Friday, March 03, 2006

Anything for a Good Headline

Who cares if you've undermined 30 years of diplomacy and treaties on nuclear proliferation and handed major leverage in negotiations to all wannabe nuclear powers, if you're George Bush, you'd hump an ocelot for the appearance of good news:
Steven R. Weisman writes in the New York Times: " 'This deal not only lets India amass as many nuclear weapons as it wants, it looks like we made no effort to try to curtail them,' said George Perkovich, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 'This is Santa Claus negotiating. The goal seems to have been to give away as much as possible.' "

Farah Stockman writes in the Boston Globe that "critics of the deal, under negotiation since July, said Bush did not drive a hard enough bargain. They said he failed to win any major restrictions on India's nuclear arsenal, such as a halt to the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.

" 'It's not meaningful to talk about 14 of the 22 reactors being placed under safeguards,' said Robert J. Einhorn, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, who served as a top nonproliferation official in the Clinton administration and the early days of the Bush administration. 'What's meaningful is what the Indians can do at the unsafeguarded reactors, which is vastly increase their production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. One has to assume that the administration was so interested in concluding a deal that it was prepared to cave in to the demands of the Indian nuclear establishment.' "

" 'India has wanted this deal for 30 years,' said Jon Wolfsthal, a former policy adviser for the US Department of Energy under President Clinton who now works at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 'For them, this is the Holy Grail of international acceptance, and we sold it for pennies on the dollar.

Hmmm. There's one other possibility that worries me (as if allowing a country to roll you in exchange for a disruption of the endless stream of bad news isn't worrisome enough): the neo-cons are still in power, they view China as the future enemy, and they don't think India has enough nuclear weapons.

The cost of bad faith: the Bush Administration could have made an exceptionally nuanced and uncynical and appropriate deal with a country of key strategic and economic importance, a deal which does reduce India's need for burning fossil fuels, that reduces the human costs of outsourcing American jobs, that forges an important position in the key triad of relationships among India, China, and the United States, a relationship that could - and probably will - be the dominant international relationship by 2020.

But no one believes the Bush Administration is honest enough to have made that deal, and no one believes that if the Administration was honest enough to make that deal they would be competent enough to make that deal. Every country in the world is reevaluating its relationship with the United States, and each one of them looks at George Bush and thinks, let me at him.


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