NEW DELHI - The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi warned Friday that foreign militants, possibly al-Qaida members, may be planning to carry out bombings in India's two major cities in the coming days.
In an e-mail sent to American citizens living in India, the embassy said New Delhi, the capital, and Mumbai, the country's financial and entertainment hub, were the likely targets, and the attacks were believed to be planned for either before or on India's Independence Day, August 15.
So here's the liberal foreign policy question: how do you REALLY handle something like this? The Bush strategy on states with internal security threats seems to be 1) ignore the problem and 2) indiscriminately bomb the living fuck out of the country. But neither the status quo or "regime change" is appropriate here.
The fundies are holding Mush's feet to the fire, threatening to take him out if he comes after them too hard. But here's the thing: their ultimate goal is to seize control of the country. So, while they might make a show of backing down in the face of Musharraf's concessions, they're still plotting to get him out of office. At the same time, they've got to understand that if Musharraf feels TOO threatened, he'll call in the Western militaries, who would undoubtedly at least help with cruise missile attacks, weaponry ... even with our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan is FAR too important a strategic target to let fall without a major military struggle.
So the trick, for a jihadi, would be to get rid of Musharraf without arousing the West. And the best way to do that would be to get the West to weaken him for you. Which is where the spate of terrorist bombings come in -- as separate, sovereign states there's VERY little that India, Britain, or the US can do about groups within Pakistan. The most they can do is pressure the Pakistani government. But the methods used to pressure a government -- starting mildly with cuts in aid and elevating up to threats of military action -- all serve to hurt the people more than the government itself. They're designed to produce domestic discontent. The problem is, domestic discontent is what we have TOO MUCH OF in Pakistan.
Direct military action is even worse, because a) movements of large militaries are perfect opportunities for coups, and b) there's no clear outcome other than punishment -- it's not like there's a more moderate domestic leader you can install. The other option, often used to brutal and devastatingly awful effect in the Cold War, would be to start a war along internal ethnic lines so that the country is SO destabilized, its central government is no longer a threat. That's a moral and ethical problem for LOTS of reasons. But it's also unclear how that would work with this new strain of Islamic thought around -- with the madrassas already entrenched and fielding their own private armies, would it even be possible to turn Pakistan into Afghanistan? In any case, that leaves a ton of nuclear weapons in the hands of dueling warlords, which is pretty much the nightmare scenario of proliferation.