Carlos will start this post with a whinge-that's-really-not-one. He was all set to enjoy the Thanksgiving tradition of American college football (and being an Oklahoma alum, the weekend's games all had great implications for him). But sometime Friday night, while checking on sports scores, he saw "Mumbai shootings" and right then and there knew that this would not be a football weekend.
So no, Carlos did not see the games. He's been reading the websites. He just saw the Oklahoma/Oklahoma State highlights about an hour ago for the first time. And yes, he's resentful.
But no, this isn't really a "poor Carlos, he missed a game because of a horrific tragedy." It's the chronic problem, he'll assert, of anyone who has an interest, be it academic, policy/politic, or whatever, in issues of political violence. The problem is twofold: the first is obvious, life doesn't stop. The bad guys keep moving. The second one is harder to see at times, and for Carlos the most frustrating of issues. It's the tendency of "others" (we'll call them the laity for lack of a better term) to assume that one enjoys
when tragedy strikes, that "staying in business" is what this is all about.
ASIDE: Two days after 9/11, Carlos went back to work. A "well-meaning" colleague came upon Carlos and patted him on the shoulder. "Guess you'll be working now for the next twenty years, pal." (Carlos is generally thankful there were no witnesses to what followed, and that no charges were pressed).
Okay, out of third person here. I would gladly get out of the business and go teach "Realism vs. Idealism" and "How a Bill Becomes a Law" to uninterested undergraduates who have no idea how this matters to them. I'd love to be able to do that because the other issues have gone away, but they haven't, and won't, not for a while, if ever. So if I've still got some things to teach to people that have to stand the watch for the rest of us, then I'll be here. I want to be watching the game because I'm out of business, but I want to be out of business because we all got it right.
When Charlie first asked me to post, one of the first things she said was, "watch the comments. Try not to get caught up." Still, to see AM get accused of making light of the deaths at Mumbai, to have the blog accused of "sympathy" for terrorists (quick note: Understanding is NOT sympathy. Getting inside the head of the adversary isn't always Stockholm), yeah, I read too many comments this weekend.
And I've gone on long and only barely mentioned Mumbai, so here are some other notes (putting the nom de guerre back on):
Carlos has liked the BBC's coverage found here
. And especially their timeline
of events. He respectfully disagrees with the Namesake that Tennessee would have done much better on these 10 (the BBC report suggests 15 individuals now). Carlos would argue that would more likely have upped the casualty count. The attackers were generally systematic in their carnage. They could have killed a lot more, much faster. This suggests that they were either (1) actually planning some type of escape (as one report suggests evidence of); or (2) the plan was carried out as intended--a days+ long campaign rather than a spree killing.
For obvious reasons to readers here, India's priorities with CT have always
been with the military, but their police
functions have been much weaker. The police are of course, the real front line for events like this. For Americans, think Columbine. Think Viriginia Tech. For Australians, think Port Arthur. Militaries don't respond to these events. Even with a "lot" of people with (legal) concealed weapons, once you get to either a school or a luxury hotel like the Taj, first thing sensible management would probably do is have you check weapons at the door (or metal detectors, though Carlos doubts that's the image a hotel wants to have). And it is clear the attackers knew the hotel, most especially the back passageways and service areas (Carlos used to work in the hotel industry, the things patrons don't see....). It will be interesting to see how that information got passed, whether one of the attackers used to work in the hotels, or whether the information was passed from an employee. The open secret of India's economy is of course the large number of Pakistanis, Nepalis, and Bangladeshis who come in for employment. (Border security beyond J&K for India is not the highest of priorities, and the potential threat of some illegal migrants is generally seen as offset by the economic benefit that the majority of these workers provide. *Insert obligatory US-Mexico parallel here*).
India is now discussing a national security body for these kinds of events, but it's really about (all together now) Interagency Cooperation.
The attackers came in from the sea after taking over a fishing trawler that had left a little under two weeks earlier. Indian Coast Guard is unlikely to have been able to stop/search every ship coming in, especially since the attackers came in to the beach on small boats.
What security forces/police might
have interdicted may have been the weapons stockpiles (though Carlos expects ironically that the American Second-Amendment-ers might have protested a preemptive takedown based solely on the gun stockpile). (NOTE: Carlos does not know offhand the gun control laws in India).
UPDATE: It seems gun control is quite tight in India as written, so a preemptive takedown of the stockpiles, had they been found, could have happened. The report on how the weapons got in and from where, etc, will be interesting to see, but again, border security in India is incredibly difficult (understatement off).
The knee-jerk Indian reaction is to blame Pakistan, of course (and hell, those reactions happen because they've generally worked well in the past). Carlos doubts "official" connections between the attackers and Pakistan/ISI, though "rogue" elements are certainly possible. If the reports that the attackers were members of Lashkar-e-Toiba pan out, then there are very likely personal ties between LeT members and individuals with government connections. Very interestingly, a report
discusses the possibility that westerners were targeted specifically. Confirmation of that allegation will definitely change the profile. The attack may have been in
India, but the attackers may have been going for a larger goal than simply the Subcontinent.