(Media Monitors Network, December 28, 2008 )
Nearly thirty years after the Cold War exploded into full-scale conflict in Afghanistan, the incoming president, Barack Obama, is about to embark on yet another stage in America’s involvement in that country. In short hand, it is described as Obama’s ‘Afghan surge’. If a recent report in the New York Times is anything to go by, the ‘Afghan surge’ would be remarkably similar to the ‘surge’ of 2007 in Iraq under President George W Bush.
The ‘Iraqi surge’ was an attempt to subdue the rapidly escalating cycle of violence in the capital, Baghdad, and Anbar Province covering much of western Iraq. The buildup involved the deployment of thirty thousand extra US troops as part of ‘The New Way Forward’ announced by Bush in January 2007. Barely six weeks before, the Washington Post had disclosed a US intelligence report admitting that ‘the social and political situation has deteriorated to a point’ that American and Iraqi troops ‘are no longer capable of militarily defeating the insurgency’ in Anbar. From village to provincial levels, nearly all government institutions had collapsed. Summarizing the assessment, one American military officer said, “We have been defeated politically – and that’s where wars are won and lost.” More
(Online Journal, December 18, 2008 )
Tragedy and trauma magnify a nation’s awareness or lack thereof. The events surrounding the Mumbai carnage have revealed certain aspects of India’s collective psyche that provide food for thought and perhaps a lesson to learn.
The country had already suffered a wave of mindless bombings and targeted attacks on Muslim and Christian minorities recently. That the killings in Mumbai by Muslim gunmen, whose victims included dozens of fellow Muslims, did not lead to further retribution was an achievement. So weary was the country of the possibility of another disastrous turn of events.
On Indian television channels, though, there was plenty of heat and theater in debates. Voices of reason appeared to drown in high-pitched rhetoric from a handful of guests – socialites and self-styled commentators. They were in competition for space with politicians, academics and journalists of the more established ranks. Ex-model, now socialite and author, Shobha De, described as India’s answer to Jackie Collins, known for her erotic novels, lambasted politicians for ‘failures’ that led to the bloodbath. “Enough is enough,” she screamed. India’s leading English news channel, NDTV, responded by naming an entire episode ‘Enough is Enough’. Participants had a field day attacking the government and politicians in general. Those who begged that the fiery rhetoric be toned down had little chance of succeeding until the heat was exhausted. More
(History News Network, George Mason University, Virginia, December 3, 2008 )
(CounterPunch, December 1, 2008 )
The carnage in Mumbai by young, well trained gunmen is the latest chapter in the world’s most complex web of problems today. Not only is it bound to have new consequences, it also throws up fresh challenges for all concerned, not least for America’s President-elect, Barak Obama.
When a bloodbath in India’s main commercial center is played out on television screens across the world, people who have witnessed events in New York and Washington, London and Madrid, Islamabad and Bali immediately connect with a rapidly escalating phenomenon. India is no stranger to terror. Still, it has suffered a huge shock. The Indian economy, already caught up in a global recession, is bound to feel the impact. Tourism and investor confidence may suffer, at least in the short term. The political fallout may go beyond the resignation of the Home Minister, Shivraj Patil. The country faces a general election in May 2009. The governing coalition led by the Congress Party is under heavy criticism from the Hindu nationalists, as well as the population in general. More