War on terror a long way off

The China Post news staff

The terrorist attacks in Mumbai on the eve of Thanksgiving are grim reminders that terrorism knows no national boundaries, and the war of terror must be a global effort needing close coordination and a unified and effective leadership. The well-organized attacks that took place Wednesday evening at 10 sites in India’s financial capital have left at least 125 dead and 327 wounded-one of the worst terrorist attacks in the world’s most populous democracy. They occurred in the city’s crowded and vulnerable places like five-star hotels, posh restaurants, railway station and a Jewish center. The attackers targeted foreigners, many of whom were held captive. While it was still unclear as to who was responsible for “India’s 9/11,” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said it involved “external forces.” Although the Indian prime minister did not name any country, analysts said he was referring to Pakistan, India’s long-time rival. Singh’s remarks may indicate that a recent sign of rapprochement between the two nuclear-armed countries could have been doused by the bloody attacks. Singh’s hint at the involvement of “external forces” is not unfounded. For one thing, the attackers targeted foreigners, especially Americans, Britons and Jews. This showed that the attacks were not motivated by religious conflicts between Pakistan, a Muslim country, and Hindu India. The attacks are also a setback for Mumbai’s dream to become an international financial center to rival Hong Kong and Singapore. India is an emerging economic giant in South Asia, and Mumbai is ambitious to become a financial capital in the region.

Singh said correctly that the attackers aimed to create panic and turmoil in India, which, along with China, is rising rapidly as an economic power to be reckoned with. It is a warning to the free world that it is so vulnerable to terrorism that it should pull together to battle this scourge. The world needs a unified anti-terror agency to take charge of the mission. India was completely in the dark prior to the surprise attack, much the same as America was caught off guard by 9/11. It was an abject failure of intelligence. Early this week, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a warning that al-Qaida may attack the rapid transit system of New York during Thanksgiving. The alert was useful, telling terrorists that New York was prepared. In this respect, George W. Bush, despite his failed presidency deserves credit for being able to prevent another 9/11 on U.S. homeland. This said, he also deserves condemnation for extraordinary rendition, Gitmo, waterboarding, wire tapping, etc. But Bush is a “war president” who wields extraordinary powers to protect his people during extraordinary times. His successor Barack Obama ” has vowed to do away with Bush’s way of treating terrorists. It remains to be seen whether being kinder to international terrorists would not jeopardize American national security.