In our concluding post on the Indo-US nuclear deal, we had warned against domestic Leftist and Islamist opposition to Dr. Manmohan Singh. Now citing the Varanasi attacks by Islamist terrorists, the 'intellectual' class is up arms against India's geo-political ambitions in general and the alignment with the United States in particular with this deal. Sunanda K. Datta-Ray writing in The Telegraph:
By exposing the limits of nuclear muscle-flexing, the Varanasi explosions should have pricked the balloon of euphoria generated by George W. Bush's visit. By demonstrating again how closely internal security is linked with neighbourhood politics which depend, in part, on the role of the United States of America in the subcontinent, the blasts should also give pause to those who are feverishly fantasizing about the US transforming India into a superpower while cutting Pakistan down to size.
Excitement over this unites saffron chauvinists with Congress functionaries basking in a glow of achievement and think-tanks and commentators who are dependent, psychologically if not materially, on official patronage and also infected by the craving for gloire. But their jubilation ignores what the deal portends and what it cannot achieve. It exposes anomalies and inconsistencies in India's position. Nor should gratitude for evidence of a special relationship delude us into imagining that the US is dumping China and Pakistan.
Note that Mr. Datta-Ray does not see this successful negotiation of the nuclear deal as a victory for all Indians but rather as some sort of ego-boosting Prozac treatment for misguided jingoists. Whichever Brit who devised the 'Divide and Rule' policy would be proud. Let's be clear that no one is fantasizing about someone helping out someone else becoming a super power. India will charter out its own course with or without the US. It is just that the US wants to invest in that and reap up some short-term commercial benefits and medium-term tactical understanding of mutual interests, that is if it turns out well as previewed.
None of this is to question Bush's intentions or India's right to sit at the world's high table. But we should be objective enough to understand that a unilateral American exception to the nuclear order, albeit in India's favour, formally hammers the last nail into the coffin of multipolarity and consensual decision-making. Henceforth, the US can claim India's approval in riding roughshod over international institutions, organizations and commitments. The nature of the challenge highlighted by the Varanasi bloodshed should also oblige us to acknowledge that an obsession with the bomb, making nonsense of previous assertions about greatness lying in the moral and cultural values of 5,000 years of unbroken civilization, cannot protect us from the stab in the back of saboteurs and subversives striking suddenly in the dark or in the anonymity of crowds.
Whoa, Mr. Dutta-Ray is dabbling with nuclear bombs, Hindu civilization, mulipolarity, etc. Whoever said nuclear weapons could stop terrorists - 10,000 U.S. warheads did'nt prevent Al-Queda from striking at the heart of American power on 9/11. And, India did not seek approval from any multilateral institutions from liberating Bangladesh in the face of the Pakistani genocide of 1971. Nor did it get any help in fighting terror in all these years - so why should India give a rat's derriere about such toothless institutions.
The author still hasn't answered the question on why should India sacrifice its foreign policy objectives in the face of a changing world-order to a bunch of terrorist low-lives sent by the neighboring Islamic Republic.
But Pakistan is central to it with Pervez Musharraf hinting that he might seek similar privileges from China which might still regard "a nuclear-armed Pakistan as a crucial regional ally and vital counterweight to India's growing military capabilities", quoting the US Central Intelligence Agency's James Woolsey.
It is no longer India's problem if China trades with Pakistan. Under the 1998 Sino-US nuclear agreement and its commitments to the IAEA, the Chinese have 'promised' a strict export control system which will be under safeguards. If it goes ahead and violates again, it is the world's problem to deal with it.
Three reasons are cited for objecting to any such deal. First, Pakistan did not develop its own technology. Second, it is a proven proliferator. And third, it has never shown any interest in civilian nuclear energy. The third factor only extends America's fig-leaf for the pact with India and Nicholas Burns's charade in New Delhi that the US "has not recognized formally India as a nuclear weapons state". The first two are also subjective judgments, and all three lie solely within American discretion. In fact, the NPT's erosion reinforces US supremacy, crowning it as the only arbiter of global power and bulwark against a free for all.
This guy must be smoking something really strong. Abdul "Xerox" Khan's nuclear Wal-Mart is no longer a secret and is known to one and all. He fails to understand it is India's nuclear tests in 1998 which brought out to open the 'secret' behind Pakistan's nuclear and scientific 'prowess' thanks to Uncle Jiang. In fact after meeting with President Bush, Gen. Musharraf himself didn't want any sort of nuclear deal fearing direct American interrogation of AQ Khan which would directly link the Pakistani military as THE proliferator.
Bush's supposed "double snub" to Musharraf, which is causing such glee in this country, will not, in itself, enable India to tackle Pakistan or the terrorists with whom Pakistan shares the common cause of Kashmir. Even the snub deserves scrutiny. A great power needs room for manoeuvre, as Kissinger also remarked, and the agreement with India gives the US just that without irrevocably alienating the other two regional partners.
First, we did not see any gloating at this 'snub' in any Indian media outlet. Though there was a big whine fest in the Pakistani media which we can't do anything about. Secondly, Pakistan-based terrorists (luckily for India), have gone beyond Kashmir and India and have been wrecking havoc (or trying hard) everywhere from Australia, the UK and the United States. They are very much interlinked with the Al-Queda and International Islamic Front not to mention the daily attacks against Afghan and Coalition troops by Taliban 'sympathizers'.
Providing territory, intelligence and military cooperation for Bush's war on terror, Pakistan also remains indispensable. A passing reference to democracy as Pakistan's future does not imply any reluctance to do full business with a dictator. The refusal to mediate in Kashmir only proves that Bush is more realistic than Bill Clinton was. And the refusal to duplicate the India deal was another piece of realism that acknowledged that Pakistan's craving is not so much for global status (like India's) as for Kashmir, subcontinental parity and the ability to pin India down in the neighbourhood. Nuclear legitimacy is less relevant in this context than the impressive package of arms that goes with Pakistan's major non-Nato ally status. Bush makes no bones about India's booming economy, cheap labour, investment needs, exports and rampant consumerism making it indispensable for America's continued prosperity. The strategic alliance is equally significant.
Well the 'non' part of the non-NATO ally is very evident when the Americans fired a couple of Hellfires down their territory in exchange for a few billion dollars of aid and military hardware. Indeed, there is no parity here.
So, the game is to balance three Asian props of American power to best serve the US. Of course, the arrangement offers them attractive dividends too, as well as scope for bargaining. It might even allow India to take steps on its own to curb terrorist attacks, but never at the expense of the overarching framework of American interests.
No one is believing that the US signed the deal out of pure altruism. It is up to India to make the best out of the new strategic arrangement. The United States Navy desperately needs its Indian counterpart for monitoring the Greater Indian Ocean - from the Straits of Malacca to the Arabian Sea against thugs, terrorists and nuclear proliferation. India is looking for land access to the Central Asian Republics (CAR) and Afghanistan. While such an arrangement will not materialize immediately, in the medium/long term that route has to open up either via Gilgit/ Baltistan or Balochistan.
This article goes on to show how many Indian commentators have a schizophrenic vision about the new geo-political realities. The author tries his best to put himself in the other guy's shoes rather than analyze India's objectives. His other pet peeve - the multilateral institutions, are fast losing their relevance. With the nuclear deal, the non-proliferation regime under the NPT will soon be toast. India has no incentive to support the United Nations since its doors to permanent membership seem to be permanently closed to her.
We are now witnessing a renewed emphasis on power plays between great nation states. Some are more likely to be alliances of conveniences for short-term gains (India and China allied against Western nations and Japan during WTO negotiations ) while some (?) has the potential to develop into a long-term partnership. Understanding this reality is the first step to venture into this brave new world.
Update 2: Chief Candle Kisser™®© Kuldip Nayar longing for the good ol' days of 3% growth in another Pakistani daily.