Today's Blogs

Bold Fusion

Bloggers fret about the U.S.-Indian nuclear accord, and also about the renewal of the Patriot Act. They also mourn the passing of Libertarian Party candidate Harry Browne.

Bold fusion: President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have announced an unprecedented energy deal that would legitimize the subcontinental nation as a responsible and friendly member of the “Nuclear Club.” The terms of the pact state that India, which has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, must separate its military and civilian nuclear programs, and open the latter to inspections—something the IAEA welcomes. The deal has its supporters, but critics wonder how such a sweetheart arrangement will go down in more recalcitrant escalationist countries like Iran, Pakistan, and China.

At Jaya Teas Chaiwallah, an Indian émigré living in New Jersey, writes: “[H]aving lived through numerous ‘brown outs’ in summer due to lack of enough electricity, what ever others have to say about the nuclear energy cooperation between the two countries, I for one find it a welcome change that will bring a lot of good to the Indian society.” Remarking on the fact that the United States and India are fast becoming two countries united by a common language, James C. Bennett * at Albion’s Seedlings sees linguistics as its own form of “containment”: “At some point before too long (probably between 2015 and 2020) India will have more home users of English than the U.S.; not much longer afterwards, there could be more home users of English in India than the rest of the Anglosphere combined … Bush’s trip to India, and the deal made there today, may end up being the single most consequential act of the Bush presidency.”

Sunny at the progressive blog Pickled Politics laments the deal, citing the possibility of two unintended consequences: “Firstly it means we waste more money on nuclear technology for energy and weapons instead of investing in renewable energy or education programmes … Countries like Iran will also look at it as another example of U.S. hypocrisy—America allows its friend’s to build weapons but those in the bad books get referred to the Security Council.”

Paul Primavera, in the “Comments” section of the atomic watchdog site NEI Nuclear Notes, advances another theory on the long-term felicity of such an accord: “The more that countries such as India, Pakistan, China and so on rely on nuclear energy for electricity, the less that they will be willing to use nuclear weapons to secure fossil fuel supplies from the Middle East. By making such countries energy independent, we actually ensure our own security against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. This sounds oxymoronic, but it is true.”

Read more about the U.S.-Indian agreement.

Re-Patriot:The Senate voted 89-10 on Thursday to renew the Patriot Act, the controversial legislation enacted immediately in the wake of Sept 11. The renewal was fiercely denounced by Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who has many fans in the blogosphere, as being unconstitutional.

Lefty James Roberts at Human Stain rah-rahs Russ: “Feingold continues to distinguish himself with votes based upon principle and what is best for America. Too bad he has such little support from his other party members. Clinton, Kerry, Biden? As Feingold says, ’(their) gaming the issues.’ “And J. Clifford at the like-minded Irregular Times thinks the scant opposition at least whittles down the list of Democratic presidential contenders for ‘08: “John Kerry’s name on this list stands out pretty strongly in my mind. If we had elected Senator Kerry into office in 2004, would he have lifted a finger to reform or revoke the Patriot Act? … Events like these reinforce in my mind the idea that, during the 2008 presidential campaign, we progressives will need to be more selective than we have been before.”

Not everyone deplores the Patriot sequel. At the conservative Catholic “marketplace of ideas” Little Cicero opines: “There may well be abuses of liberty in connection with this, but to those who have rallied for the absolute dissolution of the Patriot Act, I ask this question: Would doing so be worth the potential for a terrorist attack generated by the omission of provisions that obviously better enable law enforcement to find and capture terrorists before they kill thousands of civilians?”

Read more about the senatorial re-upping of the Patriot Act.

Wild About Harry: Harry Browne, the two-time Libertarian Party candidate for president, died Thursday of Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 72. A hero to laissez-faire capitalists and particularly esteemed in cyberspace, which has long been an especially strong dominion of classical liberalism, Browne was mourned even by those who saw him as a parlous but necessary figure within the small but influential alternative party.

Free-marketeer Lew Rockwell remembers Browne’s economic legacy: “Harry was a founder of what was called the ‘hard-money movement’—that group of writers and consultants who rallied around gold and silver as inflation hedges in hard times. But he differed from many people in this crowd because he was willing to change his advice depending on circumstances of time and place. In the 1980s, for example, he came to advocate a balanced portfolio of mutual funds alongside precious metals. His ‘permanent portfolio’ made money during one of the great stock run-ups of American history.”

And Brian Doherty at Hit and Run, the cyber-offshoot to libertarian mag Reason, used to be a research assistant to Browne. He recalls the candidate’s “controversial” standing with the Libertarian Party: “He had been so loud and firm an anti-political voice, in fact, that the term ‘Browneing Out’ was used in the 1970s in libertarian circles to mean retreating from any commitment to further libertarian goals through political action, or any sort of action.”

Read more about Browne’s legacy.

Correction, March 10: This article originally and incorrectly identified blogger James C. Bennett as British. He is American. (Return to the corrected sentence.)