The Atlantic

A Nationalist’s Guide to Stepping Back From the Brink

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi demonstrates how to de-escalate a conflict while also saving face.
Source: Getty / Arsh Raziuddin / The Atlantic

When a deadly standoff on a disputed stretch of border between India and China resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers (and an unconfirmed number of Chinese casualties), a response from New Delhi seemed inevitable. It is the worst violence to take place between the two countries in nearly half a century—an incident that each side has since faulted the other for. It also comes at a time when the two countries are being led by strongmen who are under immense pressure not to lose face.

In the weeks since, though, no such response has materialized. Despite growing calls in India for a boycott of Chinese goods, Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping have focused on downplaying the situation, with the former opting thus far for symbolic shows that a majority of Indians trust the prime minister to safeguard their national security, they also expect him to take a harsher stance against Beijing. Some people have even taken to as a form of protest.

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