Monday, December 01, 2008

Welcome to the War on Terror

Mumbai attacks open new theatre in War on Terror

With the Mumbai terror attacks having reached their tragic conclusion, it finally seems safe to comment.

The Mumbai attacks are sobering in their implications. With up to 155 dead -- including at least two Canadians -- the War on Terror has clearly opened a new front in one of the world's most populated countries.

The attacks were carried out with frightening precision. In less than an hour, Mariman House, Leopold's Cafe, the Taj Mahal Hotel, the Oberon Trident Hotel, the Cama Hospital, and the Chatrapati Shivaji railway station were under attack. It would take three days to bring the attack to a halt.

If anything, the Mumbai attacks demonstrates the importance of dealing with domestic terrorism. The Deccan Mujahadeen and the Students Islamic Movement of India who have been accused of jointly planning and executing the attack were previously identified as responsible for bombings in Uttar Pradesh.

Even if the Deccan Mujahadeen were operating out of Pakistan, the Mumbai attacks were made possible by India's failure to deal with the organization within its own borders.

India and Pakistan clearly have common interests in tackling the Deccan Mujahadeen. Yet these attacks are far too likely to increase the tensions between the two countries -- tensions that are already perennially preoccupied with the contentious Kashmir region.

But the terrifying events in Mumbai has also presented Canada with an opportunity. While difficult, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon now has the opportunity to crack open the Chretien-era handbook on Mission Diplomacy and help negotiate a tripartite security agreement between India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The goals of this agreement should be to harmonize their efforts and strategies in approaching the security threat posed by the tumultuous regions of western Pakistan.

The second front of the Canadian response to the Mumbai attacks should be to push for the British Commonwealth to provide military aid to the three countries in pacifying the region.

As a prominent member of the Commonwealth, Canada has an opportunity to lead the Commonwealth in an area where it has nothing short of a responsibility to respond.

One can only hope that Lawrence Cannon is keeping an eye on this pivotal opportunity while naturally keeping the other eye on the survival of his government. Furthermore, one can only hope that Cannon is prepared to mix an aggressive, muscular foreign policy stance with the mission diplomacy approach favoured by the Chretien-era Liberals.

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