One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

Why the Mumbai terrorist attacks weren’t important

tajmahalGideon Rachman, on why the attacks in Mumbai don’t make his top five list of “what we will remember from 2008”:

So what is the fifth choice for 2008? Several readers pointed out that if the terrorist attacks in Mumbai had taken place in London or New York, I would have put them on the list without hesitation. True – and if the attacks had taken place in Mogadishu, I would definitely not have put them on the list. Doubtless, this says something unpleasant about the relative values placed by western journalists on lives around the world. But a more palatable explanation is that a terrorist attack assumes true geopolitical significance if it has global consequences. So if the Mumbai terror attacks provoke a war between India and Pakistan, they will indeed be one of the most significant events of the year. So far, thank goodness, that has not happened.

I buy Rachman’s first instinct much more than his cleaned-up, “more palatable” version.  What is the point, I must wonder, of making a predictive list of what the global “we” will remember, looking back on 2008, if you condition it with what may still happen?  9/11 certainly changed the entire world, but it was not yet clear, in October 2008, how it would do so.  The shockwaves of Mumbai are as powerful to those in India right now as were those in New York seven years ago, and if Rachman purports to be writing for “lives around the world,” he should consider that the lives of more than a billion people were more affected by what happened in Mumbai than the rise and fall of oil prices for the Western world.

(image of the Taj Mahal from flickr user Honza Soukup under a Creative Commons license)

December 23, 2008 - Posted by | India/Pakistan | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. He is not playing to the gallery because he has underestimated the number of Indians in the gallery.

    Comment by Sameer, Mumbai | December 29, 2008 | Reply

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