Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Kissinger talks on India

President Bush’s last visit to Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan is a landmark in US foreign policy. The Indo-American partnership has been strengthened. America demonstrated wholehearted commitment to Afghanistan. On the other hand, relative importance of Pakistan seems to be declining. Though one month has passed since then, India is an important issue in Washington.

In order to understand the overall view of this issue, let me refer to an article, “Anatomy of Partnership” in the International Herald Tribune by Henry Kissinger. In the article, he welcomes new partnership with this powerful English-speaking democracy and the United States. America and India faces common threats of Islamic terrorism. Since 9-11, the US-Indian partnership has become critically important to defeat radical Muslims from Yemen to Mumbai. Also, it is necessary to incorporate India into the global economy. Globalization brings costs and benefits, and both India and the United States can overcome these problems by joint efforts.

On the other hand, while Indian participation in building a new world order will be an advantage to American global strategy, Kissinger warns not to use India as America’s diplomatic card against China and other actors. He argues that neither India nor China seeks pre-eminence in Eurasian heartland, despite conflicts over Tibet. According to Kissinger, both the United States and India need constructive relationship with China, and it does not serve America’s interest to use India to contain China.

The most vital issue is the nuclear deal. Kissinger insists that nuclear progress in India is irreversible, but it is necessary to make Indian commitment to non-proliferation explicit. R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary of State, says almost the same thing in the lecture at the Heritage Foundation.

So far as pro-con debates on US-Indian deals are concerned, the most serious issue is nuclear non-proliferation. Should the United States trust India, without considering effects on current non-proliferation regime?

Pro-Indian opinion leaders regard India as a trustworthy democracy. In their view, a feasible agreement outside present NPT will be helpful foe nuclear arms control.

Robert Kagan, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says that a powerful and prosperous democracy like India is a good counterbalance against China and Russia. Most importantly, he endorses US double standard policy against Iran and India, because Iran takes brinkmanship diplomacy while India does not. While he recognizes current NPT regime remains a useful tool to stop nuclear proliferation, he insists that realistic deals with India are inevitable as this regime is collapsing.

His viewpoints are widely shared among neoconservatives and Bush administration supporters. Helle Dale, Director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation, goes on to say that arguments against India sound rather like the District of Columbia's gun laws, which leave handguns in the hands of the criminals, but deny honest citizens the right to own one.

IAEA welcomes this deal as well. Considering icy relations between American conservatives and UN bureaucrats, it is a surprise. Though India refuses to sign NPT, Director General Mohammed El Baradei supports the deal to bring India closer as an important partner in the non-proliferation regime while satisfying its growing energy needs. It is noteworthy that R. Nicholas Burns told Reuters that this unique deal with India would not be repeated with other countries such as neighbor and rival Pakistan, because India has not proliferated for 30 years. He says this distinguishes India from major proliferators like North Korea.

Still, some opinion leaders worry that the Bush administration gave too much benefits to India without sufficient return. According to Joseph Cirincione, Director of Nonproliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, President Bush permitted the Indian authority to decide which reactors would be exempted from inspection. This does not satisfy the normal and full-scope inspections originally sought. Moreover, he warns that a double standard will undermine US effort against Iran.

Even Republican leaders including Senator Richard Lugar, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Rep. Henry Hyde, Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, and Rep. Ed Royce, Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation worry that the deal is too lenient for India, and sacrifice nonproliferation objectives.

As India is buying uranium from Russia before the US-Indian deal comes into effect, opponents’ views are worth being considered.

In face of these pro-con debates, George Perkovich, Vice President at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says that nonproliferation rules needs to change flexible enough to get India in. However he worries that the deal is too vague and too fast. The term of “civilian” and “military” must be defined more strictly, he says. Though Perkovich does not necessarily agree to President Bush’s approach, he defends a double standard.

“Iran has been found noncompliant with legal obligations, and is being held to account for them. Also, Iran, unlike India, does not recognize the right of some countries to exist. Iran, unlike India, conducts terrorism...The two examples are very different.”

Finally, let me review Afghanistan and Pakistan just briefly. For the surprise visit to Afghanistan, President Bush canceled the tour to Taj Mahal. Unlike former president Bill Clinton, he did not enjoy tiger safari in India. These facts illustrate how serious the Bush administration is to resolve Afghan issues. On the other hand, the importance of Pakistan to the United States is declining. It is noticeable in Burns’ lecture at the Heritage Foundation. He mentions too much on India, and too little on Pakistan.

Fundamentally, the Bush administration is right to incorporate India into the global economy, and establish strategic partnership with this powerful English-speaking democracy. But remember that India acts on its own. America should not trust this country blindly. Former senator Sam Nunn who currently chairs the Nuclear Threat Initiative raises serious concern that the deal will damage US interest without imposing sufficient obligations to India. Pro-con controversies at the congress will be intensified. Forthcoming debates will be a real landmark in US foreign policy and global nonproliferation.

by Shah Alex