On India, Agni-III, Rogue Nuclear Programs, and Hindu Nationalists Who Despise Me

I learned of India's successful test of its long-range Agni-III missile in an unusual manner today. The first clue was the sudden spike in blog visitors, and by noon today an extra 600 or so visitors surfed here to read an older post I composed about the test launch of the Agni-III in 2007.

The second was the receipt of an email by an Indian nationalist who calls himself "Jack Sparrow" and who denounced me as "racist" for calling India's nuclear program "rogue" in the 2007 post. My original point - and an argument I still hold - is that the U.S. is highly selective in denouncing some nuclear programs as "rogue" (like Iran) while turning a blind eye to the nuclear stockpiles of Israel, Pakistan, and India, all nations that chose not to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Few blog posts I have ever written have generated more emailed responses than this rather short commentary to a news item I posted. I estimate I have received three dozen of such emails over the past three years, most of which I simply delete because of their anger, poor writing, and baseless accusations. Occasionally one of the emails displays some semblance of readability and civility; here is the text of "Jack Sparrow's" missive:
Hi Dr. Mike,

Hope you are doing well. I read your blog about Indian missile test. Don't you think you became racist as usual the American fan boys became always.

Now since America has the lagest stockpile of nuclear weapons as well as missiles and history proved how America has destroyed countries for their cheap interests say for example Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, now looking at Iran and now it is common saying that anyone who is between America and oil is a terrorist. I am not a muslim and I don't want to be either.India which is surrounded by 2 bastard hostile countries and if India test a missile it becomes a rouge country and as per your article rouge nuclear program.

My question is what makes you think Indian nuclear program is a rouge which has not attacked any country in its History till date but America is a good country which has killed millions of innocents worldwide.

Its easy to write blogs as their are lots of website provides you space to spit your bile as you are doing. But, the point is you have to be a man which you absolutly are not to face the truth.

US made nuclear deal with India on its own interest not a goodwill for India. India had resources before and India will get technologies even if deal fails. Its US who is at the loosing point at the rate of $35 billion a year if deal fails. So come out of your fools paradise and accept reality.
I find humorous Jack Sparrow's denunciation of me as a "racist" and then next describing India as a country surrounded by "2 bastard hostile countries," but I'll leave Jack alone on that point.

Jack's letter is typical of the numerous Indian nationalists (more accurately, Hindu nationalists) who have emailed me over the past few years to complain about what I wrote in 2007. I am going to restate some points here for future reference, so that I can just email back the link and not get into lengthy (and time wasting) electronic arguments with those who feel a need to debate me.

1. "Rogue" programs: simply put, I define as "rogue" any nuclear program that operates outside normal or desirable controls, such as the NPT. I chose the word "rogue" because President George W. Bush frequently used the word to describe Iran's nuclear program. Recently President Obama has also toughened his stance against Iran's nuclear program, yet neither president has uttered a public peep about the nuclear programs of Israel, Pakistan, or India, none of which is in agreement with international agencies. If India wants to legitimacy in its nuclear programs, it can simply sign the NPT. Unfortunately, President Bush changed the rules of the game with his unilateral India nuclear agreement, and this might have been the first act in the slow death of the NPT.

2. "Peaceful" India: Nationalists like to brag about India as a nation that has an unblemished record of peace. This idea of a peaceful India is especially laughable considering the recent history of warfare in the region, including the
Sino-Indian War, the various Indo-Pakistani Wars, and the Bangladesh Liberation War. Hindu nationalists, of course, like to blame the Muslims for all of the blame in these conflicts, but the argument that India somehow has a monopoly on peace is absurd. Also, are you really going to ignore the history of the Maratha Empire in claims that India has "never invaded another country"? Bonus points for Mohandas K. Ganghi, though, fellas.

3. U.S. history of bloodshed with nuclear weapons: no argument from me there. I have never supported the dropping of atomic weapons on innocent civilians at Nagasaki and Hiroshima (admittedly this happened two decades before I was born), and my fervent wish is to live in a non-nuclear world. I doubt I will see this in my lifetime, though.

4. Oh, and for the record I think India is a fascinating country with an amazing array of cultures and regional histories. I intend to travel to India someday and view firsthand the country I have studied from afar.