Listen to Pressler

May his tribe increase

Larry Pressler’s famous amendment did more than keep those F-16s out of Pakistan’s nuclear reach. It constantly reminded American policymakers (and media) about the developing danger in Pakistan. The Pressler amendment, along with the sanctions imposed after the 1998 nuclear tests, remains the only meaningful measure the United States ever took to publicly and transparently take Pakistan to task for its nuclear transgressions.

Even as the Bush administration has all but set aside his amendment, Pressler makes a powerful case in favour of a strong pro-India foreign policy. (via tdaxp)

Yes, during the cold war India often sided with the Soviet Union while Pakistan went with the United States. Some old hands at the Pentagon still seem to think we should be rewarding Pakistan for that. But the cold war is long over. We have given the Pakistanis their due many times over…

Our military-industrial complex, which I believe dominates our foreign policy, favors Pakistan not only because we can sell it arms, but also because the Pentagon would often rather deal with dictatorships than democracies. When a top Pentagon official goes to Pakistan, he can meet with one general and get everything settled. On the other hand, if he goes to India, he has to talk to the prime minister, the Parliament, the courts and, God forbid, the free press…

We should also make it clear that we will favor India in all major regional disputes. Without American support, Pakistan would be forced to drop its claims to the disputed region of Kashmir, as well as end its support of the region’s Muslim militants (whom many in our intelligence services feel have ties to Al Qaeda).

Freeing ourselves from our profitless Pakistan policy would allow us to look clearly at the biggest problem in the region: China. We should tell Beijing that we will help India match China’s arms buildup and that we will work toward a modified free-trade agreement with India to help it offset China’s state-dominated trade practices. [NYT]

10 thoughts on “Listen to Pressler”

  1. Pingback: tdaxp
  2. South Dakota is a small state (only 800,000 people), so I have been lucky to meet Pressler twice. He is perhaps the smartest Senator we have had. His lack of involvement in local politics eventually did him in, but from being strongly pro-India to telecom privitization, he loved technical national and international issues.

    He also can be very shy, which makes his 22 years in Congress all the more impressive.

    By the way, you have a great site. “Acorn” has been on my blogroll for a while.. keep up the great work!

    -Dan

  3. Arguing that the US shouldn’t sell F-16s to Pakistan is a completely defensible position, but we need to be honest about what India’s motives are here. The US has already offered to sell F-16s to India along with Pakistan, and the former’s defense budget would allow it to procure far more of the planes than the the latter’s. The reason India opposes the F-16 sales is because India is actively buying SU-30s from Russia, and is on the verge of manufacturing more of them through a technology license, while keeping Russia from selling fighter jets to Pakistan. The Russian arrangement makes a scenario in which neither country is able to buy F-16s more preferable to one in which both countries are able to do so, even if India is able to buy more.

    India is within its rights to favor this status quo, but I’m sure you can see how the notion of thwarting the ambitions of American arms manufacturers in order to continue taking advantage of a cozy relationship with Russian ones can’t sit well in Washington.

  4. The reason why India prefers Russian equipment and not US equipment is due to the simple fact that US has not been a reliable supplier in the past and there is no reason to believe that this policy will change in the near future.
    There is no point buying expensive F-16s only to be refused key spare parts during wartime or other critical junctures.

  5. Huvishka, that may have been true in the past, but Rice made a point during her most recent visit to provide reliability assurances. Which, along with Rice’s pro-India sentiments and Washington’s wariness of China, is why I wouldn’t be surprised to see some weapons deals (non-F16-related) done in the near future.

  6. The logic of the Cold War, where America had to check Russia by automatically siding with India’ enemies, is dead. India and the US share more interests than India and Pakistan or the US and Pakistan. The sooner India and America can embrace each other and recover from cold war distrust, the happier the world will be.

  7. What does an assurance really mean ? Under an emergency the US could still deny spare parts to the US, and even if the President disagrees, Congress could mandate it.

    The only assurance would be if India can make all the spare parts itself. Not immediately, but after a few years. I doubt the US would agree to that though.

  8. The only assurance would be if India can make all the spare parts itself. Not immediately, but after a few years. I doubt the US would agree to that though.

    Couldn’t you say the same for Russia, or any other foreign arms supplier?

    The US may be free to renege on any assurance that it gives, but if it did, I suspect it would make a lot of other arms customers think twice about buying from them if other options are available. It’s not much different from breaking a signed treaty, when you think about it. Or defaulting on debt payments. You may not get directly punished for doing it, but the loss of credibility will almost certainly come back to haunt you.

  9. “Without American support, Pakistan would be forced to drop its claims to the disputed region of Kashmir, as well as end its support of the region’s Muslim militants (whom many in our intelligence services feel have ties to Al Qaeda).”

    I’m sorry, but this is nonsense. Right now, w/ the U.S. engaged in Pakistan, they are at least doing SOMETHING about the problem. But when the U.S. had shunned Pakistan, the problems were worse.

  10. Pakistan’s ralationship with US goes back to the early fifties of the last century.In every major US policy in the asian continent pakistan has been an important player, starting from U-2s to afghanistan and subsequent breakup of soviet union,the opening up of relationship between US and china and recently the war on the Al-Qaeda. To assume that this connection would just be forgotten is expecting too much. For this the pak diplomats work overtime to keep reminding the US.An emotional attachment! F16s or no F16s, it is finally US self interest i.e. to look at the china policy with India as a counterpoise.Well said NYT!

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