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N-deal: Boon for India, US, world
K Subrahmanyam
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March 09, 2006

During the Hyderabad House press briefing on March 2, United States President George W Bush [Images] spelt out the rationale for enhancement of India-US relations.

'What this agreement says is things change, times change, that leadership can make a difference and telling the world -- sending a world, a different message from that which is what used to exist in people's minds,' he declared.

The Cold War is over. The world is no longer bipolar but a balance of power among six powers.

Today, according to US Secretary of State Dr Condoleezza Rice [Images], among the major nations, 'the prospect of violent conflict is becoming ever more unthinkable. Major States are increasingly competing in peace and not preparing for war.'

China and India are rising powers and with their rise the centre of gravity of international relations is shifting to Asia from the trans-Atlantic area.

The world is heading towards an energy crunch with increasing dependence on hydrocarbon fuels.

The evidence of global warming and climate change are undeniable.

End of the world in 1,000 years?

The new threats major nations face are not wars among themselves but of terrorism, pandemic weapons of mass destruction, narcotics and organised crime.

Failing States are the facilitators of these threats.

The enhancement of the India-US relationship is intended to help both countries to face this new international security environment with united efforts.

Those who are one-dimensional are harping on containing China and conventional non-proliferation issues.

They have not understood the vast changes in the international relations and global security environment and therefore are unable to adjust themselves to new changes.

Therefore, like religious fundamentalists who often harp on the text of scriptures written centuries ago and ignore their true spirit, today's political fundamentalists are looking at current events in the light of nuclear proliferation formulations of the 1970s and anti-China attitudes of the 1950s and 1960s.

Those who were silent when China proliferated to Pakistan, which in turn proliferated to Iran and North Korea, are thundering about weakening non-proliferation norms by the United States making an exception for India.

People do not realise that it is meaningless to talk of containing China when Washington has a $200 billion trade with Beijing [Images].

N-deal not justified: Father of NPT

It always takes time for some people to understand and adjust themselves to change. It is in this context that leadership can make a difference.

The policy of containment advocated by George Kennan was new to many people who were thinking of a war with the Soviet Union in conventional terms.  

Kissinger's rapprochement with China surprised all those who talked of a billion Chinese armed with nuclear weapons dominating South East Asia. 

The imperial powers could not reconcile themselves to decolonisation and resisted it at significant cost of human lives.

The US Congress will shortly be facing a major test -- whether it is able to understand the need for change and enable adjustments to change in US interest or take a shortsighted view and oppose making an exception for India in respect of the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.

If Dr Rice's worldview is accepted then the danger of use of nuclear weapons in the hands of a major power like India is receding and the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of non-State actors -- facilitated by failing States -- is increasing.

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It does not make sense to club India which has a spotless record on proliferation -- far superior to that of China and Western European countries whose laxity led to their companies helping proliferation in Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, and elsewhere -- with other proliferators.

Even after conducting its nuclear tests India has been admirably restrained in building up an arsenal -- despite the provocation of frequent tests of Pakistani missiles, supplied by China and North Korea.

Those who look upon the enhancement of India-US relations as a move to contain China have not taken note of Dr Rice's frequent assertions that US strategy towards China is to engage China and help in democratising the most populous country in the world.

The mammoth trade with China, Beijing being accommodated in the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) Regional Forum, APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Conference), clean energy initiative, ITER (International Thermo nuclear Energy Research) and invitation to China for the G-8 summit all proclaim loud and clear that there is no intention to contain Beijing.

When the Soviet Union was contained the US and its allies avoided dealing with USSR in the economic field.

There are no doubt fears about a non-democratic China not playing the game of international competition according to rules. But the remedy for that is not military, economic or political containment.

The only containment China is suffering from is the self-imposed one of denying full democratic rights to its citizens and attempting to isolate itself in the global Internet communications.

US reaching out to India: Peter Wonacott

On the other hand the US move to enhance relationship with India has led to increased interaction of China, Japan [Images] and European Union with India.

It is also likely to result in India liberalising further and playing a larger and more effective role in international economy.

India's expanding economy is a necessary engine of growth for the US and other Western countries.

Indian brainpower has contributed significantly to US economic growth, science and technology in the last few decades and this trend is poised to expand further.

A dynamic balance of power system involving competition among nations calls for their adjusting their relationships with others continuously to maximise advantage to themselves.

The US is interested in sustaining its position in the international hierarchy as the foremost nation. It considers that interaction with India in science and technology will help.

Secondly, the US is keen to get out of its dependency on Middle East oil and also to take technological steps to tackle the problems of global warming, climate change and environmental damage.

President Bush has announced his plans to reduce the dependence on oil imports and it involves development of alternative energy generation technologies, particularly the nuclear technology.

In the 21st century the largest demanders of energy are likely to be US, China and India. Therefore it is essential that these countries take to nuclear energy on a large scale.

'There is no hidden agenda'

The US has launched a major Global Nuclear Energy Partnership along with Russia [Images], Japan, France [Images], Germany [Images] and UK to introduce plutonium burning reactors which will also have the advantage of disposing of enormous quantifies of radioactive hazardous plutonium wastes and using that fuel to generate clean nuclear energy.

If India is to join this group of nations and avoid following China's example of aggravating the greenhouse gas emission (China is the second largest polluter in the world after to the US, responsible for 18 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions) then India has to be exceptionalised from the NPT and given access to civil nuclear energy.

This is what President Bush has done. He deserves the appreciation of all environmentalists.

There are people who argue that all this would mean India becoming a US satellite.

The same kind of charge was levelled when India signed the India-USSR treaty in 1971.

Now it is acknowledged that India did not toe the Soviet line on the anti-Chinese Brezhnev plan.

Even as India did not vote against the Soviet Union on the Afghanistan issue India did not support Soviet occupation of Afghanistan either.

Even today India has taken a tough stand on safeguarding its nuclear security and its nuclear research autonomy in its negotiations with the US.

'Bush's difficulties with N-deal lie at home'

A world of six balancers of power gives much greater flexibility to India than the bipolar system did.

Ignorance about the politics of balance of power, unfamiliarity with any system other than the bipolar one and lack of self-confidence make people come out with fears about toeing the American line.

It is extremely ironical that even as the power of the US diminishes and the world becomes polycentric, some people cannot grow out of the colonial mindset.

Also see:
Complete Coverage: The Bush Visit

K Subrahmanyam

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