The West, particularly the United States and Canada, are geographically far removed from South Asia. This distance makes many think that any nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan would not have a significant impact on life in America and Europe. Dr. Owen Brian Toon and Professor Alan Robock dispute this thinking. They believe the nuclear winter following an India-Pakistan nuclear exchange will kill crops as far as the United States and cause a global famine. Another study by Nobel Peace Prize- winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and Physicians for Social Responsibility reached the same conclusion.
Professors Robock and Toon have calculated that the smoke from just 100-200 Hiroshima sized atomic bombs exploding in South Asia would cover the entire globe within two weeks. This smoke would hang 30-50 miles above the surface of the earth where it never rains. This thick layer of smoke would block the sun causing farmers to lose their crops for years to come. The resulting famine would kill billions of people around the globe.
It seems that the American leadership recognizes the devastating global impact of possible India-Pakistan nuclear war. In "Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments U.S. Crisis Management in S...", Pakistani-American analyst Dr. Moeed Yusuf talks about the US efforts to prevent India-Pakistan war that could escalate into a full-scale nuclear exchange. He analyzes American diplomacy in three critical periods: Kargil conflict in 1999; the stand-off after the Indian Parliament attack in 2001 and the terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008.
Yusuf argues that the US-Soviet Cold War deterrence model does not apply to the India-Pakistan conflict and offers his theory of "brokered bargaining". In chapters that detail the US role during three India-Pakistan crises, it is clear that the US rejected India's insistence on bilateralism in resolving India-Pakistan disputes. The author says that "in each episode, the concern about the escalation forced the United States to engage, largely unsolicited, and use a mix of rewards (or promises of) and punishments (or threats of) with the regional rivals to achieve de-escalation--ahead of its broader regional or policy interests."
At a 2018 Silicon Valley event organized by talk4pak, Dr. Yusuf addressed three areas of focus:
1. US-Pakistan relations: Yusuf says Washington now sees India, not Pakistan, as its strategic partner in South Asia. Washington's entire relationship with Islamabad today revolves almost exclusively around Afghanistan where American and Pakistani interests do not converge. The only time the United States gets involved in India-Pakistan conflict is when there is a serious crisis that the world fears could escalate into a nuclear confrontation between them.
2. India-Pakistan Ties: There is no sustained dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad to resolve issues such as Kashmir between the two neighbors. Yusuf speculates that India wants to wait it out for the time when its economic and military differential with Pakistan becomes so large that Delhi can dictate terms to Islamabad as the unchallenged regional hegemon.
3. Afghanistan War: Pakistan does not believe that the Afghan Taliban can be militarily defeated and insists that the United States must talk directly with them to reach a political settlement. Yusuf now believes that the recent start of direct dialogue between the United States and the Taliban may bring an eventual end to America's longest war.
Here is a TED talk by Dr. Owen Brian Toon, professor of atmospheric and ocean sciences at University of Colorado at Boulder. He's citing research he did with Professor Alan Robock, professor of climate research at Rutgers University.