02 December 2008

Mumbai and the Smaller Picture

In the wake of the Mumbai attacks, there is a great deal of attention being paid to why the attacks happened where they happened, who was targeted, etc. In some places, the hand-wringing gets closer and closer to the US.

But the best theory I’ve heard to date, and I’ve heard it in a couple of different places, is that the attacks happened in India specifically to gin up conflict between India and Pakistan so that pressure could be taken off of terrorists operating in the western part of Pakistan, in the tribal areas. The simple logic is that if the Pakistani military is forced to deal with an angry India, fewer troops, if any at all, would be allotted to hunting terrorists in the tribal areas.

Think of it as an extension of the maxim “all politics are local”. It seems a great deal more plausible than uber-macro, pessimistic opinions on why the attacks occurred. And if this “local” explanation of the attacks is accurate, it would be best that India work quietly to assist Pakistan in the tribal areas (if it can at all). In that way, pressure can stay where it belongs – on the terrorists – and away from the terrorists’ “release valve” – India/Pakistan hostilities.

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