Tuesday, June 20, 2006
More on India ...
Senator McCain reveals it all – the deal is unlikely to go through Congress this year and he expects Senators (and by implication House members) to play their roles, roles of due diligence. (http://ia.rediff.com/news/2006/jun/20mccain.htm?q=np&file=.htm) He says he does not oppose this deal, but…. This has become a familiar refrain by now in American Congress. Sen. Kerry started it first and now looks like other Senators have picked this tune.
Many Senators and House Representatives have gone on record to say that not passing this deal will be damaging to Indo-USA relations. This means all these elected representatives are perfectly aware of expectations on India’s side. However, it seems that a substantial number of these elected representatives (majority?) has apprehensions of this or that sort to this deal. Then what do you do when you are an American Congress member? Try making ‘noise’ but no action. It is obvious that all these Congress members are smart enough to play such ‘expectation management’ games. It has gotten to a point where it is no more a subtle hint.
This follows on to a question I had directed to Ambassador Pickering at Friday's event on the U.S.-India relationship--the question of whether Congress would be prepared to accept the nuclear deal within the parameters of a relationship where India might diverge from U.S. expectations from time to time. My sense is that the Congress is not prepared, at this point, for this type of relationship (raising questions as to whether Washington is prepared to deal with India as an ally, not as a client state where rewards are offered or withheld).
American political adulthood in the real world begins with the understanding that foreign policy initiatives that diverge notably from past practice and modify existing agreements cannot just be presented to Congress by a President without a reputation for skill in foreign affairs. No doubt this is upsetting to people whose standard for a mature foreign policy is how acceptable it is to foreigners, at least to the English-speaking ones they meet at conferences. Here's a suggestion for them: grow up.
Again, it looks like "...a decent respect for the opinions of mankind..." is just not a consideration for Congressional leaders, or some commentators.
And its not as if we've gotten much good out of taking that kind of narrow view of what is in our interest recently. The difficulty with it in this case is that India has no desire to be treated like a subservient client state, and has alternatives.