The Times of India reported today that the United States has “organized for retaliatory internationally backed strikes” by India against terrorist camps in Pakistan, if the Pakistani government does not first carry out measures to take them down. On Tuesday, India’s Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon met with various high-level U.S. government officials in Washington, discussing India’s position on Pakistan's culpability and the Mumbai attacks.We have seen where US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been urging Pakistan to act with alacrity in helping India deal those responsible for the attacks in Mumbai.
The problem here--the long run problem--is that if India attacks terrorist camps in Pakistan and Pakistan feels it has to respond by military attacks into India, it could escalate into war and then into nuclear war. The real problem with a nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India--as my wife pointed out to me several years ago--is that it could make the world "safe" for nuclear warfare. The outcome would be hundreds of thousands dead. But, if the leadership on both sides walked out of their bunkers the next day and their people called for more it would be a bad sign. It might lead leaders in places like Iran and North Korea (DPRK) to begin thinking that nuclear weapons are not just symbols of modernity and power, but are usable in actual conflict.
The potential for such thinking in Iran and North Korea would lead, in turn to people in Israel and South Korea and Japan thinking that deterrence is not enough and that maybe even the US Nuclear Umbrella is not enough.
This, in turn, could lead to an Israeli decision for preemption or a South Korean or Japanese decision to obtain their own nuclear weapons. And, the possibility that Japan might obtain nuclear weapons might cause China to...
And on cue, Fox News has this item about Israel gearing up to attack Iranian nuclear facilities. I think it is mostly bluff and signally, but some day it might not be.
It is never the first problem. It is the compounding problems. And, with compounding problems, things start to go deviant.
On a good note, if there is such a thing, Mr McCreay notes that Fox News reported that Secretary Rice said there are indications of al Qaeda involvement on the attack on Mumbai. This might change the Indian Governments understanding of the threats facing them. However, the caution is that this report was not as news, but in commentary.
Remember, you can get Mr McCreay's (almost) nightly analyses at this location.
Regards -- Cliff