Friday, August 09, 2002

Kargil Documents

Great article today from Abroad's Aziz Haniffa on the shortcomings of the Indian Military during the Kargil war. Again, in efforts for full disclosure I must admit that I work at the the National Security Archive, and I did happen to pass the documents to him. Working with declassified documents are interesting for a number of reasons, but two in particular excite me greatly. Firstly, openness in government allows the regular citizen to better understand the inner-workings of government, whether it be what kinds of information is gathered on foreign policy issues, or like this document, the shortcomings of government and military forces. In the end, an open society is a more democratic one, and allowing the public a window into how a government works adds, in my opinion, to the legitimacy of government.

Secondly, this document is important for what it represents. That is, this information on the Indian military was created by a part of the United States Government, and was released in America. Should the Indian people be denied this kind of information from their own government? Isn't it important for citizens to have a grasp of how ready their military is with response to certain threats. If the Indian armed forces were lacking training, supplies, etc. during Kargil, maybe the public should be aware of this. I am aware of a movement in South Asia for freedom of Information, and hopefully the idea permeates poitical circles. It would be interesting to know what people think on this issue. Incidentally, the Archive has recently began a website dedicated to Freedom of Information movements around the world,

On a sidenote, I just finished my last exam for the summer. The class, for those of you that are interested was entitled Political Violence and was taught by Ehud Sprinzak, a brilliant academic who has come up with some really interesting theoretical models for the rise of terrorism. I did a paper for the class on the rise of the Kashmiri Insurgency through the use of these models. If anyone is interested, the paper still needs some work, but I may post it to the blog a little later. Incidentally, this blog will be taking a one or two-week hiatus starting tomorrow as I am off to wonderful Costa Rica with my adventurous mother.


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