December 7, 2008 ☼ Foreign Affairs ☼ jihadis ☼ media ☼ Mumbai ☼ Pakistan ☼ Security ☼ terrorism ☼ Western media
This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.
It is certainly not easy for professional analysts, leave alone television-friendly commentators and editorial writers, to offer solutions to the central problem—what are we to do with Pakistan? So many take the lazy way out by inserting the word “Kashmir” somewhere in their answer. As V Anantha Nageswaran wrote in his rejoinder to a Financial Times editorial, it is as if jihadi terrorists would suddenly stop attacking India if only Kashmir were to be handed over to them. No, they don’t even bother to read the manifesto of the Lashkar-e-Taiba. If they do, they’d know that the Lashkar-e-Taiba has enough on its wish-list to make the “solve Kashmir and make the problem go away” line appear more than a little ridiculous. But they don’t, so they avoid appear ridiculous to themselves.
Thankfully, there are some good men who expose this intellectual fraud. Like David Aaronovitch of the London Times who asks why the terrorists had to target a Jewish centre, and torture and kill Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, his wife and their unborn child if it was about Kashmir. Mark Steyn (linkthanks Harsh Gupta) echoes this argument.
And Tom Gross, who takes a number of media outlets—many of them British—to the cleaners for indulging in grotesque contortions of common sense to avoid using the term jihadis and terrorists. Among those Mr Gross exposes is British TV anchor Jon Snow who deserves a pride of place in it for calling the terrorists “practitioners”.
While most editorialists and op-ed writers hovered between the banal and the callous, Greg Sheridan, Thomas Friedman and Fareed Zakaria provided the most useful insights. Mr Sheridan (linkthanks: ST) leads the pack, because he accurately points out that “modern terrorism is not so much the emergence of non-state actors on to the strategic field but, rather, the latest refinement of state power, giving the option of state military and terrorist action with plausible, or at least politically useful, deniability.” The solution that both Mr Friedman and Mr Zakaria offer—that it’s up to the Pakistani people to realise the danger and drive the necessary change—might inspire some hope, but does not inspire much confidence.
Related Link: Niranjan Rajadhyaksha posted a roundup of editorials from foreign newspapers on his blog last week.
Update: A good piece in NYT by Patrick French (linkthanks: Mohib); and Bill Kristol was one of the first to call it right.
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