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US-India Washington Times article FYI



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Title: Upgrading India
Pub: The washington Times, March 28, 2000.
By: Amos Perlmutter

     The Clinton administration has finally publicly recognized a process
that
has been going on for some time in South Asia:  a revolutionary change in
the
balance of power -the emergence of India as a nuclear power and the
strategic
decline of Pakistan.  The president's trip was historic in the sense that
it
recognized the end of the Cold War in South Asia and with it the end of the
special U.S.-Pakistani relationship that was directly connected to the Cold
War.

     India, the largest multi-ethnic, multination, multi-religious
democracy
has
now emerged from its old anti-Americanism.  India is a nuclear power and
should
be recognized, without lectures by the U.S.  president, as a member of the
Nuclear Club along with the United States.  India has demonstrated
stability
and
international responsibility.  It is a true democracy, a non-expansionist
state.
The contrast with Pakistan is remarkable - a military autocracy dominated
by
radical Islamicists in the military and dedicated to upsetting the status
quo in
Kashmir.

     The reasons for India's success in becoming a nuclear power stem from
its
dangerous neighborhood.  To the north is its chief rival, China, an
aggressive,
expansionist, authoritarian nuclear state whose political system is still
in
flux.  The aspirations of the present Chinese leadership behoove the
Indians
to
rely on an existential security system lest the Chinese once again, as they
did
in 1962, challenge India's sovereignty.  India's perennial foe, Pakistan,
also a
nuclear state, is interventionist in its orientations.  I find it extremely
curious that before the trip, President Clinton described the Indian
Subcontinent as, "the most dangerous place in the world today."  President
Kircheril Raman Narayanan of India rebuked President Clinton during the
ceremony
celebrating "new beginnings between India and the U.S."  by blunt,
straightforward talk, characterizing Mr.  Clinton's description is
"alarmist."

     The Clinton administration continues to subordinate a realistic policy
with
India to its obsessive neo-Wilsonian idealism when it comes to its dogmatic
policy of non-proliferation.  Why spend such precious political capital
achieved
in the president's recent trip by continuously nagging the Indians on the
issue
of non-proliferation and its nuclear weapons.  Why not invite India to
become a
member of the Nuclear Club instead.  The Indian experience with the British
Raj,
and now the United States, makes them very sensitive to any paternalistic
lecturing on the part of the great powers.  India is striving to become a
major
power in international politics, especially in Asia.  It is apprehensive of
Chinese verbal threats toward Taiwan and Chinese meddling in Tibetan
politics.

     The president's trip, which was also a personal pilgrimage to India,
was a
stunning success.  He received tumultuous ovations from the Indian people
and
their parliament.  Before leaving India, after accumulating so much public
and
private acclaim, why not top it off with a declaration establishing a
strategic
alliance between India and the United States and a formal recognition of
India
as a nuclear power.  Unfortunately, the administration stopped short of
such
a
declaration.  If the reason is that the United States wants to balance its
relationship equally between India and Pakistan, it is a terrible error.
If
the
reason has to do with the dogma of non-proliferation, it is a serious
political
mistake.  Such a declaration would include a statement concerning America's
recognition of India's nuclear power and an Indian acceptance of the
responsibility that comes with such power.  President Clinton should have
paid
attention to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee when he said, according to
the
March 22 New York Times, "We have the means and the will to eliminate this
[Kashmir] menace."  The combined "Vision Statement," signed by President
Clinton
and Prime Minister Vajpayee, summarized the differences between the United
States and India.  "The United States believes India should forgo nuclear
weapons.  India believes that it needs to maintain a credible minimum
nuclear
deterrent in keeping with its own assessment of its security needs."

     Unfortunately, the issue of India's nuclear power has created
tensions.
Who is the United States to tell the Indians to sign the CTBT when the U.S.
Congress rejected it?  Why should India sign a non-proliferation treaty if
it is
not a member of the Nuclear Club?  This most important issue was not
resolved as
it should have been during President Clinton's otherwise successful visit
to
India.

     Two statements by Mr.  Clinton received extremely different responses
from
the Indian Parliament.  According to the March 23 New York Times, when the
president said, "We learned that deterrence alone cannot be relied on to
prevent
accidents of miscalculation .  .  .  and in a nuclear standoff, there is
nothing
more dangerous than believing there is no danger," the response was total
silence.  But when he said, "Only India can determine its own interests.
Only
India can know if it truly is safer today then before the tests.  I do not
presume to speak for you or tell you what to decide," there was tumultuous
applause.  President Clinton's trip has elevated the importance of the
U.S.-India relationship in the eyes of the leaders and the people of both
countries.  The president's success in India, despite his lecturing the
Indians
on nuclear power, should be followed by this and the next president with a
clear
strategic policy toward India and South Asia.  The foundation for an
American-Indian strategic dialogue has been established in this historic
trip.
The next step is to formulate and implement a policy that addresses
America's
interest in Asia and elevates India to the level of Japan as a major
strategic
ally in the forthcoming political and diplomatic confrontations with China.



Amos Perlmutter is a professor of political science and sociology at
American
University and editor of the Journal of Strategic Studies.



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