May 29, 2016
Stephen Cohen on studying India and Pakistan, and on the need for regional power cooperation in Afghanistan
For more than 50 years, Stephen Philip Cohen has played a leading role in shaping South Asian security studies, and mentoring generations of scholars in the field. He is credited particularly for landmark work on the Pakistani and Indian armies. His new book The South Asia Papers: A Critical Anthology of Writings has just been published by the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., where he is currently a senior fellow. Excerpts from a telephonic interview:
The South Asia Papers collects a lifetime of work and ideas.
It roughly follows the trajectory of my career. I began as a historian and scholar working on military sociology, interested in caste in the Indian Army. Later my interests shifted, and my articles reflect that. I looked at how the Indian Army faced outward, that is foreign and strategic policy in general. In 1978 I co-authored a book, India: Emerging Power, which was my first major piece on Indian foreign policy. There were several diversions, including a year in Tokyo, when I couldn’t get an Indian visa. In Tokyo I spent a lot of time with their China experts, and got a different perspective on India, as seen from both Japan and China. The Japanese often asked me: ‘Why are you bothering with India? It is not important.’ The Chinese had pretty much the same view.