The Mumbai attacks are, I think, illustrative of the difficulty that any society or set of security forces experience in a surprise transition to war from relative peace. The Pearl Harbor attack was an example of this experience. Confusion is always the prime characteristic of the initial reaction. This is often followed by a ferocious and sustained reaction. In such cases it never seems to matter that the general situation may have portended the possibility of attack. Surprise need only be tactical and local to be effective. The average human mind seeks pattern in events and sees it whether or not it truly exists. The gifted mind sees patterns that have not yet occurred, sees them against the backdrop of far reaching context.
These attacks are likely to have been made by Kashmiri fighters influenced by the example of takfiri jihadis throughout the ‘umma. They are without meaning unless you are a takfiri jihadi or a victim of this violence. Kashmir should be partitioned. India and Pakistan should move on.
Iraq and Afghanistan
The US and its friends appear to have outstayed whatever welcome they once enjoyed in these countries. I was wrong about the willingness of the Maliki government to accommodate the US in the matter of the two agreements. I thought that, in the end, the Iraqis would decide to "humor" us in this until we grew weary and left of our own volition with our own timing, but I see now that the internal dynamic of a desire to be rid of the foreign "other" has been too strong to let that happen. We will or should have our combat units out of there by the US mid-term elections. That would have happened even if McCain had been elected. In spite of his Vietnam driven angst, he would have had to yield to the demands of the Iraqis and the plain fact that the US is broken financially and likely to remain that way for a while. In Obama’s case, this is a gift from on high. In Afghanistan, Karzai now laughs at us for not being able to defeat "a small force like the Taliban." He says he will negotiate his own end to the war if we do not wind this up soon.
To some extent wars like these are always messy in their ending. It took the US military, handicapped by the Bush Administration, a long time to recognize these situations for the insurgent conflicts that they always were. Adequate forces and a proper strategic approach could have led to an effective if "temporary" pacification of Afghanistan. The time and opportunity for that are nearly gone. Once again, we are "broke" and that reality will govern the outcome. Iraq will not be Iowa in the Middle East, but it will also not be Saddam’s Iraq, nor will it be the takfiris’ dream of Iraq. Perhaps that is victory enough.
The armed forces are weary and need to "reset." Even the SOF counter-terrorist people would be secretly happy for a chance to absorb the impact of high casualties and an unrelenting operational tempo. Their war against the takfiris will go on whether or not the US occupies Iraq and Afghanistan. Good.
Among those who have bled in these wars, there will be cries of "stab in the back," and "nous sommes trahis." Get used to these kinds of outcomes, boys and girls. This is how the game is played. pl
Classic Al Qaeda action. They are playing India/Pakistan-Hindu/Muslim old fault line.
Let’s see if this will escalate. If so Pakistan implosion will continue even deeper.
They still haven’t figure out proper military & political strategy to employ in Pakistan. The clown show continue.
btw, they better shut down those Somalia gulf piracy operation. It’s cash cow that will bring down a lot of stuff in the near future.
(This is direct result of Ethiopian botched regime change 3-4 yrs ago. Congratulation.)
Do you really think that Karzai is in a position to negotiate a reasonable deal with the Taliban? Which Taliban?
Per Mumbai event, press reports indicate: the twenty-something year old terrorists spoke in Hindi and Urdu, used a seaborne route from Karachi on a Vietnamese registered “mother” ship from which several squads were launched, were continuously in contact with their Pakistan-based colleagues via satellite telephone, and so on.
Press reports indicate there has been at least one terrorist captured and he has reportedly said he is a member of “Lakshar e Toiba” a Pak based international terrorist org:
Ties to UBL and AQ have been suggested.
Maulana Maududi is smiling no doubt….Maududi, Qutb, UBL-Zawahiri…Mumbai…it’s not rocket science…
Per Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama has an opportunity for a major rethink.
I concur, extricate ourselves at a pace that maintains security for OUR forces (regular military not mercs). Wind down our diplo presence and the folks out there go to it for a while. When the dust settles we can send our diplos back out and issue the embassy staff hip boots so they can wade through the blood. I use bloodmeal in my garden, perhaps the poppies out there will do well with some.
This is my take:
1. It is time to quit the cold war game. Pitting Pakistan vs India vs. China. It’s too clever by half and will explode in our face. (Just like pitting Iraq vs. Iran during the 80’s)
2. It is time to rethink the entire central asia beyond “mineral sources” and geopolitical thug of war against Russia/China/ India.
on paper, this may seems the logical thing to do. containing russia, china, controlling natural resource. But as any sensible person would notice, this also destroy normal nation states equilibrium and give perfect breeding ground for extremism.
As long as there is no viable central government in Afghanistan supported by healthy economy, Al Qaeda will survive. And no viable afghanistan can exist as long as we play the cold war game in central asia.
If that continues Al Qaeda will start bringing down Pakistan and section of India in ethnic and religious war. (The sunni-shia tension in Iraq is trivial compared to India-Pakistan/Islam-Hindu tension.) It may not explode into full blown Indo-Pakistan war, but the low level conflict will bring down government after government and create massive poverty and discontent. And that will keep feeding al qaeda. Terrorism attack galore.
3. Iran, Iraq have to be fixed soon. Tho’ frankly I think Obama team will obfuscate to protect israel interest. But time is not on our side. No more clever neocon gag and foot dragging. It is time to do the right thing. The occupation and tension in the middle east are feeding extremism all over the world.
4. Israel/Palestine. It is time to keep it real. Time to ask. Anybody actually wants peace? If so SIGN a peace treaty in a year.
Otherwise, US policy toward Israel and Palestine should run under the assumption that peace is not possible. (Next best thing is natural military equilibrium between Israel and its rival.) US should sign a very clear treaty with Israel to prevent major nuclear conflict.
That we will defend Israel when come under attack. But we will NOT support Israel aggression. And we will pull the plug on any military and economic aid once Israel start an aggression. (No more neocon hackery)
5. Nation building in Pakistan. (No more military and puppet regime corruption. Pakistan is sliding toward chaos because we keep doing regime change every which way. ) Create long term program to deal with that FATA.
6. Israel should be forced to sign peace treaty with Syria, Lebanon… No more conflict in northern border every other year.
just remember, the world economy is slipping fast. And there is going to be a lot of angry people ready to join militant groups.
time is running out.
In the short term there will be immense pressure from the Indian people on their Government to DO SOMETHING!
Events can spiral out of control quickly when emotions run hot, so I hope cooler heads will prevail.
The Indians massing on the border will most likely elicit the same response from Pakistan they gave last time out – one tank crosses the border and we launch every nuke we got.
That is a narrow knife edge to stand on for two countries who hate each other so much. The Indians will be hot this time, and may not restrain themselves.
The US needs to bring diplomatic pressure to bear on both sides to step back from the brink. A task made harder by GWB’s low standing, and Obama not being in office yet.
A very dangerous development for world security.
Large questions. A few comments: With regards to the Mumbai attacks, I find it worrying that Indias first response was to cancel a meeting with the Pakistani government that was scheduled to take place tomorrow. Thats a huge IO victory for the attackers, whose stated goal is to weaken the central government of Pakistan. This again will lead to increased paranoia in the Pakistani military etc. SO from a anti-terror perspective, this was a bad play.
With regards to the Iraq/Afghan situation, two questions: In a 10 year perspective, wich way will the house of Maliki turn? East or west? And militantly, just how much of a transition effort will it be to recalibrate forces used to COIN in Iraq to mountain fighting in Afghanistan? From what I remember from my own brief service years ago, it is a specialised skillset to work at high altitudes.
ANd finally, who says that Taleban are interested in negotiating? After all, they are winning, and have a solid economy while we are loosing and broke. As long as the western infrastructure of black economy (tax havens, laundering machines, etc) facilitates their drug and smuggling profits we will not win this .
“The gifted mind sees patterns that have not yet occurred, sees them against the backdrop of far reaching context.”
DeBorchgrave seems quite taken in by this character.
Que pensez-vous de cela, le colonel
With regards to the Iraq/Afghan situation, two questions: In a 10 year perspective, wich way will the house of Maliki turn? East or west? And militantly, just how much of a transition effort will it be to recalibrate forces used to COIN in Iraq to mountain fighting in Afghanistan?
Posted by: fnord | 28 November 2008 at 03:42 AM
Iraq political process seems to stabilize, there is player and they are dealing with each other instead of shooting at each other.
But as a nation Iraq is non existence. In the near future (2-5yrs) It can only deal with its direct neighbors. It will have to rebuild it’s economy, military and diplomatic capability.
In the meantime, of course it will align to its natural/historical ally. (Syria and Iran)
If I have to predict 2020. I think Iraq will be fairly stable and somewhat passive while aligning itself to Iran. Not much will happen from Iraq itself aside from usual domestic politics.
are going to turn into one giant mess due to Pakistan implosion.
The situation in Pakistan border will be more or less follows fallujah model. Disturbance/skirmish/small attack on the ground will be faced with destabilizing bombing. Then event snowball. Followed by damaged control, back paddle, negotiation. Rinse, repeat.
1. what exactly are we doing in Afghanistan? IF it’s endless chase, then we lost. It should be “nation building”. Very tedious and long term, but the only way to get out of afghanistan without leaving a bigger mess.
(formation of working central government, rudimentary economy, functioning national military, regaining control of political, cultural and education process) This means electricity, cement, fertilizer, school, government logistic, road, civil service, jobs.
Isolating afghanistan from Pakistan. Slowly controlling border and realigning commerce toward kabul instead FATA. Banning the ownership and production of heavy weapons. Only government has monopoly of weapons.
Pacify and transform FATA.
realign village economy toward kabul instead of FATA. one by one. (essentially, it’s taliban movement in reverse. Same techniques different content/message)
What exactly do Pakistan want? It can’t keep the whole game. The bleeding by thousand cuts strategy is about to destroy pakistan itself.
Pakistan and all its neighbors have to settle all border dispute.
Pakistan needs internal stability and economic growth. Not more regional rivalries.
US should stop playing the cold war game in central and south asia. Because the extremists are riding on that game very effectively. No more pitting India, Pakistan, China, Soviet/Russia. No more using local to flame up border dispute. (Mujaheedin, tibetan, kashmiri, Balochistan, Kurds, etc etc…)
Regime Change game is OVER. (Remember Somalia? Easy regime change right? except now we have piracy and the money is funding into global terrorism.)
3. fix Iran/Iraq/Syria diplomatic relationship
4. Fix Israel/Palestinian problem.
I am actually quite confused by all the reports on the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. From what little I have seen on TV and read in our corporate media it seems that the response of the Indian authorities are also very confused and haphazard. I don’t get why the head of their Anti-Terrorist Service would just rush into a building with terrorists without planning, setup and adequate force and as result gets killed in an ambush. What happened to command responsibilities?
This seems like a Katrina like response on the part of the Indians. Now I don’t know anything about how India’s counter-terrorism system works let alone all the complex domestic political and religious fault lines. However, since India has been exposed to terrorist attacks for a long while including I believe an attack on their parliament some years ago I would expect they would have a well organized counter-terrorism operation.
Could someone knowledgeable about the region shed some light on what’s actually going on and the quality of the Indian response?
1. Interesting report from the Indian Express on the attack with details on the seaborne aspect, Lashkar e Toiba (i Taiba, e Tayyiba, i Tayyaba, e Tayyaba etc.) Karachi-Gujarat coast etc.
“As Operation Black Tornado, the mission launched by security forces against the most audacious Terror strike on Indian soil crossed its 24th hour tonight, security agencies said that all available evidence pointed to the Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba whose men used the sea route to reach Mumbai from Karachi.
Lashkar spokesman Abdullah Ghaznavi denied any role but sources said the go-ahead for the attack came after a Lashkar conference at Muridke in Pakistan on Sunday.”
….”The Navy today sent two warships and a fast-attack craft to intercept a merchant ship which was suspected to have launched the terrorists. Its last port of call was Saudi Arabia. Top Government sources said Naval Headquarters directed two warships to intercept the ship and one vessel was asked to join the chase mid-way. The suspect ship was said to be 50-70 nautical miles north-west of Mumbai.”
…”Meanwhile, officials said they do not rule out the possibility that one or two associates of the attackers were already staying in the Taj Mahal and Trident hotels which made it easier for these men to navigate their way through these large hotels. Top sources also confirmed that local support was available to these terrorists and was possibly arranged by remnants of the Mumbai underworld, many of who now reside in Karachi.
Earlier this year, Lashkar operative Raziuddin Nasir, who was picked up in Karnataka, had revealed in his interrogation that the Lashkar was making preparations for an attack using the sea route. The attack on Mumbai, sources said, was planned at least over six months or even more, but did not get a go-ahead from the outfit top brass until the Muridke meeting.”
Press reports I’ve looked through indicate: dispersed target set (hotels, restaurants, railroad station, hospital) about 20 some terrorists aged in 20s broken into sticks of 2, 3, and 4 men each, hindi and urdu speaking, one Urdu speaker at the Jewish center said to have Kashmiri accent, 5 terrorist blackberries recovered with links to northern UK Urdu and Hindi websites, 2 terrorists UK born of Pak descent, AK47s, RDX, RPGs (according to one report), grenades, intimate familiarity with floor plans of hotels.
On jihadi websites, India is often referred to as the “House of the Spider” (Koranic reference, Sura 29) indicating weakness.
2. Context per AQ-Kashmir-India etc.:
“What we do know for a fact is this: in an April 23, 2006, audiotape broadcast on al-Jazeera television, Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden declared war on India. For the first time, Osama made reference to a “a Crusader-Zionist-Hindu war against the Muslims.” “It is the duty of the ummah,” he said, “with all its categories, men, women and youths, to give away themselves, their money, their experiences and all types of material support, to establish jihad, particularly in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Sudan, Kashmir, and Chechnya.” He also lashed out at the United States for pressuring Pakistan to end cross-border terrorism, “thus affirming that it is a Zionist-Hindu war against Muslims…”
The one SERIOUS misstept I thought Obama kept making in the campaign was to promise more troops in Afgh. That may be the right move, but I don’t see what the strategy is, and I don’t think the pres-elect (and his advisors) see either (or at least I haven’t heard it). It’s one thing to say we should not have abandoned Afgh for Iraq, and it’s quite another to say we should/could go back and finish off the war in Afgh. Now, it’s another war, in a “country” and “culture” that live in another time warp.
We begin to see, I hope, that mere U.S. involvement changes the scenario.
About Mumbai: let’s hope that this does not become part of the U.S. defends Israel no matter what strategy. The death of Rabbi Hotzlinger and his wife is a tragedy, but this seems to have been a multi-ethnic terrorist attack. All are tragedies.
A retired Indian general writes:
“The philosophy behind jihad is well explained by Brig SK Malik of Pakistan Army in his book, The Quranic Concept of War, penned under the tutelage of Gen Zia-ul-Haq, the Islamic ruler of Pakistan. Zia fell back on the concept of inflicting a ‘thousand cuts’ after Pakistan failed to defeat India on the battlefield. And, these ‘thousand cuts’ were to be delivered by jihadis through acts of terror.
What Brig Malik explains most forcefully is the role of ‘terror’ in the implementation of these ‘thousand cuts’. He says, “In war our main objective is the opponent’s heart or soul, our main weapon of offence against this objective is the strength of our own souls… Terror struck into the hearts of the enemies is not only a means, it is the end itself. Once a condition of terror into the opponent’s heart is obtained, hardly anything is left to be achieved. It is the point where the means and the end meet and merge. Terror thus is not a means of imposing decision on the enemy; it is the decision we wish to impose on him.”
Describing the role of terror as a destroyer of faith, he explains, “To instill terror into the heart of the enemy, it is essential, in the ultimate analysis, to dislocate his faith…This faith can be religious, patriotic, values and cultural”.”
This appeared in the Pakistani press and in some local (not national) Indian news outlets:
US spies killed in terrorist raid
NEW DELHI: Even though the Indian government has refrained from dragging Islamabad directly into the Mumbai terror attacks, insinuations suggest that diplomatic relations between the two countries may suffer in the aftermath of the attacks. It is believed that the terrorists identified and then killed two senior US intelligence officers staying at the Taj Mahal Hotel. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his address to the nation, pricked Pakistan thrice without naming it. The security agencies in New Delhi told reporters they suspected the role of Al Qaeda in the attacks. The agencies believed their suspicion arose from the way the terrorists captured Taj hotel and successfully identified two senior US intelligence officials by checking the passports of the foreigners who were staying there, sources said. iftikhar gilani
The above URL and quote is from a Pakistani newspaper.
If true, would this not indicate hostile action against the US?
The Chabad House was a deliberately chosen target and not like a hotel where you would find people of all ethnicities.
And as per Mayor Bloomberg, they were New Yorkers; his statement to the press began –
““We do not yet know the full toll of the senseless and barbaric murders in Mumbai, but today we learned we have lost three New Yorkers: Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, and Rabbi Leibish Teitelbaum. These are tragic losses for the Lubavitch, Volove, and Satmar communities, and for our entire City.”
No need to bring Israel into this, though they’re obviously concerned. This was a murder of New Yorkers like in 9/11.
Sorry to have misremembered and then misspelled Rabbi Holtzberg’s name.
Mayor Bloomberg having spoken (albeit very circumspectly) can Senators Clinton and Schumer be far behind? And with them, other Dem luminaries? Is P-E Obama’s attention being drawn from the economic crisis to the unending crisis of the Middle East?
Of course, Israel is concerned and should be, but they need do very little if U.S. politicians jump in and do what they do so well, muddy the waters.
Another consideration: It appears that most of the victims are Indian citizens not Brits, Americans, or Israelis. Still, given the focus to these nationals by the terrorists that have been reported (on the basis of I know not what facts), should we factor in the colonialist, neo-colonialist, and pseudo-post-colonialist attitudes and policies of their respective governments as at least part of the motivation and anger that propel such vicious attacks. In other words, should Pakistan turn out to be the source of the terrorist, let’s consider that it is not the only country responsible for fomenting this misplaced anger.
Again the basic mistake of the foreign policy of the United States and “military diplomacy” is the deep seated belief that we and only we (US) control events even in the face of contrary real world events. Blame it on the fundamental lack of understanding of other languages, cultures, and religions. How many Islamic diplomats or flag rank officers does the US have? How many full professors are practioners of ISLAM? How many elected officials believe in ISLAM? How many Americans have read the Quran? In American history saying it is so does not make it so! So again we learn a lesson that we should have learned long in the past.
The critique of the photographer (hat tip Huff Post) who got a picture of one of the terrorists is that a lot of the carnage could have been prevented if the Mumbai police had taken action right in the beginning. The article depicts a kind of Keystone Cops situation.
It seems that the Indians despite all the terrorist attacks in their country have yet to get their act together. 10 motivated terrorists were able to take over multiple buildings, moved through a whole section of a major city unmolested for several hours and were able to ambush and kill senior counter-terrorist officials as well as hold at bay military forces for 2 days while holed up in buildings. The crisis management looked very amateurish with media buzzing in close proximity to the hotels, thousands of onlookers, special forces members giving on camera interviews with scarves around their faces and contradictory statements from various officials at the scene.
The Associated Press is reporting that Barack Obama will announce Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State this Monday. ABC News reports that the entire national security team will be announced Monday. ABC News reports on the makeup of the team:
Pending Senate confirmation, the President-elect’s national security team will include: Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., who will serve as Secretary of State in his administration; Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano who will be Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; attorney Eric Holder, Attorney General; Retired Marine General Jim Jones, National Security Adviser; retired Adm. Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence; Susan Rice, Ambassador to the United Nations; and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who will stay on in that role for at least a year.
I don’t know how credible this story is but it claims on the basis of interrogation of a captured terrorist and a recovered satellite phone that this attack was organized by a jihadi organization called Lashkar-e-Toiba.
Due to the media attention would this create an opportunity for the US, Pakistan and India to significantly cooperate to take out these jihadi organizations support infrastructure? Or does this exacerbate tensions between India and Pakistan?
Is the fight against jihadi organizations intent on creating mayhem going to come back to the front burner after Obama takes office?
The Mumbai attacks are a matter for Indian government. It is patronizing for US, UK to step in with suggested approaches. Especially with impassioned ramp-up. If there are significant US, UK national interests in how matter is handled by India (which is doubtful, unless a gross deterioration of relations with Pakistan seems likely), that is best communicated by quiet means, not via media.
I fully concur that Iraq and Afghan military operations will be gratefully ended at the request of our hosts, despite the rhetoric about an Afghan “surge” and other such nonsense. From what I understand, we do not have the logistics to send 25,000 American troops into the south of Afghanistan to take on the Pashtun insurgents, even though that is the request to President-elect Obama from Gen. McKiernan, who was in Washington last week, speaking at the Atlantic Council on his first six months in Afghanistan as NATO and U.S. commander.
As for Mumbai, Indian press on Saturday was highlighting the role of Dawood Ibrahim, a Mumbai mafiosi, who cornered gold smuggling in India decades ago, and later was behind terror attacks in 1999 and 2001 (hijacking of Air India flight to Kandahar in 99 and attack on Indian parliament in 01). He fled to Dubai and then on to Karachi (the staging point for the naval component of the Mumbai attack), where he is under the protection of some of the “rogue” ISI elements. He still maintains a big mafia presence in Mumbai, is the preferred gold launderer to young front men, who launder the gold through Bollywood movies. A strange mix of Salafi terror and old fashion organized crime, but then again, Afghan opium fits the same bill, I guess.
Some US intell people are saying that the “cost-effectiveness” of the attack, involving less than 50 people, and paralysing a city of 13 million, at a cost of probably billions of dollars in damage and lost revenue, is a frightening new M.O., that could be reproduced far more easily than another 911 type attack, which can be defeated in advance by the kinds of security measures already in place.
Welcome to the new world of low-cost, high-impact asymmetric warfare.
“Among those who have bled in these wars, there will be cries of “stab in the back,” and “nous sommes trahis.” Get used to these kinds of outcomes, boys and girls. This is how the game is played. pl ”
I am curious to whom this comment is directed…the military folks who have “bled in these wars”, or the civilians / others who haven’t ..?