Military Temptations

Military Temptations

Nayan Chanda
Wednesday, December 5, 2001

Writing in India's respected newspaper the Hindu, one of its leading writer Malini Parthasarathy warns against copycat moves by other countries fighting "terrorism" in the belief that strong military action will solve their problems. Such policy may cost the US little, she says, but it will devastate South Asia.

A day earlier Times of India (December 5) reported that following the third meeting of the India-US Defence Policy Group in New the two countries have agreed on joint 'counter-terrorism' efforts. The paper said "In one of the clearest formal indications of just how close India has drawn to the US in the post-September 11 scenario, the two countries on Tuesday said they "share strategic interests in Asia and beyond" and that they would undertake not just joint counter-terrorism initiatives but also "counter-proliferation efforts".

In her column in the Hindu Parthsarathy writes: "As a result of the terrorist attacks in Washington and New York on September 11, the logic of retaliation has now stretched to accommodate the concept of allowing a locus standi for the original victim-state (the U.S.) to become the arbiter of destinies in a country thousands of miles away on the ground that it had ``harboured'' and ``supported'' the original attackers. That the U.S. is able to have the world accept this logic is an indication of its own global dominance. But it is a precedent that countries like Israel with adventurist and expansionist designs of its own find irresistible.. ...it is unlikely that there will be a replay of the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation [in South Asia] , given that if such an attempt is ever made by India, the threat of nuclear retaliation by Pakistan remains a formidable deterrent. But the more worrying point is that as a consequence of the American military campaign in Afghanistan and the international campaign against terror, a host of giddy and self-deluding notions of grandeur have surfaced in their wake. Governments facing similar terrorist challenges, whether in India, Sri Lanka or Israel now have the temptation to solve these problems militarily, avoiding the more protracted yet more enduring processes of political negotiations. These delusions of grandeur which might cost a global power such as America relatively little in the long run would however devastate civil societies such as ours. Sri Lanka is a painful and tragic example of such destruction. "

Copyright 2002 Yale University

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