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Opinion: Recent Terrorist Attacks In India & Their Relevance To America

Dr. Dilip Gadkar
08/05/2008

Recent Terrorist Attacks in India & Their Relevance to America

A few days ago, a series of bombs exploded in Bangalore and the next day in Ahmadabad with a large number of casualties. Predictably, the Indian Government condemned the terrorists and promised firm action.

We will look at this from 3 angles:

    * What do the terrorists hope to achieve?
    * The Strategic Will of the Indian Government
    * The Relevance to America

What do the terrorists hope to achieve?

On both sides of India, live two breakaway states, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The institutions in both countries are weak and getting weaker. Bangladesh is already a failed state and Pakistan seems to be on its way to become one. The people in these states are poor and getting poorer without any near term hope for societal or monetary progress.  As a result, both societies are fertile ground for the power-brokers who have joined hands with nihilistic terrorists for mutual benefit.

Unlike these two breakaways from India, Indian society is fairly integrated with peaceful co-existence between different religious groups. Religious stability in India is the biggest threat to survival of terrorists and their paymasters in Pakistan and Bangladesh. That is why the foremost goal of terrorist attacks in India is to create tensions and riots between Hindus and Muslims in India.

For a cogent analysis of this topic, visit www.stratfor.com, the best geopolitical site in America and listen to their podcast titled "In India, a Window of Opportunity for Islamists" . This podcast is a must listen at  www.stratfor.com/podcast/india_window_opportunity_islamists

The Indian people understand this instinctively. That is why we have not seen significant inter-community violence or riots in response to the terrorist attacks  in Mumbai, Jaipur, Bangalore and Ahmadabad.

The Strategic Will of Indian Government

Unfortunately, this sensible and intelligent attitude of Indian Society has permitted the Indian Government to be totally lackadaisical and willfully negligent.

Regarding India Government's strategic will, we quote B. Raman, a retired intelligence officer, who said "There is just no excuse for this. These are attacks on ordinary life. The bombs are hidden in lunch boxes, in bags, in bicycles. We can fight this. But, there doesn't seem to be much serious will to really get tough on terror." (as quoted in an article in the Washington Post on July 29)

The most depressing article about (successive) Indian Government's attitude to terrorism is "Indian Intelligence gropes in the dark" at  news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7530766.stm.

Contrast the lack of will of the Indian Government with the will demonstrated by Russia's Vladimir Putin. After the terror attack on Beslan School on September 1, 2004, Putin, according to media reports, issued orders to the KGB to hunt down the terrorists regardless of where they might be found. The KGB did. The Beslan attack was the last terrorist attack inside Russia.

A couple of years ago, terrorists in Pakistan attacked Chinese citizens living in Pakistan. Chinese displeasure was communicated to General Musharaaf in the strongest possible terms. Musharaaf personally intervened and arranged for the freedom of Chinese hostages. Since then, there has not been a single attack on Chinese citizens in Pakistan.

The Indian Government does not seem to understand that protection of its citizens is its most critical responsibility. On the contrary, the Indian Government looks at each issue from an economic or corporate view and ignores any impact on security. For example, according to the Hindustan Times, two years ago, India's Intelligence Bureau ("IB")  warned the Indian Government against allowing telecom companies to build wi-fi networks  without adequate access control mechanisms. Apparently, the Indian Government did not want to come in the way of introducing new technologies and brushed away IB warnings. There was no debate in India unlike the debate in America about wiretapping. Read the Hindustan Times Article at www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?id=75132a22-af95-4b98-9994-63e5e9a8c28a

In our opinion, the Indian Government has decided that economic progress is India's paramount objective and, as a corollary, it has made the decision to accept terrorist attacks and their toll as "acceptable collateral damage". They expect the outrage in India to subside and for the situation to return to the steady state of complacent normalcy. In this context, the lack of strategic will be termed as India's restraint and will be so celebrated by the Indian media.

The Indian Government and the Indian people want peace and to be left alone to build India. They do not seem to understand that merely wishing for peace has never delivered peace. A nation needs to inspire fear as well as respect. Fear of retribution is a critical deterrent to terror as both Russia and China have shown.

Relevance to America

The real and immediate relevance to America is the fact that the terrorists who attack India and the terrorists who plan to attack America are the same Pakistani-Afghani networks funded by Saudi radicals money. The map below shows how easily the same terrorist groups can move a little north to infiltrate in to Afghanistan and move a little East to infiltrate in to India.

Last week, we wrote an article called "Iraq and Tibet - The Strategic Will of American and Chinese People".  The events in India demonstrate what can happen to a Society and a Country that loses its Strategic Will.

Our deep fear is that America attitudes are becoming more and more like Indian attitudes. After 5 years of the Iraq war, the American people are tired and want the war to end. The American economy is in a recession and the American Household is under enormous stress. The Budget deficit is at a record and American infrastructure seems to be falling apart. One can realistically ask whether we can justify increasing our military presence overseas or even keeping it at current levels when the money could used at home to help the American people.

That is exactly how the Indian media argued for the past 50 years.  At every stage and for every long term commitment, the argument was the same. India's poverty needs immediate attention and long term needs can wait until the immediate needs are met. As a result, Indian infrastructure never got upgraded and long term planning was usually ignored. India's strategic position became weaker every decade since independence and terrorism against India increased steadily.

This is the trap in to which American Society could easily fall. America could withdraw from Iraq, not make a major commitment to Afghanistan, let its longer term military needs be set aside for now and focus entirely inward. In our opinion, at this moment of American weakness, it is imperative to intensify the focus on both Iraq and Afghanistan-Pakistan. The fact that American homeland has not been attacked since 9/11/2001 argues for greater focused effort and not for complacency. After all, the Taliban-Al Qaeda combo has become stronger since 9/11, not weaker.

Look around the world. Both China and Russia are demonstrating their strategic determination in every sector. Al Qaeda and its various networks are actively focused on planning and executing terror attacks. Europe seems to have given up on being important or relevant to the world. India is trying to find its long lost will.

The challenge for America is to engage the world more intelligently and forcefully, lead its partners and increase its global role.

(This article is a reprint from CinemaRasik http://www.cinemarasik.com. )

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(AF - Afghanistan; PT - Pakistan Tribal Areas)

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