Speaking of military might, I was reminded of Mumbai and 26/11 recently, from a quote from Sunil Mukhi's blog -- "I used to be a liberal but now, after 26/11...". I find an amazing variety in the spectrum of opinion about 26/11 and what should be done, all from my own institute. Two extreme examples..
1. The only solution is to declare war on Pakistan. This involves bombing a few cities like Lahore and/or Karachi (with the assumption that the Pakistan Air Force is asleep on its watch and will do nothing). One can safely assume in such a scenario and with the kind of populations that Indian and Pakistani cities have, that with consequent retaliatory bombing by Pakistan, many 1000s will die in a single day. The argument for this action is that we are at war anyway with the jehadis and tens of thousands have been killed by them in the last two decades of so. This takes the war into their own house. The problem frankly is that the numbers that will die in a day will match or surpass the numbers killed in all the terrorist violence since the late 80s, almost all of them innocent civilians (in both cases). Somehow this seems to be of no consequence to the arm chair war purveyors. And after all this, there is very little likelihood that the jihadis and their ilk will, like the old Arab in the parable, fold their tents and steal silently away. The US has been at war in two places, and from the evidence, it has only succeeded in adding more volunteers to the jehadi cause.
2. The other extreme view (what I would call the Arundhati Roy point of view) is that it is all the fault of the Indian state -- Babri Masjib, 2002 Gujarat riots and so on and we are just reaping what we sowed. In other words, the terrorists bear no personal responsibility for their actions, in killing hundred of innocent bystanders, rich and poor, Hindus and Muslims alike. This despite the fact that the Mumbai terrorists had no Kashmir or Gujarat links, and were petty criminals earlier who were attracted to this job by the promise of money and/or the dream of everlasting life in heaven, on martyrdom.
Amusingly both viewpoints exist in my workplace. How can the same initial conditions give such widely differing views? Just shows that the same facts can give widely differing conclusions in the so-called social sciences -- quite different from the physical sciences, wouldn't you say....
Tailpiece: Here is an excellent account on why the Pakistan Government finds it so difficult to act against all these jehadi groups. The conclusion is sobering: President Zardari’s government, many had hoped, would dismantle the Pakistan that Zia-ul-Haq built — a Pakistan based on the dual primacy of the military and the mullah, resting on the pillars of religious chauvinism and hatred for India. If President Zardari’s handling of the fallout from the Mumbai carnage is any indication, the forces he represents have neither the will nor the resources to reverse history. Islamabad, post-Mumbai, isn’t in denial. It is simply driven by the reflexes imprinted by the history which gave birth to it.