CONGRESS SHOULD BUY THE INDO-US NUCLEAR DEAL: INFINITE REASONS.
Coordinator Inpad ( Initiative for Peace and Disarmament)
former Jt Director War History and Colonel of Indian
Army. He has edited and contributed to a book “ Nuclear Menace the
Satyagraha Approach” published by Inpad in May 1996
that laid down the contours of Indian approach to Nuclear question. )
The draft agreement between India
and the US for
co-operation in civil nuclear technology is path breaking event that has the
potential to bring a major shift in the Global balance. It will signify that
the Cold War estrangement between the two countries has finally ended. The US
Congress has the historic opportunity to bury the past and look to the future
Indo-US partnership. Much has been written about the deal from economic,
environmental and trade point of view. Here is an attempt to see the deal in
historical and global strategic context in futuristic terms.
While in India
the two main political parties are in favour of this policy, there has been
some opposition in the US.
The opponents of the Indo-US nuke deal can be classes under three distinct
categories. The first and the foremost are the Non Proliferation ‘Ayatollahs’
or the “purists’ who worry about the effect of this on NPT and on countries
like N. Korea and Iran,
the neo-aspirants to nuclear weapons. The second group of opponents are the old
Cold Warriors in bureaucracy, think tanks and political parties, who do not
are concerned about the effect on Pakistan
and are worried about their old Anti India positions and fear becoming
irrelevant. The third group is the ‘pragmatists’ who see the agreement as a
give away to India
and advocate tough bargaining and conditionality. They feel that the US
could get India
as a partner without these ‘concessions’. The Pro China lobby sees in this a
NPT Argument of Non Proliferation Ayatollahs.
The ‘purists’ among this group mis-represent the NPT. It is NOT about stopping
proliferation or disarmament but is essentially a device to ‘freeze’ the world
nuclear power balance as it existed in 1968. It is very similar to the
structure of the UN Security Council where the world balance of 1945 is sought
to be frozen to eternity. Is it a mere co-incidence that the five permanent and
Veto wielding nations of UN Security Council are also the five ‘recognised’
nuclear weapon powers under the NPT? The fact that under the NPT regime
vertical proliferation has continued unabated gives the game away. Even the
post 1992 charade of ‘reduction’ in nuclear weapons by US and Russia
is an eye wash. All that has happened is that the ‘surplus’ nukes after the end
of NATO-WARSAW Pacts confrontation in Europe, have been decommissioned. The
feigned morality displayed by the supporters of no-changers in NPT is fake.
But 2006 is NOT 1945 and the
world has changed dramatically since those days. The idea of a static power
balance is itself historically incorrect. If this was to be true then half the
world ought to have been still under the Roman Empire.
The problem about the NPT and even UN is that unfortunately there is no ‘Exit’
policy for the ‘have-been’ great powers. What the Indo-US nuclear deal does is
merely recognition of the new reality. Do the opponents of this treaty
seriously believe that they can ‘cap, roll back and eliminate’ Indian nuclear
weapons? The continuing sanctions have failed in stopping proliferation. What
the Ayatollah’s are essentially arguing is that India
should be continued to be ‘punished’ for not having signed the NPT. How that is
going to stop Indian nuclear weapon programme is a question that is left unanswered.
The argument that concessions to India
will have ‘domino’ effect on other wannabe nuclear weapons aspirants is as
false as was the original ‘Domino’ theory that plunged the US
in an unnecessary war in Vietnam.
Even the case of Indian subcontinent (India
is wrongly interpreted. ZA Bhutto, late Pakistani Prime Minister, began his
nuclear weapons programme in 1971, three years before Indian nuclear test of
1974. ( “Pakistanis will eat grass but have nuclear
weapons” , from ‘If I am Assassinated” Biswin Sadi Pub, 1979).
Interestingly, while India
tested a nuclear device in May 1974, it was not until 1983-84 that Pakistan
is likely to have obtained one. Recent revelations in rediff
have shown how it was the Americans who bailed out the notorious A. Q. Khan-
this on the authority of no less a person than the ex PM of Holland!
Pakistani nuclear capability was possibly created by the US
by proxy. The Chinese designs have been found in Libya
where they reached via Pakistan.
Pakistani nuclear capability is a result of American and Chinese actions during
the Afghan and Cold War and NOT a knee jerk reactions
to Indian actions. To think that Indian actions will have effect on Iran
or North Korea
is not logical.
Ultimately, as pointed out
repeatedly by India,
the NPT only addresses the ‘supply’ side of the nuclear question. The nuclear
weapon nations have failed to take any worthwhile action on the ‘demand’ of the
nuclear question. India
has already taken steps in this direction by giving a ‘No First Use Pledge’. A
universal pledge on the same lines will go a long way in curbing the demand for
nuclear weapons amongst the nations like Iran or North Korea that feel
The Indo-US nuclear agreement
voluntarily joins in the nuclear safeguards and export restrictions of the NPT
regime is a net gain. Thus while the Indo-US nuclear deal may not be exactly as
per the letter of the NPT, it however is in line with the spirit of the treaty.
This is where the purists like the Ayatollah, seem
more concerned with the letter.
Some non proliferationists
have been hurling charges of cheating, theft etc at the Indian nuclear
establishment. It should interest them to know that the Tata
Institute of Fundamental Research began work in area of nuclear energy even
before independence, in 1945. Nuclear science and photonics owes its existence
to Indian scientists like C.V. Raman and Satyen Bose.
Going back in time, the science of Mathematics, Algebra, Astronomy and Surgery
owe a debt to Indians. The Western science has progressed standing on the
shoulders of these ancient Indian thinkers and scientists. The churlish accusation of theft of intellectual property etc betray an
Legacy of Mistrust and Cold Warriors.
The historical circumstances
combined to get India
a raw deal at the end of Second World War. In Tehran
conference in 1943, when the contours of future world organisations were
finalised an American diplomat dismissed India’s
claim to Security Council seat on the grounds that India
had yet to win its York Town!
(28 Sep to 18 Oct 1781
that sealed the fate of British and is regarded as the decisive battle of
American war of independence). The diplomat failed to realise that York
Town was NOT an American victory
alone but the French played a major role. But with Imperialist Churchill at the
helm of affairs, India’s
case went unrepresented. This despite the fact that over two and half million
Indians fought in the second world war. Indians won
more Victoria Crosses and George Crosses than even the British! Indian claims
to the high table were ignored unfairly as the British have never forgiven
Indians for ending their empire. A taste of this was when the British media
came out strongly
against the Indo US nuclear deal. American Congress will be well advised to
ignore the unsolicited advice of our and their former colonial masters!
I have been dealing with American
diplomats and think tanks for last 15 years and one feels that the stale smell
of Cold War mindset still lingers on the corridors of Foggy Bottoms or think
tanks corridors like the yesterdays Pizza lunch! Situation is similar in South
Block, home to Indian foreign ministry where the smell lingering is of old
non-alignment era Doas! Since the 1970s the US
did everything to thwart Indian progress in nuclear field. Death of Dr. Homi Bhabha in plane crash in Jan 1966 is still
a mystery. Once India
embarked on construction of heavy water based reactors, equipment for this
suddenly dried up. Exchange towers meant for Talcher
plant suddenly fell off the ship off Portuguese coast. The plant faced
prolonged labour trouble. Baroda
plant was destroyed in an explosion. The nadir was reached when in 1980s the US
came out strongly in favour of Punjab separatists. To
cover the tracks of those activities, it probably scuttled the trial of ‘Kanishka’ bombers till as recently as last year! Even
during President Clinton’s first term, every time India
seemed to get a grip over situation in Kashmir, Ms
Albright ensured that the morale of the separatists was kept up. The US
has its own share of misgivings. Throughout the cold war India
sided with the Soviet Union and kept quiet even when the
Soviets brutally squashed the Hungarian revolt of 1956, Czechoslovakian
uprising of 1967 and was chary of condemning Afghan invasion of 1979. In fact,
till as late as 1979, the NATO military exercises routinely counted the Indian
armed forces as part of the enemy camp.
Career diplomats and think tanks
specialists had made a living out of India
bashing during the Cold War. A constant theme of the arguments was the equating
of India and Pakistan.
The nuclear deal decisively puts an end to that charade. But old habits and
written words do not die easily. The opposition to the deal is more due to the
fear of losing funding and damaged careers rather than any logical reasoning. Some of the ‘specialists’ have now taken to the job of conjuring up
Phantom demons in rise of Indian nationalism. Even Samuel Huntington in
one of his essays post the ‘Clash of Civilisation’ theory mentions the fact
that Indian Bolywood continues to out produce Hollywood
in terms of number of movies per year! He wonders as to why the American soft
power has left India
untouched. But he and the think tanks have forgotten another Indian threat: the
spread of Yoga! ( though to the American credit, even
the ‘Time’ has appropriated Yoga and some have even gone to the extent of
patenting it.) But surely if Bolywood and Yoga
conquer the US,
the effect could only be beneficial to a society that is violent and obese!
Both could do with some tear jerkers of Bolywood and slimming actions of Yoga!
Nuclear Deal: Win Win for Both.
But in the ultimate analysis, the
fate of the Indo-US nuclear deal will be decided by the ‘Pragmatists’ and not
by the out of sync specialists or jaded Cold Warriors. Here it would be honest
to admit that the nuclear deal and its attendant lifting of technology
sanctions on dual use items will enhance Indian military capability. Will this
pose any threat to the Americans like the old folly of patronising AQ Khan of
one OBL! Here the American law makers must see the fact that despite its available
has refrained from developing an ICBM that could reach the US.
Indian nuclear capability is specifically oriented towards deterring China.
In case of Pakistan,
for very long India
has been having a strategy of developing small nukes for battlefield use. ( Combat Papers of July/Aug 1981 under the inspiration of
late General K. Sunderji). In any case far too many
Indian decision makers and elites have their kith and kin in the US
for India to
ever think of targeting US with nuclear weapons.
In Shakespeare idiom, “ there is something rotten in the state of China
“ . It would indeed be in India’s
and everyone’s interest if the rise of China
is peaceful. But there are serious problems that confront that nation. Lack of
transparency and Chinese oligarchy is opaque and is already producing
individual violence due to lack of freedom and independent judiciary. , China
faces daunting internal challenges, possibly severe and also plausible. Under the one party iron
rule of Communist party, there is no individual freedom in China.
Even the judiciary is under party control and an individual with personal
grievance has no method of redress. The news that filters through the ‘Bamboo
Curtain’ often gives a glimpse of violent reactions to various injustices. But
the vice like grip on power of the Communist Party and the Peoples Liberation
Army is such that any organised resistance to the regime is unlikely. Chinese
have been careful to squash any organization other than the Communist party.
The sever crack down on the ‘Guang Falong ‘ is an example. But
individual frustration could lead to acts of terrorism and industrial sabotage.
There has already been several such incidents. If
these individual revolts against the system take a form of epidemic then the
effect could indeed derail Chinese economy. Internet and spread of
communications as well as ‘external’ encouragement could well make it more than
a mere pin prick.
in its drive for industrialisation completely ignored safety and environment.
It is indeed strange that a would be super power
suffers from mine accidents on a very regular basis. In the ‘Workers Paradise’
the mine workers have no godfatherThe frequent
explosions in coal mines raises serious questions about the efficiency of the
management and state oversight.
But even greater disaster in
waiting for China
is the utter disregard for environmental impact of economic development. The
recent incident where hazardous chemicals have flowed into major international river like the Amur
is a cause for concern not just for China
but even for Russia.
The situation has
arisen due to the fact that in the Chinese system there is no room for checks
and balances or rival power centres. This may well give an appearance of efficiency and
decisiveness, but in reality result in
poor decisions. How China
overcomes this is a question mark. Does it democratise? Can it control the
process? There are no easy answers.
has over last two decades succeeded in controlling its population. Its rising
living standards are to some extent due to this. To achieve this
the Chinese ENFORCED ONE CHILD NORM.
It is well known that in China
in general ( and India
) in rural area in particular there is a marked preference to a male child. In China’s
opaque system with wide spread use of abortions, it is indeed certain that the
male-female ration is skewed badly in favour of males. What impact this would
have on crime and law and order situation in future is unknown to even the best
of social scientists since this is a indeed a unique case. With the enforcement
of ‘one child’ norm, already large part of the Chinese population would be the
‘only’ child of its parents. From universal experience of families, it is seen
than a single child is often obstinate,
demanding and selfish. Imagine a country where 500 million citizens have
this psychological background. Nation is after all a collection of individuals.
What will a future China
look like? Will such a nation be able to live in peace with the rest of the
world or would it be aggressive and domineering?
To be fair, India
is attempting to put its relations with China
on an even keel and is unlikely to be an ‘Appendage’ of the America’s
But by its very existence it will be an uncertain ‘X’ factor that China
will have to consider in any of its future confrontation with the US
on issues ranging from Taiwan
to oil is Sea of Japan. Militarily strong India
is in the interest of the US.
Congresspersons are well aware that the greatest nightmare facing the US
is the possibility that the Islamist terrorists get hold of the nuclear
weapons. Given the history of AQ Khan network, Taliban
link and lure of Pan Islam, nukes when used against the US
will have a ‘made in Pakistan’
tag on them. The danger is NOT of nuclear weapons falling into the Jihadi hands, but much greater, of the whole of Pakistani
state being taken over by the Jihadis! There are
limits to what Musharraf can deliver and doubts about
how long he will last. Interestingly, thanks to people to people contact,
cricket and role of Indian Muslims, India
is no longer the enemy number one in Pakistan, that honour goes to the US.
This is not an exaggeration as the US
diplomats in Islamabad would
testify that in recent ‘Cartoon row’ it was the students from English medium
schools and govt colleges who threw stones at the American embassy. Fifteen
years ago, on 17 July 1991, while on a visit to the US, I had given extracts of
Pakistani text books and drawn attention of Ms Sandy Charles, Director Near
East and South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, to the ‘Islamization’ that is taking place in Pakistan and its long
term repercussions. That generation of Pakistanis fed on the Zia Ul Haq
designed curriculum is today come of age. Pessimistically, it is not question
of whether but when
the Jihadis take over that country. In that
situation, it is only India
that can de-fang Pakistan.
India-US: Partnership for Peace.
Despite convoluted logic from
Harvard Professor of Sanskrit language, the fact remains that India
is pluralistic civilisation with basic ethos rooted in not merely individual
freedom but individual divinity. India
had an Empire in South East Asia that was a result of
export of culture NOT soldiers. In its 5000 years of unbroken history, India
has never invaded a foreign land. More
than 71 % Indians regard US ( not necessarily
President ) as a friend. Indo-US nuclear accord will only cement a relationship
based on shared values. US Congress will do well to ignore the out of date
experts, the non proliferation Ayatollahs and British.
Failure of Congress to accept the
deal will only delay the positive outcome. Have we not wasted enough time in