The Aug. 1 Opinion piece by Benjamin Powell and David Skarbek was based on the assumption that, for people in third-world countries, the only alternative to a sweatshop job is no job at all. By this logic, the author argued, first-world consumers can purchase sweatshop goods with a clean conscience.
The problem is, this is exactly the same argument put forth by American captains of industry in the late 1800s, when millworkers in our country worked under conditions similar to those now endured by many factory workers in China and other rapidly industrializing nations. Then and now, the operating assumption is that an individual has obligations to no one but himself. By this logic, until those Chinese workers mobilize to demand better conditions, they deserve what they get.
I, for one, find this argument morally reprehensible. What happened to "love thy neighbor?" If globalization has indeed turned the world into a single market, it's about time we start to treat it as a single neighborhood as well. This means replacing free trade with fair trade - and substituting real opportunities for the false choice of a wretched job versus no job at all.
Jason Van Driesche
Regarding Pat Holt's Aug. 4 column, "US shift on India nuclear policy tilts regional balance": I have to disagree with the views of the columnist on various points, the first being the way most analysts in the US view India through the prism of Pakistan. This view, a cold war relic, has outlived its utility - the reason being that an ally's enemy doesn't necessarily have to be my enemy, too.
Can't India and Pakistan both be friends of the US? Mind you, India and Pakistan are two different countries, separated at birth. Pakistan is still a dictatorship while India is a functioning and vibrant democracy (as your columnist has rightly pointed out), but also a growing nation with its own needs.
The commitment made by the current US administration goes far beyond just plain transfer of civilian nuclear technology.
Looking further, it points to a certain level of trust developing between the two biggest democracies in the world. India as a fast-developing nation desperately needs access to critical sources of energy. While oil is a finite source of energy, nuclear energy offers a tremendous scope for India to fulfill its energy requirements. It is in this aspect that the deal has to be looked at.
The argument made in Mr. Holt's column is based on ideas that have lost relevance. Today, there is no such thing as an "India-Pakistan balance," despite what Pakistani diplomats say.
India is moving toward a world-power status and US policy steps with New Delhi should not be tied down by concerns about a Pakistan that seems to be heading in the opposite direction.
In this context, the recent Indo-US nuclear agreement makes sense. India is too important a nation today to be left outside the nuclear order because of an inflexible international nuclear arrangement that many agree has outlived its utility.
In addition, it would also be unwise for the US to let its India policy be affected by what China may or may not feel about specific steps. Washington should consult with Beijing when appropriate but should not let it dictate terms regarding India. Besides, China never asked the US before it undertook reckless nuclear and missile proliferation acts.
US-India ties should therefore stand on their own.
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