PostGlobal Talks to Professor Brahma Chellaney

(PostGlobal is produced jointly by Newsweek and


Amar C. Bakshi Talks to America’s Lovers and Haters Round the World

Disappointment on U.S.-India Nuclear Deal

By Amar C. Bakshi

Professor Disappointed by U.S.-India Nuclear Deal

is not “America’s ally,” Professor Brahma Chellaney emphasizes, it is
its "strategic partner.” India does not wish to be a client to
America’s patronage.

Watch interview on video at:

India is not “America’s ally,” Professor Brahma Chellaney
emphasizes, it is its "strategic partner.” After World War II, Japan
and Germany were America’s allies obeying America in a “patron-client”
relationship because “they had no other choice.” That would have worked
in the 20th century, with countries defeated in war and — in the case
of Eastern Europe — running to America after the Cold War, “But in the
21st century…any new friend America makes…is going to seek a
semblance of equality in the relationship. It is important for U.S.
policy-makers to understand a different mindset in a country like India
and respect it.”

And anyway, Chellaney says, America doesn’t need so much
control to achieve its geopolitical objectives. In fact, Washington’s
forceful attitude and "outdated" mindset actually works against it. The
failing India-U.S. nuclear deal is a prime example…

are complicated. Remember, Chellaney says, General Electric built the
first nuclear power plant in India in the 1960s. Yes, India refused to
sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968, believing it
segregated the world into "nuclear have and have nots” but when India
tested its first nuclear weapon in 1974, at least it was “legal.” The
bomb was even codenamed “Smiling Buddha
and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi called the test, perhaps
unconvincingly, the “peaceful nuclear explosion.” It’s about
deterrence, Chellaney says.

In response, the U.S. government, “came down with bricks on India”
imposing myriad technology export controls. And this, in Chellaney’s
view, became “the main impediment to developing the [U.S.-India]
relationship to its full potential.”

So when President Bush and Prime Minister Singh signed the nuclear
cooperation agreement removing restrictions on civilian nuclear
technology transfers in July 2005, Chellaney thought "a true global
strategic partnership between the U.S. and India could be formed.”

A disillusioned Chellaney opines in the Asian Age.

was euphoria…in India when the deal was signed….There was a lot of
excitement that finally the U.S. and India would be close buddies.”
That didn’t last long. And today, after months have dragged into years
and many more provisions have bloated the bill in the U.S. Congress,
“people are disillusioned in India.”

Some military and policy elites in Delhi wonder whether America is
actually “using the deal to stymie the Indian nuclear deterrent
program” and “retard India’s nuclear deterrent capabilities vis-à-vis
China. This confuses a lot of Indians.” He explains it by saying the
U.S. has a long-term desire to support non-proliferation objects around
the world and “cap India’s nuclear missile program at the
sub-continental level” so in the years to come “India does not prove a
threat to U.S. security.”

The controlling nature of U.S. policy-makers particularly concerns
Chellaney. He says policy-makers in Washing realize they can use the
deal to gain significant leverage over India to advance U.S. foreign
policy objectives from punishing Iran to constructing gas pipelines
through U.S.-controlled lands in Afghanistan. They’re “milking” the
deal for every last drop, even if those drops have nothing to do with
nuclear power or civilian nuclear cooperation. This, ultimately, makes
Indians distrustful of America’s objectives in the deal. And this
undermines the very strategic partnership and act of good will it was
supposed to foster in the first place.

It’s a perspective worth considering as efforts to push the deal
through drag on. But does everyone think America’s doing this on
purpose, trying to hold India back? More perspectives to come on this
issue and on India’s diplomatic relationship with America the

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