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Quick Thoughts on the Current Situation Between Indian and Pakistan

February 27, 2019 15 comments

While “mainstream news” outlets in USA are focusing on the political theater surrounding Michael Cohen’s testimony and Trump’s latest brain-farts.. I mean tweets.. half a world away something of considerably more potential consequence is occurring right now. It all started about a couple of weeks ago when an Islamic suicide bomber driving a vehicle IED crashed into a bus full of Indian internal security forces in Kashmir, killing 40-42. At that time, the Indian government responded by condemning the attack and promising a suitable reprisal. Many establishment commentators in the west and their gungadin helpers, who pretend to be “India experts”, loudly proclaimed that India would not retaliate against Pakistan or do something small and localized.

As it turned out, they were wrong and after Indian warplanes crossed the international boundary in the early morning hours of 26th February and bombed a few training camps in Pakistan- as opposed to limiting themselves to targets in PoK. The Indian government claimed that about 300 people were killed, while its Pakistani equivalent denied it- as usual. We will find out what went down once pre- an post- strike satellite imagery of those sites is released. However, it is almost certain that they hit the designated targets with the precision guided munitions used during that attack. Anyway.. this penetration of Pakistani airspace made the PAF look kinda incompetent. So they decided to make a half-hearted attempt to drop some bombs on Indian territory.

As it turns out, they were challenged by many Indian aircraft and the PAF beat a hasty retreat after releasing their accordance on apparently uninhabited land. It also appears that there was a dogfight involving a Mig-21 and F-16 in which the Mig-21 shot down the former before being hit my either ground fire or SAM from the Pakistani side. Long story short, the F-16 as well as Mig-21 crashed on the Pakistani side of the border. While we do not know whether the pilot of that PAF F-16 is alive or dead, the Indian pilot was captured. Oh ya.. and there a helicopter crash (on takeoff) about 50 km from the border inside India. Of course, the Pakistani establishment, true to its form, started making up stories which were uncritically published by western “news” media.

So how will this potential conflict turn out? Well.. for starters I am not going to bore you with irrelevant bullshit about how both countries have nuclear weapons. Some might think that this is an odd thing to say, but as you will soon find out- nuclear weapons are, at best, peripheral to how things will turn out. In my opinion, the real factors driving this conflict and its potential outcomes have much more to do with political and other assessments by both sides rather than the dread of nuclear weapons. Moreover, as you will also see, the ground realities are not what people in the west, especially “credentialed” white people claiming to be experts, believe. Then again, why should it be surprising that people who were certain HRC was going to win in 2016 might also be wrong about a conflict between two countries on other side of the world.

So let me begin by stating the obvious..

1] The sheer size of India, its armed forces and resources available to it make any attempt by Pakistan to invade its territory highly suicidal- and this is a lesson which Pakistan has learned the hard way in past conflicts. In a full-scale war, India simply has vastly more people and stuff to throw at the problem than Pakistan. Similarly, India has no real desire to invade and occupy Pakistan, let one integrate it into itself, because almost nobody in India wants 200 million more Muslims within the Indian nation-state. So what do Indian military strategists dream about wrt Pakistan. Well.. they would like to dismember it into smaller pieces and maybe destroy their nuclear weapons- which leads us to the issue of how nuclear weapons might affect this conflict.

2] As some of you might know, India has a No-First-Use policy for nuclear weapons, or at least has said so in 2003. But over the years, things appear to have changed a lot and many senior bureaucrats have creatively interpreted that policy to not covering an imminent attack by another nuclear weapons state- which is a fancy way of saying that NFU policy is NFU in name only. In other words, India has made it clear that it will use nukes first (specifically to target the Pakistani nuclear arsenal) if it feels that Pakistan will use its own weapons. More importantly, India posses both the accurate nuclear missiles and space reconnaissance capability necessary to pull of a preemptive nuclear counterstrike. Will they get them all? No, but they don’t have to.

3] Here is the thing about having a couple of hundred nuclear weapons. Concentrating them at a handful of storage locations on land makes them kinda vulnerable- especially if your opponent has accurate nuclear missiles which can fly in unusual trajectories. Getting even 70-80% of them or the missiles used to launch them is enough to remove most of the threat. And given the escalation ladder inherent in an overtly nuclear conflict, it is likely that India might decide that a preemptive nuclear counterstrike is worth the risk once the conflict goes past a certain point. But how could this scenario occur? Aren’t Indians supposed to be cowardly lotus eaters who will meekly turn the other cheek and try to sue for peace?

4] A lot of white “credentialed experts” and their faithful brown flunkies in the west seem to think that nothing much has changed in India over the past five years. They are certain that India will respond in exactly the same self-defeating restrained manner it did in 1999 and 2009. But things have changed in more ways than the obvious one. See.. Modi is the first full-term PM of India who was born after 1947. Unlike previous occupants of that office, who grew up before partition, he has no affinity for the idea of dealing with Pakistan in a self-defeating “civilized” manner. Also, there is a general election within next 3 months and the popularity of his political party is not especially high, right now. In other words, he has a strong incentive to escalate this conflict.

5] Some of you might wonder why previous conflicts of this nature (for example 1999 and 2009) did not go as far as this one. Well.. the answer lies in the white-worshiping nature of past Indian political leadership. To make a long story short, previous Indian leaders were so craven for praise and pretend-acceptance from white men wearing expensive suits that they were eager and willing to sacrifice the interest of their people to ‘look good for the whites’. You might remember another series of posts where I described them as brown people who think they are honorary whites. Modi is somewhat different. While he certainly would enjoy being praised and accepted by whites, he also understands from his stuff is illusory. And then there is the issue of how his administration is structured or differently structured from previous ones.

6] For many reasons beyond the scope of this post, almost every politician in that administration other than Modi, Shah and a couple of others has no power over administrative decisions. This is a big departure from previous administration where every half-literate elected political weasel tried to influence every decision they could- usually to make money but often simply to assert themselves- which is another way to saying that decisions in this administration are usually made by tenured bureaucrats and administrators (who while corrupt, are nowhere as blindingly stupid and dysfunctional as the political class). That is why the decisions made by this administration, even the bad ones, are far more coherent than their predecessors.

So what does all of this mean as far as future developments in this conflict are concerned? Well.. for starters, Modi will take this much farther than any previous Indian prime minister. He kinda has to do that and also has the capability. Far more importantly, all major decisions are going to be made by administrators and bureaucrats with almost no interference from the incompetent political types. Now this could be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. What it does however mean is that western pressure will have little effect (especially compared to past occasions) on how India escalates this conflict. And ya.. if nukes start flying, they will start flying very quickly- rather than follow some “ladder of escalation”.

What do you think? Comments?