Blogging from Phoenix- While India and Pakistan engage in another round of saber rattling, it seems unlikely India intends to respond to recent attacks on Mumbai with a military strike. However beneath the current war mongering is a renewed interest in New Delhi to push for adoption of a “Cold Start” military doctrine.

A Cold Start policy would have the effect of refocusing New Delhi’s traditional defense posture away from mobilizing hundreds of thousands of troops, to one that deploys commando and special force strikes against its neighbor within hours of a terrorist attack. At present military action in response to particular provocations can occur only after the delay required for high level deliberation. Under Cold Start, a response would be immediate, it is also a tactic that allows India to engage in quick but limited occupation of Pakistani territory, under the assumption Islamabad will back down and neither Nation will cross the nuclear threshold.

The tactical implementation of a Cold Start doctrine is dependent on India acquiring specialized ordinance and developing a command and control structure that can coordinate training of personnel in a an environment where cultural and political rivalry between services and commanders is often intense and on occasion violent.

Cold Start was more or less a wet dream of India’s minority hawks and planners, till the crew from Crawford assembled a diplomatic team comprised of anti-intellectuals and poker pals who encouraged New Deli to begin war gaming cold strike in the spring of 2002. Prior to the Bush administrations eight years of Cowboy diplomacy, the world community agreed resolution of the disputed region of Kashmir was the principle key to any hope for future peace between the two nuclear States.

Encouraged by the United Nations, efforts to relax tensions and promote confidence-building measures saw some notable successes in the last few years, A commercial trucking and bus route between Srinagar and Muzzafarrabad, regular meetings between local Pakistani and Indian commanders, A “Red Phone” of sorts for crisis communication, dialogue with Kashmir’s separatists, improvement in human rights and regional economics.

But it is also clear at the same time New Delhi, perhaps encouraged by the Bush Doctrine, developed a stubborn attitude toward calls from the world community to allow Kashmir to decide its own future which should make addressing the problem a priority of President Obama’s foreign policy team. If President Obama’s designated vicar of foreign policy, Hillary Clinton can successfully encourage both India and Pakistan to allow Kashmir to move toward a self-determined destiny, it will deal a fatal blow to the terrorists who use the dispute to play both sides against each other.

That’s my view, yours may be different. 

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