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The only greenhouse gas around is Hillary

July 21, 2009

Hillary Shortchanges U.S. On India

IBD     21 July 09

Leadership: Hillary Clinton’s trip to India to push a global warming agenda has proved a waste of time. Not just because India rejected junk science, but because big issues got sidelined. Her agenda is making her insignificant.

The last thing the U.S. should be doing with a prized ally like India is try to force it into the green agenda of the Kyoto and Copenhagen set, as if that were the most important issue for the two states, topping their military and trade interests.

But Secretary of State Clinton made that the centerpiece of her visit to India, almost trying to shame the nation of 1 billion people to agree to slash its greenhouse gases by 50% by 2050 in preparation for a comprehensive treaty in Copenhagen by December.

“Not so long ago, the measure of a nation’s greatness was the size of its military or its economic strength, or its capacity to dominate its friends and adversaries,” Clinton told students at Delhi University. “But in this century — in the interconnected and interdependent world in which we live — greatness can be defined by the power of an example.”

Example? Actually, India will go for the economic and military strength, thank you very much. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much more than lip service on that from Clinton.

And that’s a shame, because India is a nation that has moved away from multilateralism, statism and socialism since 1991 and vowed to do the things that make a nation substantially great instead of sanctimoniously pure. That means a strong defense and open markets. This year it expects to post 6% GDP growth, a miracle in a global economic downturn. Signing on to any green pact will halt that.

But that hasn’t stopped the Obama administration from submerging that unique relationship beneath a multilateral global agenda and a series of other smaller issues — a disservice to us and to India.

India’s alliance is the best thing to happen since the Iraq War. Our huge strategic and trade relationship — we now do some $44 billion in two-way trade — is unlike any other in the world. Forged from a common fight against terrorism and a commitment to growth through trade, it needs to grow on those terms.

But instead of talking about a free-trade treaty, as India has sought, or taking steps to strengthen the U.S.-India military alliance as new challenges from China, Pakistan and emerging non-state actors like Somali pirates appear, Clinton called for a “comprehensive strategic approach,” devoted to education, food security and the climate change agenda.

Not surprisingly, the Indians gave her an earful. “India’s position, let me be clear, is that we are simply not in a position to take legally binding emission targets,” India’s environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, told Clinton. He noted that global warming is unproven science and India didn’t want to give up its economic growth for that.

It also didn’t help that Clinton was cajoling the Indians by using nonsensical arguments put forward by Obama himself during his campaign instead of her own more commonsensical ones.

She insisted that signing on to the green agenda would bring economic growth, something the Obama administration has tried to sell to the U.S. public.

“No one wants to in any way stall or undermine the economic growth that is necessary to lift millions more out of poverty,” Clinton said. “We also believe that there is a way to eradicate poverty and develop sustainability that will lower … the carbon footprint.”

The Washington Post also reported that she toured a squat “green” building, calling it a new Taj Mahal and a “monument to the future,” surely making the Indians realize the real one was better.

Lastly, she made a ridiculous apology: “We acknowledge now with President Obama that we have made mistakes in the United States, and we along with other developed countries have contributed most significantly to the problem that we face with climate change.”

None of these moves lifts America’s stature abroad. The U.S. has less real interest in dreamy global treaties like Copenhagen than it does in strengthening actual bilateral ties like defense and trade.

Is it any wonder that with such a misplaced agenda, Clinton’s influence is said to be shrinking? It’s the agenda that makes it so.

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