Backtalk, December 8, 2008

The Meaning of Mumbai

I am an Indian and I am against going to war with Pakistan over these attacks, but I have many reservations about your article.

Your theory seems to be that the West (which, really, I suppose means America) wants to use India as a tool to expand its war against terror into South Asia. The evidence flies in the face of this theory, what with America sending down their secretary of state to both countries to calm tensions down. Pakistan has been a longtime ally of America (as we all know), and I really don’t think America would like an Indo-Pakistani war. In any case, India cannot be shoved into a war with Pakistan by America.

Your depiction of the BJP as chauvinistic nationalists is fairly accurate, but even they have not been clamoring for war with Pakistan. From everything I have seen on TV and read in the news, they have limited their criticism to the failures of the Congress-Party-led government to control terrorism. Indeed, the usual post-terrorist-attack political debate has been stifled by an outpouring of public anger and cynicism against all political parties, who are accused of simply playing games. I do not remember the last time the BJP advocated war with Pakistan. What they have been clamoring for all along is what they call “tougher laws” against terrorism, something like the PATRIOT Act in the USA. Look up “IOTA” if you have the time.

The situation we have now is not very different from what we had following the attack on the Indian parliament in December 2001. A BJP-led government was in power then, and there was a buildup of troops on both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border but no war. I would also like you to point out your sources when you said that the BJP has built a temple on the site of the Babri mosque. I have not heard of this anywhere, and I live in the damn country. From what I have heard, work has begun on the ground floor, and that was carried out by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, not the BJP. The whole thing embarrassed the BJP.

This is not just nitpicking. I have a point here. The BJP is certainly the more aggressive and trigger-happy of the big political outfits in India. But even they have more sense than to trigger a nuclear war with Pakistan. They did not even have the courage to build the temple at the site of the Babri mosque. The BJP has diluted its ideology for practical purposes when in power, and will do so again. In any case, there is still some time left for the elections, and whatever action must be taken will be taken by the present government, while there is still considerable public anger over the issue. I do not claim to know what the Congress-led government will do, but they are less likely than the BJP to wage war.

Another reservation I had about your article is that you seem to doubt that the Lashkar-e-Taiba is a terrorist organization, simply because they do some charity work. The LeT has been a declared terrorist organization for a long time (and on the terror list of many Western powers) and has claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks in the past. I find it hard to doubt that they are terrorists. The groups that were involved in the demolition of the Babri mosque also have a fondness for charity. That does not make them peace-loving.

About your doubts over the claims made by the investigative agencies: yes, some things do seem fishy. But the terrorists seemed very well trained and organized this time. India has, I admit, a knee-jerk tendency to blame Pakistan or Pakistan-based organizations for all terrorist attacks, but these guys seemed too well trained, and the whole attack seemed too well planned to be a wholly indigenous plan. Also note that these guys targeted Westerners and Israelis, so their grievances are not limited to India. On the whole, it seems reasonable that these guys were trained by someone with experience, and it does not seem unreasonable to suggest that there are folks in parts of Pakistan with plenty of experience. …

I don’t know how India will react to these attacks, and the prospect of war (especially nuclear war) makes me sick with worry. But you seem to exaggerate the risks and mischaracterize the American role in this crisis. America is not looking to take the war to South Asia. Not even George Bush is that stupid.

~ Phani V.K.

Washington Arrogance Has Fomented a Muslim Revolution

That article is an excellent summary of the government actions that are taking us down the drain. And now we know who is behind it, for Obama’s appointments indeed illustrate the reality that we live in Israeli-occupied territory. It is indeed sad that we cannot seem to elect an American to be president. Yet it is the American people that are ultimately to blame, for if they had their heads out where they could breathe, our next president would be Ron Paul. He did offer to take the job.

~ Jack Dennon

Obama’s Choice

I prefer Malic when he sticks to Bosnian, Serbian, and Kosovar affairs. His comments and analysis over the years, even with respect to American involvement – ever since the breakup of Yugoslavia – have been convincingly appropriate and informative. One might even hope that Washington sometimes pays attention.

However, the current piece, which bemoans American “imperialism” characterized by both the Clinton and Bush administrations, then snidely condemns Obama with the same brush, is a bit premature. I would suggest that Malic at least wait until the president-elect is in office.

~ Edmund A. Bator, FSO, retired

Nebojsa Malic replies:

With all due respect, the fact that Obama will keep the current defense secretary and appoint Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state sure appears to vindicate my misgivings about the professed “change” we’re supposed to take on faith. Seems more like continuity to me – from the Balkans to Baghdad. He didn’t even wait to get into office before breaking his campaign promises. Premature? I think not.

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