Noam Chomsky, the world's foremost linguist better known for his trenchant criticism of the US foreign policy, has once again flayed the Bush administration - this time for the India-US civil nuclear deal.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor, who has been named in several opinion polls as the most important public intellectual alive, has issued a statement, titled 'Why we oppose the Indo-US military ties', which is also signed by seven noted Left-leaning intellectuals.
Terming the India-US nuclear cooperation agreement as 'capstone' of the new bilateral strategic alliance, the statement doing rounds on blogs this week says they oppose the deal for three related reasons:
"(1) The deal is another attempt by the Bush administration to weaken the framework of international law."
They note: "India refused to sign the (Nuclear) Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 because, it claimed, the NPT put into place a hierarchy between nuclear weapons states and non-nuclear weapons states. Now the US government is playing kingmaker, pretending that it is in a lawful position to welcome India into the nuclear weapons club."
"(2) The deal will intensify the instability of the South Asian subcontinent."
Noting the confidence-building measures undertaken by India and Pakistan in recent years, Chomsky and others say: "One of the means to build confidence in the region was the creation of a natural gas pipeline from Iran through Pakistan into India. The 'peace pipeline' would have tied the region together and raised the stakes for negotiations over belligerence."
They are unhappy with the nuclear deal because "the peace pipeline is a casualty of this agreement". Moreover, "the nuclear deal does nothing to hamper the Indian nuclear weapons sector, whose growth will fuel an arms race with Islamabad and Beijing".
"(3) The deal is intended as a part of the Bush administration's wish to isolate Iran. It is by now clear that the US 'coerced' India's votes at the International Atomic Energy Agency meetings of September 2005 and February 2006."
They point out that the Hyde Act passed by the US Congress in 2006 "specifically demanded that the US government 'secure India's full and active participation in US efforts to dissuade, isolate and, if necessary, sanction and contain Iran for its efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction'."
Chomsky, along with Naomi Klein, Howard Zinn, Medea Benjamin, Judith LeBlanc, Mike Davis, John Bellamy Foster and Vijay Prashad, has urged "the US population to reject this agreement".
This is not the first time Chomsky, in his large number of interviews, talks, articles and blog entries, has opposed the growing bonhomie between Washington and New Delhi.
In an interview in April on India-Pakistan relations, he had noted: "The agreement with India was in serious violation of US law, the export law from the early 1970s that was passed after the Indian test (of 1974). It was also in violation of the rules of the two major international organisations, one that controls, or tries to control, nuclear material exports, the other that tries to control missile technology exports."
Referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Nuclear Supply Group (NSG), he said: "It's a sharp blow against two of the elements of the international system that's trying to prevent proliferation of nuclear technology, weapons technology, and missile technology.
"It was predictable that as soon as the US broke it someone else would break it too. And shortly after, China approached Pakistan with sort of a similar agreement... Russia will probably do the same and others will do the same," he said in the interview conducted as part of a symposium on the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi's Satyagraha movement.
In a talk delivered in Beirut in May, reproduced as 'Imminent Crises: Threats and Opportunities' in the June issue of Monthly Review, Chomsky said: "Bush's recent trip to India, and his authorisation of India's nuclear weapons programme, is part of the jockeying over how ... major global forces will crystallise" in planning for their energy needs.