T.V. Paul is James McGill Professor of International Relations in the department of Political Science at McGill University. Paul specializes and teaches courses in international relations, especially international security, regional security and South Asia. He is the author or editor of 15 books (all published through major university presses) and nearly 55 journal articles or book chapters.


Paul was born in the Indian state of Kerala (Mevellor, Kottayam District) on November 10, 1956 and his early education was at institutions in Kerala. He completed his Masters in Political Science from Maharajas College, Ernakulum (affiliated to Kerala University)  in 1980 and then worked as a journalist for the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency in New Delhi from 1980 till 1985. During this period, he completed his MPhil from the School of International Studies (SIS),  Jawaharlal Nehru University. From July 1985 till July 1986 he spent a year at the University of Queensland, Australia, as a research scholar. In July 1986 he was admitted to graduate studies at  the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) from where he completed his PhD in Political Science in June 1991. In September 1991, he began his teaching career at McGill University where he was appointed as an assistant professor, promoted and tenured to associate professor in 1995, and full professor in 2000.  In 2003, he was awarded the prestigious James McGill chair, instituted in the name of the university’s founder. He has been a visiting professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California (2002-03), visiting scholar at the APEC Study Center, University of California, Berkeley (2013), East-West Center, Honolulu (2013), Center for International Affairs (CFIA) and the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, Harvard University (1997-98), and James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey (2002-2003). He was the founding Director (2009-12) of the McGill-University of Montreal Center for International Peace and Security Studies (CIPSS), which originated from the Research Group in International Security (REGIS) which he co-directed for over a decade.  Between 2009 and 2011 he served as the Chair of the International Security Studies Section (ISSS) of the International Studies Association (ISA) and during 2013-14  as ISA’s Vice-President. Currently, he serves as the editor of Georgetown University Press’ South Asia in World Affairs book series and on the editorial boards of many scholarly journals. He has travelled widely and given scores of seminars at leading academic institutions worldwide.

Paul has made a number of contributions to the study of international relations, especially broader international security and South Asia. He is especially known for rigorous puzzle-driven scholarship utilizing case studies as opposed to paradigms. He has been a proponent of eclectic modeling which he uses in several of his works. He is also a conceptual innovator and has made contributions to topics such as asymmetric conflicts, soft balancing, tradition of nuclear non-use, and status accommodation of rising powers. His first major book: Asymmetric Conflicts: War Initiation by Weaker Powers (Cambridge University Press, 1994) was pioneering as it addresses a neglected question of materially weaker powers starting wars against their stronger opponents. In his second authored book: Power versus Prudence: Why Nations Forgo Nuclear Weapons (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2000) he created a prudential realist model to explain the choices of many technologically capable states to forbear nuclear weapons. His third book: India in the World Order (co-authored with Baldev Nayar, Cambridge University Press, 2003) offers a rare theoretical exploration of India’s search for major power status and the constraints and opportunities that it has faced in that endeavor. Paul’s important policy-relevant contribution is the 2009 book: The Tradition of Non-use of Nuclear Weapons (Stanford University Press). This book explores the reasons why nuclear weapons have not been used since 1945, especially against non-nuclear states. In March 2010 his co-authored book: Globalization and the National Security State (with Norrin Ripsman, New York: Oxford University Press) was published. It tests several of the globalization related hypotheses on state behavior in the security arena in a variety of regions and powers. In Fall 2013 his authored book: The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World will be released. It explores the question of Pakistan remaining a weak and insecure state despite expending enormous efforts to military security.

Paul has continued his scholarly contributions in nine edited volumes and over 55 journal articles/book chapters in venues such as International Security, Security Studies, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Review of International Studies, Journal of Strategic Studies, International Studies Review, and Millennium. The edited books are: Status in World Politics (with Deborah Larson and William Wohlforth, Cambridge University Press, 2014); International Relations Theory and Regional Transformation (Cambridge University Press, 2012); South Asia’s Weak States: Understanding the Regional Insecurity Predicament (Stanford University Press, 2010); Complex Deterrence: Strategy In the Global Age (with Patrick M. Morgan and James J. Wirtz, University of Chicago Press, 2009); The India-Pakistan Conflict: An Enduring Rivalry (Cambridge University Press, 2005); Balance of Power: Theory and Practice in the 21st Century (with James Wirtz and Michel Fortmann, Stanford University Press, 2004); The Nation-State in Question (with G. John Ikenberry and John A. Hall, Princeton University Press, 2003); International Order and the Future of World Politics (with John A. Hall, Cambridge University Press, 1999, 2000 (twice), 2001, 2002 & 2003); and The Absolute Weapon Revisited: Nuclear Arms and the Emerging International Order (with Richard Harknett and  James Wirtz, University of Michigan Press, 1998 & 2000).  Five of his books have also been published in South Asia Edition editions by Cambridge and Oxford University Presses in India.




Featured Book

The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World

Pakistan ranks 133rd out of 144 countries in global competitiveness, Taliban forces occupy 30% of the country, and it is perpetually in danger of becoming a failed state-with over a hundred nuclear weapons that could easily fall into terrorists’ hands. In The Warrior State, noted international relations and South Asia scholar T.V. Paul tackles what may be the world’s most dangerous powder keg and untangles a fascinating riddle. In recent years, many countries across the developing world have experienced impressive economic growth and have evolved into at least partially democratic states with militaries under civilian control. Yet Pakistan, a heavily militarized nation, has been a conspicuous failure. Its economy is in shambles, propped up by international aid, and its political system is notoriously corrupt and unresponsive. Despite the regime’s emphasis on security, the country is beset by widespread violence and terrorism. What explains Pakistan’s unique inability to progress? Paul argues that the “geostrategic curse”-akin to the “resource curse” that plagues oil rich autocracies-is the main cause. Since its founding in 1947, Pakistan has been at the center of major geopolitical struggles-the US-Soviet rivalry, the conflict with India, and most recently the post 9/11 wars. No matter how ineffective the regime is, massive foreign aid keeps pouring in from major powers and their allies with a stake in the region. The reliability of such aid defuses any pressure on political elites to launch far-reaching domestic reforms that would promote sustained growth, higher standards of living, and more stable democratic institutions. Paul shows that excessive war-making efforts have drained Pakistan’s limited economic resources without making the country safer or more stable. In an age of transnational terrorism and nuclear proliferation, understanding Pakistan’s development, particularly the negative effects of foreign aid and geopolitical centrality, is more important than ever. Painstakingly researched and brilliantly argued, The Warrior State uncovers the true causes of Pakistan’s failure to progress.


The Warrior State is compelling, thought-provoking, and extremely well written, without the wordiness and redundancy that seem to plague academic works.”
New York Journal of Books, Feb 2014

“Paul lucidly and comprehensively explains the historical circumstances that led to a dearth of strong political leaders or political parties [in Pakistan] with a democratic sense or commitment…. This sobering study will appeal to anyone interested in the region.”
Publishers Weekly, November 25, 2013.

“Grim yet thoughtful…. An insightful and harsh portrait of a dysfunctional nation.”
Kirkus Review, December 1, 2013.

“Pakistan and its army sometimes seem to be the same entity. They are not, and no book other than The Warrior State better places Pakistan’s army and the state in their international and comparative settings. It will be essential to scholars of the Subcontinent and of international and comparative politics, as well as all those interested in knowing why this country became the way it did.”
Stephen P. Cohen, Brookings Institution and author of Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum

“In The Warrior State, T.V. Paul clarifies why nuclear-armed Pakistan continues to neglect all other aspects of development to maintain military parity with India. Even those who disagree with some of his conclusions will find useful his explanation of Pakistan’s insecurities and the policies they have inspired. This book is a valuable addition to the literature on Pakistan’s dysfunction and that dysfunction’s nexus with militarism and Jihadi militancy.”
Husain Haqqani, former ambassador of Pakistan to the United States and Professor of International Relations, Boston University and author of Pakistan Between Mosque and Military

The Warrior State is a provocative and insightful review of Pakistan’s tortured politics filled with interesting comparisons to other Muslim and emerging states.”
Bruce Riedel, Director of the Brookings Institution’s Intelligence Project

“T.V. Paul’s book is a timely commentary on Pakistan’s perennial search for stability.”
Shuja Nawaz, Director, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council and author of Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army, and the Wars Within

The Warrior State provides an unusual perspective on the links between Pakistan’s army-dominated political system and the weakness of the Pakistani state, looking at the different experience of some other army-dominated countries. A thought-provoking contribution.”
Teresita Schaffer, retired U.S. Ambassador, Brookings Institution

The Warrior State is a sadly accurate assessment of the wasteful weakness of Pakistan’s predominant focus on military expenditure rather than its civil economic development, and on preparations for War rather than on peaceful cooperation with its neighbors.
Stanley Wolpert, UCLA History Professor and author of: India and Pakistan: Continued Conflict Or Cooperation?

The Warrior State is an incisive history of Pakistan’s primary national impulse: a holy war that has little resonance or justification in the modern context, but has turned the nation into a fortress that breeds terrorists with the consistency of a factory. Professor Paul’s brilliant study is essential to the understanding of the contemporary world’s most complex country
MJ Akbar, Author of: Tinder Box: The Past and Future of Pakistan

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Hardcover, 272 Pages; ISBN: 9780199322237 New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

South Asia Edition (except Pakistan), New Delhi: Random House India, 2014, forthcoming.
Pakistan Edition, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2014, forthcoming.