Scary Thought of the Day

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Vlad Putin is in a tough spot, that is a given. But what if the urge to find a Western angle to Russia's woes morphs into something more pre-emptive, like going through Serbia to get to suspected terrorist hide-outs in Bosnia? Oh wait, new NATO states Bulgaria and Romania are in the way. Now what?

Far-fetched, yes, but Putin and his buddies seem intent on deflecting all responsibility for events in Beslan—which at a minimum includes a seriously botched rescue attempt—to somewhere, anywhere else.

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  1. Islamic terrorists

    these people are terrorists who are fighting for national self-determination who happen to be muslim. or is this simply a catch-all pejorative now?

    joe’s right — putin repeated yeltsin’s mistake because he ran and won as an old-school russia-first nationalist. imo, he used chechen activities in dagestan as pretext for doing what he wished to in the first place — restore russian military pride. i think it was similar in a way to reagan’s granada invasion of 1983.

    but what often goes unmentioned is chechnya’s frontage on the caspian sea — where a north-sea-sized oil deposit was discovered in may 2000 — and offshore drilling rights are at stake for russia.

  2. gm, don’t underestimate the degree to which foreign jihadists have co-opted the Chechen nationalist movement.

  3. i suppose that might be true — they are, after all, anti-western insurgents. and i suppose there are different factions with differing objectives and differing alliances.

    in any case,

    you would blame Russia and the government before you would blame the Islamic terrorists. …And how dare Putin go after terrorists, right?

    i find this inability to hold both sides culpable when it comes to terrorism to be amazing and yet widespread. do people imagine that the chechens’ grievances emerged from thin air? or that al-qaeda’s did?

    russia provoked this by invading — whether they were “right” to invade or not, this is a consequence of that choice (and it was an invasion of choice). what should the chechens be expected to do? sit quietly while they are conquered and colonized? these are the same people who were genocidally slaughtered en masse and the remainder sent to labor camps by stalin in 1941 in advance of the german invasion because stalin feared they might collaborate. can anyone here imagine the cultural hatred they hold for russia?

    to simplify this by saying “russians right, chechens wrong” is sadly but wholly typical of american ahistorical reductivist thinking. no one can understand terrorism — or its solutions — until they lose the ideology and propaganda and get a hold on what has been done to these people to make the them pissed off enough to blow themselves up with a bunch of children.

  4. Thanks for the link Mo.

  5. “or that al-qaeda’s did?”

    Please tell us which of al-queda’s grievances don’t spring from anything more than absolute religious insanity?

  6. Please tell us which of al-queda’s grievances don’t spring from anything more than absolute religious insanity?

    mr fletcher, would you believe me even if i did articulate some?

  7. I tend to suspect that Fletcher’s response would be to simply announce that concern for the Palestinians, objections to US troops being stationed in Saudi Arabia, and anger over US-backed sanctions on Iraq were all forms of “absolute religious insanity” because all correct thinking people know that: A) the Israelis are entitled to kill as many Palestinians as they wish and B) the US is entitled to do anything it wants, anywhere, period.

  8. Your point is well taken gaius marius, still, I’ve never been one to shy from the breach…

    Surely, Mr. Fletcher, you’ll agree that the government of Saudi Arabia and the governments of many other predominantly Muslim countries are all but completely corrupt. The people of Palestine may not always have been given a fair shake, and some of that may or may not be partially attributable to America?s largely unquestioned support of Israel.

    Al Qaeda may tend to view the world through a religious lens, but some of those grievances may spring from something more than absolute religious insanity.

  9. zorel, Russian officials themselves are saying the rescue was botched:

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/functions/print.php?StoryID=20040904-114425-9526r

    *cough* Waco *cough*

    except there weren’t any hostages there…

  10. Some of the posts here make me sick.
    Russia just suffered the equivalent of Sept 11, 2001. America deserved and got sympathy and support. The Russians are getting bashed instead, as if it was their fault that a bunch of criminals murdered children. The few assholes that claimed that the US had brought terrorism on themselves were quickly marginalized, good.
    Item: 60% of the population of Chechnya are Russians. Never mind that they were settled there during Stalin’s time while the Chechens were driven to Siberia and during the Soviet Union. Is anyone asking those Russians in Chechnya what they want? Does the Russian government not owe them consideration and protection? Would they and even most Chechens, apart from those seeking to gain power by violence, be better off if the radicals took over?
    And please, don’t tell me the Russians usurped the place in the first place. That was generations ago and hardly the fault of those living today nor the fault of the people of Beslan. Or let’s call on the native american population to stage “war for self-determination” too. I wonder how the rest of the people living in the US now would react to that.
    When will the idiots in the West, some of them posting here, ever stop to equate crimes with liberation and unequivocally stop making lame excuses? If any of you think the “terrorists” have any other goal than destabilizing anything they don’t approve of with whatever means they see fit, the more cruel the better, you must be living on planet la-la land.
    Why do they do that? Why, to take power and subjugate people themselves, why else?
    I for one am angry, as you can tell. Very angry.
    For those reading German, you can see here why I’m pissed. I refuse to translate such drivel.
    http://www.zeit.de/2004/37/russland

    Save all the discussions and theorizing as to why, how and what group. Join in and fight the bastards!

  11. “This isn’t a zero-sum game. Acknowledging that Russia’s Chechnya policy has been idiotic and wrong won’t make the child-killers any less guilty.”

    True, but it ain’t ‘xactly an absolute-gains situation either.

  12. “Save all the discussions and theorizing as to why, how and what group.”

    Yeah, because you’d hate to, you know, actually target the *guilty* parties. It’s much more effective to just kill some random people…

  13. “Join in and fight the bastards!”

    Now there’s something we can all agree on! In fact, I’m going to put that on a protest sign. It’s gonna say, “Fight the Bastards!”

    I mean, who isn’t in favor of fighting the bastards? The bastards, that’s who! …and I don’t give a rat’s ass about the bastards.

    …and once we’re done fighting the bastards, we’re gonna take on the jack asses. That’s right, we’re gonna fight the jack asses! Damn jack asses ain’t good for nothin’ anyway.

    …and once the jack asses are finished, we’re goin’ after the sons of bitches! We?ll break all their windows, the damn sons of bitches.

    Some day, long after we’re through, they’ll be quoting some son of a bitch who said, “First they came for the bastards, and I said nothing. Then they came for the jack asses, and again I said nothing. Finally, they came for me, and I couldn?t find a single bastard that was willing to stand up for me?not one jack ass.”

  14. Save all the discussions and theorizing as to why, how and what group. Join in and fight the bastards!

    LMAO!! wait wait — let me get to the garage and get my torch and pitchfork!!

    someone tell martin about the Age of Irony.

  15. Say Ken, you’re showing your ignorance and proving me right: You’re equating people who murder with people who are murdered for nothing at all.
    Happy relativism!

  16. “until they lose the ideology and propaganda and get a hold on what has been done to these people to make the them pissed off enough to blow themselves up with a bunch of children.”

    What the fuck is wrong with you, you deplorable piece of shit? Was there ANY MOTHERFUCKING JUSTIFICATION for killing a bunch of kids? The Russians might be assholes, but THERE IS NO EXCUSE AT ALL for what those fuckers did.

    Too bad you weren’t blown up instead of those innocent kids…

  17. i’ll let andy’s comments stand as the indictment they are. 🙂

  18. Does the name Bushputin ring a bell?

  19. Idiots! The Russians were OUT of Chechnya! They’d already swallowed the pill and withdrew, and took the accusations of desertions and capitulation. They could have washed their hands of the whole thing, but no! They had to go back in, after they had already paid the price of backing out. Idiots.

  20. naturally, joe, you would blame Russia and the government before you would blame the Islamic terrorists. Unfortunately, it sounds as if Taylor is doing the same thing. Would you, as a police or army official, have waited to storm the school even after the terrorists began shooting children? And how dare Putin go after terrorists, right?

    Reason has gotten out-of-control lefty recently. Accepting ads bashing big tobacco and refusing to actually thoroughly examine the Bush doctrine (colonisation of radical states is in our own interest at this point) indicate Reason’s downward spiral.

  21. “deflecting all responsibility for events in Beslan… ”
    Wait a minute: I thought it was Islamist terrorists who murdered children in Beslan. Stop joining the gang of idiots that blame Putin, the same gang that blamed Bush for 9/11. It is revolting to see Reason staff joining the ranks of the crazies.

    And the scenario proposed is ridiculous. Here is another, less implausible: the terrorist are tracked back to Afghanistan or Iran. And Putin decides to join in fighting terrorism there.

    Hypotetical case: If it is found that indeed Romania or Bulgaria helped the terrorists or failed to curtail their activities it would be the responsibility of NATO to see to it that terrorists are stopped there. You can’t be a NATO member and a terrorism supporter at the same time.
    (We will ignore France for the moment).

  22. I think something more likely would be a return to assasinations, although on a much larger scale, that took place during the cold war.

    England in particular seems to let most heads of terrorist organizations into and live in the country. Turn the ignition and your car blows up. Russia is good at that sort of thing and I think lacks the ability to ‘strike at terrorists anywhere, anytime.’ in the tradition military sense.

    Reason has gotten out-of-control lefty recently.
    At least to me the blog entries are far more left than the articles.

  23. You know, I could post a series of punctuation marks, and morons like Ayn would still interpret them as being pro-terrorist.

  24. … and Ayn would be right.

  25. This isn’t a zero-sum game. Acknowledging that Russia’s Chechnya policy has been idiotic and wrong won’t make the child-killers any less guilty.

  26. I think joe was referring to the Russians going back into Chechnya in 1999 after the apartment bombings (which most outside anaylysts agree were probably carried out by elements of the FSB itself).

  27. Andy:
    “Was there ANY MOTHERFUCKING JUSTIFICATION for killing a bunch of kids?”

    how about these children, is there a justification for killing them?

    http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/09/09/iraq.main/index.html

    “U.S. warplanes targeted what officials called a position “occupied by numerous foreign fighters” in northern Falluja. A U.S. official said that an unknown number of civilians were killed. … The Iraqi Ministry of Health said 10 people — three men, three women and four children — ”

    “The fighting left 45 people dead — 22 of whom were believed to have been gunmen, hospital officials said. Dr. Rabi Yassin, director general of Mosul’s health department, said many of the other victims were children. “

  28. oh no, the big bad ruskies wouldn’t go after the heroic chechnian freedom fighters would he? if you read the papers, there are none of the majors calling these murdering bastards anything resembling terrorists. i think putin and the boys at their special warfare group ought to take on a retaliation program like the isrealis did following munich. for that matter, i think it would be a good thing if we did too. hunt each and every one of the participants that escaped, and all that had a hand in planning and support, and kill them where they stand. want to be a martyr and meet up with allah? sign up right here, me bucko, and we’ll do our best to make it happen. and i think Rupert is right, england and france have a disproportionate number of these types running loose. a little thinning of the herd by the russians would not necessarily be a bad thing.

  29. Jeff Taylor,

    I have not been able to figure out what exactly happened in the rescue attempt. Now that you are classifying it as a ‘seriously botched’ one, please let us know what the Russians did, and what they should have done instead.

    And don’t say, “they should have done a better job” – specifics would help.

    Thanks.

  30. …you would blame Russia and the government before you would blame the Islamic terrorists.

    I’m no expert on Chechnya, but it seems to me that if Russia had let Chechnya go the way they let other former Soviet republics go, the threat posed to Russia by Chechnya would be comparable to the threat posed to Russia by Albania.

    It also seems to me that Putin floated to power on hot air about a return to grandeur and a river of Chechen blood. If terrorist metaphors are your thing, what Putin has done to the people of Chechnya is comparable to what the hijackers did to the World Trade Center. Putin should be held accountable for the results of his policies.

    I’m as quick as anyone to denounce those who targets civilians, and I hope that God keeps an especially hot place in hell for those who target children. But I’m not sure that Putin himself isn’t a member of that club. Does anyone know a good source citing the number of Chechen civilians killed by the Russians since Chechnya first declared independence?

  31. I think joe was just pointing out that the Russian’s stirred up a hornet’s nest. They could have dealt with the problem with some finesse instead of the brute force method(speaking of Checnya here, not Breslan). Expect more of the same from them.

  32. Ken,
    According to this interesting article in Slate, about 80,000 Chechens have been killed by the Russians since 1994.

    I have less than 0 sympathy for the terrorists (all of my sympathy is for the people who lost their childrens’ lives and the ordinary Chechens who get branded as terrorists with the real ones), but the Russians really screwed the pooch with this one (but they didn’t deserve it).

  33. “This one” being Chechnya in general, not Breslan.

  34. Have to agree with joe. These terrorists/freedom fighters/whatever are from the same bunch that bombed cars and then took over a crowded theatre (remember that one?). Since Putin responded to these with the usual “no deals with terrorists” bit this is just upping the ante. Better to give these creeps what they want–independence–and if attacks on Russia are still ordered by psychotic warlords bent on revenge for two centuries of wrongs, THEN you beat the Chechens down like the dogs they want to be.

  35. zorel, Russian officials themselves are saying the rescue was botched:

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/functions/print.php?StoryID=20040904-114425-9526r

    MOSCOW — The death toll at Beslan in North Ossetia was sharply increased by a series of basic errors by Russian security forces, it was learned yesterday.

    The elite unit of Russia’s special forces, the Alpha team, was so unprepared to tackle the Chechen terrorists inside the school that it did not join the rescue mission until more than 20 minutes after the hostages started escaping.

    A failure by other troops to secure a perimeter around the area allowed armed civilians to rush into the school, impeding the effort to rescue fleeing parents and children.

    The presence of civilians also made it more difficult for the soldiers to identify the hostage-takers, allowing some to escape.

    A lack of medical provision outside the school meant freed hostages were often unable to be treated quickly, further increasing casualties.

    Lt. Col. Andrei Galagaev, who participated in the rescue, said: “When we needed the [Russian medical rescue service], they were simply not there.”

    He said that, on hearing the explosions, townspeople stormed the flimsy cordon set up by the army and mingled with the special forces pressed up against the walls of the school.

    “The civilians even had machine guns,” he said. “Special forces were saying that while the locals undoubtedly helped to take out the wounded, they also got in the way of the operation.

    “According to the special forces, if the locals had not got involved, there would have been fewer victims and the militants wouldn’t have got through into the town.”

    Earlier decisions by the Russian authorities also appear to have increased the problems. Freed hostages said the mood of the terrorists deteriorated on the second day of the siege, when it was revealed that President Vladimir Putin and Murat Ziazikov, the North Ossetian president, had refused to travel to the scene. From then on the terrorists forbade the hostages access to food and water.

    Last night, there were still conflicting accounts about why the troops began their attack on the school gym, where most of the approximately 1,200 hostages were being held.

    Some reports indicated that the arrival of a truck just after 1 p.m. Friday to take away the bodies of male civilians had prompted some children to make a break for freedom by jumping from the windows. When the terrorists, who had agreed to the truck being brought in, shot at the children, troops in the vicinity returned fire and a battle ensued.

    Other reports suggested that the hostage-takers had let off one or more of the explosives with which they had mined the gym, possibly by accident, and that the explosions prompted the troops to act.

    Further accounts gave cause to believe that the rescue operation, which began at lunchtime on Friday, was uncoordinated, with troops unable to communicate with each other by radio and even the commanding officer not fully in charge of all those involved in the mission.

    It emerged that the terrorists had meticulously prepared their attack, carrying out surveillance on the school, days or even weeks in advance, without hindrance.

    Russian officials said the militants had disguised themselves as builders to smuggle themselves and explosive equipment into the school, which had undergone repairs over the summer.

    Although road security in the region is meant to be tight to prevent the easy movement of militants from Chechnya into neighboring territories such as North Ossetia, there were reports that the willingness of soldiers to accept bribes meant that it was often easy for the rebels to move around.

    British academics who specialize in counterterrorism were surprised by the mistakes made by the forces. Sandra Bell, the director of homeland security and resilience at the Royal United Services Institute in London, said: “What we saw on Friday was mayhem. There certainly should have been a secure cordon around the area.”

    Professor Paul Wilkinson, chairman of the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, said: “There does seem to have been a large degree of confusion. The layout of the school is quite complicated. It seems that it was very difficult for the security forces to control all the possible exit points.”

    He also criticized the lack of medical arrangements. “Even if they had not been planning any kind of military action, there should have been ambulance services available for the victims in the event that some violence did break out,” he said. “There were lessons that needed to be learned from the previous siege in Moscow that haven’t really been fully taken on board.”

    John McAleese, one of the SAS team that stormed the Iranian Embassy in London in 1980, said of the denouement: “It was total chaos. Troops did not seem to have radios to communicate.”

    Andy McNab, the former SAS soldier and author of “Bravo Two Zero,” agreed that mistakes had been made, but tempered his criticism. “There were fundamental mistakes made but, ultimately, with less than 30 percent casualties, you are looking at a success, because the political objective is to rescue the hostages. Whether it was the soldiers immediately in that vicinity who started to return fire or the ground commander who gave the order doesn’t really matter. You are looking at the point where all these people are potentially dead anyway. It’s a case of making the best of a bad situation.

    “We tend to forget the potential of these people because we’ve lived through a previous era — the hijacks and sieges of the 1970s and 1980s, the Iranian Embassy siege — when it was like a video game in comparison. These people have mindsets that are different. There is so much commitment. There are women who are willing to kill themselves with explosives and kill children in the process,” Mr. McNab added.

    Hugh McManners, a former Royal Marine commando and expert on special forces, said: “The FSB [Russian security service] had no plan. They were sitting there like puddings.”
    ——————————

  36. Thank you, SR, thank you Todd. I was indeed referring to the idiotic decision to re-invade Chechnya in 1999. At that time, the only threat Chechnya posed to Russia was political – not military, not security, just some disappointment among the imperialists on the Right and far Left.

    But now, thanks to a corrupt leader’s dreams of imperial glory, Russia is facing a military and security threat far beyond that it faced in Afghanistan.

  37. “Better to give these creeps what they want–independence–and if attacks on Russia are still ordered by psychotic warlords bent on revenge for two centuries of wrongs, THEN you beat the Chechens down like the dogs they want to be. ”

    This is, essentially, what’s happening now.

    The Chechens had de facto independence after the first Chechen war. Ignoring the apartment buildings entirely, there’s still the issue of Chechens (Basayev) carrying out attacks in Dagestan prior to the resumption of hostilities.

    Now, mind you, calling the original Russian response to secession brutal would likely be an understatement, and they only granted the Chechens what independence they had after taking heavy casualties. There are also issues as to how much you should be blaming Maskhadov for the actions of Basayev.

    However, Basayev’s response to the first pullback was to push forward into Dagestan. So why should the Russians now believe there’d be any chance that a removal of Russian troops from Chechnaya would mean an end to attacks outside it?

  38. gm,

    oh shut your mouth you pompous bag of shit. All you do is make your snide little comments, hiding your cowardice behind a computer screen.

    So once again i say FUCK. YOU.

  39. and anon,

    does intent count for nothing?

    Of course it’s terrible that innocent civilians die during wartime, but they are never the targets of the US military.

    Those kids in Beslan WERE THE TARGETS

  40. Andy wrote: “hiding your cowardice behind a computer screen.”

    Gven that gaius has a working e-mail address, whereas your address is supposedly “fuck@gm.com”, I’d say you’re the person hiding his “cowardice behind a computer screen.”

  41. Martin,

    The tragedy of September 11 produced an enormous amount of indignation in America. This indignation was misappropriated by the Bush Administration and was used to attack people who had nothing to do with the tragedy, nothing whatsoever. It was also used to justify a number of frightening abuses of power at home including the Patriot Act. So please pardon me if I seem a bit callous when confronted by a profoundly stupid statement like, “Save all the discussions and theorizing as to why, how and what group. Join in and fight the bastards!”, a statement made by you in response to yet another tragedy.

    What exactly is, ?Join in and fight the bastards!? supposed to mean? What’s Russia?s reaction going to be this time–another crackdown? Are you suggesting that America join Putin in this? What will a crackdown in Chechnya entail this time? According to the link Mo posted above, Russia has already killed 80,000 Chechen civilians; how many more Chechen civilians will Putin have to kill before Russia is finally safe? In what way does suggesting that Putin?s policies may have been partially responsible for provoking this reprehensible mass murder diminish my condemnation of the act?

    ?You’re equating people who murder with people who are murdered for nothing at all.?

    ?That last statement doesn?t make any sense. If Putin specifically targeted Chechen civilians he deserves his seat in that especially hot place in hell right next to the people who murdered those children. As I wrote above:

    ?I’m as quick as anyone to denounce those who target civilians, and I hope that God keeps an especially hot place in hell for those who target children. But I’m not sure that Putin himself isn’t a member of that club…?

    I compared someone who may have targeted Chechen civilians with people who targeted Russian civilians, and I don?t see any reason to apologize for that. You?re the one who doesn?t seem to distinguish between criminals and victims; once again, you wrote, “Save all the discussions and theorizing as to why, how and what group. Join in and fight the bastards!” Wouldn?t you like to retract that statement?

  42. Andy:

    “does intent count for nothing?”

    When you drop a thousand-pound bomb on an inhabited house, you are bound to kill some, if not all, the residents of the house.

    So, if you say your intent was not to kill the people inside, you are either an idiot who shouldn’t be trusted with a bomb or you are a bit disingenuous about your intentions.

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