Grim forecast in the wake of the Indian Violence

Update: 3:30 AM EST 11.28.08

From a Wahington Post analysis:

“This is a new, horrific milestone in the global jihad,” said Bruce Riedel, a former South Asia analyst for the CIA and National Security Council and author of the book “The Search for Al Qaeda.” “No indigenous Indian group has this level of capability. The goal is to damage the symbol of India’s economic renaissance, undermine investor confidence and provoke an India-Pakistani crisis.”

With all due respect to those murdered and injured, this is not a military strike. It represents no huge threat. The damage done is insignificant in military terms – far, far less suffering than will come from a war between India and Pakistan, for example. The goal is to scare, plain and simple, and from the fear to provoke over-reaction. The key to defeating terrorism is to stay calm – something the US did not do in 2001.

It is sad that the instinct of governments in these situation is driven by the need for self-preservation of the politicians in charge – they feel they have to look like they’re doing something and so they do exactly what the terrorists want them to do.

Who is responsible? Someone who will benefit from destabilizing relations between India and Pakistan. How do you defeat them? Keep the relationship stable and press for cooperative police work.

It is good to remember that even with the horrific toll of 9/11 – far deadlier than these attacks – the number of innocent people killed was one fifth the number of innocent people killed by drunken drivers in the US each year. Yet we turned the world upside down in response to that attack, and in the process weakening our military, stressing our economy, and of course getting more soldiers killed in Iraq than civilians who were killed on 9/11. We ruined our international reputation and diminished our effectiveness on the world stage. In total, we did to ourselves far more damage than the terrorists could ever dream of causing without our misguided response.

I can only hope India doesn’t make a similar mistake.

Original post:
Just got this email from Stratfor:

If the Nov. 26 attacks in Mumbai were carried out by Islamist militants as it appears, the Indian government will have little choice, politically speaking, but to blame them on Pakistan. That will in turn spark a crisis between the two nuclear rivals that will draw the United States into the fray.

Stratfor is an intelligence service that in the past has given quite good analysis, IMHO. So this is hardly comforting, especially when you consider that we are inbetween presidents and there aren;t many good answers out there right now about what’s going on. Here’s the full email from them.

From an outsider’s perspective one of the most puzzling things abut the terrorists attacks in India is how puzzling they are. No one seems to have expected them, no one seems to know who is responsible. Sort of like the economic collapse in that respect. But in the final analysis I don’t think the details matter – he trend is clear.

A friend who grew up in India and has visited recently writes:

The Bombay we know is tolerant, multicultural and safe. Hindus, Moslems, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians and atheists have lived side by side, in peace, for hundreds of years. The attacks were totally out of character with the spirit of the city.

This event is India’s 9/11. The spark has been provided; I hope the fuel does not ignite. The subcontinent can easily deteriorate into religious riots, and war.

And a New York Times news analysis reports:

Who are they? The answer to that question remained in dispute Thursday as security officials and experts attempted to untangle the few clues as to the attackers’ likely identity.

An e-mail message to Indian media outlets that claimed responsibility for the bloody attacks in Mumbai on Wednesday night said the militants were from the Deccan Mujahedeen. Almost universally, experts and intelligence officials said that name was unknown.