Stephen Philip Cohen, the American political scientist and professor of South Asian security studies, was exceptional in many ways.
Stephen Cohen was one of those few Americans who were best known in the subcontinent for their objective analysis, particularly of Pakistan and India, and of South Asian security.
This aspect is particularly important as most political experts and researchers in the West desist from examining the political and security matters of the South Asian region on the basis of merit and they tend to form subjective views that are mostly aligned with their state policies.
Cohen’s reputation as a US-based expert on security issues in South Asia was wellfounded because he emerged as a leading voice from the West. He pioneered the study of security issues, mainly in the South Asian context.
In the Western world, Stephen Cohen was best-known for his deep insights into Pakistan and India, and he alone served as a one-man think tank in the West on the most complex security matters of the subcontinent. His five-decade long association with the South Asian region helped him depict a reality-based picture of regional security that, by itself, remains vulnerable at the hands of those global powers that seem to be concerned by the fragile state of peace and security in South Asia.
Born in 1936, Stephen Philip Cohen was a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy programme at the Brookings Institution for 21 years, from 1998 until his death on October 27, 2019. During his association with the Brookings Institution, he published seven books and several papers focusing primarily on security and foreign policy in South Asia.
Cohen was the first American scholar to work in the field of South Asian security studies. Being a pioneer in his academic domain in the U.S., he trained and mentored many leading analysts and security strategists. In addition, he developed policy interests in key matters, such as disaster management, nuclear proliferation and counterterrorism. In recognition of his impactful scholarship and far-reaching influence in policy-making, he was named senior fellow emeritus by Brookings in 2017.
Prior to joining Brookings, Cohen was a faculty member at the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign in the departments of political science and history from 1965 to 1998.
He served as a member of the Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State in 1985-87. He also taught in Singapore, Japan and India and served as the scholar-in-residence at the Ford Foundation in New Delhi during 1992-93.
Cohen authored, co-authored and edited a number of books, research papers, monographs and articles. Among his bestknown books are, ‘The Future of Pakistan,’ ‘Pakistan, Piece by Piece,’ ‘Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum,’ ‘The Idea of Pakistan,’ ‘The Pakistan Army,’ ‘The Indian Army: Its Contribution to the Development of a Nation,’ ‘The Compound Crisis of 1990: Perception, Politics and Insecurity,’ ‘India: Emerging Power’ and the ‘Arming without Aiming: India’s Military Modernization.’
Stephen Cohen was named as one of America's 500 most influential people in foreign affairs. He died leaving behind a generation of political researchers and strategic analysts he had mentored over a 50-year career.