March 03, 2006

Gandhi, Bush, and the Bomb
"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?"
- Gandhi
Well, he did it: George W. Bush today tossed a cluster of rose petals at the samadhi shrine of Mahatma Gandhi.

The man has no shame, no intelligence (does he really think this is a useful PR stunt?), no remorse and no dignity.

The outrageous cynicism of this act has provoked widespread anger. Lawrence S. Wittner focusses on the key reason for Bush's journey to India, the nuclear pact:
Gandhi, it should be noted, was not only a keen supporter of substituting nonviolent resistance for war, but a sharp critic of the Bomb. In 1946, he remarked: “I regard the employment of the atom bomb for the wholesale destruction of men, women, and children as the most diabolical use of science.” When he first learned of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Gandhi recalled, he said to himself: “Unless now the world adopts non-violence, it will spell certain suicide.” In 1947, Gandhi argued that “he who invented the atom bomb has committed the gravest sin in the world of science,” concluding once more: “The only weapon that can save the world is non-violence.” The Bomb, he said, “will not be destroyed by counter-bombs.” Indeed, “hatred can be overcome only by love.”

That is certainly an interesting backdrop against which to place President Bush’s plan to provide India with nuclear technology. India is one of only four countries that have refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) – a treaty endorsed by 188 nations. Thumbing its nose at the world, India has conducted nuclear tests and has developed what experts believe to be 50 to 100 nuclear weapons. Under the terms of the NPT, the export of nuclear technology is banned to nations that don’t accept international inspections of their nuclear programs. In addition, U.S. law prohibits the transfer of nuclear technology to a country that rejects full international safeguards. U.S. law also bans such technology transfer to a non-NPT country that has conducted nuclear test explosions.

Thus, if the President were to give any weight to Gandhi’s ideas, international treaty obligations, or U.S. law, he would not be working to provide India with the same nuclear-capable technology that he so vigorously condemns in Iran – a country, by the way, that has signed the NPT, has undergone inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and has not conducted any nuclear weapons tests.
At a press conference in New Delhi, Bush acknowledged that it would be very difficult for the Indian PM and himself to get their illegal nuclear pact signed off by lawmakers in both countries:
Q: Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, following up on this just a touch, what kind of message, sir, does it send to the world that India, which has been testing as late as 1998, nuclear testing, and is not -- has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty -- is this a reward for bad behavior, as some critics suggest? And what kind of message does it send to other countries that are in the process of developing nuclear technology? Why should they sign the NPT if India is getting a deal without doing so, sir?

PRESIDENT BUSH: What this agreement says is things change, times change, that leadership can make a difference, and telling the world -- sending the world a different message from that which is -- what used to exist in people's minds.

I -- listen, I've always said this was going to be a difficult deal for the Prime Minister to sell to his parliament, but he showed great courage and leadership. And it's difficult for the American President to sell to our Congress, because some people just don't want to change and change with the times. I understand that. But this agreement is in our interests, and therefore, Jim, I'm confident we can sell this to our Congress as in the interest of the United States, and at the same time make it clear that there's a way forward for other nations to participate in a -- in civilian nuclear power in such a way as to address nonproliferation concerns.

India has charted a way forward. You heard the Prime Minister talk about going to the IAEA. That group exists to help safeguard -- safeguard the world from proliferation.

Listen, I proposed reprocessing agreements -- that stands in stark contrast to current nuclear theology that we shouldn't reprocess for proliferation concerns. I don't see how you can advocate nuclear power, in order to take the pressure off of our own economy, for example, without advocating technological development of reprocessing, because reprocessing will not only -- reprocessing is going to help with the environmental concerns with nuclear power. It will make there -- to put it bluntly, there will be less material to dispose.

And so I'm trying to think differently, not to stay stuck in the past...
What do you know about the past, Mr Bush? What do you know about history? History will remember you as the greatest fool who ever strutted through the doors of the Oval Offfice.

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