Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
HVK Archives: The enemy is self-doubt

The enemy is self-doubt - The Times of India

J. N. Dixit ()
June 25, 1998

Title: The enemy is self-doubt
Author: J. N. Dixit
Publication: The Times of India
Date: June 25, 1998

India's nuclear weapon-state status has not only generated
critical reactions abroad, a sharp division on its decision to go
morally nuclear marks Indian public opinion too. India has to
cope with the hypocrisy of the nuclear-weapon powers and their
moral posturing while; dealing with the contradiction between the
moral irrelevance of becoming a nuclear power and the
requirements of national security. Managing these contradictions
is the overarching challenge of domestic and foreign policies.

Let me reproduce two statements which embody these
contradictions. "Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear
sword of Democles hanging by the slenderest of threads capable of
being cut at any moment by accident, miscalculation or madness.
The second: "But until mankind has abolished both war and its
instruments of destruction, the United States must maintain an
effective quantity and quality of nuclear weapons so deployed and
protected as to be capable of surviving any surprise attack and
devastating the attacker. Only through such strength can we be
certain of deterring a nuclear strike or an overwhelming ground
attack upon our forces ... Only through such strength can we in
the free world - should that deterrent fail - face the tragedy of
another war with any hope of survival."

The first defines the moral dilemma and argues for the
elimination of weapons of mass destruction. The second
articulates the rationale for deterrence. Both were made by
President John F. Kennedy, the first in his UN speech of
September 25, 1961, the second in a speech explaining his
decision to resume American nuclear tests in 1962.

No one would argue against abjuring nuclearweapons in maximalist
normative terms. It is in the context of existential realities
that the criticisms of weaponisation must be evaluated:
Acquisition of these weapons goes against India's moral and
humanistic traditions. India has lost the high moral ground from
which to argue for disarmament. It does not strengthen security
but increases security threats, in Kashmir, and from China and
Pakistan. Acquisition and deployment will profoundly affect
India's economic needs. Acquiring the weapons and perfecting
delivery systems is only the beginning of this no-win game. The
follow-up will be technologically complex and costly. The BJP
took the decision for purely partisan reasons.

The first criticism is valid in absolute terms, but absolute
logic does not govern international relations. The deciding
factor remains military and economic power based on political
will and technological capacity. We retained our moral high
ground for nearly 35 years. This did not reduce our security
threats. It brought more pressure to stifle our defence and even
technological capacities for peaceful purposes. The acquisition
of these weapons does not mean India has resiled from its
humanistic traditions. It has only acquired a preemptive capacity
to safeguard its interests in an unjust world order. It still
argues for the elimination of such weapons in a definite time-
frame. The criticism that nuclear weaponisation has increased
security threats is debatable. The security threats and nuclear
posturing of two of our neighbours and other nuclear-weapon
powers have shown an incremental pattern. Acquiring credible
deterrence is not adventurist or futile. Continued ambiguity
would have increased our vulnerability. Would Pakistan and China
or other nuclear-weapon states have abandoned their nuclear
policies had we not tested? The answer is a resounding 'No'.

True, weaponisation will have some negative economic impact.
India's territorial integrity cannot be ensured free of cost.
The will to survive with dignity and self-reliance requires a
tightening of belts. lie consequences will in no way be
unmanageable except for those who think economic well-being can
be achieved without ensuring national security.

The argument about follow-up action being technologically complex
and too costly is spurious. The government must have taken
follow-up into account when deciding to go public about our
nuclear-weapons capacity. Of course it will be costly, but our
technological capacities need not be doubted.

The point about the decision being for partisan BJP purposes is
itself a partisan argument. The tests were the culmination of
nearly 24 years of preparatory work. If weaponisation is valid,
the credit goes collectively to previous and the present
governments. If it is wrong, the guilt is shared by the parties
which were in power in the last two and a half decades. Ambiguity
beyond 1999 would have been counter-productive and smacked of
political hypocrisy. It would have left us technologically
unprepared to face security threats at the threshold we have
reached since the finalisation of the CTBT. The thought occurs
to me that our internal divisions and self-torturing doubts are
more dangerous to our security than external pressures or

The G-8 meeting in Birmingham and the P-5 foreign ministers'
meeting in Geneva betray the realisation that selective non-
proliferation measures cannot succeed. India and Pakistan's de
facts position has been acknowledged. The nuclear-weapon states
wish their non-proliferation agenda to progress. But they are
also grappling with India and Pakistan's weapons status and its
possible ripple effect oil horizontal proliferation.

Both P-5 and Security Council meetings in early June reactivated
their concern about Kashmir. We must understand that the anxiety
is not so much to solve the Kashmir issue as to ensure that it
does not become a nuclear Cashpoint. We must be alert about
Pakistan encouraging this concern to the hilt. Brajesh Mishra's
discussions with French, British and Russian leaders have been
useful in conveying our sense of responsibility and discipline
and in persuading them to take a more realistic view of India and
even Pakistan. Similar contacts with the Chinese and American
leadership are essential.

We must remain firm about our stand on Kashmir vis-a-vis the UN
and other pressures without being confrontationist. Atalji will
doubtless follow up his overtures to Pakistan at his meeting with
Nawaz Sharif at the Colombo SAARC summit in July. We must
restructure the style and content of our dialogue with Pakistan.
This is the only way to cope with the inevitable contradictions
generated by the subcontinental tests. The focus should now be on
answering the question about where we proceed from here.

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements