Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Send in Rainbow Six

Looks like my grandfather could be right in predicting that the Mumbai terrorists came from Pakistan via boats.  This was a pretty sophisticated attack, in line with LeT's growing reach.  The stated goal was to scuttle peace talks, but there's another pretty clear goal in terms of the coming elections in six states, most of which are a close BJP-Congress lineup.  The worst impact could be in Delhi, where, despite the fact that Sheila Dixit is surprisingly popular and competent, the UPA government has managed to both suffer a string of attacks and damage their Muslim base through suspicious police shootouts.  I think it's tough to imagine this going any other way than seeing the BJP back in office, with Advani as PM and Modi on his heels with a vision of a much more muscular Hindutva agenda.  Hopefully as they stay in power, they become captured by national interests and moderate a bit away from the Sangh Parivar in favor of a broader, conservative agenda that can actually capture half the national vote on a regular basis.  They dropped swadeshi easily enough; hopefully they can go from anti-Muslim to anti-Pakistan or anti-terrorism.  Otherwise there will be more terrorist attacks to come, and not all of them from abroad.  

India will survive.  Meanwhile, the idea of Pakistan is making less and less sense.  There is essentially a Punjabi core and a series of lawless, politically mobilized frontier areas.  Shaukat Aziz, a former Citi executive, did a great job at Finance Minister, but Pakistan has seen growth surges before, and this one looks to be ending the same as the previous ones with institutional collapse (though the lawyers' revolt was surprising and a testament to growing bourgeois sentiment).  They look to be in a serious financial crisis too (who isn't?) while the military state is keeping much of the mess together, and will probably intervene again sooner or later.  As Kaplan points out, Afghanistan and Pakistan are increasingly linked, and Obama has decided to double down in this part of the world.  

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