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MUMBAI ATTACKS November 27, 2008

Posted by wmmbb in South Asia.

Over a hundred peope have been killed, and it appears that Westerners have been selected as hostages in the “al Qaeda”- style attacks on Mumbai today. AP has the report (via Juan Cole):

The coordination of the attacks suggests planning. Planning implies preparation and training. On the balance of probabilities the people involved have probably come from within India, stories of rubber boats not withstanding, and presumably by conventional means of transport. There would seem to be connections with external groups, and that suggests Pakistan and/or Afghanistan.  Should Westerners prove to the object of the attack, there might be a further implication of blowback, from for example indiscriminate attacks and murder of families in Afghanistan.

We can expect ramped up rhetoric in the immediate aftermath, rather than careful and considered analysis. If this action has been planned, what is next?


Time may be necessary to get these events in perspective. The perpetrators seem to have been Muslim, which is excludes motives arising from inequality and poverty, as real as that violence is in reality.(The implications of global warming on the river societies on South and South East Asia does not bear thinking about). Juan Cole has some thoughts on the event:

Muslims are 13 percent of the Indian population. I lived in India for a couple of years, and my perception is that mostly people get along fine. There are Hindu-Muslim tensions (but so are there tensions between lower and upper caste Hindus, or between southerners and northerners, between Hindus and Christians, etc.), and occasionally they boil over. But aside from a relatively small number of Hindutva fanatics on the one side, and tiny Muslim terrorist groups in Kashmir (e.g.) on the other, there isn’t normally a big problem.

It would help if President-elect Obama would follow through on his stated commitment to finally getting a resolution of the Kashmir issue, since it generates a lot of the tensions.

CNN is reporting that two of the terrorists may have been Britons of South Asian heritage (about half of UK Muslims are originally from Kashmir). If true, that datum would make sense of some of the tactics used in Mumbai (concentration on Americans, British and Israelis or Jews), since many young British Muslims view Anglo-American actions in Iraq and Afghanistan as a genocide against Muslims, and Israeli actions in Gaza and the West Bank as a slow genocide against Palestinians. In their fevered imagination, Hindu India is an ally in this generalized persecution of a harmless and righteous community.

In fact, the ruling Congress Party generally attracts the Muslim vote and in turn New Delhi does favors for the Muslims.

My suspicion is that a US withdrawal from Iraq will lead to fewer such incidents (The Iraq War was cited by the perpetrators of the bombings in Madrid and 7/7 in London, and it is probably implicated in this one too. Fallujah is a rallying cry).

The moral is that the corporate media cannot be relied upon to either reliably report the news or to understand its significance. Too extreme? Crazy. Consider Glenn Greenwald’s observations on the most Orwellian editorial of the decade written by The New York Times.



1. Judith Ellis - November 28, 2008

Such acts of death and destruction anger me greatly. It is during such times that I have to be especially reminded of the message of love and peace. During such times I wonder about turning the other cheek. My natural reaction would be to realiate. But I seek to respond beyond instincts. Sometimes I am successful; other times I am not. “Be angry, but sin not.” Christ was by far a greater being than me. I press, nevertheless, continuously.

2. wmmbb - November 28, 2008

Martin Luther King reported to the effect that we turned our anger into constructive ends.

Secondly, people who do just things such as we see in this example. The perpetrators have worked out in their minds a justification for their actions, often when their anger gets the better of them. Incidentally, in my view, that is why justice in terms of access, process and outcome, is important for everybody without exception.

At the very least it is useful to have commendation from Islamic authorities, but who they might be, and what influence they have I am not sure. There is I suspect a cult environment that surrounds the participants in these activities.

Jesus Christ probably has directions about forgiving people, and when that should happen.

The deeper question is what purpose people have for their lives. There again that is a place where we all have a role and responsibility, even if we are limited in what we can actually do.

Such is my understanding of nonviolence.

By the way, Judith, I think you are very right about with regard to your practice of acts of kindness to people.

3. Judith Ellis - November 28, 2008

Thank you much for your words, wmmbb. They are helpful indeed, reminding me of purpose and personal responsibility. Forever forward…

4. Hussein - December 1, 2008

I also agree that love and peace is the way forward . However the killing machines take human lives be it State terror or from individuals . Violence is to be abhorred at all costs . However war is encouraged and more weapons are being manufactured as we write this . The logical question to violence is what is the motive to murder ? And once the murder is committed , who is blameworthy ? Was 911 masterminded by muslims ? is this a proven fact ? or is it a geussing game ?

5. wmmbb - December 1, 2008

I agree that violence and war does not work, in the sense or providing a better outcome for all human beings. Equally, because a minority or an individual engages in murder, should not condemn the whole population. It is important not to dehumanize people, even those who commit moral crimes.

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