Sunday, October 14, 2007

Burial of Singh - Bush Nuclear Accord

At some point, it were Americans who were thought to stop the deal. In the end it is Indian Government which chickened out and did not walk the last miles in converting the Singh-Bush Accord into a signed treaty. It is official now that India’s ruling party, Congress, would bow to the pressure from Left parties and will not pursue this accord any more.

Bush is deprived from one of his core foreign policy achievements. He has been a leader on this front and has been right to take the initiative in pursuing this deal. But again in the characteristics manner of his presidency, he believed lot in others, in the case in Dr. Singh’s government. Another President and it is quite unlikely he or she would be so bold (and diplomatically quite ‘exposed’) in pursuing this deal. It is sad and Bush Presidency is progressing along the well known pattern – failures after failures. With failed Rice Gates visits to Moscow and dimmed prospectus of any progress in Israel-Palestine conflict, this week has been bad for Bush as far as foreign policy goes. (And well, Gore Nobel price did not make life easy too….)

But probably more damage is on India’s side. First and foremost, it shows the political immaturity of Dr. Singh and Congress. Without procuring the buy in from all parties in the first place, Indian government should not have gone so far ahead. Further, threatening political allies with threats which Congress can not execute is very bad politically. Finally, internationally countries will be more circumspect in negotiating such complex deals with India in any bilateral manner. Rest of the world will continue to deal with India, but more as a part of multi-lateral forum and not as a leader country.

Chinese government got their bonus of continued stalling of Indian nuclear policy. I guess it compensates their recent losses in foreign policy with regards to Myanmar. And it is not a small victory for Pakistan too.

If Dr. Singh, Sonia and Congress think of facing early elections without the commitment of this nuclear accord deal and hence depriving the opposition from their potent campaign theme and then come back to power to sign this deal; then it is a risky endeavor and too iffy. It is highly unlikely now that the current term of Bush Presidency would present an opportunity to revisit this deal again. Clearly after 2008, with stronger Democrats in Congress and new president (quite likely Democratic President); the deal is unlikely to get moved as is.

It is hard to term this foreign policy failure of Dr. Singh’s government as anything apart from disaster. The only solace is thriving Indian economy will continue to keep interests of other countries in related trade deals in future too. America will not be an exception too. Nevertheless that process will be uncertain and bumpy.

Umesh Patil
Cupertino, CA 95014
October 14, 2007.

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