Friday, October 06, 2006

Excerpts of the day

Every couple of months, I visit the Stimson Center's website. They usually have some pretty interesting analysis type stuff on South Asia, mainly due to the fact that they have Michael Krepon working there, who's one of the foremost experts on the region in the US. Today I happened upon a report, co-authored by Krepon, on the 10-month crisis in South Asia from the time the Indian Parliament was attacked (December 2001) to the time that troops were withdrawn (October 2002). During those months, as I'm sure you recall, we were a hair-trigger away from war, possibly nuclear war. This report proves it, and provides some chilling details of how close we really were. It also gives some interesting tidbits on the inner workings of diplomats and officials, like:
US Embassy Islamabad, preoccupied with the tasks associated with supporting OEF [Operation Enduring Freedom, the US military’s operation in Afghanistan], was more surprised than US Embassy Delhi by the December 13 [2001] attack on India’s Parliament. Colonel David Smith, the Army attaché, and Ambassador Chamberlin were in the office of the Inspector General of Pakistan’s Frontier Corps on December 13 when they learned of the attack. Their host had CNN on mute during the proceedings. As images of India’s parliament flashed onto the screen, he turned up the sound. Smith and Chamberlin asked for his reaction. “Oops,” the General replied.

The situation from late May [2002] onward appeared sufficiently bleak for the Pentagon to reexamine the effects of nuclear weapons’ use on the Subcontinent. One official vividly remembers interagency discussions at the Pentagon on evacuating the embassies and US nationals in the event of a nuclear exchange. The Subcontinent’s seasonal “plumology” was studied, and evacuation planning discussed in an “oddly bloodless” and analytical way. One Pentagon official recalls how daunting evacuation planning was for India, where a large contingent of American citizens resided. With grim irony, he noted that the safe haven for US nationals residing in Pakistan was to relocate to war-torn Afghanistan.

I strongly urge you to read all 34 pages. And next time someone tells you that it was all a game of brinksmanship, forward them the matter how smart that someone may be (yes, that includes you, Kenneth Waltz).

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