Column: American eagles, Bengal tigers: a NATO of the Pacific

By Jeff Myczek

President Bush’s trip to India a few days ago truly marked a change in both U.S. foreign policy and the global international scene. While the visit was marked as simply another foray abroad for the President, the outcome of the agreement reached between the United States and India carries consequences which not only benefit both powers, but are a step forward in the necessary realignment of U.S. priorities abroad.

Structurally speaking, the trip involved discussions over trade, the war on terror, and most importantly, nuclear technology. According to the International Herald Tribune, the United States, acknowledging that India is not going to give up its nuclear weapons program any time soon, tacitly agreed that the country could continue to develop its arsenal and violate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Furthermore, the United States will help India by providing it with supplies to increase its domestic nuclear energy program.

While this marks the first time in memory the United States has acknowledged (and welcomed) another nuclear-armed nation, it was truly the correct thing for the Bush administration to do. It was this decision, along with the realization of necessary closer strategic ties to India and the essential snubbing of Pakistan, which truly define the long term calculations and outcomes related to the visit.

The first good moves the United States made on this trip were to provide only India (not Pakistan) with nuclear assistance and cultivate closer strategic ties with the democratic India. While the United States has aligned itself with Pakistan both during the Cold War and after Sept. 11, it is time we realize that we cannot trust corrupt Islamic states to be stable long-term allies. Pakistan, ruled by a military dictatorship and dominated by flag-burning Muslim extremist mobs, cannot be counted on to serve the interests of global democracy. India, however, is the world’s largest democracy and has a tradition of stable government. Whether the issue be the war on terror, economics, human rights, or trade, we are more likely to find ourselves on the same page with India than Pakistan.

Also, a nuclear-armed democratic nation serves to advance American interests. In an age of shifting global power structures and emerging new threats, the United States must embrace rising nations who share our values and are committed to capitalist democracy. These nations must also be able to defend progress and deter the threats of militarist and Marxist states. A nuclear India, Japan, or South Korea represents not an unwelcome development, but rather a stronger link in the global chain of democracy.

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    Perhaps the most important outcome of Bush’s trip is what is yet to come from it. The embracing of long-term ties with India indicates that not only are we encouraging a continual association with that state, but that we are realizing our strategic future lies in the East, not the West. NATO, while forming the backbone of American security for the last 50 years, is no longer adequately formulated to advance international democratic interests. The enemy is no longer Moscow, and states such as France and Germany have a declining global influence. Moving closer to India should be the logical first step in the creation of a NATO of the Pacific, embracing states such as India, Japan, South Korea, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This alliance, while still premature in its need, will in the future be necessary to isolate and contain the Red menace of a rapidly rising China. Indeed, 50 years down the road, China, with the world’s largest population and a booming economy, will pose a larger threat to the interests of global capitalist democracy than the Soviet Union ever did.

    In our world of instability and shifting global forces, the need for allies with common values and interests becomes a necessity. Emerging democratic states such as India represent the future of not only maintaining worldwide democratic progress, but also the future of American strategic security.

    Jeff Myczek, who turns 21 today, is a junior in LAS. His column

    appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at [email protected].