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Archive for the ‘America’ Category

Bill Clinton: US India Nuclear Deal “Should be Supported,” But Keeps Door Open to Revisions

Posted by K.E. White on March 13, 2008

In an apparent sign of things maybe–maybe not–to come, Bill Clinton indicated his support for the US-India nuclear deal. This is not shocking, given Hillary’s vigorous support for the US India nuclear deal. But former President Clinton did leave the door open to revisions–suggesting another grueling round of negotiations should his wife, Hillary Clinton, be elected President this November.

From Sify News:

Underlining strong bipartisan consensus for the deal in his country, he said the US has a made “a decision across parties to build strategic partnership with India in the 21st century”.

“The deal could have been stronger on the “non-proliferation side”, Clinton replied when asked what portions of the deal he would have liked to change if he were the President.

“We did not want to give the Chinese an excuse to develop nuclear weapons,” Clinton replied when asked why such a deal could not be reached during his tenure as the president between 1992 to 2000.

“The agreement should be supported. There’s a strong level of trust between India and the US. The US would be willing should Indians wish to revisit some provisions of the deal,” Clinton said when asked whether a Democratic Party administration would like to renegotiate the deal if they come to power next year.

Is Bill speaking for himself, or rather the policy of a Hillary Clinton administration? Only time will tell.

For more on Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy, read her recent policy brief in Foreign Affairs.

The Decemeber 2007 brief does touch on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT):

But we lost that opportunity by refusing to let the UN inspectors finish their work in Iraq and rushing to war instead. Moreover, we diverted vital military and financial resources from the struggle against al Qaeda and the daunting task of building a Muslim democracy in Afghanistan. At the same time, we embarked on an unprecedented course of unilateralism: refusing to pursue ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, abandoning our commitment to nuclear nonproliferation, and turning our backs on the search for peace in the Middle East. Our withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol and refusal to participate in any international effort to deal with the tremendous challenges of climate change further damaged our international standing.

Posted in America, Clinton, India, Nuclear Deal, US | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Gulf Nations Offer Iran A Sweetheart Deal, But US Options Remain Grim

Posted by K.E. White on November 1, 2007

Six Gulf nations—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—have proposed supplying Iran with uranium. This proposal, very similar to an earlier, rejected Russian offer, could end Western worries over Iran’s nuclear program.

But will Iran accept the deal?

From BBC News:

Gulf states are willing to set up a body to provide enriched uranium to Iran, Saudi Arabia‘s foreign minister is reported to have said.

Prince Saud al-Faisal told the Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) the plan could defuse Tehran’s stand-off with the West over its nuclear programme.

The prince was quoted as saying that Iran was considering the Gulf states’ offer, but the US was not involved.

The BBC’s Paul Reynolds says it is doubtful the plan will go anywhere.

Such a deal would fall in line with other Gulf nations aspirations for nuclear energy. From AFP:

Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya and Yemen as well as the six GCC states have all said that they want to pursue peaceful nuclear projects.

Faisal told MEED he believed the new plant “should be in a neutral country — Switzerland, for instance.”

“Any plant in the Middle East that needs enriched uranium would get its quota. I don’t think other Arab states would refuse. In fact, since the decision of the GCC to enter into this industry, the other Arab countries have expressed a desire to be part of the proposal.”

Mil Arcega illustrates the policy conundrum American officials face in dealing with Iran, regardless of whether or not they agree with the White House’s current saber-rattling approach:

Some Republicans say the tough talk is necessary. But Republican Congressman Christopher Shays says economic sanctions against Iran’s military and its banking institutions need to be tempered by open dialogue. “It is time for us to start talking with Iran, diplomat to diplomat, politician to politician, and person to person.”

The White House says it has exhausted diplomatic efforts and last week imposed sweeping economic sanctions — targeting Iran’s banking institutions and the country’s elite military branch. The sanctions are meant to hamper Iran’s ability to conduct business internationally and reduce the influence of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which U.S. officials accuse of providing weapons to Iraqi militants.

But Karim Sadjapour, a Middle East expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says U.S. actions could backfire unless the U.S. can convince Iranians that abandoning its nuclear program will bring peace and stability to the region. “Increasingly, Iranians look next door and they say if the choice is between what we see in Iraq — democracy and carnage — and what we have now, which is authoritarianism and security, we will choose the latter.”

Posted in America, deal, Iran, Karim Sadjapour, Middle East Economic Digest, Nuclear, Prince Saud al-Faisal, United States | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

US-India Nuclear Deal: Dead Or Not?

Posted by K.E. White on October 17, 2007

US India Nuclear Deal: Dead or not? Here are two conflicting news accounts.

The International Herald Tribune has this post-script on the US India nuclear deal:

His coalition partners don’t want him to force an early election. Polls are due in 2009, and which politician wants to give up political power for the sake of nuclear power?

One important ally, Muthuvel Karunanidhi of Tamil Nadu State, went ahead and congratulated the prime minister for “gladdening the hearts of people” by patching up with the leftist parties.

“Frankly, the deal is not important,” he told the NDTV news channel. “The government is important.”

Unless Singh has staged a tactical retreat to take the Marxists by surprise in a later offensive, the so-called 123 agreement with the United States is now dead.

But wait, The Business Standards has this:

Congress spokesperson Shakil Ahmed today denied that the Indo-US nuclear deal was on hold, but stopped short of saying that the deal was on track and gave no time frame for its operationalisation.

When asked repeatedly asked about the deal’s future, Ahmed said: “The deal is not on hold. It has not been put in cold storage. Your (media’s) assessment is wrong.”

He also pointed out that the Prime Minister had never said that the deal was dead or on hold.

Perhaps Singh is waiting to bring the deal back during a less heated time. But exactly when that time will be (after 2009 elections?), seems unclear.

And will India find support for the deal with the new American president?

Posted in America, India, U.S. India Nuclear Deal, White House | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

US India Nuclear Deal “On Pause”

Posted by K.E. White on October 15, 2007

Apparently a cryogenically frozen nuclear deal is not a dead deal.

From the Indo-Asian News Service:

‘The nuclear deal is not off, but is on a state of pause. It is in suspended animation, like the Karnataka assembly,’ the minister said here, not wanting to be quoted on this sensitive issue without proper authorization.

And from NDTV:

”The Prime Minister explained to President Bush that certain difficulties have arisen with respect to the operationalisation of the India-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement,” a release issued by Prime Minister’s Media Advisor Sanjaya Baru said.

The conversation came in the wake of the statement made by the Prime Minister last week on Friday that it would be a disappointment if the deal does not not (sic) come through and that it was ”not the end of life.”

The Prime Minister, who had staked a lot in clinching the deal and to get it operationalised, made the Friday statement in the backdrop of unrelenting opposition to the deal from the Left parties which had warned of grave consequences, an (sic) euphemism for withdrawing support to the UPA government, if the deal was implemented.

Posted in America, India, Nuclear Deal, U.S. India Nuclear Deal | Leave a Comment »

US India Nuclear Deal Hits An Israeli Snag, But Gets a French Boost

Posted by K.E. White on October 2, 2007

The US-India nuclear deal may have hit an Israeli stepback. With the deal already facing fire in New Delhi and still lacking IAEA approval, a new challenge has appeared: Israel is lobbying the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to give India and Israel access to nuclear trade.

Getting the NSG to make an exception for India–a non-NPT recognized nuclear power–already caused turbulence, but had apparently won the support of China and Russia. Will this Israel variable set India back to square one?

Will Turkey really support an exemption only adds emphasis to Pakistan–a non-recognized nuclear power–failure to get the same treatment as Israel and India? And how will this Israeli lobbying be viewed in the Middle East?

But India also got some good news on the NSG front. France, a key member of the group, will actively lobby for an Indian exception to NSG rules that bar nuclear trade with non-NPT member states.

The move was predictable, since France seeks to conclude its own nuclear deal with India.

The Pakistani newspaper Dawn reports on the Israeli complication:

Using the Israeli proposal as an example, the opponents of the Indo-US nuclear deal can argue that any exception to the NPT restriction may open the gate to proliferation as other non-recognised nuclear states may also demand acceptance. Documents outlining Israel’s proposal were distributed among the NSG members in March and have circulated on Capitol Hill in Washington in recent days.

The Israeli plan offers 12 criteria for allowing nuclear trade with non-treaty states, including one that hints at Israel’s status as an undeclared nuclear weapons state: A state should be allowed to engage in nuclear trade if it applies “stringent physical protection, control and accountancy measures to all nuclear weapons, nuclear facilities, source material and special nuclear material in its territory.”

Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association in Washington, said the Israeli document could affect the debate over India. “The dynamics at the NSG are that no country wants to stand in the way of the largest country, India, and the most powerful country, the US,” he said.

And The Hindu reports on French support for India’s nuclear exception:

In this regard, France is awaiting the waiver by NSG, the officials said, adding an Indo-French nuclear agreement would be on a “different scale” than the Indo-US deal.

It would involve transfer of crucial reprocessing technology that has been denied by Washington in the Indo-US deal.

“We feel that there is a necessity to introduce a change in the international system (on nuclear issue) to allow India to play its due role in it,” a senior official of the French Atomic Energy Commission told a group of visiting Indian journalists here.

Posted in America, France, France India nuclear deal, India, Israel, Nuclear Deal, Nuclear Suppliers Group, U.S. India Nuclear Deal | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Update: US-India Nuclear Deal

Posted by K.E. White on October 1, 2007

The Communist Party of India is set to hash out nuclear differences with Prime Minister Singh on October 5th. Why is this news? The Communist Party is a leading partner of the UPA government, and cause a new round of elections over the US-India nuclear deal.

From Bloomberg news:

Members of the ruling coalition and the Communists are scheduled to meet on Oct. 5 to discuss concerns over the accord. The ruling coalition set up a special committee to examine the objections to the accord in a bid to pacify the Communist allies.

The government will consider the committee’s findings before the accord becomes operational, Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Aug. 30. India hasn’t yet held any formal talks with the IAEA.

Singh has put his ruling coalition at risk for the US-India nuclear deal. And it seems he might have difficulty winning over his communist coalition partners:

“We cannot compromise. Let us see what the Congress does and then we shall take a decision,” the 94-year-old Basu, considered the patriarch of India’s Left, was quoted as saying in the eastern city of Kolkata by the Press Trust of India.

Basu was speaking to reporters as he entered a meeting of the central committee meeting of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

Posted in America, India, Nuclear, Pranab Mukherjee, U.S. India Nuclear Deal | Leave a Comment »

“[T]he Asian Century”: Kaplan and Chang Duke it Out

Posted by K.E. White on September 21, 2007

Is America slipping? Is this century Asia’s?

Robert Kaplan says yes.

Gordon Chang critiques.

Posted in America, Asia, Gordon Chang, international relations, IR, Robert Kaplan | Leave a Comment »

‘Promote Liberal Democracy’: Proliferation Press Reviews David Makovsky’s Game Plan for Post-Bush Middle East Democratization

Posted by K.E. White on September 15, 2007

Summary: Makovsky looks at the future of American foreign policy in the Middle East. Fighting back the now defunct neo-conservative chant for radical change, he stresses that America not give up on Middle East democratization. He outlines a new strategy: one that eyes the region, and tailors specific liberal agendas for Middle Eastern nation-states. Deserving credit shifting out view out of Iraq and averring a middle path to eventual democracy, Makovsky neglects one important part of the puzzle: How America gets performs in Iraq will be the overriding concern of the next American president, most likely sapping energy for Makovsky’s program. Furthermore, how America gets out of Iraq will determine the efficacy of Makovsky’s nation-state specific democratization scheme.


Writing for Democracy, Washington Institute Senior Fellow David Makovsky tackles where to take America’s foreign policy after Bush. While surveying the flaws of the Bush administration’s neo-conservatively flavored push for democratization, he demands not a change in strategy but tactics. Pushing democratic tendencies is still the way to go, Makovsky writes, but demands a new approach—stressing the liberal underpinning any future democratic society requires.

Makovsky writes:

David MakovskyIt may be ironic, but the places where democratization seems more likely in the Middle East could be where there is an “enlightened” autocrat who holds ultimate power and enforces the rules of the game, whether it is King Abdullah of Jordan, King Hamad of Bahrain, or King Mohammad of Morocco. This enables evolving democratization to move apace. In Freedom House’s democratization ranking of Middle East countries, each are listed as “partly free.” In each case, economic growth has gone hand in hand with democratization. In these three countries, it might be more than coincidence that democratization occurs where there is no oil and there is a requirement for developing human capital. Indeed, there have already been fragile steps to build the institutional building blocks of democracy. In other countries, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where there is greater resistance by the authoritarian structure and which are listed as “not free” by Freedom House, U.S. efforts will not be easy. Specifically, while the scope of specific reforms in law should reflect the different pace of change in individual countries, the general direction should be clear. However, in all countries, there are programmatic points for the United States that could be attainable if we sustain our focus. Those seeking an evolutionary pathway to democratization know where to put the effort: women’s rights, freer media, a more independent judiciary, and education reform, alongside the greater transparency required for economic growth.

Specifically, the United States should encourage countries to reform restrictive political-party laws that could provide the legal framework for parties to form and compete. This is particularly important for non-Islamists who do not have the vast social network and organizational apparatus of Islamists. It should also encourage reform of media laws to widen the discourse on public policy. Such reforms are key to avoiding government’s prosecution of journalists who interpret any criticism as “defamation” of a head of state. Finally, it should push for reform of the judiciary laws to facilitate the operation of an independent judiciary. Such reforms must be genuine and not like the one passed in Egypt last year; in spite of that “reform,” human rights activists indicate that judges are still paid partly by the Justice Ministry, so that if they rule against the state, their salary can be cut for many months at a time.

Makovsky veers towards a straw man argument by pushing this dichotomy on American foreign policy in the Middle East: either America foolishly over commits (i.e. invades Iraq) or we bolster autocratic regimes with no concern to fostering democracy (Iran under the Shah). American foreign policy has always been between these poles. What determines whether America pushes Makovsky’s micro-liberal Middle East diplomatic track has been whether that goal overrides others: e.g. security concerns of Iran, the need of moderate allies in the region, and the current diplomatic black hole of Iraq. Typically Makovsky’s approach has fallen to other, more immediate diplomatic aims.

Therefore, while Makovsky deserves credit for splitting democratization (i.e. the form of government) from liberalism (the values a government embodies) and for redirecting focus out of Iraq, Iraq is still stands as America’s core dilemma in the Middle East.

An American president tasked with managing either a buildup or draw down of American troops will simply not have the capital to spearhead Makovsky’s strategy. And the mood of the American public come 2009—most likely one of enthused or embittered isolationism—augurs poorly for Makovsky’s diplomatic platform.

But Makovsky does earn praise for unlocking American foreign policy discourse, however briefly, from its ‘Iraq Jam’. And more importantly, Makovsky deserves credit for laying out a diplomatic paradigm that it built on the obvious: Iraq is not the only rubric for America’s success in the Middle East.

Posted in America, David Makovsky, democratization, Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, Iraq, liberal democracy, United States, Washington Institute | Leave a Comment »

The New Republic Comes Out Against US-India Nuclear Deal

Posted by K.E. White on September 12, 2007

Not to shocking, given the number of critical pieces TNR has printed on the deal.

A section from TNR editorial:

So, in mid-2005, the president tried to buy India’s friendship. Skipping over less radioactive carrots (like arms sales or G-8 membership), Bush offered India nuclear fuel and technology, in effect signaling acceptance of India’s atomic arsenal. All that remained was to hammer out the terms of a “123 agreement,” named for the section of U.S. code governing nuclear sales. But it took five rounds of negotiations before the agreement was finalized, as diplomats haggled over whether the Indians would allow us to restrict how they might use our technology. Yes, the administration that doesn’t negotiate negotiated the terms of its own gift–and lost.

Now we have even less leverage with which to encourage India (and therefore Pakistan) to join the nonproliferation regime. Burns has claimed that the deal itself ties India to the regime, but the 123 agreement does no such thing. It does not, for example, require India to eschew nuclear testing. It does not forbid India from producing further fissile material for weapons (in fact, it will facilitate the production of plutonium). It does not require India to place all its nuclear facilities under international safeguards. It does not commit India to pursuing eventual nuclear disarmament. What it does is reward bad behavior.

Of course, the Bush administration has never cared much for rules. Robert Blackwill–one of the deal’s architects and now a lobbyist for the Indian government–has dismissed nonproliferation as a concern of “nagging nannies.” The implication is that he, Rice, and Burns have greater geopolitical vision, that they recognize the value of closer relations with a “natural ally” like India. But that argument is backward: It is precisely because India is a natural ally that bribes were unnecessary. Was India ever going to support Islamic terrorism? And now administration policy will have the effect of spurring nuclear development in a politically unstable country that has a horrible proliferation record and is thought to be harboring Osama bin Laden. Perhaps chess just isn’t their game.

Posted in America, India, Nuclear Deal, Robert Blackwill, U.S. India Nuclear Deal, USA | Leave a Comment »

America Up, America Down: A Glance at Dreary Democrats in Michigan, and Some Uncle Sam Triumphare

Posted by K.E. White on September 3, 2007

John Vincor writes this thoughtful editorial in today’s International News Herald. Looking at the political dynamics in Michigan, Vincor explains just how Democrats could lose the White House in 2008:

All that’s theoretical. Now, the leading Democratic candidates have done something concrete in relation to Michigan that makes you believe they are capable of losing in the race they want to run against the legacy of George W. Bush. Clinton, Obama and Edwards have announced their refusal to campaign in Michigan’s Jan. 15 primary.

Their public explanation is that the Democratic National Committee opposes the state’s choice to advance its primary to a date that interferes with the party’s original primary schedule. Michigan said simply that its economic, racial, industrial, big-city and environmental issues could not be subordinated to the far less representative, more manageable concerns of Iowa and New Hampshire.

The truth is a Michigan primary would be unpredictable, unchartable – a fair vote, in fact – coming in a place that chose both Jesse Jackson and George Wallace in earlier primary elections. Campaigning there by Clinton, Obama or Edwards would have to focus on gut issues and would dwarf the significance of the few thousand activists who vote in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, or Rye, New Hampshire.

Here’s an indisputable case of pols choosing to play professional politics in preference to what their emptiest campaign speeches call the public interest.

But is Vincor’s portrait of a distressed, economically insecure American public right? Not according to Joel Anchenbach at the Washington Post:

But if global power is measured by military might, no other country is within light years of America. Our military expenditures, according to Cullen Murphy, are about equal to the defense expenditures of the next 15 nations combined.

North Korea spends approximately $5 billion a year on its military. That is what the Pentagon leaves as a tip for a waiter. That’s what we spend on condiments! That’s our ketchup and mustard budget!

The gross domestic product of the United States for 2007 probably will be in the vicinity of $13.2 trillion. China is right around $2.6 trillion — in fourth place, after the United States, Japan and Germany.

Americans are blessed with a durable Constitution, cultural diversity, abundant resources and an open society. I think we’re capable of solving our problems. That’s the position, too, of Murphy, whose America/Rome meditation ends on a hopeful note. He writes that a fundamental characteristic of Americans is the belief that improvement is possible. Sure, we’re making many of the mistakes the Romans made: “But the antidote is everywhere. The antidote is being American.”

Posted in America, Democrats, economics, John Vincor, Michigan | Leave a Comment »