Friday, May 04, 2007
Bad Feeling on India
"The first is any problem arising out of the codification of the U.S.-India civil nuclear deal in what is called the “one-two-three” agreement—this is the document that works out the technical details of how the bilateral nuclear agreement will be implemented. Without this agreement we cannot get from here to there ...
"The second is the possibility of a divergence over what to do about Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. Some members of Congress feel very strongly that india needs to see exactly eye to eye with the United States in how to deal with Iran. There are no differences between Washington and New Delhi over the goal: neither country wants a nuclear-armed Iran. But there may emerge tactical differences regarding the best way to go about accomplishing this."
Blackwill feels that, in the end, given that so many in both Washington and New Dehli are invested in the success of the new relationship, these bumps in the road can be overcome. I hope so. But the Congressional letter worries me.
The first is that it may be used to confirm the suspicions of many in India that the United States is really not interested in relations with India because it views India as an important country, but rather that the nuclear deal is instrumental--meant to get New Dehli to sign up with U.S. priorities vis-a-vis Iran (and then China), that India is of value to the U.S. only in terms of what it can do to pressure Tehran and help contain Beijing.
The second is the assumption that India has to see Iran through the same lenses. And here the letter falls into the trap of conflating all Islamist-based terrorism and Iran. It is very true that Iran will back Sunni movements--but when they challenge U.S. and Israeli interests (e.g. Palestinian Islamic Jihad). But Iran has no use for Sunni movements in other parts of the world particularly if they attack Shi'ites. So it is true India has been subjected to terrorist attack but the groups that have carried out such actions are not ones supported by Iran (and in fact often target Shi'ites in Pakistan as well). Iran doesn't support separatism in Kashmir for the same reason it doesn't support it in Chechnya--it doesn't like Sunni radicals and it doesn't like separatism given Iran's own vulnerabilities in this regard. Also Iran likes India for its role in safeguarding one of the largest Shi'ite populations in the world.
Third, I think we have the order wrong. India needs energy. It's not going to forego relations with Iran unless it has guarantees elsewhere. Get the nuclear deal ratified and open up the possibility of a maximum expansion of India's civilian nuclear capacity, and I think we'll see greater willingness to cut Iran off. But we are falling the same trap as we did with the Russians and Iran in the 1990s--vague promises of future contracts versus real tangible deals. It's not surprising Russia went with Iran in the 1990s (and, now that Russia has real alternatives, is willing to cut Tehran off); why should we expect India to be different?
Given the reaction today in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament, where there was broad agreement across party lines that India would not accept any outside interference in its foreign policy matters nor compromise with its sovereignty and national integrity, I see the possibility of the deal being scuttled, unless cooler heads on both sides prevail.
Why stir this up now? Did they think they would really get the response they wanted? And how does this make Singh and his government more responsive to American concerns? Geez, Singh is now going to be under even greater pressure to show his independence from Washington.
I get so tired of hearing the excuse that U.S. politicians have to give something to their domestic base. Well, Indian politicians have domestic bases to worry about too. Communists are going to have a field day with this.
The nuclear deal is irrelevant to India's energy security.
The deal is improtant but it is not worth the relationship with Iran.
On the other hand, I think the failure of this deal is a blessing in disguise. You simply cannot genuinely contain nuclear proliferation while expanding the number of nuclear powers. You can't give the weapons to your friends. And you can't tolerate or assist anyone that gets them. If you make nuclear deals with friendly treaty breakers, you are knifing the system in the back.
Of course, I'm ready to abandon anti-proliferation myself, but most people in the community aren't.
- Jordan W. '02
The unravelling of this deal will be a great blow to Mr. Singh and his faction. It also will hurt the cause of US in India.
If people care about non-proliferation they would rein in Israel and Brazil.
For Americans, however, a kind of “If you are not with us you are against us” kind of culture has begun to prevail, and on the matter of Iran, they are in no mood to see any other point of view.
Now the question is about the Indian response. The MPs, especially from the Opposition parties, are justified in expressing their anger, concern and protest. But getting worked up over the views held by US Congressmen is a bit of an over the top response. Instead, why not have a clear debate in the House, and send out a message in a dignified way that India is under no obligation to accept the point of view of American Congressmen.
In any case, the bigger point here is the Indo-US Nuclear deal, which has a momentum and dynamic all its own and which is not going to fail or succeed on the basis of the views of a few representatives on either side.
Then, there is the non-proliferation crowd, who will not be persuaded by evidence that treaties alone do not prevent non-proliferation. Why do most non-proliferation advocates come from countries that enjoy the protection afforded by such weapons? That’s like people warning about the dangers of industrialization, while driving off in their cars on well-paved roads to their homes that have reliable heating and cooling systems.
While I was an initial supporter of the deal, it looks like it may not make it. Apparently the Indians are concerned that if they were to conduct another test, the deal would be off. From India’s POV, this is an understandable worry. From America’s POV, it does not want to have it’s ambitious plan viewed as arming a country with nuclear weapons. Unless they can resolve this, I’m afraid the deal will not go through.
Still, Bush has done far more to advance U.S.-Indian relations than any American president. And Singh should be credited for not adopting the silly anti-U.S. stance of a number of his leftist allies.