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U.S. hypocrisy explosive for all sides

Now that India has joined the club of nuclear states, its people are in for a big surprise. As the West will attest, the development of the bomb is a deal with the devil that India would have been wise to decline. While Indians naively celebrate their initiation into the atomic age today, the fear of annihilation from other nuclear states will inevitably follow.
If the West is to do anything about India’s recent nuclear tests, it will do well to remind other states determined to join the nuclear club that compared to the bomb’s hollow promise of security, the psychological price isn’t worth it. When India’s creation of the bomb leads to more and more bombs, only then will the West someday be able to shake its head and say, “See, we told you so.”
Yet President Clinton chose not to share the lessons of our experiences with atomic weapons, instead condemning India after the fact. U.S. embargoes on India, and the threat of similar actions against Pakistan should it follow India’s route, will only exacerbate existing tensions between the two nations, contributing to the instability of India’s relations with China.
Clinton told the BBC, “The answer is not for India to become a nuclear power and then for Pakistan to match it stride for stride, and then for China to be brought in … and for Russia to come in and recreate in a different context the conflicts of the Cold War … It’s a nutty way to go.”
Clinton’s warnings against proliferation are justified. However, his condemnations of India have occurred concurrently with new revelations that the Democratic National Committee received substantial donations from high ranking officials connected to the Chinese military. Former Democratic fund-raiser Johnny Chung recently told federal prosecutors that a Chinese military officer gave him $300,000 earmarked for the Clinton-Gore re-election campaign.
Furthermore, in what is now looking like another addition to the vast, left-wing conspiracy, Clinton overruled the State Department in 1996, signing a waiver authorizing the export of satellite technology to China. Now the Justice Department is investigating whether his action was related to more than $600,000 in donations to the DNC by a corporation with ties to the Chinese military.
Revelations of the Clinton administration’s role in the foreign policy disaster surrounding India’s nuclear tests will prove another embarrassment to the president. At the expense of international security, far from quelling the potential for proliferation of nuclear weapons in India, Pakistan and China, the president has presented token rhetoric and profited from tensions between the countries.
Unfortunately, by building, testing, and presumably deploying nuclear weapons, India is, in its own “nutty” way, securing its national security against Pakistan and the U.S. supported Chinese military. Ultimately, Clinton’s hypocritical threats of economic sanctions against India will prove just as hollow as the security India perceives in nuclear weaponry.
Before India’s nuclear tests, many U.S. residents might have assumed that the world had learned something from the lessons of the Cold War. In the 1980s the proliferation of nuclear weapons between the United States and the Soviet Union reached critical mass because of a lack of anti-ballistic missile defenses. It subsided in the following decade with more open relations between the former enemies.
Thanks in part to the philosophy of Mutually Assured Destruction and the psychological fears that accompanied it, the West came close to making the threat of global annihilation a thing of the past.
This threat was the basis for the Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, signed May 26, 1972, by President Nixon and Soviet Premier Brezhnev. The treaties, embodying MAD, prevented both superpowers from defending themselves against a nuclear attack, thus providing an incentive to not initiate a first strike.
Even as the power and number of nuclear weapons increased over the next decade, the psychological components of MAD proved essential to the demilitarization of the West.
If the West was to extend the treaties, which implement the doctrine of MAD, to other developing nuclear powers, it would impress on the rest of the world the unthinkability of using nuclear weapons. In doing so, our primary responsibility will consist of more clearly illustrating for developing nuclear powers exactly what kind of Frankenstein monsters they are dealing with. If they insist on following the path of fear, they will have to learn the hard way, that fear itself is indeed a greater threat than Pakistan, China or even the United States could ever pose.
In future diplomacy, effectively preventing rogue states from pursuing the road to nuclear capabilities must go beyond the scope of hollow condemnations and economic sanctions. This means pursuing international, diplomatic agreements that eliminate defenses against nuclear weapons — an extension of the SALT and ABM treaties to nuclear nations around the world.
This also means that nations with more advanced nuclear capabilities must agree that the sale of anti-nuclear defenses to any developing nation — regardless of the potential for political profit — would constitute a violation of SALT I and the ABM treaty.
As is, the United State’s policy toward India is more dangerous than the most insane tenets of MAD. The embarrassing hypocrisy of the Clinton administration’s role in feeding the tensions between India, Pakistan, and China is a direct threat to the United States.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott pointed out in a letter to Clinton that because of the DNC’s wheelings and dealings with China and his generously supplying hardware to the Chinese military, “China will now be able to more reliably and accurately target American cities with their nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missiles.”
Some years back, in the good old days, fear of total annihilation was just a United States/Soviet Union thing. Now India has joined the crowd, only to revive the ironic urgency to limit nuclear missile defenses beyond the scope of Cold War agreements.
Instead of criticizing India, we in the United States might be so bold as to extend our hands and welcome India to the truly mad world of nukes. If the people of India are wise, they’ll see the gesture as an evil one and choose to opt out of a nightmarish route they’d otherwise pursue.

Gregory Borchard’s column appears every Thursday. He can be reached with comments via e-mail at [email protected]

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