March 4, 2019

India/Pakistan Conflict

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

The political calendar and Trump's approach could give grounds for optimism. Kim, who has presided over a limited form of economic development inside North Korea, is under pressure to deliver improvements in the lives of his people… So he has an incentive to try to seek economic benefits or aid from the United States and wants punishing economic sanctions lifted — a potential opening for US negotiators… Kim must realize that his chances of basking in this kind of legitimacy with a US President other than Trump are slim. So if he fears Trump could lose in 2020, he may reason the time may be ripe for a deal. And Trump wants nothing more than a big diplomatic breakthrough months before the election.”
Stephen Collinson, CNN

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

“Not only did [Trump] attack the ‘squad,’ he managed to do it in a way in which no other prominent Democrat can continue to criticize them publicly, lest they be perceived as echoing the president’s contention that they should go back where they came from. At the exact moment the accusations and counter-accusations were set to do lasting damage, Trump just had to jump in and give them an attack that would unify them all. It often seems like Trump would rather have a bad news cycle that focuses on him than a beneficial news cycle that focuses on someone else… Everyone around the president can read a poll and knows that his rage-tweeting is a liability; it is perhaps the biggest liability in a presidency that, with prosperity and a perception of peace, ought to be comfortably cruising to reelection.”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“If Joe Biden can win his way through the primaries, he’s almost lab-engineered to beat Trump. He doesn’t cause Republican panic, he has the potential to connect with white working-class voters in a way that Hillary couldn’t in 2016, and he has a potential to connect better with black voters than Hillary did… if Biden emerges from [this] crucible, Trump will face a very different challenge than he faced in 2016.”
David French, National Review

“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

“The fans who avidly followed the men’s tournament certainly weren’t doing anything wrong. And it’s hard to argue that each of them had a moral obligation to be exactly as interested in women’s soccer. Even if we could stop them from watching the men more than the women, should we?…

“It’s tempting to answer that the fan choices aren’t innocent, they’re sexist. But since we can’t peek into their hearts, to say that definitively, we’d have to assume that men’s greater speed, strength and endurance definitely make nodifference to the sport’s quality. Fair enough, but then why do fans prefer to watch Megan Rapinoe play instead of the sedentary elderly who could presumably use some exercise? Alternatively, maybe pay should be equalized precisely because biology is unfair. But that seems to be an argument for curbing the pay of all top-level athletes, who have to hit the genetic lottery just to get on the field. It might be easier to focus on the distributions across society at large, rather than every individual industry, especially when fundamental biology is in play.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

On the bright side...

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