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Hiroshima Memories Don't Deter South Asia's Hawks

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    truthout.org 09 August 2005 HIROSHIMA MEMORIES DON T DETER SOUTH ASIA S HAWKS By J. Sri Raman Two messages have gone out to the people of India during the
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 11, 2005
      truthout.org
      09 August 2005

      HIROSHIMA MEMORIES DON'T DETER SOUTH ASIA'S HAWKS
      By J. Sri Raman

      Two messages have gone out to the people of India during the
      Hiroshima-Nagasaki week, ending today. The first went out from the
      peace movement, and it pointed to the greater and graver significance
      of the occasion for the world and South Asia. The second was a loud
      and clear signal from the rulers of India and Pakistan - that they
      were united in their resolve not to let the long-past Japanese
      tragedy affect their nuclear weapons programs at all.

      India, in fact, is currently witnessing a campaign by nuclear
      militarists for a strengthening of the county's nuclear-weapons
      program.

      The peace movement was at pains to tell the people that the 60th
      anniversary of Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings was of special
      significance for two reasons. The anniversary had come at a time when
      the militarist forces led by the George Bush administration in
      Washington threatened not only more wars but also a new legitimacy to
      nuclear weapons. The "window of opportunity" for an advance toward
      nuclear disarmament, which the overly-optimistic had seen opening
      after the end of the cold war, has been shut firmly and finally with
      Washington announcing at various forums its determination to go ahead
      with plans for "usable" nuclear weapons for "winnable" nuclear wars.

      The situation, the movement pointed out in rallies across India,
      was particularly serious in south Asia, despite the much-vaunted
      India-Pakistan peace process. It was recalled that this process,
      which had produced some welcome measures to promote people-to-people
      relations, had been kept studiously away from the issue of nuclear
      weapons.

      The recent India-US nuclear accord, the movement stressed, did
      not promise further progress on this front from the process.

      Off and on, of course, the subcontinent has been treated to minor
      spectacles of talks between Indian and Pakistani mandarins on nuclear
      "CBMs" (confidence-building measures).

      Little has come out of the 18-months-long process, however, that
      can inspire any confidence among sections of the populace not
      convinced thus far about the claimed peace dividends of the nuke
      programs.

      Only a couple of mice have crawled out of the mountain of peace
      labor, as pro-official sections of the media have projected the
      alleged quest for CBMs. One was an agreement on setting up a hotline
      between the DGMOs (Directorates-General of Military Operations) of
      the two countries, which has evidently not banished the horror of a
      nuclear war forever. The other was the idea of a system of
      pre-notification of each other about missile tests by the
      nuclear-armed rivals.

      Yet another round of talks between Indian and Pakistani experts,
      held in New Delhi between the Hiroshima and Nagasaki days, made no
      concrete progress despite the conspicuous "cordiality" of polite
      smiles and prolonged handshakes. During the talks of August 8, it was
      decided to upgrade the hotline and set up another between the two
      foreign secretaries. It has also been announced that the missile
      notification will be in place, though no details are available about
      how the reported differences over the notification format were
      resolved. There seems to be a tacit agreement on withholding
      information about the trajectory of the tested missile.

      The talks have totally avoided, so far, the possibility of
      de-deployment of nuclear-armed missiles and a de-alerting of nuclear
      weapons on either side. Even concerted measures for nuclear safety
      have remained conspicuous by their absence in the agenda before the
      official experts.

      The results of this round have encouraged nuclear hawks in India
      to step up their campaign for a reinforcement of the country's
      nuclear arsenal and a promotion of the place of its nuclear-weapon
      program in its defense policy and practice.

      As we have noted before in these columns, the hawks have been as
      harsh in their criticism of the India-US nuclear deal as the peace
      activists. An initial point of criticism was that the deal might
      eventually dictate a "cap" on the program. With the India-Pakistan
      dialogue now reinforcing New Delhi's reassurance in this regard,
      suggestions for a stronger Indian nuclear arsenal have become more
      specific. Security analyst Bharat Karnad, for example, has urged the
      government to prove that the deal won't deter India from going for
      production of thermonuclear weapons.

      He argues that these weapons "offer far more bang for the buck
      and, with megaton yield, create disproportionate political leverage
      and sort of psychological dread that enables deterrence and
      dissuasion to work even against the most powerful states."

      Pro-deal but no less prominent a hawk, C. Raja Mohan argues that
      their failure to adopt nuclear CBMs may actually spell success in
      adopting "conventional CBMs." These, he says, can be carried to the
      extent of a "phased and balanced reduction of forces," as part of a
      "military modernization." The argument amounts to one, actually, for
      a central place for nuclear weapons in the defense policies of both
      India and Pakistan.

      The Hiroshima-Nagasaki week has come and gone, leaving India's
      peace movement preparing to face a tougher challenge over the coming
      years.


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