March 4, 2019

India/Pakistan Conflict

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

Hostilities escalated rapidly [between India and Pakistan] following a suicide car bombing on Feb. 14 that killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police in Indian-controlled Kashmir… Indian warplanes carried out air strikes on Tuesday inside northeast Pakistan’s Balakot… [and] Pakistan retaliated on Wednesday with its own aerial mission…

“The flare up appeared to be easing on Saturday after Pakistan handed back a captured Indian fighter pilot on Friday night.” Reuters

See past issues

From the Left

The left believes both countries share some responsibility for continued tensions in Kashmir, and urges them to reach a permanent peaceful resolution.

“What led that young Kashmiri man, Adil Ahmad Dar, to become a suicide bomber who brought South Asia to the brink of war?... Handlers from the Jaish-e-Muhammad, the Pakistani terrorist group behind the attack, exploited the young man raised in a pitiless war. But the structural violence and political repression in Kashmir are equally responsible for turning Mr. Dar into a weapon…

“His father told a reporter that he often spoke about the day a group of policemen stopped him on the way back from school and made him circle their vehicle while rubbing his nose on the ground. During mass protests in Kashmir in 2016, when Indian troops killed about 100 protesters and blinded several hundred, Mr. Dar was shot in his leg… India and Pakistan blame each other, each country obsessed with proving itself better than the other, but they share the responsibility for reducing Kashmir to a ruin and destroying generations of Kashmiri lives.”
Basharat Peer, New York Times

“Pakistani officials are unwilling or unable to challenge the violent sway of underground, anti-India groups… Jaish was banned in 2002 after it attempted to assassinate the country’s military ruler at the time, Pervez Musharraf. But prosecutors and judges have been reluctant to aggressively pursue or punish militant leaders because of their religious influence and military ties.”
Pamela Constable, Washington Post

Nevertheless, India’s use of air power inside Pakistan for the first time since 1971 “represents a major departure from existing norms of engagement between the two sides… The model of America's operation against Osama-bin-Laden — daring, precise, effective — was hard for Indian leaders to resist. Indeed, to do so given that America used it to such good effect against a similar adversary residing in the same country would have been an admission of impotence… [But] having now upped the ante, India is going to have a hard time dialing back its future response

“Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan… has counseled calm and, in a show of maturity and goodwill, [returned] the Indian pilot captured from an attack plane that Pakistan downed. However, it is unclear if Khan or his successors will be able to maintain such composure if India makes a habit of encroaching on Pakistani sovereignty to hunt down terrorists.”
Shikha Dalmia, The Week

“The nuclear-armed rivals have been here before, many times, and the fact that they’re now in yet another conflict can mean only one thing: that their past actions haven’t worked for either country – and most definitely not for Kashmir. It is time for the two states to give up their intransigent positions.”
Mirza Waheed, The Guardian

“Koch’s principles were not purely partisan. He supported same-sex marriage and abortion rights and believed in the value of free trade and humane immigration policies. He reviled the war on drugs and pushed, quite successfully, for criminal justice and prison reform…

“He gave $100 million to New York-Presbyterian Hospital; $150 million to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; tens of millions to the Hospital for Special Surgery. Another $100 million went toward renovating the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center. Another $65 million, to restore the fountains and plaza outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Another $20 million, to the Museum of Natural History. Much of what Koch’s legacy was will be argued over for decades, as it should be. Some of it will deliver aid, comfort and enrichment to people who care not one whit about the name on the hospital wing or museum wall.”
Editorial Board, New York Daily News

Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right criticizes Pakistan’s support for terrorists and worries about the potential for future escalation.

From the Right

The right criticizes Pakistan’s support for terrorists and worries about the potential for future escalation.

The underlying problem here is that Pakistan won't stop supporting terrorist attacks on Indian soil. Although recent former Pakistan army chief Raheel Sharif and the former head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Naveed Mukhtar showed true leadership taking the fight to terrorists on their soil, powerful cabals of the mid-senior ranks of the security establishment are constantly acting to restrain these efforts.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

“The time has come to cut Islamabad loose and recognize Pakistan for what it is: a state sponsor of terrorism… Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, tips off jihadists in Afghanistan and elsewhere to help them avoid U.S. actions… [and] provided safe haven to the Taliban and other jihadists…

“India, in contrast, is the most natural of U.S. allies, and not only or even principally because of its robust democracy and increasingly global economy. The facts on the ground are this: India is a country with China on one side and a world of bloody-minded jihadists on the other; its two most consequential foreign-policy variables are also our own.”
Kevin Williamson, National Review

Some, however, point out that India’s “airstrikes are more likely to embolden Pakistan’s army than force its hand. The army’s credibility rests on a narrative that sees Pakistan as under permanent threat from its belligerent Hindu neighbor. This case fits the narrative like a glove: an oppressed Kashmiri Muslim kills 40 Indian occupying soldiers, and India wrongly blames Pakistan…

“The airstrikes’ intended audience, given their foreseeable limited costs on Pakistan’s military, was thus most likely commentators in Delhi and voters… [By that interpretation], the airstrikes were a success. In their aftermath, an editorial in the influential Times of India praised Modi for making it ‘amply clear to Pakistan that it will hit back quickly and impose costs,’ while Bollywood stars flooded Twitter with nationalist messages.”
Max Frost, American Enterprise Institute

Many predict that “the next India-Pakistan crisis will be worse… Having demonstrated they are comfortable engaging in increasingly provocative uses of military force under the nuclear umbrella, they will have an incentive in the future to go up a few more rungs on the escalatory ladder to try to achieve goals that couldn’t be achieved further down that ladder…

“If New Delhi wants to pressure Pakistan into rethinking its decision to provide support to India-focused terrorists, then it will need to turn to measures more muscular than a few airstrikes. Likewise, if Islamabad wants to pressure India into rethinking its policies in Kashmir, it too will need to turn to something more aggressive than a few airstrikes.”
Michael Kugelman, The National Interest

“Democrats spent more than two years talking about Russia, Russia, Russia seven days per week. It was their way of keeping the story in the news in the hopes that it would eventually bring down Trump. Now that the Russia thing has blown up in their faces, they need to trot out a new totem to raise against the President and the magic word is impeachment… This isn’t about actually impeaching Donald Trump. This is a strategy to have people hearing the word impeachment associated with Trump on a daily basis to give the impression that he’s going to crumble any day now. And they need to keep that going until next November.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“Why did Modi pick this moment to do something so radical? Violence in Kashmir had been trending downwards for the last year, after all. The main reason, besides President Donald Trump's alarming offer to mediate a settlement, is that he wanted a distraction from India's mounting economic woes. India's GDP growth dropped from over 8 percent to 5.8 percent over the last year, and it is widely expected to dip further. Just as ominous has been the crash in consumer demand. India's usual problem has been an insufficient supply to meet its voracious appetite for vehicles, cell phones, and other similar goods. But sales figures for all consumer goods have posted a precipitous decline, slamming businesses that are dramatically scaling back investments.”
Shikha Dalmia, Reason

On the bright side...

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