Mumbai attacks may spur closer US-India ties, says ex-official

December 7th, 2008 - 9:37 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Dec 7 (IANS) Describing India as a key ally in the war on terror, a former Pentagon official has suggested that the Mumbai terror attacks should spur president- elect Barack Obama to intensify strategic cooperation with New Delhi.”The carnage in Mumbai will prove a setback for jihadist extremists if it motivates the Obama team to intensify strategic cooperation with India, and helps initiate a proper strategy to defeat our terrorist enemies ideologically,” wrote Douglas J. Feith, in an article in the Wall Syreet Journal.

Feith, who was undersecretary of defence for policy from July 2001 to August 2005, co-chaired US-India Defence Policy Group (DPG) set up as part of a strategic dialogue initiated after an April 2001 meeting between then External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh and President George W. Bush.

He is now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and author of “War and Decision.”

“The Bush administration has bolstered US homeland security and disrupted terrorist networks around the world through direct action against individual terrorists, the overthrow of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein regimes, pressure on terrorist finances, law enforcement, and intelligence cooperation with numerous foreign partners.

“But there is no denying that the administration has fallen down on the job of countering ideological support for terrorism,” Feith wrote.

“The president’s frequent talk of promoting democracy in the Muslim world is far short of a systematic, comprehensive effort to wage a battle of ideas against Al Qaeda and the jihadist movement generally,” he said.

Suggesting that Obama has a chance to build on sound Bush diplomacy, Feith said: “This is an area where President-elect Obama can make an important new contribution to national security.

“He can ask the State Department and intelligence community for formal strategies to counter radical Islamist ideology overtly and covertly and hold them to account for results,” he wrote.

The strategies could (1) identify, region by region, the key Muslim voices-individuals and institutions - for and against jihadist violence; (2) analyse their respective support networks and vulnerabilities; (3) develop US and multilateral courses of action to amplify anti-terrorist voices and to undermine the extremists; and (4) establish measures of success and track progress.

“A key to success would be the quality of US linkages with friendly foreign countries, like India, that share our interests and have relevant knowledge and capabilities,” Feith wrote.

Meanwhile, in an editorial Saturday, the New York Times said Pakistan’s government has fiercely denied any role in the terrorist attacks on Mumbai.

“But there are strong signs that the terrorists were members of the Pakistani-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba, a former proxy of Islamabad’s powerful intelligence service that - despite being officially banned - continues to operate in plain sight in Pakistan,” it said.

“India has so far shown extraordinary restraint. It will have to continue to do so as the investigation moves forward,” the Times noted. But “Pakistan, which has bounced between sympathy and bluster, must provide full cooperation - no matter where the investigation leads.”

“If the two countries are going to inch back from the brink, they will need strong support from the United States, China and others powers,” the influential daily said.

“These countries also must develop a strategy to strengthen Pakistan’s fragile civilian government and stop the country from becoming even more ungovernable,” it said adding, “that does not mean impunity for anyone involved in the Mumbai attacks.”

“It means that the leaders of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services must finally realize that the extremists pose a clear and present threat to their own country’s survival,” the Times said.

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