Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2009


The emergence of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations as regional powers and future challengers to U.S. hegemony has been predicted by many, and is a topic of much debate among the IR community today. Interestingly, three of these nations have warred against each other in the past and, coincidentally or not, it was the nations that shared borders: India and China and China and Russia. This paper attempts an in-depth case study of the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict from an angle that differs from previous studies. Past explorations of this conflict have focused on domestic or the psychological motivations of political leaders for this abrupt war, but I will depart from these studies in assessing the conflict’s origin and exploring the reasons for its short duration. Employing a neorealist systems-level approach, I will attempt to explain how the structure of the international system both instigated the Sino-Indian confrontation and also limited the extent of the engagement.