will be a certain degree of overlap between these two sections. Let me begin with the article that's the genesis of this review. Barely two pages into a supposed article on Pakistani Jihadis, Cohen takes his customary side swipe, in passing as it were, at India with the statement that: All Pakistanis value their state's role in various international Islamic organizations and favour support for oppressed Muslims elsewhere, particularly in Palestine, Bosnia, and Kashmir. [Ref. 1; p.9]

Now, how long do you think it took the good Dr Cohen to speak to all Pakistanis? Putting that aside, note how he casually slips in the "oppressed" Kashmiri line? Oppressed as compared to whom? The free people of Pakistan? Saudi Arabia? Or perhaps some other US ally, Egypt say? Since Kashmir is a part of India, all he has to do is compare whether or not any Indian anywhere else in India enjoys rights and privileges denied to the Kashmiri? Of course, he's not going to do that. This is a theme that Dr Cohen hammers at again and again in his articles. His primary aim is to draw the US into the Kashmir dispute and he is not above a little blood libel while trying to do so. Consider the following quote: Nevertheless, there are steps that could be taken by both sides even before negotiations begin. Pakistan cannot always argue that India, as the bigger state, must take the first step; to do so would doom the Kashmiri people to the full weight of the Indian military, with the danger that their very culture will be destroyed.17

I read that that sentence again. Nope no change. Dazzled by the logic, I begin to wonder if Dr Cohen bothers to think before he writes, or whether there is some sort of Oliver Sacks type short-circuit between his brain and fingers. The problem in Kashmir is not the Pakistani backed Islamic terrorists who kill, rape, loot and throw acid in the face of women who don't wear the burka. No, the problem is the Indian Army trying to defend these folks from Pakistani terrorists. Of course, that article was written before 9-11. Since then Dr Cohen hasn't stopped supporting the Pakistani Army, as the next section details, but I shall hazard a guess that the US' Homeland Security people will make him a tad more circumspect in his defense of Islamic terrorists in Pakistani magazines.

It's quite amazing the lengths to which he goes to push his views. Consider for example, his comment in a recent interview12 on Indo-Israeli ties, where he: expressed concern this could degenerate into an anti-Pakistan alliance of Hindus and Jews against Muslims. A remarkable statement considering that India's most celebrated living scientist, Abdul Kalam, the man responsible for India's nuclear weapons and missile technology is not only a Muslim, he was also elected as the President of India (!) barely a few months before Cohen made this statement. Another favourite theme of Dr Cohen's is the so-called "equal-equal" idea. This is a Pakistani idea that Dr Cohen adopts wholesale in many of his writings with a pretentious verbiage that conceals the vacuity at the heart of the idea: which is that India, with one-fifth of humanity within it's borders and a democracy ever since it's emergence into the nation state, must at all times be equated with Pakistan, a tin-pot third world dictatorship that has never quite managed to figure out how to govern itself, to put it bluntly.

Pardon my annoyance. To an Indian this equating of India and Pakistan is intensely annoying, as annoying as an American might find arguments about the moral equivalence of American actions and Osama bin Laden. To a Pakistani, it is the ultimate expression of self-realisation. In fact, it's astonishing the degree to which Cohen spouts Pakistani propaganda as his "analysis".

For an example, that epitomises the Cohen South Asia view, consider the following quotes:13

India and Pakistan in particular have learned that short-circuiting democracy only make things worse in the long run.

In several cases, these "wars by other means" too had terrible consequences, most notably India's support of Tamil Tigers. Pakistan's support of the Taliban is also problematic.

A culturally and economically dominated India still feels deeply insecure. . .

Yet, the smaller regional states, again Pakistan is the most important case, are afraid of being left alone in the region with a dominant India, and regard their cultivation of outsiders as legitimate insurance against a wrong turn in Indian policy.

This puts outsiders in a difficult position. Classic geopolitics offers them two strategies. One is to ally with the region's dominant power, India, and allow Delhi to limit one's ties with Islamabad, Dhaka, and Colombo, Kathmandu and even Male. The other is to maintain ties with India's neighbours as a way of keeping up the pressure on India.

I would be the first to note that the policies of the US have, at times, made things more difficult in South Asia. This is also true of China, and, in the past, the Soviet Union. Yet, American policy was never guided by a strategy of countering India. . .

Firstly, it starts of with what could be considered as a fairly innocuous statement about "short circuiting democracy". So what? Well, consider the audience that Dr Cohen addresses in general. This audience is not Indian or Pakistani, although he is clearly aware that Indians and Pakistanis read him. His primary target, as an advisor to the US State department, are economic and political decision making circles within the US itself. These circles are certainly not going to be aware of the subtleties of Indo-Pakistani relations. In fact, Cohen's value is precisely because they can turn to him for advice. And what Dr Cohen gives them is that as far as democracy goes, India, a democracy since the start of it's nationhood, is entirely the same as Pakistan, a tin-pot military dictatorship for decades!

Note how brilliantly Dr Cohen does this. A simple statement that India and Pakistan "have learned"! The setting and execution of his view is superb. Then comes the second statement. Post 9-11, everybody knows about Pakistani support for terrorist groups, but this article was written in 1998. Note how casually Dr Cohen, in 1998, tries to insert the view that India also supported terrorists, the Tamil Tigers. Dr Cohen can do this fully aware that 99% of his readership in the decision making circles he's addressing will not have the faintest idea of the complexities of the Sri Lankan political situation, hence his little knife in the ribs and equation with the Taliban. Then, after a swipe at India being insecure that sets the stage, there follows the classic implication that India may therefore be dangerous. Again, superbly executed with just a single line about a possible "wrong turn" in India's foreign policy. Note too the cleverness in implying that this is not Dr Cohen's view. It's other nations that "are afraid". The good doctor is merely voicing their fears. This is immediately followed by the policy prescription that India needs to be pressured, (=contained) nicely written as if India's neighbours ask for this pressure/containment.

And the entire scenario is back ended by the claim that the US is not seeking to counter India. But remember, his readers are decision makers in the US without the keen grasp and knowledge of Dr Cohen. Given the preceding statements, the final statement would, in any competent security manager, naturally raise the question that perhaps India does need to be countered! Do you see, gentle reader, how marvellously adept the good Dr Cohen is? And were we to ask him this, he could instantly deny it. After all, only a paranoid lunatic would interpret all those innocuous statements that way, right? Certainly, entirely possible. Unless you read his work in totality. Then, and only then, does the pattern emerge. Note too, how well Dr Cohen gives his readers - recall, these are US decision makers - a variation on the AJIT. Two factors X (India) and Y (Pakistan) are set up. X and Y are as bad as each other. X and Y both do bad things, but X might have a capacity to do worse things - even to innocent "others". Therefore, and cleverly he does not say it explicitly, better support Y. Note how X and Y are carefully setup so that the correct choice is obvious. And the complete determination to hide Z. Here Z is the real India, not the fictional one that Dr Cohen invents by implication. Another theme that Dr Cohen develops to back up his primary view of India is to treat India with a finely developed contemptuous style when writing or speaking about India: Consider the following quotes from a paper presented to the Harvard/MIT Transnational Security Project Seminar14discussing India's nuclear tests in 1998:

Without much of a sense of irony, Indians worship science, particularly nuclear science. This worship of science and the adulation of scientists is widespread among the Indian strategic elite. However, when various technologies were denied by others, as in the case of the second US supercomputer, the enhanced effort put into developing an indigenous technology was thought to make India that much stronger, because the country was forced to be self-reliant. The scientific/strategic enclave, and their publicists, boast that technology denial thus helps India. Lacking an accurate understanding of how little such advanced technologies actually contribute to development, and the opportunity costs incurred by trying to cobble together advanced systems given India's poor industrial and technology base, the programs have become totems, and are patriotically supported and defended by a wide variety of scientists, journalists, and politicians.

Ominously, the BJP's Home Minister (L.K. Advani) has stated that the new "threat" to India comes not from the "secularists" (by which he meant Indians not sympathetic with the BJP's notion of Hindutva), but from "liberals," i.e. those few Indians who dared to speak out openly against the tests. The tests were gleefully welcomed as evidence of the great accomplishments of Indian culture. The long-held if fantastic Indian view that the United States was guided in its Asian policy by a desire to contain India, and a willingness to use both China and Pakistan for that purpose, remained one of the core assumptions of a good portion of the Indian strategic elite.

Further, the aura of crisis and danger that surrounds nuclear weapons demands a powerful political centre as well as a correspondingly powerful administrative mechanism to guard them and decide upon their use. This is very appealing to once-powerful regional elites, and the bomb lobby has a disproportionate number of high-caste Hindus, members of religious minorities and others who have been dispossessed from regional politics by the emergence of mass politics. The nuclear program is one in a series of important symbolic projects that the centre has undertaken to develop a sense of Indian nationhood and identity. The content of that nationhood is, when projected through the prism of the bomb, a scientifically adept, multi-cultural people, capable of achieving great things with minimum resources. Originally, these symbolic meanings were attached to the civilian nuclear program, and its leadership often boasted of the way in which Indian talent and innovativeness thrived under the adverse conditions brought about by Western economic sanctions and technology restraint regimes.

The selection of these quotes isn't to bore you to tears, nor is it meant to prove that Dr Cohen was born with an extra bile duct. Instead I'm trying to point out the type of statements Dr Cohen brings to the table during a "strategic" discussion on India's nuclear tests. Note the singular point: these comments are completely gratuitous. Dr Cohen informs his audience of the unsophisticated Indians who worship science. The scientists themselves are nothing but braggarts, hardly deserving of this "worship". And anyway they don't really understand science. Indian senior ministers are "ominous" sounding about India's liberals, giving a shaded reference to far-right authoritarianism.

The foolish immature population gleefully welcome matters which they obviously know nothing about, which is just as foolish as the fact the US may wish to contain India. (Although if the US wasn't interested in India, how the good Dr makes a living is a mystery). Then the implied insult to India's democracy with the careful statement that only Brahmins and religious minorities wanted the nuclear tests, followed by a contemptuous dismissal of India's technological success in the face of stringent Western opposition again, as mere boasting. And what of Dr Cohen's views on Kargil, the recent conflict with Pakistan that has defined so much of India's attitude to national security in these times? Well, here's the good Dr. again:

Kargil is nested within the larger Kashmir problem . . . the current crisis is the result of a bold Pakistani attempt . . . India responded to the incursion by unleashing its airpower in Kashmir for the first time, representing a significant escalation of the conflict. . . . The Indian army was inept, failing to detect. . .15

The military conflict between India and Pakistan over the Kargil road in Kashmir could yet turn into a major regional crisis. Hard-liners in both countries mistakenly believe that they can exhaust the other side by a slow-motion, low-intensity war.16

Note how Kargil is not Pakistan's fault, it's part of the Kashmir problem, Pakistan's stab in the back is "bold" and India's response is "escalation" with it's army being "inept". Note too, the clever and blatant insinuation, by using the word "hardliners" that both sides are to blame for Pakistan invading India! Dr Cohen's bias is certainly recognisable. For example, in one of his more revealing interviews, his bias is so badly exposed that even his interlocutor tries to reason with him.39 In the interview with the Harvard Asian Quarterly, (HAQ), in the discussion on the Kashmir issue he argues India's policy is one of "great risk". HAQ picks this up, note the question and answer and Cohen's quick retreat into, "but I say nice things about the Indians at other times".

HAQ: On the contrary, I would argue that if anything, we have not seen any Pakistani political or military strategy that does not run great risks. Which country in the Cold War attempted anything like Kargil? Surely you are being one-sided in your condemnation.

SC: No. I've written at length on the many strategic mistakes committed by Pakistan. In my most recent book, India: Emerging Power, I do provide an assessment of the overall success (or failure) of India's use of military power-it is a mixed record. But this shouldn't be seen as a competition as to who is worse!

But that of course is precisely the point, and he includes, gratis, the equal-equal theory as well. The fascinating part is the next section of this interview:

HAQ: Can India really deal with the problem itself-doesn't the advantage of terrorism lie in the asymmetric benefits for Pakistan? During the Gulf War, Israel's security was strengthened through American defenses in return for Israeli patience. Will we see anything of this sort in South Asia?

SC: We couldn't guarantee the Israelis' security against Palestinian terrorists...

HAQ: I was suggesting an analogy between Iraqi attacks and the mujaheddin trained in Afghanistan.

SC: I see your point, but I don't think we can get that involved in South Asian politics to make that distinction and enforce it.

Marvellous is it not? Dr Cohen has always demanded that the US should be involved in the Kashmir dispute, but when it's suggested that the US could possibly help India prevent terrorist attacks, Dr Cohen immediately backs off. Heavens no! Help the Indians against terrorism? Not if the good Dr Cohen can help it! Dr Cohen does seem to have a lovely talent to find all that is wrong with India, but to list and dissect every single one of them would be boring. Instead, let me summarise some crucial points necessary to grasp the good Dr Cohen's attitude to India.

1. Dr Cohen's knowledge of the Subcontinent is superb. His writings on India are can be extremely shrewd and perceptive18 - and the application of his agenda is all the more effective because of it. I cannot stress this enough. It would be a vast error to underestimate his knowledge. Furthermore, his academic credentials enable him to access a significant number of knowledgeable Indians within India itself to supplement the gaps in his knowledge base and; which are available to defend him against criticism as Gupta does.

2. Dr Cohen's methodology is not some form of crude hate propaganda. It is in fact the skilful application of psy-war methodologies honed over years of practice. There are no silly lies or blanket condemnations of India within Dr Cohen's work, although there are some slip-ups. Instead, there is always the "balanced" approach, of the sophisticated academic engaged in his work, (which requires the occasional praise of India and condemnation of Pakistan when it does something particularly egregious.) And all of this brilliantly executed so that any critique can be easily be dismissed as a misunderstanding of the process of academic discourse. The fundamental reason Dr Cohen's methodology works so well is precisely because he is viewed as an academic without a barrow to push. It is only when we let go of this facile view, and understand that he is at all times working to further what he considers to be the interests of the United States within the Subcontinent, is it possible to re-interpret his work accurately.

3. It's necessary to read Dr Cohen's work in totality and not as isolated articles to understand the underlying framework and the methodology that he applies when dealing with India. It is only within that framework, the totality of his work, (not individual articles or books) that he can be understood. Most important of all, it's necessary to recognise the constituency that Dr Cohen addresses in his articles. And these are the economic, business, political and security decision-making elites of the United States. It is worth remembering that to accomplish his fundamental aim to "contain" India, he needs US decision makers to recognise India as a potential threat. That is all. Everything else will then follow automatically if the US accepts this view. Even Indo-US strategic cooperation will be moderated by US attempts to insure that India does not obtain any advantage from the US. This will in turn lead to an Indian response and subsequently create the dynamics of a non-friendly (but not necessarily hostile) relationship. Since a "wariness" dynamic already exists between the US and India, all Dr Cohen has to do is to use a simple repetitive reiteration of Indian "faults" to ensure it's permanence. Again, I cannot overstress how important it is to bear these points in mind while reading Dr Cohen. As an aside, another question that crops up is; how do we counter the Dr Cohen's of the world? Frankly, I have not the slightest idea, other than being aware of them. And why bother? India is India. And the Cohen's of the world will come and go. If there is any advice I'd give, I would recommend the old saying: Forgive your enemies. But remember their names.

Let me end this section with a couple of points that I think necessary. Firstly, despite any impression this section may give, I really don't have any problem with Dr Cohen's anti-India nonsense. While it is undoubtedly annoying, I am in fact, slightly in favour of it. An occasionally adversarial (but non-hostile) relation with the US is, in my view, a long term strategic necessity for India if we are to maintain our strategic independence and position ourselves for the long term. Moreover, the Republic went through it's hardest years without the help, (in fact at times, active opposition) of the United States. We didn't miss them then, and we won't miss them if Dr Cohen is successful. As such, I certainly have no quibble with Dr Cohen's aims although, of course, I wish he'd be honest about them and use a different methodology. Further, from an American perspective what Dr Cohen does may be fine, although I would think that perhaps his readers could decide for themselves rather then be carefully lead down a Dr Cohen's chosen path. From an Indian point of view, which is all this article is concerned with, much of what Dr Cohen writes can be broken up into two parts. The facts that Dr Cohen presents and the spin/presentation imparted to those facts in his analysis. It's this second part that we need to be aware off when we read his work.

Cohenism II: The "South Asia" analyst at work on Pakistan

In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd.
-Miguel de Unammuno y Jugo

In this section I'll concentrate on describing Dr Cohen's views on Pakistan. Fortunately, this job is made a little easier since Dr Cohen has, recently, been kind enough to provide a précis of his views on Pakistan called "The Nation and State of Pakistan"19. Along with [Ref. 1], these two articles will be used as the basis for this section while not being limited to them. Cohen begins in [Ref. 19] with the standard mythologized canard about the creation of Pakistan:

Pakistan was to be an extraordinary state--a homeland for Indian Muslims and an ideological and political leader of the Islamic world. Providing a homeland to protect Muslims--a minority community in British India--from the bigotry and intolerance of India's Hindu majority was important; [Ref 19, p 109].

Since this is the standard rubbish that finds it's way into Pakistani textbooks, it's possible to simply accept it as a given and move on. Except for one thing: It is false and obviously so. Consider the terms "protect", "bigotry and intolerance" used so cavalierly. The implication, and the style of writing, implies as a given that the Muslim community was persecuted and in need of protection from India's "Hindu majority" before Partition. You don't need a PhD in Indian history to know that before Partition India was governed by the British. Obviously, if anybody was being persecuted at that time, then said persecution was conducted by those with the power to persecute. Therefore, if there was any persecution then it must have been be conducted by those with the power to do so, i.e.. by the British! This is such an elementary application of logic that even the proverbial "deficient three-year-old" could understand it. But, apparently not Dr Cohen. He prefers to tar something called the "Hindu majority" and thereby change the reality of the diversity of India into a mythical monolithic entity to provide, as we shall see, the cover necessary for his Pakistani agenda.

(As an aside: While anyone familiar with India's history and the lead up to Partition would consider this view a typical case of advanced cretinism, it's clear that Dr Cohen is aware of what he does. Consider that Pakistan was created on the most bigoted principle imaginable. That if Person A's prayers were different to Person B's, then neither A nor B could live with each other, or even near each other. i.e. That different beliefs exclude the possibility of coexistence. By extension, if you were to believe that blue is a nicer colour than red, then quite obviously you would need a separate country to anyone fond of the colour red. I doubt if there's anything more ridiculous that masquerades as an ideology. But Dr Cohen is, in my view, well aware of all this. Nevertheless, he repeats the refrain, because he must for his agenda to be successful. Further, A brief glance at his India Rising18 article is all that you need to realise that he is fully aware of India's reality and diversity. But again, that's irrelevant to his purposes, so it's ignored when necessary.)

Dr Cohen then goes on to inform his readers, (remember, he's addressing people in the US who have no knowledge of the Subcontinent's history), that Pakistan's "founding father" Jinnah, had a vision of a liberal, secular, and democratic Pakistan. . . . Its most ardent advocate is General Pervez Musharraf and also states that: Most officers believe in the Jinnah model of the Pakistani state but are unable to achieve it. [Ref. 19, pp.110-113]. To anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Pakistan, this would leave you breathless. But Dr Cohen can get away with it because he essentially acts as a gatekeeper about the Subcontinent for his US readers. These readers will simply be unaware of what the Pakistani's call the Triple A, i.e. the Army-Allah-America alliance. (This refers to the decades long cooperation between the Army and the Mullahs by which the elite maintain their control of the Pak state, with economic and military sustenance injected by America.) And therefore what Dr Cohen feeds his readers may well define their attitude and response to events in the Subcontinent.

Hilariously, he also adds that: So far, the armed forces have not accepted the idea that ruling Pakistan is good for the army, . . . [and that] it believes [in] land reform and social justice in the countryside. . . [Ref. 19, p.113].

Not surprisingly however, Dr Cohen is unable to explain to his readers how, despite this "not accepted idea", the Army has been "forced" to rule Pakistan for nearly 30 years, or how they sadly failed to implement any land reform whatsoever in those 30 years. The only land reform ever tried was by Pakistan's civilian Prime Minister, Bhutto. And he was, naturally, hanged by the Army (although not primarily because of the land reform issue). The importance of this is the way Dr Cohen sets up his X and Y options. Here X is the Army which he implies to his readers are "non-Islamic normal folk who would probably vote for the Democrats if they were American". No, of course he doesn't say that, but the context is clear. He then sets up his Y. The bad and nasty (some of them) Islamists. These we are told, are mad Jihadi's and are:

. . .bitterly angry at the military and other members of the Pakistani establishment who are reluctant to sign up for the crusade. Their vision of Pakistan is so radical that the political and military branches of the Pakistani political establishment hold them in contempt. [Ref 19, p.114].

So we have the scene for the AJIT for his readers, the US decision-making elite. The Islamists are "bitterly angry" implying that the Pakistani Army is somehow opposed to the mullahs. And not just any opposition, but contemptuous opposition. Which implies that there is little if any chance of the Pak Army joining with the mullahs! If you begin to ask yourself, how in heavens name can he get away with such nonsense, then note the brilliance of the good Dr. a page later, and in half a paragraph, in passing as it were, he mentions that: The power of the religious parties derived from the patronage of the state; from Zia's time onward, the leaders used the religious parties to balance the secular (and more influential) Pakistan Muslim League and Pakistan People's Party. The religious parties have never polled more than 2-3 percent in a national election, and some now question whether the parties' street power can threaten any military regime or democratically elected government or whether they will ever have the votes to win a free election.[Ref.19, p 119].

See the care with which he uses the words "the state". But in Pakistan, the Army is the state, and has been for decades. But Cohen saves the situation and simultaneously prevents any possible accusation that he's got it wrong. For in that one paragraph he's told the whole truth. That the Islamists have been fostered by the state, i.e. the Army. And that the Army-Mullah combine are simply two sides of the same coin. But he has carefully buried the truth . . . in the open! Note too how he mentions "Zia", without his proper title. In fact, in the entire article [Ref. 19], when General Zia's name comes up, as it must in any discussion of the Islamist factor in Pakistan, the "General" part is never mentioned. Because; Dr Cohen is writing for American readers and he knows what acts as triggers to make them identify with his agenda.

Another example of this little trick is his claim that Pakistani's debate various matters: . . .in a press that the military regime did not censor. . . [Ref. 19, p 115], a claim that will come as news to those reporters who have been beaten, tortured and driven out of the country. Media censorship in Pakistan has been extensively commented on by journalists,20-22 newspaper editorials,23-24 and human rights groups25. Of course Dr Cohen isn't actually interested in press freedom, like any good public relations expert he simply includes keywords that will resonate with his target audience. And he needs to do this. It's the only way he can sell the "Pak Army is our friend" line to US decision makers.

To reiterate the "Pakistani Army is our friend line", Dr Cohen then sets out to sell General Musharraf to his readers. Having set the scene earlier by claiming that Musharraf was liberal, secular etc, he now pushes the point by saying that Musharraf gave:

. . .a possibly historic speech delivered in Urdu over Pakistan television on January 12, 2002.9 He bluntly set forth the goal of turning Pakistan into a moderate Muslim state--the word "secular" is still contentious. No internal extremism would be tolerated and no safe havens for terrorists operating across Pakistan's borders provided. [Ref. 19, p.116].

Certainly true. But what Dr Cohen conveniently fails to tell his readers is that Musharraf had in an earlier "historic speech" a few days after 9-11, while switching to Urdu, likened his cooperation with the US to the Prophet Mohammed's tactical peace with the Jews of Medina which gave him the time necessary to re-group and eventually attack them again. More to the point, Dr Cohen is well aware of the reality in Pakistan. Consider his participation in a PBS interview26 with Margaret Warner and Selig Harrison, the former Washington Post bureau chief in South Asia and author of five books on the region, just after President Clinton's historic trip to India. Harrison characterises the Musharraf junta as:

. . .General Musharraf, who is a front man for a regime that is really controlled by Islamic fundamental generals who are powerful behind the scenes . . . the fundamentalists elements have used the military, infiltration of the high levels of the military, to get power that they really don't enjoy among the people and that they wouldn't have if you could return to elections properly prepared for with redistricting and other reforms that would make them really representative . . . this regime is dominated by a group who have, keeping the pot boiling in Kashmir as their main agenda.

It's instructive that in the interview Dr Cohen doesn't disagree with any of the points that Selig Harrison makes. But adds that . . .the Pakistan military wants to get out of power . . . if they stay in power, they have a prospect of ruining their own country. In fact, Dr Cohen would probably argue that he has made the same points himself. And he has, but only within a specific context of support for the Pakistani Army and he never quite manages to explain how the Pakistan Army, despite not wanting power, has been forced to run the country or decades. Consider the following, US support for Pakistan post 9-11 has been strongly predicated on Musharraf staying in power. The over reliance on a single individual to act as a US proxy in the region is a danger that Cohen recognises for the United States. Because, if Musharraf were to fall in the time honoured fashion of transferring power in Pakistan - either by a coup or assassination - the US may react with excessive haste to prevent Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands.

To prevent any such excessive reaction, Dr Cohen informs us that the view of other South Asia experts such as Robert Kaplan27 and General Anthony C Zinni that: . . .the U.S. interest in Musharraf is not so much his personal qualities but the likelihood that "what would come after him would be a disaster." This conclusion is false: if Musharraf stepped down or was removed, he would be replaced by a colleague or peer who is unlikely to be enthusiastic about radical Islam. Musharraf's successor would be replaced in turn by still another general with a similar semi secular outlook. The army may use Islamic extremists and may not be able to reconstruct and build a normal Pakistani society, but for the foreseeable future, it is most capable of blocking anyone else from coming to power. [Ref. 1, p. 23].

In effect, therefore, what Dr Cohen suggests is the classic AJIT. Sure the Pakistani Army is bad. Terrible even. But hey folks look, they can "block" the even worse lunatics from taking control. So we'll just have to put up with them the way we do with other terrible regimes because the alternative is even worse. Unlike Selig Harrison, Dr Cohen is, careful, without disagreeing with him, to not highlight the truth. That the Islamist phenomena in Pakistan is a Pakistani Army creation, without the Pakistani Army, there is no such problem. In fact, throughout [Ref 1], Dr Cohen manages the quite stupendous feat of discussing, accurately mind you, all the problems inherent in Pakistan's state support for terror via it's military establishment, but superbly manages to not highlight the simple fact that everyone of the Jihadi groups in Pakistan are simply tools of the Pakistani Army. In the revealing HAQ interview,39, note how he tries the usual AJIT trick, that Pakistan will be taken over by Jihadi's and given HAQ's response, immediately tries to shift the ground by bringing up, of all things, the Israeli-Palestinian problem!

SC: . . . I think that is the view of most moderate Pakistanis who fear that the US will declare Pakistan a terrorist state. India would have on its border a state that was really run by the jihadis.

HAQ: Then again, why should India, or indeed the West, continue to believe this doomsday scenario? If anything, the West's intransigence is breeding extremism in India, of the same sort that we are also seeing in Israel. So is it not time for the international community to come down on one side of the fence?

SC: Many countries use this argument. Now, because there are some radical Palestinians, or Israelis, should we only support one or the other?

And of course, there's the usual: . . .I do not think that the typical Pakistani Army officer is a jihadi, but by now that should have a familiar ring to it.

When it comes to Pakistan, Dr Cohen views can be quite remarkable. He refers to Pakistan as "surrounded by enemies". Which is true. But the context implies a desperately poor nation pluckily sticking it out despite all it's evil neighbours. Which is quite a variant on the reality that Pakistan has spent a decade engaged in sub-conventional warfare against India, Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Russia in Chechnya, China in its Muslim dominated province and against the US by it's overt support of Osama bin Laden prior to 9-11. (China however, unlike these other countries, backs Pakistan for the same reason the Dr Cohen wants the US to - wariness of India. Of course, neither the US nor China has been spared from Pakistan's terror wars against all and sundry. The Chinese are however, more popular with the Pakistanis for the rather simple reason that they have been able to hide their contempt of their Pakistani "allies" rather more successfully than the US. This is not a paper on Pakistani links and support to terrorism. However, for those interested, please see [Ref. 40-45]).

Note carefully the genius here. Dr Cohen never lies, nor does he hide things about Pakistan. He does gloss over them in throw away lines sometimes, but it's always in the open. His real strength lies in his very openness and brutal frankness about Pakistan. Because that is what he uses, superbly I might add, by his construction of a false duality of Islamists versus the Pakistan Army, the AJIT. Of course, there is no such duality. The Islamists are the Pakistan Army. In fact, when the Army held an election to "return the country to democracy", it proceeded to rigorously hobble all but the Islamic parties. The non-Islamists had their leaders banned, while others were sent into exile and ordinary members were arrested, tortured, intimidated and others simply bribed to toe the military line. The end result of course, was the Islamic parties "sweeping" into power in the two Pakistani provinces bordering Afghanistan, with significant representation in the federal parliament, and strong influences in Pakistan's other two provinces. Even terrorist leaders from groups banned by the US ended up as parliamentarians. 28-38

It would, as in the previous section, be more than a little tedious to continue quoting vast reams of Dr Cohen's predilection for the Pakistani Army. So instead, I'll end this section by making a couple of points. As I have already said, I don't have any real objection to Dr Cohen's anti-India attitude although I wish he were more open about it. However, Dr Cohen's pro-Pakistani Army position is a different matter entirely. The molly-coddling of a nuclear armed neo-feudalistic state that has a decades long history of fostering terrorism against India, Iran, Afghanistan, China and even the US is, in my view, a recipe for disaster. And often, there are times when the majestical stupidity of what Dr Cohen writes can leave you speechless.

Although a change in Dr Cohen's support of the Pakistani Army is unlikely, because quite frankly, if 9-11 couldn't do that, nothing will. And as US engagement with Pakistan deepens, it will obviously be impossible to convince Cohen, (and his colleagues in "South Asia" studies and therefore the US), of the sheer folly in supporting a policy so obviously wrong. He will continue to write articles about "The Jihadist Threat to Pakistan". There is very little possibility he will write about "The Jihadist Threat from Pakistan". And if you ask him why, his reply will be the AJIT, i.e. that he is balanced, and that he already has.

But if I were to make a guess, I would say that Dr Cohen will have to eventually moderate his views with respect to Pakistan. Because, of course, this is not a situation that will last. (There are already questions about the role of the Pakistan Army in 9-11). The US and Pakistan are locked in an embrace that can only end in a furious parting of the ways. How bloody that parting will be remains to be seen. On the other hand, it seems unlikely that Dr Cohen will ever change his view point with respect to India. I have referred to it as "anti-Indian", what else can you call it? Ignorance? I don't think so. For while ignorance can be cured, stupidity is permanent. Especially the type of learned stupidity that Dr Cohen deliberately cultivates about India and Pakistan in the Washington Beltway.

Journeys End

If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.
-John Kenneth Galbraith

Throughout this review, I have ascribed a set of factors that I've claimed, and I think have shown, which underline much of Dr Cohen's writings on the Subcontinent. More importantly however, I have also claimed that I've divined Dr Cohen's motivation. That is a slightly larger claim then his anti-India posture and pro-Pakistan leanings which have been amply demonstrated in this article. However, I have offered only the Shekhar Gupta column as proof of Dr Cohen's motivation. Quite a bit hangs on that. Well, lets assume that the motivation that I ascribe to Dr Cohen is incorrect, i.e. that he does not wish to see India contained. First note that it still does not change anything regarding his anti-Indian or pro-Pakistani leanings. We're simply left with the mystery of why he is anti-India and pro-Pakistan.

We could be charitable to Dr Cohen and say that it's possible that he has simply made a fundamental error of scholarship and confused knowledge for understanding. In other words that his indisputable knowledge about the subcontinent leads him to believe that he also understands India and Pakistan, similar, say, to the way a committed environmentalist believes they are also experts in ecology and biology. Or it may be that Dr Cohen's acting as an apologist for those in power in Pakistan is a classic example of the intellectual who seeks to influence power. And falls into the trap of becoming an agent of influence for those in power and then an apologist for them. Or perhaps some other reason. We don't know the "why" of course. And the reasons given in the paragraph above do not stand up to scrutiny given the quality of Dr Cohen's work. But allow me to play a little childish game with you. So, go back to the conversation that Gupta describes for us. Read it again. Now try and visualise yourself as Dr Cohen. What would be your response if Gupta's reply was, "but why, Dr Cohen, would you want to "contain" an undivided India. What did we ever do to you"? How would you as Dr Cohen reply? Seriously, do try it as an exercise.

If you think that through for a while, you'll probably come up with the same solution I did. Because Dr Cohen automatically assumes a "big" India would be a threat to the US. And if Gupta kept asking you, as Dr Cohen, the obvious questions, such as, "But isn't India today already big? Don't we already straddle the oil routes? How much difference would Pakistan be added to India". (In fact it would be a drag, not an asset. And I say that as a devoted Akhand Bharat believer). How would you, as Dr Cohen answer? You see my point? India would still need to be contained. Because we are big. We do straddle the oil routes. We do have the potential to vastly increase our influence, if not dominate, Central Asia. And what if Pakistan falls apart? Wouldn't India be the biggest winner? Without Pakistan to block the access routes, India's market would dominate the economies of Central Asia naturally. So while I agree that the motivation I describe to Dr Cohen is based on what seems to be a single tenuous thread, I think that if you follow the exercise above, you too will agree with me that the thread is made of steel. And that the motivations I ascribe to Dr Cohen's anti-Indian views are in fact, correct.

I should also reiterate that the criticisms levelled at Dr Cohen's work should not subsume the quality of his articles per se. Each and every one of his articles is well researched and have a large "truth value" content in them. There is no doubting Dr Cohen's knowledge about India and Pakistan. Nor does he hide the truth about Pakistan. However, what is at issue is how he presents his information to his readers. That's the crux of the issue. And in that regard, Dr Cohen is certainly assured of "immortality" in the firmament of "South Asia" analysts. A final comment: For any Indian, the journey through the landscape of South Asia studies in the United States can be a strange experience.

Within the space of a single journal article it's possible to go from the bizarre to the weird, from the inane to mind-boggling and from the sublime to the ludicrous, all within a few pages! I have concentrated here on a single field, the political dimension, and on a single practitioner that epitomises an aspect of the Indo-US relation. It has long been problematic that that the relationship between the clichéd "largest" democracy and "oldest democracy" have never been on the best of terms. Ties between the Elephant and the Eagle have always been bedevilled by various misunderstandings. And there is no guarantee that the current thaw in relations following the Jaswant Singh-Strobe Talbot discussions and the post 9-11 exigencies of the US will last. However, one thing is certain: Over the Indian Subcontinent, it will be difficult for eagles to fly if their path is set by turkeys.


1. Stephen Philip Cohen; "The Jihadist Threat to Pakistan", The Washington Quarterly, 26:3, pp. 7-25, 2003.

2. The Brookings Institution:

3. Stephen Philip Cohen; India: Emerging Power, The Brookings Institution, 2001.

4. Stephen Philip Cohen; The Pakistan Army, Oxford University Press, 1998.

5. Stephen P Cohen; The Indian Army: Its Contribution to the Development of a Nation, Oxford University Press, 2002.

6. Kanti P Bajpai, P R Chari, Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema, Stephen P Cohen, and Sumit Ganguly; Brasstacks and Beyond: Perception and Management of Crisis in South Asia, Manohar Publishers, 1995.

7. Kanti P Bajpai and Stephen P Cohen (eds); South Asia After the Cold War: International Perspectives, Westview Press, 1994.

8. Stephen Philip Cohen; Nuclear Proliferation in South Asia: The Prospects for Arms Control, Westview Press, 1991.

9. S. Gupta; "Here a General, there a General"; Indian Express, Nov. 10, 2001.

10. K Ahmed; "The unavoidable aspect of internal correction", The Daily Times, July 03, 2002.


12. Cited by Carol Giacomo; Reuters Press, July 09, 2003.

13. Stephen P Cohen; "Security Challenge in South Asia", Business Recorder, Dec. 03, 1998.

14. Stephen P Cohen; Harvard/MIT Transnational Security Project Seminar, Nov. 23, 1998.

15. Stephen P Cohen; "South Asia Needs a Peace Process" Asian Wall Street Journal, June 12, 1999.

16. Stephen P Cohen; "South Asia Needs a Peace Process" The Wall Street Journal, June 24, 1999

17. Stephen P Cohen; "Pakistan: Charting a Course" The Friday Times, Feb. 25, 2000.

18. Stephen P Cohen; "India Rising", The Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2000.

19. Stephen P Cohen; "The Nation and State of Pakistan", Washington Quarterly, 25:3, pp. 109-122, 2002.

20. Mehdi Hassan; "For the right of the press", Jang: The News, Sunday , Mar. 17, 2002.

21. Amir Mateen; "Traitor, who?", Jang: The News, June 29, 2002

22. Najam Sethi; "Forgive us our trespasses", The Friday Times, Dec. 27, 2003.

23. Jang: The News, Sunday Special Report, Feb. 23, 2003.

24. "Media watch logic", Dawn, Apr. 21, 2003.

25. Adnan Rehmat, Nadeem Iqbal and Zafarullah Khan; Pakistan: State of Media & Press Freedom Report, Green Press, 2003.

26. Margaret Warner, Selig Harrison, Stephen Cohen, Samina Ahmed; "Mission to Pakistan", PBS Interview, Mar. 24, 2000.

27. Robert Kaplan; "A Nuclear Yugoslavia", New York Times Book Review, Nov. 3, 2002.

28. Hussain Naqi; "Election farce", Weekly Independent, July 25, 2002.

29. Hussain Haqqani; "The task of observers", Nation, Sep. 02, 2002

30. Ahmed Rashid; "Pakistan on the edge", Nation, Sep. 08, 2002.

31. Jang: The News, Sunday Special Report, Sep. 15, 2002.

32. Adnan Adil; "Leaders to watch", Weekly Independent, Oct. 10, 2002.

33. Askari Rizvi; "Back to 1985", Weekly Independent, Oct. 10, 2002.

34. Mohammad Shehzad; "October 10 polls", The Friday Times, Oct. 11, 2002.

35. Hassnain Qureshi; "101 soldiers march to parliament", The Friday Times, Oct. 11, 2002.

36. Najam Sethi; "Thank you, Gen Musharraf", The Daily Times, Oct. 12, 2002.

37. Jang: The News, Sunday Special Report, Oct. 13, 2002.

38. Amir Mateen; "An office past its prime", Jang: The News, Oct 13, 2002.

39. Stephen P Cohen; Interview with Rahul Sagar, Harvard Asia Quarterly, Autumn 2001.

40. Yossef Bodansky, Director of the Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the U.S. Congress; Pakistan, Kashmir & the Trans-Asian Axis, Freeman Centre for Strategic Studies, 1995.

41. Ambassador Michael Sheehan, Coordinator for Counterterrorism; Testimony Before the House International Relations Committee Washington, DC, July 12, 2000.

42. Vincent Cannistraro, Former CIA Chief of Counterterrorism Operations and Analysis; Testimony before the House Committee on International Relations, October 3, 2001.

43. "Pakistan: The Dangers of Conventional Wisdom", A Briefing Report of the International Crisis Group, Brussels, Mar. 12, 2002.

44. Leon T Hadar; "Pakistan in America's War against Terrorism: Strategic Ally or Unreliable Client?", Policy Analysis, No. 436, May 08, 2002.

45. Bruce Reidel; "American Diplomacy and the 1999 Kargil Summit at Blair House", Policy Paper Series 2002 of the Centre for Advanced Studies of India, University of Pennsylvania, 2002.


Copyright © Bharat Rakshak 2003