Just some quick thoughts on the Mumbai attacks before turning the subject over to our two cover stories that examine them from the Indian perspective (by M.K. Bhadrakumar) as well as from Pakistan’s (by Jayshree Bajoria).
There are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding some of the moving parts. But what the attacks demonstrate more than anything else is the need to resist letting a handful of extremists set the foreign policy agendas of regional and global nuclear powers. In other words, there’s a need to formulate a better response than the Bush Doctrine to the ways in which non-state actors exploit the faultlines of state actors for their own purposes. “Let’s you and him fight” is one of the oldest traps in the book, and the urgency of not falling into it increases in direct proportion to the amount of nuclear-tipped warheads involved on both sides.
That said, if the attacks were planned by an established terror organization, they were well-timed to take advantage of both the Thanksgiving holiday (guaranteeing full media saturation to an available American audience), as well as the presidential transition (making a unified application of American influence problematic). So these are savvy and dangerous people, there’s no doubt. But hopefully they will not be elevated to the status of historic gamechangers in the course of human history.