Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The India US nuclear deal negotiations

Regardless of what is being thrown about on the negotiating table currently. India has done everything reasonable in its power to convey its requirements for the deal and US can't meet them.

I do not think the Bush Administration has the political capital necessary to change the Hyde act nor does it have the will to undertake another ardous trek across the political landscape of America to hunt for more political strength. That is a tapped out resource and there is nothing the Admin has to offer right now to the American people.

As things stand today in the US, the economy is addicted to cheap carbon based energy. A petro-dollar recycling scheme on a global scale ensures that the effective price of carbon energy is very very low in the US. Given this background, the Carbon fuels industry enjoys staggering political power inside the US. It is impossible for the US Government to do anything that directly or indirectly breaks this carbon fuels mafia's hold on power. Additionally key families in the American nomenklatura are heavily invested in the future of carbon energy. They are not going to help India break its dependence on carbon fuels. It simply does not make economic sense to them.

After 1945, the US has relied on its "dominance" in the arena of nuclear affairs to deflect the possibility of having a Hiroshima/Nagasaki on American soil. After bringing the nuclear horror into this world, the last thing they want is to get nuked themselves. This imperative remains unchanged and at the heart of this dominance is the supremacy of the American inspired NPT norm system. Irrespective of how absurd the words of the NPT gospel may seem, overt subservience ot the gospel is essential to keeping up the illusion of America's moral dominance over the world of nuclear affairs. The roots of the NPA tree go very deep.

An enlightened leader in the US could have navigated this dangerous landscape, however none presents with adequate political capital. The closest thing we had to this was President Bush, and the failure of his administration to do anything about this leaves India staring at the prospect of a complete absence of political security for its trading arrangements with the US. Please understand, some officials in the PMO and elsewhere may feel a sense of optimism, but the bulk of India's national security community will only greet such such developments with their natural pessimism. This is India you are dealing with, our pessimism makes hobbes wet his pants.

The failure of these negotiations will impose an immediate political cost on India and the US. In India the government of PM Manmohan Singh will be seen to have mismanaged ties with the US. This charge of mismanagement is a very very very serious one in India. In the present political climate it will stick quickly, and it will hurt badly. In the US, though there will a relatively smaller immediate sense of political loss, there will be a much longer lasting adverse impact on Indo-US ties. In India the US will be seen as nation that has picked up the nasty Pakistani habit of making Presidential level commitments that they have no way of keeping. In effect India will end up hoisting the US on a far higher moral pedestal than the makers of its dominance strategy ever intended for it to be on, and in doing so it will effectively hollow out any claims of American moral dominance. America will find itself wearing Pakistan's shoes in Indian eyes, perhaps the most horrible way in which this equal-equal thing could have rebounded.

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