December 8, 2008Foreign AffairsIndiajihadisPakistanSecurityterrorism

The J factor

The great unacknowledged strategic factor of our time

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

The morning after the terrorist attacks on Mumbai started, the better half of this strategic analyst declared that they did it because they were jealous.” In the feverish telephone conversations and email exchanges during that week, the J factor came up a few times. Now Ralph Peters (whose redesign of the map of Asia caused some excitement) points out that jealousy is the great unacknowledged strategic factor of our time.” (linkthanks: MS). Mr Peters argues

One of the grievances shared by Islamist extremists throughout the region and Pakistanis in general is jealousy of India’s remarkable progress from economic basket case to a sparkling center of yuppie consumerism…Apart from being the world’s largest (if raucous) democracy, India shares a trait with the United States that infuriates Islamists shamed by the abysmal failures of their own societies: India is a success story.[New York Post/Exile Street]

There were reports that Indian intelligence agencies had intercepts of celebrations in the ISI after Mumbai was attacked. Whether the celebrations were congratulatory or merely driven by schadenfreude, the existence of the J factor is palpable. Yet, the worse half of this strategic analyst finds it difficult to accept that jealousy can be the primary strategic motivation behind the attacks. If cast in realist terms, though, an acute concern over the pace of change of relative power” seems very plausible.

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