Condoleezza Rice’s Delhi news conference saw her stating that the US would not be ‘jumping to conclusions’ about who was exactly behind the Mumbai attacks, other than the actual gunmen. She quickly added: “This is clearly the kind of terrorism in which al-Qaeda participates.”
It’s hard to see how statements like this do anything to help quell the fury that is obviously boiling in sections of the Indian public. During the street protests banners and plaquards were being waved demanding ‘enough is enough, time for war’. The last time the public was out for major revenge was after 9/11 and that has gone down the road of dragging an entire generation into two foolish and protracted wars. American foreign policy on this issue can go two ways: America’s representatives can either urge that people learn what it means to go diving headlong into useless war (at the risk of admitting that the last 6-7 years has been largely a mistake), or tacitly support an Indian retaliation on the basis that it makes up part of the ever-present war on terror.
During the uneasy four year peace between the two nuclear powers, Pakistan has been considered both an alleged terrorist stronghold and at the same time a strategic partner in the fight to suppress the Taliban within Afghanistan. It is somewhat ludicrous to insist that every ‘Islamic-based’ attack, even if the perpretrators initially travel from Pakistan, is a failure of Islamabad’s effort to root out internal terrorism, or worse still a sign that Pakistan is deliberately doing nothing to prevent it, as an act of policy.
To be fair, Miss Rice also stated that it was a ‘time for co-operation’. It will need to be, because pushing the two countries into conflict is really only a terrorist victory.