The terrible terrorist tragedy is still unfolding in Mumbai with over a 140 dead and more than 300 injured. The attacks are despicable and should be unequivocally condemned by any sane person. However, the world (India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, UK, Spain, Middle East, Russia) has now been witness to an endless stream of these gruesome attacks. All pleas to attack this global problem not through the lens of a simplistic "war on terror" but instead at its political roots evokes a hostile response from national security establishments.
Engaging complex global political problems and draining some of the world's worst infected political wounds is not "action-oriented" enough and does not satisfy the immediate justified rage of the affected populations. However, it is the only imperfect long term solution to isolate the dead-ender ideological terrorists who must be defeated by force from the far more numerous sympathizing recruits they find amongst people who feel that they are victims of prolonged injustice at the hands of powerful governments (others and their own as in many Muslim countries). In India, for example, since the Babri mosque incident in 1992 there have been a plethora of tragedies creating a communal tinderbox; the Mumbai serial blasts, Mumbai train bombings, Godhra, Gujarat riots, Hyderabad blasts, Akshardham attack, Samjhota Express attack, Delhi bombings, Malegaon not to mention the festering Kashmir problem with the recent flaring of the situation due to the Amarnath yatra land dispute. Whoever invokes tackling the political dimensions of the causes of terrorism is instantly accused of the specious "moral equivalency" argument. It has now been clear for years that a security strategy alone is simply not sufficient to deter any suicidal armed group from inflicting harrowing damage on soft targets. A global rethinking is required to fight terrorism smartly and to dramatically reduce the number of people susceptible to this siren call of nihilism and anarchy. These sentiments often sound to people as if they are soft-headed "can't we all just live together" pleas but a hard-headed and realistic strategy of political engagement must be pursued in addition to robust police, intelligence and military action to reduce the threat of terrorism and asymmetric violence.
Deepak Chopra (whose mystical mumbo jumbo I have little appetite for) was on CNN commenting on the Mumbai attacks and even though his thoughts are meandering and not fully coherent (in my view) he makes some valid points that are not represented much in the mainstream media.