Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Guns of December?

As events unfold on the subcontinent in the aftermath of the Thanksgiving Mumbai massacre, I worry that we could be in a pre-war period with two nuclear powers, Pakistan and India, potentially on the edge of war.

Keep in mind that a month separated the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914, by a Serbian-supported terrorist organization and Austria-Hungary's declaration of war on Serbia. The Serbs refused the Austro-Hungarian Empire's demands that Serbia open up their country to imperial investigators.

So after the Thanksgiving Day events, a week later the Indians are demanding Pakistani cooperation and want Pakistan to hand over 20 men currently in Pakistan.

If Pakistan refuses, citing their sovereignty, what will India then do? Perhaps a punitive mission by sending aircraft and missiles against camps inside Pakistan known to house terrorists?

And then, in response, Pakistan makes peace deals with the jihadi sympathizers in the frontier areas and transfers all their ground forces east. At least it is the winter so enemy attacks in Afghanistan probably won't do more than tick up a bit at this time.

Does India then fear that Pakistan will use their army to retaliate, hoping for a quick victory to negate the Indian aerial victory? If the Indians do fear this, would India initiate a ground offensive of their own in a limited section with their corps that has practiced a rapid "Cold Start" offensive?

Or does India decide to match the Pakistanis in mobilizing forces on the border? This might prompt Pakistan to launch an offensive before India can mobilize their larger army.

And looming behind this are nuclear weapons in the Indian and Pakistani armories with very little flight time and command and control that may or may not be robust enough to endure a conventional war let alone nuclear attacks.

The lights will go out all over South Asia.

And I'll ask again, as I've droned on about for the last year or so as talk of an Afghanistan surge has been debated, what happens to our supply lines through Pakistan? Do we begin a long retreat through Russian territory to the north? If so, what price will Moscow demand? Perhaps Moscow will insist that we leave all our heavy weapons and personal weapons behind. Will we see an American army stripped of its weapons rolling under Russian guard like a defeated army stepping of the boats in England after Dunkirk?

Or will we attempt to fight our way to a port on the Arabian Sea by marching through Pakistan or maybe Iran?

Will we try to defend an air corridor across either country to airlift our people out on our own? We'd have to leave a lot of weapons that way and it would make our last retreat from Saigon in 1975 look pretty by comparison.

And what of our NATO allies? Most would probably just surrender to the nearest enemy that comes knocking with promises of safe passage home. Good luck with that, with not even one last bullet, as Kipling advised.

This has the potential for mass death and an American defeat written all over it.

Merry Christmas.