Re: Speaking of Ground Zero...

I Find Karma (
Thu, 14 May 1998 11:21:05 -0700

Hey Rohit, good luck in Night Court tonight. May your traffic cop not
show up. You coming over to watch the last Seinfeld after that?
Michelle made black-and-white cookies and we have junior mints and
drake's coffee cakes. Personally, I can't wait for MTV's celebrity
death match between Jerry Seinfeld and Tim Allen...

> Did I miss it, or has there really been no discussion on this list about
> India's nuclear testing?

Greg did such a nice summary...

...that most of us were left speechless. Besides, I've spent the last
few hours playing with those Core Style Sheets that H&kon told us
about... fun!

Oh, speaking of fun, the CTX 233 MHz AMD K6 machine I posted about on

just dropped another hundred dollars to $555 at Fry's. A five hundred
dollar K6? Geez.

Anyway, I came here to talk about Da Bomb...

> For example, all the press I've read has presented the testing as a
> uniformly Bad Thing. Does anyone want to argue the opposite position?

Does it really matter? According to today's Wall Street Journal,

| Why should the world care? After all, India tested its first nuclear
| device back in 1974 and has long been believed to have the ability to
| build atomic weapons. And there's nothing to indicate that India is
| about to attack its neighbors.

Back to Joe...

> Or, how about someone pointing out, who gives a shit about nuclear weapons
> when we all know that biological weapons are what will wipe out the human
> race?

Good point. And, according to Time Daily, the reason India is
detonating bombs has nothing to do with its weapons policy and
everything to do with rallying public support.

| How do you shore up a shaky Indian coalition government? Detonate a
| few nuclear bombs. India's leaders may be facing a storm of
| international criticism for exploding 3 nuclear bombs, but it's done
| them a power of good among India's voters -- so much that despite the
| announcement of U.S. sanctions, New Delhi tested two more bombs.
| "India's ruling party is doing this mainly for domestic reasons," says
| TIME New Delhi bureau chief Tim McGirk. "Their coalition is floundering
| and they've been unable to get anything done. This was a way of showing
| they're decisive and they knew it would be popular with most Indians.

Back to Joe...

> Yesterday I had lunch with Sheri (my lawyer friend) and the first thing she
> said to me was, have you seen CNN? I said no, but I had heard about the
> testing anyway. She said, "oh that, no, I was talking about Sun suing
> Microsoft." Huh? I mean, this whole thing with Microsoft and Sun and the DOJ
> is amusing, but isn't a continuing nuclear arms race between India and
> Pakistan and China just a little bit more important in the grand scheme of
> things?

Not really. We've lived our whole lives knowing that in any given half
hour the entire world could be over. I say, good for India. Maybe now
the rest of the world will now start treating India as a first-class

India will be as responsible with its nuclear weapons as any other
country. What you need to worry about is some disgruntled Caltech
student (is there such thing as a "gruntled" student?) building a
nuclear bomb and detonating it for the pure, evil fun of it all (or
maybe because some small terrorist organization pays them a whole lot of
money and attention). Some of these people around here think scruples
are Russian currency and morals are those paintings on the walls..

> And one more thing. The USA and the USSR nuking each other almost made
> sense, because they were kind of geographically separated. But India and
> Pakistan? I guess I really should ask which way the prevailing wind goes...

Yeah, this seems weird to me, too. According to today's New York Times,

| Such weapons are up to thousands of times stronger than atom bombs. In
| fact, hydrogen bombs are known as city-busters, and their less potent
| kin are often looked down on as weak and inferior.
| In 1952, when the United States exploded the world's first hydrogen
| bomb, the Pacific isle of Elugelab, one mile in diameter, simply
| vanished.
| The bomb's power was equal to 10.4 million tons of high explosive, or
| about 700 times as powerful as the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Not the kind of thing I'd want to drop in my own backyard.

I'll include the whole WSJ article here for more perspective on what the
white mainstream press is saying...

: Hindu Government's Move Raises
: Risk of Sanctions by U.S., Japan
: Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
: May 11, 1998
: NEW DELHI -- India is heading down a dangerous road.
: The country's provocative underground tests of three nuclear devices
: Monday show that its new Hindu-nationalist-led government means business
: when it says it wants to make India a world power. But the tests also
: entail grave risks: diplomatic wrath, likely trade sanctions at a time
: when the country needs foreign investment, possible damage to budding
: ties with the U.S., and a costly and deadly arms race with China and
: Pakistan.
: Why should the world care? After all, India tested its first nuclear
: device back in 1974 and has long been believed to have the ability to
: build atomic weapons. And there's nothing to indicate that India is
: about to attack its neighbors.
: But the world may decide it cares for two reasons: India now is a more
: important player on the global stage than ever before, and it now has a
: government that is eager to act boldly -- some might say rashly -- to
: stand up to perceived threats that have long worried its leaders.
: India's growing importance derives mainly from its impressive but still
: far-from-complete retooling of its economy. Since beginning to dismantle
: its socialist policies after a 1991 balance-of-payments crisis, India
: has rapidly expanded its economic output and made great strides toward
: improving the lot of its hundreds of millions of impoverished citizens.
: And it has quickly built up trade ties with the U.S.: American
: businesses ranging from Coca-Cola Co. to power-plant builder Enron Corp.
: have invested heavily in India, making the U.S. the largest foreign
: presence in this promising economy.
: Now, following the nuclear tests Monday, India faces the possibility of
: U.S. trade sanctions and of cutoffs of major aid programs by Japan and
: the World Bank at a time when the country needs a quick infusion of
: investment. India's economic growth slowed to 5% in the year ended March
: 31 -- well below the steady 7% or 8% growth needed to create jobs and
: eradicate poverty.
: The tests are the most dramatic step taken by the government since the
: Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power at the head of a
: coalition seven weeks ago. The BJP's campaign platform included a
: promise to consider declaring India a nuclear power. That pledge set
: India's neighbors and allies such as the U.S. on edge; so have other
: planks in the platform, including a curb on certain types of foreign
: investment and a pro-Hindu stance that is seen as implicitly hostile to
: the country's large Muslim minority.
: The BJP, though more assertive than its rivals, is nevertheless
: representative of a significant force in Indian politics: the deep sense
: of insecurity felt not only by the BJP's rivals in the elite but also by
: tens of millions of ordinary Indians. Many feel threatened by Muslim
: Pakistan to the west, by China to the north, by the multinational
: corporations that have entered India's markets -- and, in the case of
: many in the country's Hindu majority, by Indian Muslims. The BJP has
: tapped these fears but didn't create them. In detonating three
: explosions Monday, the party is largely playing to this powerful
: domestic political constituency.
: It also is furthering the goals of India's defense establishment, which
: has long desired to cement the nation's security against Pakistan, with
: which India fought wars in 1948, 1965 and 1971, and against China, with
: which India fought in 1962. Monday's simultaneous test of three
: different types of warheads took place at the same desert site near the
: Pakistan border where India tested the bomb in 1974.
: "The message is clear: that we have a credible nuclear deterrent,"
: Brajesh Mishra, a senior aide to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee,
: told reporters. It was India's first admission that it is developing
: nuclear weapons, though Mr. Mishra declined to say whether the
: government has decided to deploy them. He softened that stance somewhat
: by reiterating India's commitment to nonproliferation and said India is
: prepared to consider adhering to some parts of the Comprehensive Test
: Ban Treaty -- but he stopped short of committing to signing that nuclear
: pact.
: The next move is now up to world powers such as the U.S. and to India's
: neighbors.
: In Washington, the Clinton administration was caught flat-footed by the
: tests. A top U.S. official said that in meetings last week with India's
: foreign secretary, "there was no advance indication" of the testing.
: Moreover, the official added, the U.S. intelligence community was caught
: by surprise. At the White House, Michael McCurry said the U.S. was
: "deeply disappointed" by the blasts. It is too early to tell whether
: India's action will have any impact on President Clinton's plans to
: visit New Delhi later this year. (On Tuesday, the White House recalled
: its ambassador to New Delhi for consultations.)
: The administration was considering its responses, but it's clear that
: India would likely be subject to sanctions under a tough
: nonproliferation law passed by Congress in 1994. Under the law, the U.S.
: would ban aid and loans to India. In recent years, India has restricted
: both public- and private-sector borrowing by its companies in order to
: hold down its external debt.
: But India would be very vulnerable to another section of the bill, which
: requires the U.S. to oppose loans or other assistance from international
: financial institutions. India is the third-largest borrower from the
: World Bank, bank officials say. In the fiscal year ending June 30, the
: bank expects to extend about $3 billion in loans and other assistance to
: New Delhi.
: The 1994 law doesn't leave President Clinton much leeway for diplomacy.
: He would be permitted to delay sanctions for only 30 days; after that, a
: waiver of sanctions would require a joint congressional resolution.
: Congress isn't likely to look kindly on India's actions.
: Defense experts and India watchers in Washington are concerned about the
: chain reaction that might follow the Indian tests. "Pakistan is next
: door," says Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation
: Policy Education Center and former top Pentagon official on
: nonproliferation issues in the Bush administration. The Pakistanis "are
: watching and making calculations about whether they should be testing,"
: he adds.
: The Indian test also could upset global efforts to ratify the
: Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which was concluded in 1996. A number of
: countries, including the U.S. and other major nuclear powers as well as
: India and Pakistan, must ratify the accord before it goes into force. In
: the U.S., ratification has been bottled up in the Senate Foreign
: Relations Committee, and now India's actions could kill U.S.
: ratification.
: "They just blew up the chances for ratification," says Marc Thiessen, a
: spokesman for Sen. Jesse Helms, the North Carolina Republican who heads
: the committee. This is an ironic twist of history: Thirty years ago,
: India was the first country to propose a nuclear-test ban.
: The fallout on Capitol Hill will be apparent this week. On Wednesday, a
: Senate Foreign Relations panel that deals with South Asia is scheduled
: to hold a hearing on U.S.-India relations. Originally, says Sen. Sam
: Brownback, chairman of the subcommittee, the hearing was supposed to
: focus on the positive sides of the growing ties. Now, he says, it will
: be dominated by the nuclear tests. "At a time when there was so much
: promise for the U.S.-India relationship, this will have enormous
: negative consequences," the Kansas Republican says.
: The only positive gloss that U.S. analysts could put on the tests is
: that they may foreshadow an Indian plan to join the test-ban treaty.
: Several years ago, France decided not to sign onto the pact until it
: conducted more tests. It conducted six of them in late 1995 and 1996,
: amid world protests -- and then signed on. "The only hope is that India
: has got this out of its system," says Tom Collina, director of arms
: control for the Union of Concerned Scientists.
: Perhaps more important is the reaction of Pakistan and China. The Indian
: tests might destabilize the tenuous balance between New Delhi and its
: archrival, Islamabad. Just last month, Pakistan test-fired a ballistic
: missile that can reach deep into India, saying it had to counter the
: threat from India's missile arsenal. Pakistan's top nuclear scientist,
: Abdul Qadeer Khan, told the Associated Press that Pakistan could quickly
: respond in kind if India declared itself a nuclear power: "We don't make
: nuclear weapons, but the capability is there," he said.
: Pakistan's foreign minister, Gohar Ayub Khan, told parliament Monday
: that Pakistan "reserves the right to take all appropriate measures for
: its security. ... Such threats will be met by the determination of the
: Pakistani nation." India's Mr. Mishra said India thinks it likely that
: Pakistan will now test its own nuclear device, believed to have been
: acquired with Chinese aid.
: But the real target of India's nuclear program is the perceived
: long-term threat from China. In recent weeks, Defense Minister George
: Fernandes has broken a longstanding political taboo by naming China as
: the main menace to India.
: For the world, a military rivalry between China and India would be a
: frightening prospect. Although China renounced nuclear tests two years
: ago, after conducting a series of tests itself in defiance of world
: opinion, it remains a potent military force; it has a standing army of
: three million men and an array of intercontinental and tactical nuclear
: and conventional missiles. During a tense standoff with Taiwan in 1995,
: China successfully fired test missiles into narrow target areas off the
: island's coast. China has also helped Pakistan acquire missiles.
: As of late Monday in China, the government in Beijing had issued no
: response to India's tests. In the past, China's president, Jiang Zemin,
: has said that without stability in South Asia, there "can be no peace
: and prosperity in Asia as a whole."
: India, the world's largest democracy, has lagged behind China in
: economic development over the past two decades. Though both countries --
: China with a population of 1.2 billion, India with 950 million -- are
: poor and largely agrarian, China has made spectacular strides. Severe
: poverty has been nearly eliminated, its cities are flourishing, and the
: country has socked away more than $146 billion in foreign-exchange
: reserves. India, too, has been revamping its economy, but it hasn't been
: as successful as China.
: The new Indian government's increased attention to China as a security
: threat contrasts with its predecessors' view of it as a trading partner
: and economic model. In 1995, China's trade with India for the first time
: exceeded its trade with its longtime ally, Pakistan. In 1996, President
: Jiang made the first trip by a Chinese head of state to New Delhi in
: five decades. That signaled a big shift for India and China, which
: fought a war in 1962 over territorial claims in the Himalayas. The two
: sides agreed, among other things, to cut troop levels and subsequently
: to ban certain military exercises on the border.
: Five months later, however, India's Department of Defense warned against
: "upgradation of logistical capabilities" by China along the border. That
: began a crescendo of comments by India -- culminating with Defense
: Minister Fernandes's statements last week suggesting China might be a
: bigger strategic threat to India than Pakistan.
: The government said it tested three types of devices: fission, low-yield
: and thermonuclear, the most powerful of the three. Mr. Mishra, the
: government official, declined to specify the devices' explosive strength
: but said that based on the tests, India can develop nuclear weapons "of
: different yields, for different applications and for different delivery
: systems."
: Mr. Sokolski, the nonproliferation specialist, says India's description
: of the tests for "low-yield and thermonuclear devices" indicates that
: they are probably part of a program to develop small nuclear weapons.
: This would especially worry India's neighbors, he says, because such
: devices would be light and small enough to mount on a missile. "Clearly,
: that's what these tests are about."
: But Monday's tests aren't the final word from India's new government on
: its nuclear policy. The BJP is made up of two very different wings --
: hardcore Hindu nationalists, but also industrialists, professionals and
: other pragmatic centrists who play down the party's ideology. The
: struggle between the two wings has yet to play out. And so the world
: will have to watch how the BJP's centrists and the party's moderate
: rivals react to the bombshell that the nationalists have dropped on the
: international stage.


What is a date, really, but a job interview that lasts all night? The
only difference between a date and a job interview is that in not many
job interviews is there a chance you'll end up naked at the end of it.
-- Jerry Seinfeld