The Nuke Deal Is Dead

Published by Counterpunch, by Vijay Prashad, October 23, 2007.

On October 12, 2007, the Congress Party threw in the towel. India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the leader of the United Progressive Alliance Sonia Gandhi told the press that they would step back from the US-India nuclear deal. “If the deal does not come through,” Singh said plaintively, “that is not the end of life. In politics, we must survive short-term battles to address long-term concerns.”

The short-term battle was won by the Communists, who led the opposition to the deal and winnowed regional parties away from the Congress and toward their position. The Communists’ stance is that the nuclear deal (set in motion in 2005) is only one part of a wider embrace between the Indian and US governments, and between Indian and US-based corporations …

… Dollars from Rupees: In the early 1990s, the U. S. administration read the shift in India quite correctly. Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen observed the middle-class of 60 million, the size of France, and salivated. For Bentsen, and for the Clinton administration, the existence of this class and its hitherto suffocated desires meant that there existed a market to help contain the crisis of over-accumulation to which “globalization” was to be the answer. A decline in the annual rate of growth of the global Gross Domestic Product from the 1960s (5.4%) to the 1980s (3%) offered evidence of the crisis, but nothing was as stark as the falling profit rate of the 500 U. S. transnational corporations (4.7% in the late 1950s to -5.3% in the 1980s). Walden Bello recites these figures and concludes, “Oversupply of commodities and inadequate demand are the principle corporate anomalies inhibiting performance in the global economy” …


… Chicken-Head: India’s ambassador to Washington, Ronen Sen, fretted about the US-India deal’s failure. The Bush team has approved the deal, and so has the Indian cabinet, he carped (he seems to have forgotten his elementary civics: it is parliament that has authority over such deals, not the cabinet a distinction that does not operate so effectively in the US, for all its constitutional checks and balances). “So why do you have all this running around like headless chickens, looking for a comment here or a comment there, and these little storms in a tea-cup.” The parliament has now demanded that Mr.

Sen be recalled to India and face questions for his disrespect to the elected officials who opposed the deal.

On the same flight as him will be a delegation from the USINPAC, the face of the new “Indian Lobby” in Washington, who is eager to take lessons from and mimic the Israel Lobby. Robinder Sachdev, who founded the group, told the Press Trust of India, that the emerging opposition to the deal within the US Congress startles him. “It is like being penny wise and pound foolish,” he said. “The US industry will benefit from the nuclear deal.” This is an honesty descried by his friends in the nuclear commerce world. As GE India’s chief executive officer T.P. Chopra told a Wharton periodical, “The last thing we want is to give ammunition to the Left-wing parties.

They would love to project the U.S. as greedy capitalists selling the country for a few dollars more. Business will keep silent until it’s signed, sealed and delivered.”

In Mumbai, as the French-Indian delegations met, the Communists held a public rally where they condemned all talk of a nuclear deal. In terms of the US-India deal specifically, Karat of the CPI(M) said, “it is part of the strategic and military relations that the US wants to have with India.” It would never be allowed. In Delhi, meanwhile, Prime Minister Singh said, “I have not given up hope yet.” Hope is all that remains for the convenience seeking bourgeoisie: the spectacle of advanced capitalism beckons, even if the price is to be paid by the millions of people who suffer the trials of Z59.5.

(Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History and Director of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT His new book is The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World, New York: The New Press, 2007. E-mail).

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