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Before the sun sets on US hegemony - The Indian Express

Saeed Naqvi ()
June 26, 1998

Title: Before the sun sets on US hegemony
Author: Saeed Naqvi
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: June 26, 1998

Zbigniew Brzezinski hit the nail on the head. "American primacy
is not going to last forever," he reflected at the Centre for
Strategic and International Studies in Washington, nd it is
therefore important that a secure world order be put in place
while this primacy lasts."

This realism leads American thinkers to two approaches. One, as
Brzezinski says, secure a world order while this primacy lasts.
Second, to work more hawkishly towards the perpetuation of this
primacy in a limited sort of way.

The subcontinental nuclear tests have disrupted a process that
was proceeding to the West's satisfaction. A pyramid was being
secured, at the top of which would be the five permanent members
of the Security Council. President Clinton's strategic
partnership with China was designed to keep it a responsible
player at the top of the pyramid. To the agenda of his trip to
Beijing has been added an important theme: "How does the
subcontinent now relate to the pyramid we were putting in place?
They are unwilling to be furniture in the building we design:
they wish to join as architects."

After meeting Brzezinski and a host of other US foreign-policy
thinkers I am convinced this is no time to take to heart anything
the Americans say. Much of what is going on is knee-jerk
irritation at our opening up a whole new debate. But there is
much consensus on what Fareed Zakaria of the Council on Foreign
Relations says: the nuclear powers should ask India and Pakistan
to sign various treaties, but as declared nuclearweapons states.

Brzezinski believes the US has not done enough to seek a real
partnership with India. The nuclear tests have highlighted this
but to embark on a positive path so soon after the tests would be
like responding because you have placed your gun to our head. "So
be patient in the short term and say or do nothing that would
complicate discussions in the long term."

American protestations on proliferation ring hollow because "the
United States never pursued a genuinely universal and non-
discriminatory policy of halting proliferation". Brzezinski says
the US openly assisted Britain in its acquisition of nuclear
weapons; helped France in its pursuit of nuclear capability. t
more than winked at Israeli efforts," studiously ignoring the
"atmospheric nuclear test conducted by "someone" in the late
1970s in the Indian Ocean. He should know; he was the National
Security Council Adviser to President Carter. Brzezinski had
outlined a global design of regional influentials of which India
was one, "but your support of Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
destroyed" the framework in which the US was giving India an
important place.

A benign outcome of the tests has been American overtures to
Iran. It was feared that the subcontinent's explosions might
embolden Iran to go for a bomb of its own. Engaging it would
stabilise the Gulf region and ease access to the Central Asian
Republics. Brzezinski said Indian and Pakistani nuclear
capability, the Gulf and Central Asia were bear the new Iran

Brzezinski advocates a non-proliferation policy which binds the
US to defend states that have not gone nuclear from those that
have. "If either India or Pakistan had not gone nuclear, then the
country which did not have nuclear weapons and which was
threatened by the one which had would have been entitled to
American guarantees." After the tests, the administration had to
impose "some" sanctions but foreign-policy experts ate critical
of Congress' growing tendency to legislate foreign policy.

The tests have come at a particularly: awkward time for Clinton
who is facing a series of foreign policy failures: the Mid-East
peace process is not moving; the coalition on sanctions against
Iraq is weakening; Russia is opposing tough, measures against
Serbia for its repression in Kosovo. The President is in Beijing
with US public opinion totally divided on his China policy,
underlined by reports of Chinese nuclear assistance to Pakistan
and Iran. It would be most unfortunate if an impression is
created that New Delhi gloats over Sino-US controversies. We must
accelerate our excellent relations with Iran, resume them with
China and the US and inaugurate a new era with Pakistan. Our long-
term interests demand cooperation with a China growing in power
and a US whose primacy is not in doubt in the near future.

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