Dubya In India (and the "Fresh Prince" in Bombay)

President Bush just landed in India. Here are some links that stand out to me regarding the visit and the proposed nuclear deal:

1. A poll published in Outlook India shows that Bush's approval rating in India is higher than it is here in the U.S. (So maybe one shouldn't take the 100,000 protestors from Muslim groups and the Left in Delhi as the definitive voice of India.)

2. Bernard Gwertzman of the Council on Foreign Relations, does a Q&A in the New York Times on the nuclear deal, explaining some of the details of the proposed deal, and why there's been difficulty ironing out the kinks.

3. Fred Kaplan, writing in Slate, suggests that the nuclear deal the U.S. is negotiating with India isn't legal under the NPT, which the U.S. has signed even if India hasn't. Moreover, quite a number of folks are likely to be bothered by a possible deal, and a number of UN organizations are going to step in to try and block it after signing:

First, the United States has no authority to grant such an exemption on its own. The NPT is a treaty signed by 187 nations; it is enforced by the International Atomic Energy Agency; and it is, in effect, administered by the five nations that the treaty recognizes as nuclear powers (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, and France). This point is not a legal nicety. If the United States can cut a separate deal with India, what is to prevent China or Russia from doing the same with Pakistan or Iran? If India demands special treatment on the grounds that it's a stable democracy, what is to keep Japan, Brazil, or Germany from picking up on the precedent?

Second, the India deal would violate not just international agreements but also several U.S. laws regulating the export of nuclear materials.

In other words, an American president who sought to make this deal would, or should, detect a myriad of political actors that might protest or block it—mainly the U.N. Security Council, the Nuclear Suppliers' Group, and the U.S. Congress. Not just as a legal principle but also as a practical consideration, these actors must be notified, cajoled, mollified, or otherwise bargained with if the deal has a chance of coming to life.

The amazing thing is, President Bush just went ahead and made the pledge, without so much as the pretense of consultation—as if all these actors, with their prerogatives over treaties and laws (to say nothing of their concerns for very real dilemmas), didn't exist.

So even if the deal is signed (which is by no means guaranteed), it may not stick. Can it really be that the administration is unaware of the complications? What could their motivations for signing this be if it's unlikely that anyone will start shipping nuclear fuel to India anytime soon?

4. Arundhati Roy singles out Bush's planned visit to Rajghat (the Gandhi memorial park) as something that will cause millions of Indians to "wince." I don't know; I think most Indians are perfectly comfortable with unlikely appropriations of Gandhi's image and legacy (just as civil rights activists in the U.S. have gotten used to Republicans wantonly quoting MLK).

Other than that, Roy's best zinger on Bush's travel plans is about his choice of venue:

Ironic isn't it, that the only safe public space for a man who has recently been so enthusiastic about India's modernity, should be a crumbling medieval fort?

Not much of a bite there.

5. Forget Bush-Manmohan and the Nuclear Deal! Will Smith is in Bombay, making prognostications about the merger of Bollywood and Hollywood.