01 October 2008

This IS Very Good News (Very Good Indeed, Yes?), SO Naturally the NYT Ends the Article with a Critic of the Bill . . .

The United States opened a new chapter of cooperation with India on Wednesday night as Congress gave final approval to a breakthrough agreement permitting civilian nuclear trade between the two countries for the first time in three decades

It's about time. India can be our best friend in Asia, and a bulwark for us against three potential rivals/threats. India can help us against agressive Islamist, Russia, and China, but only if we embrace India and help them thrive as the world's largest democracy.

India's far from perfect, but they have the potential to be a much better ally for us than China can (so long as China remains the strange semi-free market/very totalitarian hybrid it currently is), and a friendly India that we cooperate with will be to both our benefit.

So, of course, the NYT has to find some way to paint this as a negative given that the Bush Administration isn't allowed any foreign policy victories, here's the end of the article:
The United States-India Business Council, which promoted the deal, estimates that India may spend as much as $175 billion over the next quarter century expanding its nuclear industry to cope with rising energy demands. Companies like General Electric, Westinghouse and Bechtel will now be able to compete for contracts.

“This is one of those historic, important, tectonic shifts in relations with another country,” said Ron Somers, the council’s president. “This is a country we need to be partnering with and I would argue will be shaping the destiny of the 21st century.” Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Henry L. Stimson Center, a research organization in Washington, called the promise of big dollars and American jobs “pure fantasy” and predicted that the United States would regret further opening the nuclear door.

“There will be a reckoning for this agreement,” he said. “You can argue till you’re blue in the face that India is a special case. But what happens in one country affects what happens in others.”

The Washington Times published Michael Krepon's Op-Ed on the subject, and I find his analysis wanting. Cooperating with India won't weaken the goal of non-proliferation, working with India won't spawn any greater nuclear competition between India, Pakistan and China than already exists. That genie is out of the bottle, and in short order, Taiwan, Japan, and a united Korea might join them in the Asian countries with big nasty bombs club before 2020 (I leave out Iran because Iran will simply not be given the chance to join that club, their government is too erratic, too supportive of terrorism, and too hell bent on the destruction of Israel for any responsible United States government to turn a blind eye to their activities). This agreement doesn't make that eventuality any more or less likely, it's simply a matter of the proliferation of technology and states exercising their right to self determination and taking actions that they feel are part of their motivated self-interest.

Asia's a dangerous neighborhood, with very large countries posing existential threats to smaller nations, that's the reason why WMD proliferation will happen over the next 12 years, not anything to do with one agreement between the United States and India. The experience of the five original nuclear powers proves the defensive effectiveness of WMD, it's a worthy goal to lessen their proliferation, and it's a high priority to keep these weapons away from non-state actors or failed states, but these weapons remain attractive for good reason, and ostracizing India in perpetuity for developing their own nuclear capacity will not serve the goal of reducing WMD, nor will it prevent the inevitable escalation of a local arms race in the region.

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