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Larry Pressler: I will be pursuing two passions in India this September

Location India. Blue pin on the map.
Location India. Blue pin on the map.
Mark Rubens, Zerophoto

In September I shall travel to India for two reasons. First, I have recently been named to the board of advisers of the Rising Star Outreach charity. It has a home for leprosy-affected people in Chennai, India. This wonderful charity is very much supported by Mormon groups, Marriott and other citizens. It was founded by Becky Douglas, a fellow member of the Chevy Chase/D.C. Ward. I am excited to be volunteering to assist Rising Star Outreach. I will spend most of my time in India promoting my new book, which has just been released.

Penguin Random House India recently published my new book, "Neighbours in Arms: An American Senator’s Quest for Disarmament in a Nuclear Subcontinent," which is on Amazon. This book is a two-year writing project that Penguin assigned me, along with an assistant writer. It is about the spread of nuclear weapons on the Indian subcontinent — particularly India and Pakistan. During my 22 years in Congress I worked on nuclear nonproliferation issues. Sen. John Glenn and I developed what became known as the “Pressler-Glenn Amendment” on denying aid to Pakistan if it was developing a nuclear weapon.

This book tells the tale of how our efforts were constantly sabotaged by the mysterious, pestiferous military industrial state lobbyists whom I describe as the “Octopus.” In the book, I define the “Octopus” as all the reaching tentacles of the military industrial state from the Pentagon to the arms builders to the huge law firms and consulting firms that support the military industrial state and in general to a whole way of policymaking that I call the “Octopus.”

The “Octopus” has come to permeate all of Washington and policymaking. In the book, which I shall launch with a two-week tour of India in September, I describe how our Pentagon actually prefers to deal with Pakistan rather than India. Pakistan is a dictatorship run by a few corrupt generals and a very corrupt intelligence system. I describe how the United States has constantly been fooled by these Pakistani generals. We give them more military aid and they are supposed to help us more in places like Afghanistan. But they do not. In fact, Pakistan harbors as many terrorists as any country in the world. Witness the Osama bin-Laden matter. I argue that Pakistan constantly lies to the United States, most recently about Osama bin-Laden.

I make a number of prescriptions and solutions. The chief one is that “Pakistan should be treated like North Korea — like a rogue state. The only reason Pakistan is not a totally failed state is that countries like China and the United States continue to prop it up with massive amounts of foreign aid.”

I also suggest that we create a “super U.S.-India alliance.” India, the world’s largest democracy, should be our best ally. We should have a free trade agreement with India, and we should do more people-to-people charitable things such as the Rising Star Outreach program.

To solve the lobbyist problem, not only in foreign policy but also in Washington, D.C., I suggest that we pass a law to get lobbyists and influencers out of the fundraising chain. We can still have constitutionally protected lobbying, but anyone who is registered as a lobbyist would not be able to raise money for candidates or political parties. That would take the negative, dark power that lobbyists have out of their hands but still protect their constitutional right to professionally lobby.

Why did I go through the effort of writing a book at this stage? During my 22 years in Congress I developed a passion for nuclear nonproliferation. I deeply believe that Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. I respectfully feel that we should take steps to disarm Pakistan from nuclear weapons. I believe it is just a matter of time before somebody like ISIS buys a nuclear weapon from Pakistani generals with dark money, and transports it out of Pakistan in a pickup truck. It could go on some container ship to the United States very easily and destroy one of our cities. This operation could be carried out by a fairly small number of terrorists. It is a problem waiting to happen.

We actually have a bit more control over North Korea because the Chinese watch them so closely and their borders are not porous. Pakistan is a problem made by our own Pentagon. Our generals are constantly going over there with more military aid. Our State Department's diplomatic side has been cut out of the process. I passionately feel that we need a major change in policy towards Pakistan. We should have a super alliance with India. President Trump has ordered a review of South Asian policy. Copies of my book are being circulated in the State Department, Defense Department, and to members on the White House’s National Security Council.

In September I shall visit Mumbai, New Delhi and Chennai on a book tour. Later, I will present at several U.S. book fairs, including the Miami book fair, the Boulder book fair and several other bookstore presentations. I feel passionately that I have a mission to raise awareness of the Pakistani nuclear danger.

Thus I shall be pursuing two passions in India this September, to support leprosy-affected people and to raise the awareness on Pakistan’s dangerous nuclear posture.

Sen. Larry Pressler was a U.S. senator for 18 years and congressman for 4 years. He is a Rhodes Scholar, Harvard Law graduate and a Vietnam veteran.