Strike up the band. On Friday, two days after the massacres began, President Bush and President-elect Obama crept out from behind their spokespersons and delivered statements condemning the carnage in Mumbai and expressing sympathy for the victims.
Bush did a little better than Obama in his choice of adjective to describe the attacks. For Bush it was "horrific;" Obama contented himself with "outrageous." But at least both spoke up instead of leaving it to others to speak on their behalf, as they did initially.
And on Saturday, as he returned to the White House from Camp David, President Bush even managed to squeeze out a few words about Mumbai to the press gathered on the South Lawn. The speech has been called "brief" -- it was two minutes in length -- but I would describe it as terse:
On behalf of all Americans, Laura and I extend our condolences to those suffering from the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. We mourn those who lost their lives, including American citizens. We pray that the injured will recover. We pledge the full support of the United States as India investigates these attacks, brings the guilty to justice, and sustained its democratic way of life. [...]Better than nothing. On November 27 Wretchard proffered an explanation for the -- er, outrageous -- reticence on the part of Bush and Obama to speak for themselves and to speak with force:
The killers who struck this week are brutal and violent, but terror will not have the final word. People of India are resilient. People of India are strong. They have built a vibrant, multiethnic democracy that can withstand this trial. Their financial capital of Mumbai will continue to be the center of commerce and prosperity.
The leaders of India can know that nations around the world support them in the face of this assault on human dignity. And as the people of the world's largest democracy recover from these attacks, they can count on the world's oldest democracy to stand by their side.
Thank you very much. May God bless the people of India.
[...] This I think, is because the LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba], the ISI or whoever else turns out to be behind the attack on Mumbai has an unreported hostage in play. That hostage is US operations in Afghanistan and cooperation in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. As most people now realize, the logistics for the Afghanistan flow through Pakistan. And since the US can’t cross the border openly, they must rely on Pakistani proxies to do a lot of the heavy lifting. [...]I learned from a Long War Journal report yesterday that LeT, as with al Qaeda:
[...] seeks to establish a Muslim caliphate in southern and central Asia. Lashkar-e-Taiba "consistently advocated the use of force and vowed that it would plant the 'flag of Islam' in Washington, Tel Aviv and New Delhi," the Southeast Asia Terrorism Portal reported.So. I grudgingly concede Wretchard's point. Although while falling back I will say that if Pakistanis and Indian Kashmiris are now intent on murdering Jews in India and planting the flag of the caliphate in Israel, these are not indigenous sentiments and for their locus we must still turn our eyes to the Middle East.
Also, like al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba practices Wahabism, the radical Islamist school of thought born in Saudi Arabia.