Michael Pascoe writes:

The world’s biggest and most dangerous game
is being played by the United
States in India –
and there’s a reasonable suspicion that at least half the players are fools.
The United States’ hypocritical nuclear deal signed yesterday is just one step in a plan to promote India as America’s proxy against both Islam
and China, a role fraught with danger for absolutely everyone.

The cornerstone of real politick is “my
enemy’s enemy is my friend” – and thus the Bush administration is desperate to
befriend India. The great danger is that the Republicans’ Washington will
promote an adversarial role for India against
America’s great foes. Left to its own devices, if not its prejudices, India
(and the world) would have a better future if the two most populous nations and
the second and third most populous religions pursued non-adversarial
co-operation and friendship. That is a very difficult hope, but the last thing
the world needs is the born-again neo-cons whipping up and supporting age-old
rivalries.

The United States’ unnatural ally of convenience, Pakistan,
of course wants the same
civilian nuclear deal. Neither India nor Pakistan has signed the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty. Bush is breaking the nuclear club’s own rules
in a bid to make up for the cold shoulder shown to India throughout the
Cold War,
but doing the same thing for Pakistan is much harder.

What worries the US most
is that its alliance with Pakistan
is based on a military dictatorship remaining in control of an unstable Islamic
nation that is at best ambivalent about the US. For
all of Washington’s bluster, it knows that an Islamic nation it doesn’t really trust
already has the bomb.

The United States tried but failed to entice India to
join its Iraq adventure. If you want something really big to worry about instead
of our piddly local politics, consider that eventually the Americans will
happily promote whatever forces within India
might be interested in fighting its wars for it and garrisoning the Middle East. What India’s
leadership must be extremely wary of is the inevitable American courtship of India’s
military.

The seduction can be powerful. Already, the
money markets are assisting – the Indian stock market hit a record on the signing of the nuclear deal.

And Australia
will do its little bit for American policy as usual – John Howard is off to New Delhi next
week. The Smagereports the trip as being about trade, but
Malaysian media
interestingly homes in on the “strategic” angle: “Australian Prime Minister John Howard,
who will embark on a four-day visit to India
next week, has said that ‘more energy’ needed to be put into
bilateral ties for ‘general strategic reasons’.”

Peter Fray

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