Dear Mr Advani

Great powers don’t worry about their rights

You say that you will support a nuclear deal that gives India the right to conduct a nuclear test. Perhaps it may even be able to negotiate such a deal one day.

But getting hung up about the “right to test” is a vestige of the strategic weakness of India’s past. Whether or not India has the right to test is not as relevant as India being able to get away with testing. That’s the story of Pokhran-I and Pokhran-II, by the way, and that will be the story of Pokhran-III if and when it does occur. You know this all too well.

So you should ensure that India will be able to get away with it. A strategic partnership with the United States—which you support—is a good way to ensure this.

If the nuclear deal falls apart, the BJP can’t be forgiven for its role in its unmaking. Your supporters will cite electoral compulsions as the reason for your stand. Perhaps this will help you win the coming election. What is really baffling is that you should think that it is necessary to let the deal fail in order to do so. Not least when the UPA government has no real achievement to speak of.

Related Post: A good deal, but very bad politics