Manmohan Singh verrucosus

India’s do-nothing response to terrorism may well be right.

What’s the response of the government of India to the Bombay/Mumbai train bombings? Essentially mild words of reproof to Pakistan, and uplifting sentiments. Here’s a blogger who thinks Prime Minister Singh should be a real man and join a grand war on Islamic terrorism; but it isn’t happening.

There are surely contingent reasons for this passivity – India’s 130 million Muslims, the volatile mess in Kashmir itself and the Pakistani atom bomb would probably be enough.

Or it may just be common sense. The null response of doing nothing is a very strong policy if you can stomach it. It denies the terrorists their prime aim of hijacking the agenda. You can’t coerce people who won’t pay attention. India may be culturally favourable ground for this. But Republican Rome was even more gung-ho than the modern USA or Israel; and it was saved from Hannibal because it elected the iron-hard Quintus Fabius Maximus as dictator, on a platform of strictly passive defence and delay. Fabius cunctando restituit rem.

Look for a presidential candidate with warts.

PS I’m off for three weeks visiting my now exotic homeland. Keep the reality principle flying!

Author: James Wimberley

James Wimberley (b. 1946, an Englishman raised in the Channel Islands. three adult children) is a former career international bureaucrat with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. His main achievements there were the Lisbon Convention on recognition of qualifications and the Kosovo law on school education. He retired in 2006 to a little white house in Andalucia, His first wife Patricia Morris died in 2009 after a long illness. He remarried in 2011. to the former Brazilian TV actress Lu Mendonça. The cat overlords are now three. I suppose I've been invited to join real scholars on the list because my skills, acquired in a decade of technical assistance work in eastern Europe, include being able to ask faux-naïf questions like the exotic Persians and Chinese of eighteenth-century philosophical fiction. So I'm quite comfortable in the role of country-cousin blogger with a European perspective. The other specialised skill I learnt was making toasts with a moral in the course of drunken Caucasian banquets. I'm open to expenses-paid offers to retell Noah the great Armenian and Columbus, the orange, and university reform in Georgia. James Wimberley's occasional publications on the web

5 thoughts on “Manmohan Singh verrucosus”

  1. James – Thanks for commenting on my blog on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. I am afraid your contention that no action is strong policy doesnt hold water for the following reasons:
    – No action over the years has emboldened various terrorist elements in India and their sponsors abroad to sustain their campaign for over 2 decades now
    – No action is what has allowed the military-fundamentalist axis of power in Pakistan to sustain low intensity conflict in India and Afghanistan to keep itself in business.
    So while it maybe wishful thinking to believe that no action denies the terrorists the relish of hijacking the agenda, the fact of the matter however is that no action has imperiled the very fundamentals of the agenda, let alone it being hijacked one way or the other.
    As far as the naive belief that the Indian Government's passivity draws itself from a platform of strength goes, the pronouncements of the Indian PM in the last 2 days have blown that to bits. Passive Defence and delay have been official policy not so much so by design but sheer political compulsion in the Indian Sub-Continent. It has not defeated terror it has emboldened it with the lack of vigilance and a carte blanche to strike at will and draw the State to the negotiating table only to draw further succour from time to time. So my advise to you is while Gandhi showed the way for Martin Luther King dont expect Singh to show the way to a Bush or a Clinton.

  2. on a platform of strictly passive defence and delay. And then later in the war they landed in Africa and fought a pitched battle. Then, in the next war with Carthage they destroyed the city, sold the population to slavery and salted the Earth. I don't think your analogy means what you think it means.

  3. When Hitler invaded Poland, he was confident that Britain and France would continue their policy of appeasement and broker a peace deal.

  4. Yes, India is not willing to risk nuclear war over the terrorist attacks at this time, and Pakistan has been emboldened by that. We should hope that India doesn't decide that a couple of nukes aren't enough at some point. Heaven knows that the US and USSR never had any close calls with less provocation….
    Since Iran already funds vast terrorist activties, I shudder to think how they will act after they get nuclear weapons.

  5. Actually, it should not be Manmohan Singh verrucosus, but "Prime Minister Verrucosus". The latest bombings in Mumbai are only the most recent such event in the last fifteen years. However, the present response (in various forms of rhetoric) has been the one preferred by all the recent governments. In a certain sense, it is the most parsimonious policy, since a more aggressive and militaristic policy would simply involve more headaches. For example, a successful invasion of all or part of Pakistan would mean that governing the invaded lands and cleaning up the political and terrorist nightmare that most of Pakistan has become, would be India's responsibility. The taking up of such a responsibility does not gain much for India.
    However, even such a policy has its limits, and Indian patience is not infinite. So an eventuality might arise when the Govt of India is forced into a more aggressive posture.

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