Why was Bush so generous in New Delhi?
For instance, there's Iran, which faces possible sanctions from the U.N. Security Council for enriching uranium at one of its reactors—a process that, if continued, might violate the NPT. The Iranians will argue that they're victims of a double standard: Why should they be punished while India is rewarded? The argument might even provide some countries with the rhetorical cover to oppose sanctions. Bush and his aides will argue that India is a stable democracy while Iran is run by despots who support terrorists and pledge to destroy Israel. True, but the NPT draws no such distinction in defining permissible behavior. Should it? Maybe. The preparations for an India deal could have sparked a debate over the proposition—or over other possible revisions to the treaty. But there were no preparations; there was just the sudden announcement of a deal, as if the 187 co-signatories of the NPT wouldn't care or didn't exist.
Nor was any groundwork laid with Congress, which will have to weigh in, even if its leaders don't want to, since the deal violates not only the NPT but also longstanding U.S. statutes that prohibit the supply of nuclear fuel and technology to countries that haven't signed that treaty.
"I'm trying to think differently, not to stay stuck in the past," Bush told reporters after completing the deal. That's one way to put it. It's not clear, though, what kind of future this deal will stick us all into—and why he couldn't have thought about that question, why he couldn't have negotiated better terms, before he signed it.
Fred Kaplan is Slate's "War Stories" columnist and author of the book, The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter.