Seven years ago when the September 11 attacks took place (attacks offer greater magnitude) I wrote an early article which stated that the Al Qaeda group was the "Frankenstein monster" of the Pakistani Intelligence agency (ISI) and the CIA's guerrilla/terrorist war against the Communist-led government of Afghanistan in the 1980s. The early reports suggest that these attacks are linked to right-wing religious Pakistan based groups which have a history of being supported by sections of the Pakistani ISI right up to this time. There have also been in the recent past reports from a wide variety of sources, including U.S. government sources that the Pakistani government has misused much of the billions of dollars the Bush administration gave in from 2001 on as an "ally" in the "war against terrorism" to fund terrorist activities against India, especially its campaign to annex Kashmir, a conflict which has claimed tens of thousands of lives over the decades. Although the reports are very early and untrustworthy at this point, there is what seems to be a growing body of information to link these attacks (which have not yet been subdued) to Pakistani based groups with a long history of attacks against India and a long history of receiving covert support from Pakistani authorities and indirect support from the U.S. agencies.
What should the coming Obama administration and Americans generally learn from this? What unfortunately, I would say, few learned from the September 11 attacks. First, "terrorists" are provocateurs who cannot mount either conventional or guerrilla wars. They seek attention, and mass media, for both political and commercial purposes,
gives them that attention. A "smart" administration should inform media that its most important and socially useful task should be to try to decrease public fears, not increase such fears. A "smart" administration should let the international community know that their will be no over-reaction, since that is precisely what the terrorist
A smart administration should begin to educate the people to realities that many already know--that is, that fighting terrorist groups is primarily a police, not a military question, not an excuse for increasing military budgets and suppressing civil liberties. Obviously, the Pakistani government and its intelligence services are completely untrustworthy, as they have been for a very long time. Multinational cooperation with India on this issue, through the governments of many countries that have a common interest in defeating such groups, including Russia and China along with the U.S. traditional allies, would be the policy of a "smart" administration.
Finally, a "smart" administration must pursue as part of a larger global peace policy a peace based regional policy, one that will bring India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, who have major ethnocultural historical bonds together and pursue policies of disarmament and economic and social cooperation for development. The right-wing terrorist groups feed on the poverty and social injustice of t this and other regions to use violence to provoke counter-violence to expand their influence. As Mohandas K Gandhi, the leader of the Indian National Liberation movement against British imperialism and, in my opinion, the most influential non-Marxist revolutionary in modern history, said (I am paraphrasing because my faulty internet access doesn't give me the exact quote) poverty is itself great violence, a foundation of violence, meaning it is the source of violence, and non-violence as a tactic to achieve social justice must struggle to eliminate poverty, or else the political victories that are won will eventually be compromised.
The Obama administration will have the terrible example of the Bush disasters as it takes office. Hopefully it will consciously avoid what Bush did, that is, whip up fear and define the conflict in general and unfocused military terms, using the attacks and the
"terrorist" issue to advance its rightwing political agenda, waste many hundreds of billions of dollars, and do little to really defeat the terrorist groups.