Thursday, October 27, 2005

the AT&T brand will live on; miers withdraws

oct 27th

glad to hear that sbc will take on the name AT&T and probably keep the 'T' symbol on the NYSE. so that icon goes into that good night, but remains as a brand.

harriet miers withdraws her nomination to the supreme court. bush is getting bloodied all over, isn't he? now that 2,000 american soldiers have died in iraq, his presidency is at it nadir.


Toney said...

CPI(M) to introduce trade unions in Kerala - what is most interesting is WB CM's preferences.

indianpatriot said...

Bush is already a lameduck. Tomorrow the evangelish Bush's advisor Karl rove may be indicted for CIA officer's leak case. Last year after getting all the money from Indian doctors and winning election Bush excused himself from celebrating Diwali in white house. What a shame!. How can a born again Bush celebrate a pagan festival Diwali by ignorant souls. Let India not promised anything like separating civilian and military programs for getting this nuclear deal. I hear some voices of support Ackermann, Lantos etc. I believe they are smelling something to effectively disarm India. How appropriate Narasimha Rao asked Manmohan Singh (His finance minister) to Count Rupees and Paisa leaving strategic matters to him. Now who will tell Manmohan.Italian Sonia, or Communists who are against India's nuclear program from the beginning.

India’s permanent nuclear hobble
- By Bharat Karnad

The visit by US under secretary of state Nicholas Burns has revealed what is most remarkable about the nuclear deal Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cobbled together with President George W. Bush the Indian government’s being apparently unaware at the time of the policy quicksand it was stepping into.

This was not a surprise, however. New Delhi’s record of botching up the simplest strategic calculations has by now assumed legendary proportions. It is a manifestly bad and worrisome deal premised less on quid pro quo as its promoters here had promised than on prior, unilateral, concessions by India. As his press conference made clear, Burns obviously pleaded that an irreversible demarcation by India of its civilian and military nuclear installations, for instance, would facilitate an American legislative mindset switch necessary for President Bush to push through changes in the US non-proliferation laws.

What is inexcusable is that the nation’s nuclear security is being imperilled because of the government’s failure to apply its mind. It is one thing to keep parroting "minimum credible deterrence" (MCD), quite another thing to face up to what this concept actually entails. Surely, it is not difficult to appreciate the need prudently to conceptualise MCD in terms of the ability to take care of any and all unforeseen strategic contingencies and crises in the future.

This will mandate quality and numbers-wise an upwardly mobile strategic force in the neighbourhood of what China has at any given time, and that at present this would mean an arsenal of some 400 plus weapons or warheads at a minimum. With this as baseline force requirement, the number of dual-use heavy water moderated reactors able to produce weapons grade plutonium and tritium for thermonuclear weapons that can safely be sequestered for military purposes, can be calculated.

But, according to authoritative sources, the government appears ready to please the US and take big risks by accepting a small-sized force. This means that under American pressure the bulk of the 11 unsafeguarded reactors will be allowed to pass into the IAEA net, notwithstanding any protests by the Department of Atomic Energy (which was not involved in the Washington negotiations, Dr Anil Kakodkar being flown in from Beijing the evening before the Joint Statement was issued). In the event, the question that arises is: Is the permanent hobbling of the country’s nuclear or thermonuclear weapons production capability, now the accepted objective of the Indian government as well?

At the root of the problem is the Prime Minister’s instincts. Dr Manmohan Singh appears unwilling or incapable of transcending his past as a sarkari (government) economist. A former senior nuclear scientist recalls how, when it came to the funding of some critical programmes which as finance minister in the early Nineties he opposed, Dr Singh was advised by his wily boss, P.V. Narasimha Rao, to "go back to counting rupees and paise" and "leave strategic matters" to him. Except now Dr Singh is Prime Minister and there is no one to remind him that, to use the words once applied to the late Governor George Wallace of Alabama, "he seems to know the price of everything but the value of nothing."

Dr Singh believes, as did many of his ilk in the past, in "proper sequencing," of economic development preceding the acquisition of military heft. He should read up on the histories of states that rose to be great powers. He will discover that Great Britain (Elizabeth I onwards), Bismarck and Hitler’s Germany, Meiji Japan, Imperial Russia, the Soviet Union and now Communist China first became military great powers before most of them emerged as economic power houses. The only exception was the United States, which protected by the moats of the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans, felt free to build itself up economically before securing military muscle.

And yet it is this exceptional American model which is sought to be emulated by India, which enjoys none of the geographical elements of distance from zones of turmoil. Except that, in the process, valuable strategic ground is being voluntarily ceded to gain small economic advantages the country can well do without. But to stress economic growth, as the Manmohan Singh government is doing at the expense of nuclear security imperatives is to assume exaggerated costs of strategic preparedness — the expenditure on acquiring a 400 plus warheads or weapons-strong thermonuclear arsenal with distant delivery systems in the next 30 years will amount to slightly less than what the government has spent and is planning on spending in 2000-2020 on modernising armaments for yesterday’s wars — armoured and mechanised forces — and, generally, as Dr Henry Kissinger warned in another context, to "confuse strategy with economics."

Alas, the value of military strength based on thermonuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles and of strategic independence, which like virginity once lost stays lost, has all along escaped the government and the leading Indian "defence intellectuals." Insofar as one can discern a method in their thinking and of Dr Manmohan Singh’s PMO as well, it is this: they first alighted on the need for close relations with the US and working backwards arrived at the view that Washington has to be accommodated.

The American demand for identifying and separating civilian and military-use manpower and facilities within the nuclear establishment, it was assumed, was not just feasible but cost-free. And that the whole transaction could be effected with a minimum of fuss and give on India’s part. They did not anticipate that the obvious weaknesses in the Indian negotiating position as a supplicant seeking changes in the nuclear supplier group guidelines and "civilian nuclear technology" or whatever, would be exploited.

The fact is US generosity and even supposed acts of sentimentality are not unconnected to its vital interests. In fact, countries (like China) matching its resolve and hard-boiled attitude are greatly respected and derive disproportionate security and economic benefits; pushover states (like India) without the stomach to stand up for their interests end up being treated with contempt (to wit, Representative Tom Lantos calling the Indian foreign minister dense and dim-witted). It is the old Frontier ethic — if you don’t fight when you are pushed you are "yellow" and worth nothing. What this means is that for India to count and the Indian government to gain traction in Washington it has to adopt an "India First" attitude and stick to it come what may to match the "America First" ideology of the US. This will require setting policy sights away from short-term gains to long-term and enduring strategic benefits. But is there anybody in government able to think that far ahead or produce an appropriate game plan?

If the country’s interests have been handicapped by flabby and flaccid thinking at the highest government level, at the operational level they are seemingly hampered by the ignorance of the intricacies involved in reforming US non-proliferation laws, especially Sections 123, 128 and 129 of the US Atomic Energy Act and, at the Vienna-end, in negotiating with the International Atomic Energy Agency a safeguards regime and the additional protocol skirting the strictures contained in the so-called Information Circular INFIRC/66 Rev.2 agreements that could throttle the Indian weapons programme.

It is this ignorance that occasioned the signs of glee evident in the Indian camp in Washington on July 18 when the Joint Statement was initialed. There was little realisation then that the country’s nuclear travails had just begun. With Under-Secretary Burns’ visit, may be the gravity of the problems facing New Delhi has begun to sink in. Then again, perhaps not. Because, like the American natives who sold Manhattan Island to the European settlers for shiny beads and baubles, the Indian government appears happy to be taken for a ride, albeit on the space shuttle, in exchange for compromising national security.

Bharat Karnad is Research Professor at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi

san said...


mitra said...

SAN said:

SAN probably thinks he is dealing with Lesotho or Rwanda rather than The USA. We take the goodies, and then say: Agreement??? what the hell is that??