The most interesting chapters in this collection reflect on how geography affects the war-fighting options of Asian states. The region includes the mountain ranges of South Asia, the deserts of Central Asia, and the rivers of Southeast Asia. But several contributors agree that the crucial strategic domain today is the series of seas stretching along the Chinese coast that are hemmed in by the so-called first island chain. Twenty-two militarily crucial straits and channels constrain the ability of the Chinese navy to project its power into the wider Pacific. Because the islands in the South China Sea are too small to support substantial forward deployments, the regional arms race focuses on longer-range missiles, submarines, and more powerful ships, including the much-heralded first Chinese aircraft carrier, introduced in 2012; Japanese helicopter carriers; and an upgraded Indian carrier force. Other chapters explore the strategic significance of national war-fighting cultures; nuclear deterrence; irregular warfare in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka; and the constraints that the region’s unusually high level of economic interdependence places on warfare.
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