Neocon view: Red Alert: Possible Geopolitical Consequences of the Mumbai Attacks
November 27, 2008 | 0434 GMT
A fire in the dome of the Taj Hotel in Mumbai on Nov. 26Summary
If the Nov. 26 attacks in Mumbai were carried out by Islamist
militants as it appears, the Indian government will have little
choice, politically speaking, but to blame them on Pakistan. That will
in turn spark a crisis between the two nuclear rivals that will draw
the United States into the fray.
At this point the situation on the ground in Mumbai remains unclear
following the militant attacks of Nov. 26. But in order to understand
the geopolitical significance of what is going on, it is necessary to
begin looking beyond this event at what will follow. Though the
situation is still in motion, the likely consequences of the attack
are less murky.
We will begin by assuming that the attackers are Islamist militant
groups operating in India, possibly with some level of outside support
from Pakistan. We can also see quite clearly that this was a carefully
planned, well-executed attack.
Given this, the Indian government has two choices. First, it can
simply say that the perpetrators are a domestic group. In that case,
it will be held accountable for a failure of enormous proportions in
security and law enforcement. It will be charged with being unable to
protect the public. On the other hand, it can link the attack to an
outside power: Pakistan. In that case it can hold a nation-state
responsible for the attack, and can use the crisis atmosphere to
strengthen the government’s internal position by invoking nationalism.
Politically this is a much preferable outcome for the Indian
government, and so it is the most likely course of action. This is not
to say that there are no outside powers involved — simply that,
regardless of the ground truth, the Indian government will claim there