Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bombs away: why India?

By now you've probably read about the train bombings in India (and here's an excellent roundup on the subject from Pajamas Media, by the way).

Over a hundred people dead and counting, and this is just one incident in a long line of recent similar ones in India--as well as a more ancient history, including a bloody eighth-century conquest and an exceptionally violent partition.

Why India? Well, why not? There's the long history already mentioned, and the still-unresolved question of Kashmir. But perhaps there are other reasons.

Mitch at Shot in the Dark speculates:

Indian Moslems live in a relatively (and relatively new) liberal democracy; they have the rule of law, democratic elections, a constitution descended from that of the UK, and perhaps most importantly of all, economic freedom and the prospects that an open economic playing field bring to people....India's moslems, in short, have a stake in the modern world.

And I'd bet that there's at least a small stake on Al Quaeda's part in stirring that up, if only by provoking a reaction against India's moslems, something that'll devalue that interest in the liberalism (small-l) that has helped quell so many of India's problems.

Stirring up Hindu-Moslem violence in India could certainly be a motive. But, was this attack perpetrated by global jihadists such as Al Qaeda, as Mitch seems to think, or more local Kashmiri separatists? And, as Allahpundit wonders at Hot Air, "is there a distinction any more?"

I submit that there's a distinction. And yet there's a link, and the link is a vital one.

Before 9/11, I saw the terrorist violence around the world as piecemeal. Each event was disconnected from the others. Even though I knew a disproportionate number were indeed perpetrated by Arabs or other Moslems, that fact seemed to be somewhat irrelevant. The causes were the usual ancient hatreds, border disputes, impoverishment, and unknown factors as well.

The events of 9/11 didn't function for me as some sort of instant illumination, but rather (as I've written here) as a catalyst for much reading and research on my part. And that reading indicated the existence of a coherent philosophy underpinning what previously seemed to have been disparate and unconnected events. That belief system has come to be known to me as Islamist totalitarianism.

Yes indeed, there have been other violent--and even terrorist--separatist movements. The IRA comes to mind, of course, and is often cited as an example that this sort of thing is hardly exclusive to Islam. But I'm not asserting it's exclusive to Islam; rather, that it's become rampant in a certain subset of Islamic thought. And, unlike localized groups such as the IRA, this movement has been widely promoted around the Islamic world, which means around most of the world itself This phenomenon has caused the vast majority of recent terrorism, violence that has escalated mightily within the past decade, increasing in both scope and magnitude.

The usual disclaimer--that most Moslems aren't jihadis--is certainly true. But it doesn't take "most;" it just takes "many." And "many" there are. ('Tis enough, 'twill serve.)

9/11 was a watershed for many reasons, but there were two overriding ones: its scope, and its location in the heart of the West in an America that hadn't previously known a large terrorist attack on civilians on its own soil. From our initial reaction to that event, the jihadis may have learned not to awaken the sleeping giant any more; let him start snoozing again. (Maybe not, of course; a new attack here is always possible.)

But India and other third-world countries, as well as Arab countries such as Egypt, are good targets of opportunity. Easy to move around in and plan, and less fear of massive retaliation. Maybe they did it there mostly because they could.

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