Why We Oppose the Indo-U.S. Military Ties

Since the 1990s, the U.S. government made overtures to the Indian Government for a military alliance.  When the Bush administration came to power it wanted India to be a part of its missile defence shield.  Since 9/11, the Indian and U.S. navies and Special Forces have conducted a number of joint exercises in the Indian Ocean and in the hills of India’s Northeast.  U.S. State Department official Christian Rocca said (in 2002), “Military-to-military cooperation is now producing tangible progress towards [the] objective [of] strategic, diplomatic and political cooperation as well as sound economic ties.”

The Indo-U.S. Bilateral Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (2007) is the capstone of this new strategic alliance, driven by geopolitical and military concerns.

We oppose the deal for three related reasons:

(1) The deal is another attempt by the Bush administration to weaken the framework of international law.  The administration’s disregard for the Kyoto protocols on climate change, for the International Criminal Court, for the Geneva Conventions, for the United Nations, and [so] on, is well known.  India refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 because, it claimed, the NPT put into place a hierarchy between nuclear weapons states and non-nuclear weapons states.  There was no demand for universal nuclear disarmament.  Neither the U.S. nor any other state is in legitimate possession of nuclear weapons.  Now the U.S. government is playing kingmaker, pretending that it is in a lawful position to welcome India into the nuclear weapons club.  India’s nuclear history is similar to that of Iran, but that Iran signed the NPT, and yet the Bush administration, with contempt for reason and international law, makes a deal with one country and demonises another.  The deal will do nothing for the pressing question of universal disarmament.

(2) The deal will intensify the instability of the South Asian subcontinent.  Over the past few years, the Indian and Pakistani governments have made strides toward easing the tensions between the two countries.  People-to-people contacts have increased and the governments are in discussion over the many outstanding issues that divide the two states.  One of the means to build confidence in the region was the creation of a natural gas pipeline from Iran through Pakistan into India.  The “peace pipeline” would have tied the region together and raised the stakes for negotiations over belligerence.  The Bush administration offered India nuclear power in exchange for Iranian gas as part of its plan to isolate Iran.  The peace pipeline is a casualty of this agreement.  In addition, the nuclear deal does nothing to hamper the Indian nuclear weapons sector, whose growth will fuel an arms race with Islamabad and Beijing.

(3) The deal is intended as a part of the Bush administration’s wish to isolate Iran.  It is by now clear that the U.S. “coerced” India’s votes at the International Atomic Energy Agency meetings of September 2005 and February 2006.  The pressure to end the “peace pipeline” is another indicator of how this deal is directed against Iran.  But principally, the U.S. Congress passed the Hyde Act in 2006 that specifically demanded that the U.S. government “secure India’s full and active participation in United States efforts to dissuade, isolate, and if necessary, sanction and contain Iran for its efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction.”

The U.S. Congress gets a chance to weigh in on this deal after the IAEA and the Nuclear Suppliers Group vet it.  We urge the U.S. population to reject this agreement.  There are better ways to go forward, such as the need for global nuclear disarmament, and we hope that Congress will put us on those more rational tracks.

Noam Chomsky, author, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy.

Naomi Klein, author, The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

Howard Zinn, author, A Power Governments Cannot Suppress.

Medea Benjamin, Global Exchange and Code Pink.

Judith LeBlanc, Co-Chair, United for Peace and Justice.

Mike Davis, author, Buda’s Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb.

John Bellamy Foster, Editor, Monthly Review.

Vijay Prashad, author, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World.

This statement was also published in The Hindu on 3 September 2007.

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