“Bigotry”? I doubt it

There are lots of non-bigoted reasons to make nice to India on nukes while keeping Pakistan in the deep freeze.

[I seem to have taken Atrios’s sarcasm literally. My bad. See update.]

I’m always happy to attribute bad motives to BushCo; the odds are on my side.

And it seems likely that, under pressure to produce something that looked like good news, the Administration made a very bad nuclear bargain with India.

But this post from Atrios (quoted in full) brought me up short:

Bush sez India can have as many nukes as it wants but Pakistan can’t. The only explanation is bigotry.

“The only explanation”? Let’s see how many others I can come up with without pausing:

1. Pakistan supplied nuclear weapons technology to Libya, North Korea, and Iran. A.Q. Khan, who ran that operation, is treated as a national hero. India has never given nuclear weapons technology to anyone.

2. Pakistan is a military/theocratic dictatorship, interrupted occasionally by elections. India is democracy with a good record on freedom of religion and the press.

3. It was the Pakistani intelligence service &#8212 still a major power in Pakistani politics &#8212 that insisted that our aid to the Afghani mujaheddin go to the Taliban/al-Qaeda alliance.

4. It is in Pakistan that Osama bin Laden has taken refuge, and Musharraf is either unwilling or politically unable to arrange for his capture.

5. Historically, Pakistan was a U.S. client and India a Soviet client. Now that India has gotten its economic act together and is on track to becoming a Great Power economically and militarily, it’s time to mend some fences. India can serve as a counterweight to China, which has a much nastier government, a surplus of young males over young females that threatens revolution if not diverted by war, and a threatening attitude toward Taiwan. India, by contrast, threatens no one outside its borders.

6. Indian economic growth requires more electric power. (Power outages are already a significant problem.) Producing that power with fossil fuels would be catastrophic for air quality in India and bad for the global-warming situation. (Yeah, yeah. It would be nice if India did it all with windpower or whatever other alternative-energy source you can imagine. And a pony.) So there are big environmental benefits of expanding the Indian nuclear-power industry.

I can think of a seventh reason, one that does involve bigotry of a sort, though not the anti-Muslim bigotry I assume Atrios meant to suggest. India has a large and growing English-speaking population. That’s a strong potential basis for economic, cultural, and political ties, and I for one see no reason not to push that connection for all it’s worth.

Naturally, after the furious charges of “bigotry” against anyone who dared to question the Dubai deal, it’s tempting to strike back. But in this case I think it’s a bum rap. Maybe it’s worth opposing the deal on non-proliferation grounds, but we ought to consider seriously the benefits of helping India along and putting some chits in the Favor Bank.

We now return to our regularly-scheduled Bush-bashing.

Update Five readers point out that Atrios’s original post was intended as a sarcastic rejoinder to the “bigotry” charges directed at opponents of the Dubai Ports World deal, so all the above huffing and puffing is pointless. My apologies to Atrios, and my thanks to my alert readers.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com