Tuesday, Oct 01, 2002
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By Sridhar Krishnaswami
Arguing that nothing "revolutionary or new'' had been cited in the recent talks and writings on this doctrine of pre-emption, Mr.Singh said the concept was inherent in deterrence.
"Pre-emption or prevention is inherent in deterrence. Where there is deterrence there is pre-emption. The same thing is there in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter,'' which gave all states the right to self-defence, he said.
"Every nation has that right. It is not the prerogative of any one country. Pre-emption is the right of any nation to prevent injury to itself," Mr. Singh said adding that all the talk of pre-emption was turning into a "complex academic discussion''.
The doctrine of pre-emption has been in the news lately in the context of the heightening U.S. war rhetoric against Iraq. The added "attraction'' came by way of the President's National Security Report to Congress that reserves the right of pre-emptive strikes to protect America's national interests.
At a recent Congressional hearing, the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, argued that the doctrine of pre-emption was only an elevation, not the elimination of the existing national security and military doctrines.
"There is no nation that should not have the recourse to a line of thinking (of pre-emption) when a threat is coming its way. It is inherent in the sovereignty to protect itself," Gen. Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week. He argued that pre-emption was nothing new, rather it be considered "more readily than we might (have) in the past''.
The discussions with Mr. Singh on the doctrine of pre-emption came in the context of his talks with the Secretary of State here and with the Director of Policy Planning, Richard Haass, both of whom were said to have devoted considerable amount of time to the evolving situation in Iraq. Mr. Singh repeated India's position on Iraq saying, among other things, that any action must have the approval of the United Nations.
In Washington to attend the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Mr.Singh, at a news conference at the Indian Embassy, reiterated that the fundamentals of the Indian economy were sound and that any nation's first requirement was that of economic security. But he said that against the backdrop of the current phase of global uncertainty what was required was the "building of global confidence''.
India and China, he maintained, were "islands of stability and growth'' and in the case of India the growth rate was between five and six per cent; inflation was in single digit and the current account deficit less than one per cent. "The fundamentals are so strong'', he asserted.
As for the apprehension in international quarters that disinvestment in India had slowed down, Mr. Singh claimed that a 90-day review period did not amount to a slowdown in the process and that whatever review was taking place was "in the totality of Indian national interests''. The Finance Minister addressed the International Monetary and Financial Committee, the Development Committee and participated in the joint annual discussion. Mr. Singh is said to have departed from the prepared text to express concern that the current global downturn was threatening even the better managed economies; and that the buildup of tension in West Asia and the global energy prices could prove detrimental to world growth and welfare.
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