Open Thread

Aside from expressing my horror at the ongoing events in Mumbai, as well as my thankfulness that a loved one was at a neighbouring hotel and not one that was attacked, I don't really know what to say. I find that the Information Age makes such awful and deplorable acts even more unbearable, combining a dearth of reliable information with the modern media's absolute need to dish out the inside scoop.

Here are a few stories from India which might fall off the radar in the aftermath:

A Communist Party of India (Marxist) Member of Parliament (MP) from Kerala was dining in the Taj with a Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Godhra in Gujarat (ibnlive.com). It's only under such catastrophic circumstances that one hears of such things. While those two clowns survived, the head of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, Hemant Karkare, did not.

Mr. Karkare had been in the news the past few weeks for his role in leading the investigation into last year's bomb blasts in Malegaon. The investigation led to members of the Saffron Patch, and Karkare's pursuit of the case was so comprehensive that it earned him a death threat in Marathi the day before he was shot dead in the Mumbai attacks.

Lastly, former Indian Prime Minister V.P. Singh died after a long battle with blood cancer.

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Comments

My argument here is that the

My argument here is that the Indian state, in spite of its overall lack of credibility in similar past happenings, and its countless other inherent contradictions, is probably right on this one. But it is right somewhat in spite of itself. That is, it would probably have said the same thing even if there were no evidence.

As to the evidence itself, there is another 'out' for those who want it - things like this can never be 'proven' 'conclusively' - some of the evidence is always going to be circumstantial, even inferential. The demand for 'hard evidence' is routine with Pakistan, just as routine as India's accusation of ISI involvement. Another variation is 'if we did it, we would have covered our tracks better', which is why evidence is asked for, in the confident conviction that it is never going to be, and in fact it can never be, conclusive!

All that to one side, the divergence in public opinion (and elite opinion, and educated opinion) between the two neighboring (imperfect) democracies is really dangerous from a number of angles. BTW, on that, I noticed an excellent piece by Nirupama Subramanian in today's The Hindu.

The Jihadist terrorist attack

The Jihadist terrorist attack in Bombay (Population 19 million) the commercial capital of India on November 27, which killed nearly 200 people was cowardly, brutal and outrageous...

Moderator's note: This comment was cut off because its full version is available here.

Nice line up of people but

Nice line up of people but what is the senile Vijay Prashad doing there? And who is he supposed to speak for? He might have been very influential for many of us 8 years ago but the man has clearly gone mad, refuses to engage and does not respond to criticism because he's a demagogue. I attended a talk he gave in India earlier this year - a patronizing idiot's guide to american desi history for people who've never left their towns much less the country. Yeah, because the politics of the american desi diaspora is so applicable, relevant and collapsible to political content in the sub-continent. How absolutely self-centered.

I was initially skeptical of

I was initially skeptical of India's media and state actors' claims that Pakistan was involved in this - even of the weaker claim that it was non-state actors from Pakistan, trained by retired, or at best 'rogue' state actors with weak links to state structures in Pakistan. Apart from other things - such as the rapidity with which this claim was made (while the operation in Mumbai was still on) and before the captured terrorist could be interrogated - there was also India's prior record of questionable (or false) claims that the ISI was involved in the Malegaon and Samjhauta Express incidents (evidence now appears to point to actors with links to state structures within India being responsible). Also, the fact that Hemant Karkare, who was investigating the Malegaon links - was among the first to be gunned down in what appeared to be a targeted assassination - made me withhold judgment.

But now, evidence has mounted, including reactions offered in the Pakistani media both from former ISI generals and politicians in the pay of the ISI - that the ISI really was involved - in planning, training, financing, coordinating this attack. To the extent that the ISI is a state within a state in Pakistan, one could claim that it was in fact a non-state actor. But doing so would render the conception of 'non-state' meaningless - if the idea is to imply that these terrorists did not have the benefit of financial and organizational resources traditionally associated with states.

None of this is to deny either that non-state actors are indeed active in Pakistan, and specifically in this specific context; or that Indian state actors may not in the past have done comparable things; or that today, Indian state structures contain within them actors capable of acting on impulses similar to these; or even that Indian media and civic society are fully capable of knee-jerk jingoism at times like these.

All that notwithstanding, to my mind, the evidence now points more unambiguously to the complicity of Pakistani state actors (specifically, ISI)in the Mumbai horror, and more dangerously, of a very high level of nationalist-denial within Pakistani media and civic society in the matter.

But now, evidence has

But now, evidence has mounted, including reactions offered in the Pakistani media both from former ISI generals and politicians in the pay of the ISI - that the ISI really was involved - in planning, training, financing, coordinating this attack.

The public opinion of ex-ISI types and 'politicians in the pay of the ISI' does not strike me as being evidence that substantiates your central claim. They can say whatever they wish. Public pronouncements and the truth are not always identical. All the evidence in the public domain on this question simply cannot be verified independently -- which makes it had to accept the veracity of the evidence. I'm supposed to believe some statements leaked by the army to NDTV? Why, exactly? We're dealing with an organization -- the Indian state -- that accused Professor Jean Dreze of being a Maoist. Anyone that knows Dreze's research, even if you read only a paper or two, immediately appreciates the absurdity of the accusation.

The Indian state has no credibility.

All that notwithstanding, to

All that notwithstanding, to my mind, the evidence now points more unambiguously to the complicity of Pakistani state actors (specifically, ISI)in the Mumbai horror, and more dangerously, of a very high level of nationalist-denial within Pakistani media and civic society in the matter.

Understanding the Pakistani state is not that simple. It is fragmented and complex. The argument that "the state" should be held responsible is counterproductive imo, whereas looking at the specifics of who and how and how to respond to them (probably with the assistance of other state actors in Pakistan) would be more useful, fair, and productive. If it turns out to the be the case that "official" actors in Pakistan were responsible at all - which is still an open question.

two clowns? how can you even

two clowns?

how can you even term them clowns? bashing politicians has become a trend these days. for god's sake, leave those two survivors alone at least considering the horror they've been through.

As to the evidence itself,

As to the evidence itself, there is another ‘out’ for those who want it - things like this can never be ‘proven’ ‘conclusively’ - some of the evidence is always going to be circumstantial, even inferential. The demand for ‘hard evidence’ is routine with Pakistan, just as routine as India’s accusation of ISI involvement. Another variation is ‘if we did it, we would have covered our tracks better’, which is why evidence is asked for, in the confident conviction that it is never going to be, and in fact it can never be, conclusive!

This portion of your comment is incoherent. It is a string of basically unrelated statements with too much rhetorical flair. Its implicit message amounts to the view that whoever thinks that there is a good reason to doubt the involvement of Pakistani state actors only want an 'out'. That's rubbish.

First, 'things like this' can be 'proven conclusively'. The issue for me is whether the public has access to information that would allow an informed opinion; I think not. It is possible that I am wrong. But if you concede that point, then your view on the matter amounts to a 'leap of faith'. I leave 'leaps of faith' to theologians.

Second, to compare the demand for evidence with frequent claims of ISI involvement amounts to stupidity. To compare it with the statement 'had we done it, we would have covered our tracks better' is childish propaganda. It very rarely happens that terrorists want to cover their tracks. Often they wish all to know that they are responsible for a particular act of terror.

Try harder.

I found one of the editorials

I found one of the editorials in this week's EPW quite helpful:

http://epw.in/epw/user/viewAbstract.jsp

state-and-non-state, i think

state-and-non-state, i think it would be helpful in moving this issue beyond epistemology if you were to actually offer some of the evidence for consideration that you're citing here:

But now, evidence has mounted, including reactions offered in the Pakistani media both from former ISI generals and politicians in the pay of the ISI - that the ISI really was involved - in planning, training, financing, coordinating this attack. To the extent that the ISI is a state within a state in Pakistan, one could claim that it was in fact a non-state actor. But doing so would render the conception of ‘non-state’ meaningless - if the idea is to imply that these terrorists did not have the benefit of financial and organizational resources traditionally associated with states.

Otherwise, this will continue in an endless loop.

Otherwise, this will continue

Otherwise, this will continue in an endless loop.

You are right on this, Dr A. So, I wasn't planning to continue with the original line of discussion any further. This is in response to your suggestion.

Also, with respect, I do not believe this is the right place to get into the actual evidence. Nor was the evidence I had in mind just pieces of verifiable fact that I could list (i), (ii), (ii)(a) etc here.

But I would offer that the original line of discussion I began had its uses. All I intended to say was just that: while I was initially very skeptical of India's claims, given its past history ('the Bayesian prior') and the interests of its ruling classes - as more evidence (factual and inferential) emerged, I began to find the Indian assertions more believable. (Odear, this is also your algorithm, as I understand it. Except, perhaps, that you might evaluate the 'truth' of newer evidence more strongly weighted by your 'prior' than I would.) And, as I also said, had the evidence been less convincing at this stage, or even non-existent, as it was when India first made the claim, they would nevertheless still be making it.

I was just hoping to hear whether others agreed or disagreed, or how they felt, and whether they also found themselves changing their minds (without altogether discarding their 'priors'). Epistemology has its uses. (Though this is the last on this from me.)

The survivors' stories are

The survivors' stories are emerging now, and some of them are heartbreaking.

Hi. Has anyone come across

Hi. Has anyone come across information pertaining to the circumstances surrounding the killing of the ATS chief? I vaguely remember that he was killed at the Metro Cinema, but don't recall publication of any more detail.

A Communist Party of India

A Communist Party of India (Marxist) Member of Parliament (MP) from Kerala was dining in the Taj with a Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Godhra in Gujarat (ibnlive.com). It’s only under such catastrophic circumstances that one hears of such things. While those two clowns survived,

What makes those two "clowns" and other victims not?

Certainly they were not "clowns" to their familiy and loved ones either.

I speak only for myself here:

I speak only for myself here: both are clowns in view of their politics. It's difficult to empathize with both in view of the pain and suffering that their parties have created in various parts India. The BJP was responsible for pogroms against Muslims in the state of Gujarat; the CPI(M) conducted and probably again will conduct a terroristic campaign against some sectors of the people in West Bengal. In other words, I find it hard to empathize with both as victims.

There are two ironies here:

There are two ironies here: one, that the CPI-M MP and the BJP MP are eating together; and the other, that the CPI-M guy is eating at the Taj. I have a hard time deciding which is worse. Are all politicians ultimately in cahoots and just hoodwinking everyone else? Are CPI-M guys just as 'entitled' to partake of the goodies while yelling themselves hoarse about the evils of unrestrained globalization and the plight of the common man? Also, there has been a sickening upper-class bias to the whole reportage. For most Indians, the Taj, the Oberoi, even the 'popular' Leopold Cafe are not the everyday symbols the MSM coverage is making it out to be. I'd never heard of Leopold, and I was born in Bombay! To the extent these are in fact symbols, they are symbols of opulence, envy and resentment if not hatred. Perhaps it's a little early to analyze these things too deeply but I hope it does eventually happen.

Thanks for posting this

Thanks for posting this vivek. I hope whether people are grieving or relieved or angry or engaged with what is happening, we can keep this thread humane, both in terms of giving other people the benefit of the doubt as well as in terms of trying to be considerate to others in what we say. If you want to think - think - if you want to grieve, grieve - just remember we're all human. Seems the least that we can do. :(

Are all politicians

Are all politicians ultimately in cahoots and just hoodwinking everyone else?

Um,YES.... duh.

You're just figuring this out now?

both in terms of giving other people the benefit of the doubt

What does "giving other people the benefit of the doubt" mean in the event of a terrorist strike?

Also, there has been a

Also, there has been a sickening upper-class bias to the whole reportage. For most Indians, the Taj, the Oberoi, even the ‘popular’ Leopold Cafe are not the everyday symbols the MSM coverage is making it out to be. I’d never heard of Leopold, and I was born in Bombay! To the extent these are in fact symbols, they are symbols of opulence, envy and resentment if not hatred. Perhaps it’s a little early to analyze these things too deeply but I hope it does eventually happen.

Um. I'm not sure what your point is here and what will "eventually happen"? Yes, most Indian media is parasitical, ludicrous and incompetent. IBN actually had background music playing to the first bit of video footage it gathered on Thursday morning. Can you imagine someone being instructed to pick out a piano score that would evoke the appropriate levels of doom and gloom because staring at streaks of blood and body bits isn't enough? What am I supposed to gather from your statement? That because you'd never heard of leopolds and resent the people that frequent the Taj, that the bombing and shooting is supposed to matter less? So what if you're from Bombay and never heard of Leopolds? Bombay is huge. Just because your knowledge of bombay probably doesn't extend past Goregaon doesn't mean it wasn't part of someone's else everyday. Vast numbers of people from different class backgrounds staff these hotels, and they were some of the first to die. Vast numbers of people commute to work in and around this area. And really, your black and white conception of South bombay is irrelevant.

Vast numbers of people from

Vast numbers of people from different class backgrounds staff these hotels, and they were some of the first to die. Vast numbers of people commute to work in and around this area.

And yet we have heard so little about them and how they have fared.

BBC carried Arvind Adiga's views on the attacks and this is what he had to say:

Even if you live far away from downtown Mumbai, the city is defined by this part - by the old heart of Mumbai and institutions like the Victoria Terminus train station, VT, the Taj Mahal Hotel, the Gateway of India - which is next to the Taj Mahal - and the Oberoi hotel.

These are the central civic institutions that define the city for everyone who lives everywhere. One of the differences between India and other countries is that a lot of our civic space is contained within the five-star hotels.

They have a different function here for us, they are places where marriages happen, where people of all economic backgrounds go for a coffee. For the Taj Mahal to be attacked is somewhat like the town hall being attacked in some other place, it is really something that is quite extraordinary.

Taj and Oberoi hotels, and Leopold Cafe as national/regional symbols!?! Civic space within five star hotels!?! Does this not reflect (more starkly) an upper class bias of analysis and reportage thus far?

Yeah I just read Arvind

Yeah I just read Arvind Adiga's piece to my disgust. I cannot believe he thinks the Taj represents "civic space". What a deluded individual. I didn't say the media weren't outrageous in their coverage of the entire episode. Critiquing media representations is a totally valid exercise but I was just trying to point that skewed reportage should not affect one's ability to recognize a tragedy. It is silly and callous to be thinking things like, "i've never heard of leopolds" when almost 200 people are dead. I was objecting to the implication that had the attacks been focused in a poorer area, people would be inclined to have more empathy.
You're right in that the sensationalism is irresponsible but call it sensationalism and not "upper-class bias". South Bombay's concentration of wealth and white people is also the reason why it was attacked, so you can't avoid discussing elements related to this reality. The fact that it is all framed and exaggerated so badly by the media, to the point where others that died are invisible, and all we're hearing about are the "heroes" is messed up and I don't dispute that.

Yeah I just read Arvind

Yeah I just read Arvind Adiga’s piece to my disgust.

Yes, Adiga's article is deplorable. He should be criticized in no uncertain terms.

I was just trying to point that skewed reportage should not affect one’s ability to recognize a tragedy

No comment in this thread that suggests these events were not a tragedy. What is generally at issue is the political interpretation of the tragedy.

It is silly and callous to be thinking things like, “i’ve never heard of leopolds” when almost 200 people are dead.

Can you clarify?

I was objecting to the implication that had the attacks been focused in a poorer area, people would be inclined to have more empathy.

I shed a tear for all the victims. But you cannot deny that some people would be inclined to have more empathy had the attacks been in, say, Dharavi.

You’re right in that the sensationalism is irresponsible but call it sensationalism and not “upper-class bias”.

The reportage can be sensationalist and exhibit class bias. To deny that it has a class bias is a bold claim. But you admit that many who died have become invisible in the reportage; then why insist on denying that there is a class bias? Provide some evidence, especially in light of the fact that both the Fox and CNN coverage focused mainly Anglo-American victims (which also points to a racial bias).

I've watches several networks

I've watches several networks coverage of the event and one of them (can't remember which) showed the obvious lower middle class and poor class Indians in the hospitals suffering. One was a boy of 13 years who said he just wanted to leave the hospital and go home but hospital staff was relunctant to let him go because they had not yet informed him that his mother, father, uncle and cousin were all dead. The British reporter was talking to various Indian patients and saying that several hundred (thousand maybe?) families were now torn and destroyed because of this tragedy. The focus was on the locals.

Naturally USA will focus mostly on the effect it has on Americans who were present at ground zero, just like Spain would focus mostly on the Spainyards, Chile on the Chileans, Ethiopia on the Ethiopians, etc.

Odear: I was responding

Odear: I was responding specifically to the comments in #5. None of the other comments on this thread are connected to that discussion. Regarding the semantics of judging media representations: it's not simply class bias is my point. The targets were chosen based on class so that mixes things up already and we're already practiced enough in reading through the tabloid trash that passes for news here, so why are we splitting hairs about it. Mainstream media outlets have clear biases based on race, class, gender and other demarcations of identity, hierarchy and oppression, i would think those of us who recognize this have already found other sources for news, information, and analysis. It's not as if any of us pick up the Times of India or Hindustan Times every morning expecting journalistic standards or integrity.

Ok, at least someone was

Ok, at least someone was reared, "physically and intellectually", at Leopold Cafe. Vinod Mehta, who founded "Debonair", writes in Outlook India:

As an ex-Mumbaikar, I was reared, physically and intellectually, at one of the terrorist’s first targets: Leopold Cafe. In my time, it was a slightly shady, downmarket eatery patronised by hippies and harlots.... The Oberoi and the Taj were second homes. It was at the latter that my first publication, Debonair, was launched... Although I have been living in Delhi since the early ’90s, I left my heart in Leopold Cafe

I’ve watches several networks

I’ve watches several networks coverage of the event and one of them (can’t remember which) showed the obvious lower middle class and poor class Indians in the hospitals suffering. One was a boy of 13 years who said he just wanted to leave the hospital and go home but hospital staff was relunctant to let him go because they had not yet informed him that his mother, father, uncle and cousin were all dead. The British reporter was talking to various Indian patients and saying that several hundred (thousand maybe?) families were now torn and destroyed because of this tragedy. The focus was on the locals.

Thank you for this information.

Naturally USA will focus mostly on the effect it has on Americans who were present at ground zero, just like Spain would focus mostly on the Spainyards, Chile on the Chileans, Ethiopia on the Ethiopians, etc.

I disagree that such an emphasis is in any reasonable sense natural. It only seems to substantiate my point.

India armed, trained and

India armed, trained and funded the LTTE and caused the deaths of countless Sri Lankans. Now it seems she is tasting her own medicine. Hopefully she will realize one thing - not to sponsor or support terrorism in neighbouring countries, lest it comes back and bites one in the ass. The pain many Indians are feeling now is not different to the pain people from other countries have felt thanks to Indian sponsorship of terrorism.

The Oberoi Trident had a

The Oberoi Trident had a restaurant called Kandahar and a bar called The Opium Den. Like, totally!

Two contesting meta-narratives have already emerged. One is a variant of the 'they hate us because of our freedoms' line, that is now close to becoming the official Indian line, pushed strongly by the media. This has become coupled to the 'we must do something' line and the 'we know where they're coming from' line. The other is the 'they did this because they have grievances' line. There is some truth to both, but the official line looks like it will win out, and Indo-Pakistan relations are headed seriously south. I'm still hoping that with someone like Manmohan Singh as PM, a more nuanced approach will emerge. If the US and the USSR could continue to talk during the most severe crises of the Cold War, then surely India and Pakistan can continue to talk during this. I dearly hope the composite dialogue between the countries does not get suspended.

There is some truth to both,

There is some truth to both, but the official line looks like it will win out, and Indo-Pakistan relations are headed seriously south.

The upcoming elections are going to contribute to much political posturing on the issue.

What i find immensely

What i find immensely irritating is that I don't know anyone in the 20-30 year old age group, in a higher income bracket, that bothers to vote. It's not that voting in a meaningless electoral system to re-staff an aged, lethargic, pathetic mind-fuck of a bureaucracy and public sector makes much difference, but still... these are people that have been galvanized over the last 4 days to demand "action" and accountable politicians but they know jack-all about who governs them on a local or regional level, and they'd rather nurse a hangover than vote! Instead, they start facebook groups!! Yeah, change in our perverse system is going to happen through joining a facebook group or a a group that is a cover for raging islamophobia.
Speaking of political posturing, who wanted to punch modi in the face for having the audacity to taint Bombay with his presence and rabidly self-interested hate speeches?? And I might sound mad, but I'd be really happy if some purportedly "islamic" bunch of nutcases would [...this bit was deleted...]* instead of destroying the lives of innocent civilians and their families. I mean, if you're going to fraudently pose as a "mujahideen" then why not attack people that deserve it.

*Moderator's note: we rarely delete or edit comments, but a few of us thought it was best in this case. If you wrote this and have a serious problem, e-mail us and we'll talk.

The tragedy in Mumbai should

The tragedy in Mumbai should be unequivocally condemned by all secular people around the world. No one, except terrorists and their hate filled followers will approve the horrible carnage in Mumbai. Hate filled religious and ethnic extremism are dangerous precursors of more violence to come. Resorting to terrorist violence against citizens to make political statements for causes (religious or ethnic), cannot be condoned or tolerated by any rational person of any religion or race.

Preliminary Indian investigations apparently point towards foreign born terrorists and foreign trained terrorists, possibly trained inside Pakistan. They may or may not be Al-Qaeda linked. They maybe groups seeking independence for Moslem majority Kashmir. These groups perhaps want India and Pakistan to go to war again, laying right into the hands of global Jihadists.

It is ironic that India once armed, trained and financed rebel separatist groups who also use terror as part of their deadly arsenal to launch attacks inside one of its closest loyal small allies.

It is sad that these forces that India once created, still have large groups of sympathizers in parts of India who continue to provide material aid and abet them; although in fairness, that group is not a religious extremist group but one based on separatism just like the groups wanting Kashmir to secede from India.

Indians cannot cry foul against Jihadi extremists who harm their interests, while encouraging other groups within their boundaries to destabilise other secular nations in the region.

In repeated conversations with Indians (Hindi speakers, Punjaib speakers, Telugu speakers, Tamil speakers), one can hear them being extremely critical of alleged Pakistani based extremists attacking India, but they all appear to suffer from a severe case of amnesia, forgetting that India under the Indira and Rajiv Gandhi doctrine encouraged ethnic separatist terrorist rebel attacks inside Sri Lanka.

Let's face it Indians, specially, you folks in South India: your government was projecting your strategic and political interests by making use of the Tamil issue in Sri Lanka and you did not care when they were killing democratically elected leaders in Sri Lanka or blowing up buildings, bus terminals, banks etc. You saw Sri Lanka as a small ‘Johnny upstart’ nation veering towards the western orbit by opening out its economy at a time you were still close allies with the Soviet Union and your economy was still a socialist centralized one and you did not like it.

You did not like Sri Lanka becoming close to the USA and Israel. Hence, you used the horrible genocidal acts of 1983 (mostly by government goon squads), as a cover to project your regional dominance via proxy groups. True, there were serious humanitarian issues with refugees and pressure by Tamil Nadu politicians, but then at the same time you had your own serious wars in Khalistan (Punjab), Assam, Mizoram, Nagaland etc., and you already had humanitarian crisis you did not allow the world to know about. Your intervention in Sri Lanka backfired on you, just like the Jihadi extremist terrorist policies of some Pakistani Islamic radicals will backfire on the radical Moslem elements inside Pakistan’s government and its intelligence apparatus. Terrorists are terrorists and terrorism in all forms is still terrorism.

Terrorism has to be fought on two fronts; eliminating terrorists from the field by physically removing them and by implementing reasonable political, economic and social policies to address the serious underlying issues that cause terrorist groups to foster and breed inside diverse and sometimes fractious civilized societies, delineated by linguistic and religious identities/boundaries.

Politicians who fail to see reality will have to deal with terrorism for a long time.

India armed, trained and

India armed, trained and funded the LTTE and caused the deaths of countless Sri Lankans. Now it seems she is tasting her own medicine. Hopefully she will realize one thing - not to sponsor or support terrorism in neighbouring countries, lest it comes back and bites one in the ass. The pain many Indians are feeling now is not different to the pain people from other countries have felt thanks to Indian sponsorship of terrorism.

This comment is politically unproductive, formulated in a provocative manner, hot-headed, and possibly enters the territory of a reactionary nationalism. What is required in the current political situation is that calm minds prevail.

The tragedy in Mumbai should

The tragedy in Mumbai should be unequivocally condemned by all secular people around the world.

Only secular people should condemn this tragedy? About religiously devout people too? Can we condemn it? I think we should be the FIRST to condemn it.

"Democracy Now!" hosted a

"Democracy Now!" hosted a roundtable on the situation in Mumbai with Tariq Ali, Vijay Prashad, Biju Mathew, and Teesta Setalvad. It's likely that many people have already seen it, but I did not even become aware of it until today and wanted to share it with others who might not know about it.

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/12/1/toll_from_deadly_coordinated_mumba...

(By the way, my jaw dropped when Amy Goodman raised the Sonal Shah issue -- I think that it's outstanding.)

Try harder. Not sure why I

Try harder.

Not sure why I have to, since my basic point appears to have been conceded. For my part, I concede that the rest of my comment may have appeared incoherent. But this stands:

My argument here is that the Indian state, in spite of its overall lack of credibility in similar past happenings, and its countless other inherent contradictions, is probably right on this one. But it is right somewhat in spite of itself. That is, it would probably have said the same thing even if there were no evidence.

However, let me also offer the following. Nothing can be 'proven conclusively' in any system of logic - Godel incompleteness put an end to that illusion long ago. If that wasn't enough, we also have classical and quantum indeterminacy, and postmodern uncertainty! But this is worse. When people doubt the veracity of evidence at every stage, it is rather worse than not agreeing on axioms or arriving at an undecidable proposition within a system of logic.

But all is not lost. A very sensible Pakistani talk show (in Urdu).

Oops. 'Anonymous' in 32. was

Oops. 'Anonymous' in 32. was me.

Nothing can be ‘proven

Nothing can be ‘proven conclusively’ in any system of logic - Godel incompleteness put an end to that illusion long ago. If that wasn’t enough, we also have classical and quantum indeterminacy, and postmodern uncertainty!

As Veblen used to say, this may well be the case, but also irrelevant. We nevertheless have to continue with must still continue with our political, social, and economic existence. This requires making political decisions and formulating political beliefs in the context of radical uncertainty. Godel does not help us in this situation, nor does classical and quantum uncertainty.

It is for this reason that your comment is not a very good guide to making political decisions. That is what is required here: a properly political choice.

I will openly admit to being a blend of a Bayesian and a Marxist (an odd mix, I know). I begin with a set of political views on the world and political goals. New data arrive; focus in on the concrete and specific situation at hand. Consider the historico-political situation. Apply the dictum 'ruthless criticism' to the new data. Some data emerge from criticism because they pass what I consider to be a reasonability test (which will vary according to the political situation under consideration and the urgency with which a political decision is required). Other data are rejected if they fail this test. Apply logic. Revise beliefs and take political decisions. Of course, this is very schematized, too algorithmic, and I have omitted many details.

So, despite all that you wrote, your political interpretation of the situation is unclear. Or perhaps not.

But this is worse. When people doubt the veracity of evidence at every stage, it is rather worse than not agreeing on axioms or arriving at an undecidable proposition within a system of logic.

See above.

I want to apologize,

I want to apologize, state-and-non-state, for being aggressive. Truth be told, the Mumbai attacks have gotten under my skin more than I want to admit to myself. (By the way, I generally assign equal weight to the prior and posterior. But in cases of the Indian state assigning blame to the ISI for this or that, much more weight goes onto the prior.) I submit to you, however, that we might have avoided a possible unproductive digression had you given me 'a pointer' about what evidence you have in mind, even if this forum is not the right place to discuss the evidence at much length: a couple of clues would be sufficient.

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