As we wait to finally discover who actually organized this bloodbath in Mumbai, I would like to point out something obvious: the Indian economic "miracle" has been more than tempting fate to have created such a growing number of exuberant and ostentatious nouveau riche in a country where hundreds of millions of people are as scandalously poor… Islamist, Maoist or things as yet undreamed of are bound to grow in the gigantic, bubbling petri dish. globalization has created in India.
So if all we had to go on was potential rage and resentment themselves, we would be looking for a needle in a haystack. It would probably be more profitable to look at the wide effects of this attack as a way of narrowing down the list of possible culprits.
Although it does massive harm to India, I don't think this attack was really about India as much as it was designed to throw a monkey wrench in the American strategy of pressuring Pakistan.
The United States wants the Pakistanis to use their army to control the Pashtun areas of their country, the areas which harbor the taliban who attack NATO forces in Afghanistan.
If the Pakistani army does this it will mean a civil war, which might lead to the breakup of Pakistan: that is a result that only a drunken neocon could contemplate sanguinely.
Despite this danger to Pakistan's unity, president Bush has been pushing the Zardari government very hard and, if his statements during the campaign are to be taken seriously, president Barack Obama will press them even harder.
What this attack on Mumbai certainly does is to change the subject from America’s problems in Afghanistan to the possibility of an armed confrontation between nuclear India and nuclear Pakistan. This prospect should focus Washington’s mind wonderfully. Both incoming and outgoing presidents will have to everything they can to defuse tension between the countries.
I think by now it is clear that the objective of the attacks is too make it impossible for Pakistan, with India threatening, to collaborate with the USA on its northwest frontier. Certainly the Pakistani army will have no resources to spare for chasing the taliban when a conflict with Indian is in the offing. The pressure on Zardari now from the military will be much too great.
Today some are blaming Al Qaeda for the attacks in Bombay and others are pointing fingers at Pakistan's army intelligence, the notorius ISI. The relation between the ISI and Al Qaeda, or even where one leaves off and the other begins is not really clear. This “joined twin” effect is said to be blowback from the CIA and Saudi collaboration during the USSR’s futile attempts to modernize Afghanistan.
It is my impression that what we call Al Qaeda today is more a general consensus and willingness to collaborate among a very wide number of Islamic activists all over the world than the finite hierarchy that it was in 2001.
Many if not all the diverse jihadist groups now see their local struggles in the context of a wide international one and this multiplies their effectiveness as this leads to a wide consensus on their priorities.
Priority number one is to degrade American influence in the Muslim world and they seem to be having some success. You could say that bin Laden began a "worldwide conversation about killing people and blowing things up" among millions of angry young men. This instrument for building and implementing consensus is his greatest achievement.
The attack in Mumbai has changed the playing field and its scale. From worrying about guerrillas crossing from Waziristan to attack Americans in Afghanistan, we can worry now about the serious possibility of an atomic war in South Asia. DS