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United States Oversells US-India Nuclear Deal
|by Dr. Subhash Kapila|
Noticeable in India in the last few days has been a relentless drive by the US Administration and policy establishment to oversell the US-India Nuclear Deal to a wide spectrum of India's polity and media. Comparing to the loss of will and interest by India's ruling Congress Government to pro-actively process this Deal, this sustained effort by the United States in India is generating unintended negative consequences for the United States. The United States over-kill initiatives in India to sell the Deal including a canvassing visit to India by a US-India Political Action Committee delegation of Indian Americans is raising suspicions that the United States has more to gain from this Deal than India.
The last few days have witnessed intense parleying by the US Ambassador's meetings with the leaders of India's main Opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) not to oppose the Deal especially in the Parliament. Press reports indicate that he could not get any assurances from the Leader of the Opposition Shri L.K.Advani on this account.
Dr Henry Kissinger along with former US Ambassador to India Frank Wisner were on a similar mission to woo India's BJP and other political leaders and especially the Indian media elite . Their message was that India stood to gain significantly from the Nuclear Deal with USA and it should be got through speedily. They further emphasized to the media that India's international image would receive a setback if the Deal fell through.
The US Treasury Secretary besides his other official engagements made it a point to visit West Bengal's Communist Party Chief Minister to impress the same arguments and that the Leftist Parties should withdraw their opposition to the Nuclear Deal.
The US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns has made many subtle and not so subtle statements trying to convince that India must move quickly to finalize the Deal. His statements have carried the following messages for India (1) India will have to honor the deal to avoid loss of international image (2) India will have to honor the Deal if it wants to play a global leadership role it seeks (3) USA and India wont get such an opportunity to get such a good Nuclear Deal (4) Not honoring the Deal will create a trust-deficit in the perceptions of American leaders (5) Time is running out for India and the US cannot wait endlessly for the processing of the Deal.
As this Columnist had reflected in his earlier Columns, both the United States and India went wrong in the processing stage and afterwards in the freezing of the finalized text by imparting to it an unwarranted veil of secrecy and keeping the public opinion in India in the dark. This raised suspicions in India that the Congress Government was possibly involved in a strategic sellout of India's nuclear weapons program by entering into some under the table commitments to the United States.
Similar suspicions are now being raised in the Indian public's mind by the Congress Government's under-selling the Nuclear Deal after the Leftist Parties threatened that the Congress Government would fall if it went through with the finalization of the Deal. People now maintain that if the Congress Party was so committed to the Deal and had the conviction that the Deal was good for India's future, it could have called the Leftists bluff by calling for General Elections on this issue.
The United States is arguing that if India is not quick enough to move on the Deal, the year 2008 would be an election year in USA and a lame-duck US Congress will not be in a position to push the Deal through.
The United States seemingly fails to realize that 2008 is an election year in India too in that it would be the run-up year for India's General Elections scheduled for early 2009. The possibility of early General Elections in 2008 cannot be ruled out if the Leftists withdraw political support to the Congress Government with the Deal emerging as a major electoral issue.
In the emerging political climate in India the United States best interests would be served by not overselling the Nuclear Deal in India.. That is the task of the Congress Party and the Congress Government to do so for they were attempting to make its finalization synonymous with a Congress Party-specific success as opposed to an overall national aspiration.
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