The U.S. finds itself in the difficult position this weekend of having two nations that it has constructive relations with on the verge of a possible military conflict with each other. In the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attacks most likely launched by militants from Pakistan bases, the public and voters in India are pressuring the government to take some sort of a military response against suspected militant bases that operate in border Pakistan that this government has so far done very little to control.
The stakes in this situation are tremendous. The Indian government would like to launch some limited surgical strikes into Pakistan attacking these militant bases, however the result could well mean a fourth war between the two nuclear powers. And the entire situation could also make Pakistan even less cooperative in regards to Afghanistan, only increasing the safe havens that Osama Bin Laden and his followers as well as other militants use in Pakistan to plan worldwide terrorist activities.
The Mumbai terrorist attacks were a huge success of terrorists forces to cast a shadow far larger than themselves. They have managed to put India and Pakistan in difficult straits right now, and have possibly put the two nations on the brink of open warfare. And when public anger built in India for the government to do something, then it only helps to inspire political demagoguery to take some action, even if that is entirely the wrong answer, merely to satisfy a growing mob mentality within the public. Cooler heads need to prevail.
The government of Pakistan really needs to persuade India that it will take action against radicals on it's own. However, this government seems to always act weakly against lawless terrorists out of fear and public support for these radicals, so any meaningful action by Pakistan is both unlikely and unlikely to satisfy India as well. If anything, the government of Pakistan is always good at caving-in to terrorists.
All of this only leaves these two nations in a difficult situation this weekend, where no one is happy,everyone nervous, and both countries have nuclear weapons and military strengths strong enough to do substantial damage to each other. The U.S. and China both need some quick diplomacy to keep the peace in this region before it all tips out of control.
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