Sunday, December 30, 2001
What a wag

George Fernandes the Indian defence minister sure is a wag. In an interview with the Hindustan Times he comes out with this couple of gems.

On a possible escalation of war:

We could take a strike, survive and then hit back. Pakistan would be finished.

and this on troop morale:

In fact, something that actually bothers them is that things might now reach a point where one says there is no war.

He peppers the speech with reasonable sounding statements (including, to be fair, the first statement above which is surrounded by predictions that there will not be nuclear war) however the two statements above give the impression that the Indian government wants a war far more than the Pakistanis.

War Fever

It seems that Indian public opinion is behind this as all the parties have pledged their support. The stock is sold, the press is squared, the Middle Class is quite prepared.

Which brings another interesting question on British attitudes towards the confrontation, what if it goes nuclear?

And the obvious answer is, so what? It will matter little for the strategic situation in the British Isles, which is after all where we live, if either India or Pakistan is weakened.

Yes, it will be an unspeakable human tragedy, although I notice far less concern for those who died in the monsoons in Orisa or the earthquake in Gujarat. For that matter any death toll from a nuclear exchange is unlikely to rival the estimated five million who died during the partition of the Indian Raj in 1948.

If the people of India or Pakistan want to stop putting themselves at risk of war then surely it should be up to them, and not Western governments, to tell their rulers this.

On to Baghdad

The fact is that non-proliferation is now a dead letter, which is not to say that it was a bad idea, but stopping the spread of scientific knowledge and technical ability can only ever be a stop gap. We now live in a multi-nuclear world, and we have to try to come to terms with this (something that Bush, with his Missile Defence shield, is at least trying).

And so on to another question, Iraq. "What could be worse" they ask "than Saddam having the bomb". Well a whole lot if you're talking about the British. Last time I looked at a map Britain was not in the Middle East. If I was in Israel then I would worry, and Israel has every right to destroy any nuclear programme. But we are not in Israel. Or do I repeat myself?


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