Thursday, March 02, 2006

America's # One Arms Dealer

It is fairly obvious to me that George W. Bush is not in the sub-continent as a peacemaking Head of State but rather as America's premier arms salesman, willing to sell to both sides in the most potentially likely nuclear conflict on the planet at present.

Lockheed have been telling the world how much they plan to make from India after the nuke deal went through. They expect to offer India a virtual conucopia of advanced equipment - 30 submarine hunter helicopters, 80 medium-lift helicopters, tactical battlefield missiles, its C-130J Hercules, Javelin anti-tank shoulder fired missiles and maintenance and product support if the Indian Navy goes ahead with a plan to acquire used P3C Orion reconnaissance aircraft from the US Navy. No wonder Royce Caplinger, managing director of Lockheed Martin says "I'm telling my colleagues in the US that there's a new opportunity here almost every day."

And today the U.S. Defense Department said:
"Where only a few years ago, no one would have talked about the prospects for a major U.S.-India defense deal, today the prospects are promising, whether in the realm of combat aircraft, helicopters, maritime patrol aircraft or naval vessels...The next step is to turn the talk of prospective sales into reality. The United States is committed to working with India to do this."
Given any choice, I would definitely prefer dealing with India, which at least has a tradition of democracy even if it isn't always kind to it's minorities, over the Pakistani dictatorship. In that respect the Washington Post editorial today was exactly correct. However, the Bush administration is still hoping to sell Musharraf's regime more than a hundred nuclear-capable F-16 fighter-bombers as well as howitzers, advanced electronics and much else. The most likely targets for these weapons are Musharraf's own people (whom he has been bombing and shooting for years now) or India.

I don't expect any major steps from Bush in tempering the Pakistani dictator. No, I expect Bush to try to sell him even more weapons just as he is trying to do with India. To arm both nations, given their circumstances, requires a certain amount of immoral Mammon worship as well as a devil-may-care attitude to international stability.

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