Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Give in to your hate

In regards to the scary situation in Mumbai, publius post on how the terrorists win with Jedi mind tricks:
As Daniel Benjamin notes in Slate, igniting tensions between the two countries benefits the terrorists in numerous ways. For one, it destabilizes a relatively hostile Pakistani government. Second, it prevents détente between the countries and thus halts progress on a Kashmir settlement. Third, it keeps the world polarized (the attacks on Westerners were intended to stoke these particular fires).

What’s maddening – and terrifying – is that the strategy might work. It certainly worked on us. And India will have a hard time resisting the urge to do something to avenge the attacks – the political pressure may prove too strong. Iraq was no picnic to be sure, but an outbreak of hostilities between two nuclear-armed states would be a different animal altogether – one that must be avoided at all costs.

Even more maddening though, India’s outrage and desire for revenge are absolutely reasonable. To be sure, revenge will lead to horrible things, but it’s unrealistic to expect a country to stoically endure attacks like these, particularly from groups with loose affiliations with a hostile state. It would have been similarly foolish to expect that Americans would be content to do nothing after terrorists training in Taliban-sheltered camps attacked it.

This whole thing makes me very very nervous. India and Pakistan have been closer to nuclear war than any of us really want to think about, and I'm guessing they're just a hair away now. If India moves troops to the Pakistani border, Pakistan will have to respond by moving troops out of the tribal areas... pushing us to the brink in so many ways. It's a nightmare.

But at the same time, as publius notes, what is India supposed to do? What did we do? You have to respond, don't you? I'm just not sure how Western Countries are supposed to do so effectively, without playing right into their hands.

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