Jihad as Grand Strategy: Islamist Militancy, National Security, and the Pakistani State



Paul Kapur, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School

Date and Time

October 29, 2015 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM


William J. Perry Conference Room
Encina Hall, Second Floor, Central, C231
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305

Abstract: This book seeks to understand the connection between Pakistan and Islamist militancy. The book argues that, since Pakistan’s founding in 1947, it has used religiously motivated non-state actors as strategic tools to compensate for acute political and material weakness. Over time, this policy has become so important as to constitute a central pillar of Pakistani grand strategy. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Pakistan’s militant strategy has not been wholly disastrous. Over the decades, it has achieved important domestic and international successes, helping Pakistan to strengthen its domestic political foundations, confront stronger adversaries, undermine South Asia’s territorial status quo, and shape the strategic environment in Afghanistan. Recently, however, these successes have given way to severe problems, as Pakistan has lost control of its proxies, been forced to make damaging resource tradeoffs, and risked inciting catastrophic war with an increasingly powerful India. These problems undermine regional stability and threaten the survival of the Pakistani state. The weakness that originally made Pakistan’s militant strategy useful has now made support for militancy extremely dangerous. If Pakistan does not abandon its strategy of jihad it may face catastrophe.

About the Speaker: S. Paul Kapur is Professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. He is also an Affiliate at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, and a Visiting Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. Previously, he was on the faculties of the U.S. Naval War College and Claremont McKenna College, and was a visiting professor at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. His research and teaching interests include the strategic use of militancy, nuclear weapons proliferation, deterrence, and South Asian and Pacific Ocean regional security. Kapur is author of Dangerous Deterrent: Nuclear Weapons Proliferation and Conflict in South Asia (Stanford University Press, 2007) and co-author of India, Pakistan, and the Bomb: Debating Nuclear Stability in South Asia (Columbia University Press, 2010). His articles have appeared in leading journals such as International Security, Security StudiesAsian SurveyWashington Quarterly, and in a variety of edited volumes. Kapur manages several strategic engagement projects for the U.S. Department of Defense. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago and his B.A. from Amherst College.


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