Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Terrorist Attack in India Poses Grave Challenges to the Next US Administration

In view of Mumbai terrorist attack on November 26, the Washington Independent has published “Obama’s First Test?: The Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai Highlight a Simmering Crisis in South Asia” on November 28. Since the attack, the relationship between India and Pakistan is turning worse. This is a critical challenge to the War on Terror in Afghanistan and nuclear non-proliferation in the Indian subcontinent.

Ever since the United States started negotiations on a nuclear deal with India, Global American Discourse has been paying attention to the Subcontinent. This blog quoted commentaries by Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Former Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, and mentioned a broad range of bilateral issues from nuclear weapons, terrorism, regional security, and the economy. Stable relations between India and Pakistan are essential for further US-Indian partnership. However, as there were Pakistanis among the terrorist attackers, India suspects some involvement of Pakistan.

The Mumbai attack reminds me of a controversial remark by Vice President-elect Joseph Biden, “It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy.” It seems to me that the world is testing President-elect Obama before he is inaugurated. Both India and Pakistan are frontlines against Al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan. Political tensions between both nuclear powers in this region undermines strategic blueprint of the United States.

At this stage, real backgrounds of this attack need to be investigated completely. Ties between the attackers and terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda and Taliban are suspected.

According to Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent, the Mumbai terrorist attack poses significant challenges to US and NATO mission in Afghanistan. Currently, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has begun to demand withdrawal of Western forces while talking with Taliban leaders (“Karzai — Whoa! — Calls for a Timetable to End the Afghanistan War”; Washington Independent; November 25, 2008).

Furthermore, the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington DC, has released a new report to recommend that the Obama administration renew military-oriented approaches in US-Pakistani relations by the Bush administration (“Partnership for Progress: Advancing a New Strategy for Prosperity and Stability in Pakistan and the Region”; November 17, 2008). The report says “U.S. policy must recognize that the military component alone is insufficient to build stability and security in Pakistan,” and calls for “a diverse approach, including strengthening governance and rule of law, creating economic opportunities and exploring political negotiations” with insurgents.

The terrorist attack inflicted dreadful impacts on US strategy in this region. Thorough investigation will reveal critical network of terrorists in this region. The Bush administration has created a strategic framework in the Indian subcontinent and Afghanistan. Will the Obama administration succeed in developing the framework made by current administration? Yes, Mumbai attackers test incoming administration in Washington, DC.