ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Cuckoo Strategy on China

Deep Currents and Rising Tides: The Indian Ocean and International Security edited by
John Garofano and Andrew J Dew (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press), 2013; pp xvii + 331, $32.95.

Asymmetrical Threat Perception in India-China Relations by Tien-sze Fang (New Delhi: Oxford University Press), 2014; pp xv + 247, Rs 795.

Samudra Manthan: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the Indo-Pacific by C Raja Mohan (Washington DC: Carnegie Foundation), 2012; pp xii + 360, $19.95.

Chinese and Indian Strategic Behavior: Growing Power and Alarm by George J Gilboy and Eric Heginbotham (New York: Cambridge University Press), 2012; pp xxx + 376, £22.99.

In a vintage warship, the crow’s nest is the topmost spot on the ship’s mast from where a “lookout” scans the seas for incoming danger. In a modern warship this vantage point has been replaced by the radar. However, for students of strategy, the story of the cuckoo surreptitiously laying eggs in the crows’ nest continues to be relevant. The wise crow is lured out of his nest into a chase when provoked by the continuously jarring sounds produced by the male cuckoo. While the crow is busy in hot pursuit, the female cuckoo quietly moves into the crow’s nest, throws out some of the crow’s eggs, thereby making place to lay her eggs. Unknowingly, the crow warms all the eggs and nurtures the babies when the eggs hatch.

The crow is a perfect example of a strategic sucker. In the secular world too, there are nations who are suckered to provide their military manpower to fight someone else’s war. The first question to ask vis-à-vis China is whether the 1962 conflict was India’s own war? The lack of dispassionate analysis of the period has led Indian strategic thought to shy away from identifying and naming the cuckoo that clandestinely came and laid its egg in the Indian nest.

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