It further goes on to say that Washington's most important role will be to urge the Indians and Pakistanis to step back from the brink. The incoming Obama administration will then have to move quickly to encourage serious negotiations over the future of Kashmir and seek genuine cooperation to defeat extremists, it adds. Then it goes on to ask who is to blame and who should pay the price for such cruelty?
Acknowledging the horror, the pain and the disbelief that Indians are feeling as they absorb the appalling details of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the NYT editorial asks: "How can their government have ignored the warning signs? A 2007 report to Parliament warned that the country's shores were poorly protected - and some or all of the attackers arrived by boat. Why weren't the police and the army better prepared to respond?"
"We fear that whoever was behind it, the carnage will unleash dangerous new furies between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan. And we fear it will divert even more of Pakistan's attention and troops away from fighting extremists on its western border with Afghanistan," it says.
It also praises Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for showing extraordinary forbearance in the wake of the tragedy.
But it cautions India's leaders to be very careful not to ignite a religious war inside their own borders.
"Any military confrontation with Pakistan would be hugely costly in human life. And even the threat of war would be hugely damaging to India's extraordinary economic progress. The Bush administration must use all of its influence to ensure that India's leaders recognize these dangers. And it must assure the Indians that it will bring all of the pressure it can on Pakistan to cooperate fully with the investigation - no matter where it leads, it concludes.