N-deal: The Clueless Gray Lady

February 19, 2006
Cynical Nerd

The New York Times in an editorial speaks out against the Indo-US nuclear deal:

This energy-guzzling congestion will only become worse as India continues producing fairly high-quality goods and services at lower and lower prices  from automobiles that cost only $2,500 to low-budget airline flights for $50.

In the new enclaves for India's emerging middle class and its rapidly rising nouveau riche, environmentally unsustainable, high-ceilinged houses feature air-conditioning systems that stay on year round.

Are we the only ones to see the NYT frothing at the mouth watching India's rising middle class? Aside, I suppose the NYT also does not know that India's automobile emission standards (close to Euro-III) are much higher than the ever-regressing American standards. And India's energy consumption/GDP is less than that of China.

India desperately wants Mr. Bush to wring approval from Congress for a misbegotten pact in which America would help meet India's energy requirements through civilian nuclear cooperation.

Right, we too are opposed to a sell-out version of the deal, but for entirely different reasons.

In trying to give India a special exemption, Mr. Bush is threatening the nonproliferation treaty's carrot-and-stick approach, which for more than 35 years has dissuaded countries that are capable of building or buying nuclear arms from doing so, from South Korea to Turkey to Saudi Arabia.

NYT sounds exactly like the non-proliferation ayatollahs. Apparently, NYT does not say a word about exemptions made to Pakistan even while the Pressler Amendment was in effect and the deliberate proliferation of weapons design/material from China. Shamefully, AQ Khan's Nuclear Walmart happened right under the 'watchful eyes' of the non-proliferation lobby.

There is no diplomatic quick fix in this energy-hungry world. Even if India shunned Iran, it would still have to turn to other petroleum suppliers that Washington wants to isolate, including Sudan and Venezuela. And the Iranian supplies would wind up going to other energy-hungry nations, tying them more closely to Tehran. If Mr. Bush wants to tackle this quandary seriously, he needs to begin by pushing for significant energy conservation steps in the United States, by far the world's largest energy consumer.

Now, after all this false moral posturing, the NYT offers no concrete solution to the energy problem. It will be political suicide for President Bush or any other President to restrict America's energy use - the U.S. ain't going to sign the Kyoto Protocol in the forseeable future. We have argued that if India can manage to hang on tight till 2025, the Thorium cycle will take over. Till then, we shouldn't be afraid of burning the locally available fossil fuel while developing alternative energy sources on its own. Sure, that will again anger the NYT, but then who cares.

Update: Read this much better take by Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria, though we don't agree with him on certain points.

The Bush administration has been farsighted on this issue. With China rising and Europe and Japan declining, it sees India as a natural partner. It also recognized that 30 years of lectures on nonproliferation and sanctions have done nothing to stop, slow down or make safer India's nuclear program. Most important, it recognized that India was a rising and responsible global powerIndia has never sold or traded nuclear technologythat could not be treated like a rogue state. So the administration has proposed reversing three decades of (failed) American policy, and aims to make India a member of the nuclear club.

Originally posted in our blog.

The author writes at National Interest
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N-deal: The Clueless Gray Lady


  • » Published on February 19, 2006
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Author: Cynical Nerd


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February 19, 2006
11:53 AM

The NYT represents a vanishingly small cross-section of the exurban intelligentsia of the United States - the ones most affected by the Flat World, after the blue collar massess, who lack a voice, even in The Nation:)

February 19, 2006
12:03 PM

Good post CN. NYT has a long history of carrying the "white man's burden". It does that overtly, like in this article, but also insidiously by the way it chooses its words. For example, when BJP was in power it always described it as the "ruling hindu nationalist government". I wrote to their ombudsmen demanding that in the interest of fair reporting the describe the present US govt as "Ruling Christian Right Govt." Needless to say the ombudsman sent me a tame reply.

Kush Tandon
February 19, 2006
02:32 PM

Cynical Nerd,

You know quite a bit about nuclear policy. I have read a little bit of your blog.

However, do you have Times Select Subsription so that you can acess the massive NYT data base. I put "Pressler Amendment" as a search word. They have 105 articles and is a mixed bag of opinions as any newspaper should be.

Larry Pressler himself wrote in NYT a few months (March 21, 2005) ago.

Pakistan is a declared ally in the fight against terrorism, and thus we give it huge amounts of military aid. But F-16's have nothing to do with fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban. So what is really going on here? The answer is entwined in two decades of misguided United States policy toward India and Pakistan.

The truth is, we should have a robust pro-India stance. India is a democracy with a free market and a highly developed system of human rights. It could become our major bulwark against China in East Asia. It also has a large Muslim minority and, generally speaking, is an example of tolerance. And we have a mutually beneficial trade relationship with India that is helping us keep our technological edge. (Disclosure: I am on the board of Infosys Technologies, an Indian software company.)
[/End of Quote]

People are forgetting that NYT is owned by a very wealthy Jewish family. I think mostly they are quite fair - That is true they are slightly leftist newspaper (as The Economist is slightly right), slightly pro-Democrat newspaper.

The only they have been truthfully dedicated is "slightly pro-Israel" stance. I have been reading them since 1980s - like any newspaper their writers have their own notions. Tom Friedman from NYT is a leading proponent of flat world, so is Paul Krugmann.

I read this editorial last night - what they really are doing is Bush bashing and using India as an example.

I disagreed with some points.Hey, these are just editorials. Old lady is sometimes wrong and they have been serious faux pas recently - but she speaks in many ways, more than anyone else even the "The Economist".

cynical nerd
February 19, 2006
04:17 PM

Thanks guys.

KT: The original Pressler Amendment has been violated so many times under the tight nose of State Department/non-proliferation lobby so much so that author himself was forced to speak out against it! We did come across the link you quoted.

It first happened during Reagan years, when they turned a blind eye towards AQ Khan's aquisition in return for support for jihad against the Soviets. The second happend during Bush Sr when they wanted Chinese support for the First Gulf War (China eventually abstained during the UNSC vote!) . Clinton too did'nt want to push the Chinese further in return for their promise to 'not proliferate' in the future!

No one listened during these years when India was crying out loud. It is only when Xerox Khan turned Islamist (along with Pak. Generals like Aslam Beg) and started selling to Libya/Iran/NoKo that alarm bells started ringing in DC.

While welcoming the diversity of its op-ed columnists, NYT pretty much toes in the pro-Atlanticist line AFA foreign policy is concerned (similar to The Economist). This attitutde combined with a perpetual hate of anything the Bush administration results in a very myopic thinking as far as India is concerned.

The only hope for the n-deal is for President Bush to set aside the NP lobby/State Department wonks and take the case directly to the Congress/NSG with some heavy-duty lobbying via the Pentagon/military-industrial complex.


Kush Tandon
February 19, 2006
04:32 PM

Cynical Nerd,

I like discussing with you. You have some real good points. American hypocriscy on NPT is very obvious.

Hey, let me point to some guys who like to discuss this quite a bit. Abhi at Sepia Mutiny ( and there is Anuj/ Anop/ Saurabh (Google = Saheli Datta, she knows the crowd) from MIT/ ex-MIT who like to discuss Nuclear Policy wrt South Asia quite a bit. Some of the have same ideas to yours. Abhi from Sepia Mutiny thinks little differently but he has put quite a bit of thought in it too.

You gotta to keep in mind it NYT is the only national newspaper in USA that even stands up to Bush - even though quite feebly (since 9/11 happened in their hometown) compared to what they have done in past. Their readership is little liberal leaning, Democrats - and right they are feeling really helpless and marginalized in US of A.

Write a letter to the NYT editor. Do that.

cynical nerd
February 19, 2006
04:44 PM


Thanks, will go through your link. Not being a U.S. resident, we'll probably write to IHT once it appears there. If you are one, please go ahead and let your thoughs known to them. Indian-Americans have a great role to play when it comes policy changes at Old Establishment places like NYT. Fortunately people like Fared Zakaria have realized that the world is no longer Euro-centric.


Kush Tandon
February 19, 2006
04:56 PM

Cynical Nerd,

I may write a letter to NYT. I will have to do little homework. I am quite busy till June - But I will try.

That is why I was pointed to some young Indian-American crowd who are thinking on this topic hard too. You might work something with them.

There is a huge Nuclear-industry lobby here that wants the deal to go through for big $$$$ business.

Do write to IHT (IHT is mostly now owned by NYT). I think you can write to NYT too directly. I see letters from all over the world. You can do both.

The key to all this is lobbying. Israel lobby knows more than anyone else.

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