We call him Nutwar

The Indian government provides lame justifications for supporting Iran

The Indian foreign minister made a very poor case in trying to justify India’s potential vote against referring Iran’s dubious ‘civilian’ nuclear programme to the UN Security Council. This is what he said:

“Everybody would like to avoid a contentious debate in the Security Council,” (Foreign Minister Natwar) Singh, who visited Iran earlier this month, said in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

“Look here, India’s foreign policy is decided in New Delhi,” he said on NDTV television. “We have good relations with Iran. We have our energy requirements with Iran … there are 150 million Muslims in India, of which a large number are Shias.”[Reuters]

And here’s why he is wrong:

  • It is unfathomable why India should want the UN Security Council to avoid a contentious debate when at least two of its members do. India is not even a member there (which is the whole point why it is an excellent idea to refer the matter to the Security Council).
  • We have good relations with the United States too. As we have with Britain, France and Germany. Merely having good relations with a country is not good enough a reason to blindly support that country.
  • We have energy requirements. Period. Iran is just one country that can supply fuel to India. That only Iran can satisfy India’s energy requirements is a fallacious argument that is nothing more than a dogmatic assertion. Securing gas from Iran, via a pipeline that runs through Pakistan is not at all an end-all for India’s energy security.
  • There is absolutely no reason to believethat those 150 million Indian Muslims will complain if the rationale behind India’s decision is properly explained to them. Moreover, the foreign minister insults India’s Shia Muslims by suggesting that they would somehow be automatically more aligned to Iranian interests rather than their own.

The Congress-led government is about to make one of the biggest mistakes of contemporary foreign policy. Whether or not India will make this mistake will certainly be decided in New Delhi. There is no doubt about that at all.

Tailpiece: If Nutwar Singh deems it necessary to remind everyone that India’s foreign policy is made in New Delhi, then pray why did Dr Manmohan Singh have to cite Vajpayee’s criticism to President Bush, he who is based in Washington D.C.?

9 thoughts on “We call him Nutwar”

  1. Pingback: varnam
  2. Couldn’t agree with you more — the most nonsensical excuse is the last bit .. ie, “India having 150 million Muslims, many of them being Shias… ”

    In using the same argument used by some of the fringe elements from the Hindu far-right who often question Muslims’ allegiance to India, Natwar Singh has exposed his true thoughts, a la Trent Lott http://www.salon.com/politics/feature/2002/12/10/lott/

    Singh owes the 150 million Indian Muslims he so gratuitously insulted an apology. Big-time.

  3. While Mr. “Nutwar’s” explanations are silly, especially about Indian Muslims (but this is the traditional Congress party – the true colours of which Mr. Mani Aiyar displayed in the past few weeks; it ties itself and the country into knots over non-issues), what is it that India gets for supporting US on this issue? Do interests of Iran have no say on Indian decision making this regard?

  4. Chandra, why would India want to avoid a debate it is not going to be a part of? In the tailpiece of his previous post, Nitin makes a totally valid point:

    [T]he burden of actually imposing sanctions on Iran will lie on China, Russia and France. India should let them have the privilege of defending a nuclear bad boy at the United Nations. The permanent five, including the United States, are not keen to admit India as one among them. So why should India allow them to escape the responsibility that comes with their position?

    If you are taking a principled stand, why should we defend Iran on its dubious nuclear program? If your stand is based on alienating Iran, I don’t think that would be a serious concern, simply because the job of actually imposing sanctions rests on the security council. I don’t even think this is a diplomatic tight rope.

    I agree with Nitin’s final analysis… through their misguided “secularism,” congress does more harm to the Indian Muslims than the Sangh Parivar.

  5. Niket, my argument is do we really want to send Iran one step towards sanctions – apparently like what N. Korea has now and what Iraq had during Saddam time – by voting to send the issue to UNSC? I think it is a cop out to say let Russia, China, and US can decide in UNSC when we can play a role in this. I also think we should warn the Iranians that we cannot support them if they do what the North Koreans did – push NPT to its limit and exit. But there is lot of room in between what would disastrous sanctions on Iran and nuclear armed Iran (presumably because Israel has them). I think India has role to play in this, although mandarins in MFA aren’t very versed (or may be just not interested, as usual) in explaining this to Indian people.

  6. Pingback: solutionfutures

Comments are closed.