WASHINGTON: Bonner & Associates (B&A) has brought together military veteran groups from around the country to rally public and Congressional support for nuclear trade between the US and India.
A several-week-old organization, called the Indian American Security Leadership Council (IASLC), founded and paid for by a group of Indian-American businesspeople, is backing the campaign to push US lawmakers to approve legislation that would permit the sale to India of nuclear fuel and technology.
B&A founder Jack Bonner said his agency contacted and persuaded a total of eight veterans' groups, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, to use their individual chapters to foster public and Congressional support for new US-India nuclear trade legislation, as well as other ties between India and the US.
"Quite frankly, the veterans' groups weren't very aware of the issue when we first talked to them about it, so we had to work with them in order for them comfortable with it," Bonner said. "All of them collectively have about 9,000 posts located in all the local Congressional districts."
Besides grassroots lobbying for the US-India nuclear accord, Bonner said the IASLC, in its efforts to promote strong ties between the US and India, will run a range of public outreach activities, such as news conferences, letters from home-state veteran groups to Congressional members, and communications with local, in-state news media.
"We will be using a lot of tools in the communications toolbag," Bonner explained. "The issue is not just the message, but the messenger - who is credible on this."
India has developed a nuclear weapon program in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which it has signed, but the IASLC argues that India is a responsible US ally in its "global war on terrorism."
IASLC founders include Ramesh Kapur, president of Medical-Technical Gases Inc. and a trustee of the Democratic National Committee, and Krishna Srinivasa, an Atlanta businessman and campaign supporter of President Bush in 2000 and 2004.