The Bush administration has begun implementing its policy of containment of China by legitimizing India’s status as a nuclear weapons nation, despite its failure to adhere to the existing nuclear non-proliferation regime, primarily incorporated in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The administration has not formally announced a policy of containment of China, but almost simultaneously with the announcement of the new nuclear policy toward India, the Pentagon released a report on China, playing up its potential military threat. According to the Washington Post:

The report comes as the Pentagon focuses on China’s steady military modernization as a driving force in long-range U.S. defense strategy and overseas basing, American military officials and analysts say. It generated intense debate within the Bush administration, with the State Department pushing for a benign depiction of China’s intentions, while the Pentagon sought to emphasize a potentially insidious threat, defense officials said.

Thus, it appears that the US is adopting a policy of containment toward China much like that proposed by George Kennan after World War II toward the Soviet Union. India is one of the primary countries that can “contain” China. Interesting, India’s nuclear-armed neighbor and oftentime enemy, Pakistan, is a protoge of China. Pakistan is also George Bush’s close ally in the “war” against terrorism. The administration will have to weigh the importance of a potential real war with China, against an existing threat (but not a war between nations) of terrorism.

Meanwhile, the acceptance of India’s nuclear status threatens to undermine the existing nuclear non-proliferation regime by encouraging beligerant smaller countries, such as Iran and North Korea, to follow India’s example of flaulting the regime, and by encouraging more responsible countries that see themselves on a par with India for world status to develop their own nuclear weapons capability, countries such as Brazil and Japan. The situation may be manageable but only with a finesse that the Bush administration has not shown in any of its foreign policy actions to date. If anything, it means that for securing the US from nuclear threats, diplomacy is out, and military force is in, which we have used so well in Iraq. US troops can look forward to winters in Korea and Iran.

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