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Someone wrote the script for Beslan
The Age (Melbourne) ^ | 6th September 2004 | Peter Preston

Posted on 09/06/2004 6:25:31 PM PDT by naturalman1975

The message of terrorism is itself a weapon. We must work to defuse it.

Did you buy a paper? I asked my daughter. No, she said with a grimace and shudder. "I couldn't face it, I didn't want to read about it."

The "it", of course, was Beslan, and hundreds of children like my daughter's children, like your children, lying in that charnel-house of a gym. The first day of school, the crisp new uniforms, the songs and clasped hands, then terrible fear and death. A universal nightmare seemingly beyond scripting or imagining. But now that we have seen it again and again on 24-hour news, now that the plumes of smoke and the naked kids running are images scarred on our brains, what does it mean?

The danger, the real danger for professional politicians, professional journalists, professional know-alls everywhere, is not sensing the difference. So Boris Yeltsin was wrong to invade Chechnya a decade ago, and Vladimir Putin was wrong to play the hardest of hard men, and his crack troops cracked up. Wiser international counsels had better prevail.

So, fine: but also, so what? Human revulsion slams the door on expertise and reason. These could have been our children. Perhaps, one malign day, they will be our children. And if there is such evil, then perhaps there is also something called an international terrorist conspiracy.

Scant evidence, in all rationality, still buttresses that belief. Arabs among the Beslan corpses? Maybe, but Putin would say that, wouldn't he? Join Mother Russia in its "full-scale" battle for democracy, truth and justice in the style and wake of Father Texas? Stroll on . . . but don't stroll through the smoking ruins of Grozny, don't open your history books too wide. There are no simplicities here except the ultimate simplicity of total horror. But that may be enough.

For the difficult, inescapable thing, watching those pictures, is an eery feeling of manipulation. Somebody planned this and reckoned the cameras would be there. Take a panning shot of Middle School No. 1, go in close on the gym, frame the fleeing children from handy rooftops and let's see plenty of greenery, let's make Beslan like downtown Smallville or Littlehampton. We seemed to look down on a leafy stage set for carnage; and someone knew we would be watching.

Perhaps, in another life, that someone might have found other uses for his talents: orchestrating US Republican conventions or the backdrops at election campaign launches. He could have been super spin doctor, feted and interviewed. But instead, in the service of Chechnya, he sat alone in a darkened room and thought hard.

What kind of outrage makes world news these days? Those early al-Qaeda bomb blasts in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi seem pretty outdated now to be honest, just big bangs with loads of dead, no pictures beyond more destruction. Who cares about blowing holes in ships or trains? The wonder of September 11 was the pictures, the twin towers toppling. Play it again, Sam. Osama had made No. 1.

How do you follow that? By seizing a Moscow theatre, maybe, by making a stage your stage. Putin couldn't pretend that wasn't happening; the curtain rose on his front doorstep. But the trouble was that the theatre doors were locked, that the cameras couldn't peer inside. You had to rely on imagination - on the thought that this could be Broadway or the West End - and it wasn't enough. You needed a brand-new wheeze.

Politicians and their intelligence advisers, of course, are always wittering on about WMD. They read Tom Clancy and multiply the threat because that's their particular obsession. It is what seems real to them. But why bother hitting Wall Street with high-tech trappings when there are so many easier pickings on offer?

Beslan, North Ossetia. What kind of dateline is that? An obscure town near the Chechen border. A suitable target for infiltration, no nuclear scientists required. Just take a school hostage and see what happens.

Hostage-taking on a grand scale means time, among other things: time for the camera teams to arrive, time for the crisis and pressure to build. Will Putin give in? He can't. It would be the end of him. So it will all come to slaughter and bitter tears. But he'll have to let CNN, BBC and the rest see what happens if he wants to make this terrorism international. And then the world will, too, see what we Chechens can do.

Someone, that someone, wrote the script. Someone with despair in his heart calculated how it would work out - and break from behind the borders of control that stop us seeing what happens inside Chechnya. Someone wanted to put his case on the international map. Mission accomplished.

And for his next trick? An old peoples' home, a nursery, a hospital? There is no limit to the targets that may be chosen by terrorists who expect to die but know that they will make a splash in the process. There is no limit to the soft touches that cannot be anticipated or defended. Frontiers are meaningless, because pictures have no frontier. Fear needs no visa.

Two bleak things follow. One is that - whether or not it exists on any organised level - we shall gradually come to identify a force called international terrorism, a force defined not by the co-ordination of its strikes or creeds but by the orchestration of its inhuman propaganda. I manipulate, therefore I exist.

The other thing is self-knowledge for media-makers and media-watchers. If the malignant message is itself a device, a weapon of mass hysteria, how do we defuse it? By a suppression that undermines free society, that gives terror its victory? Or by the realisation that we are not puppets, that we must see and explain for ourselves. That we have a duty of understanding.

Peter Preston is a columnist with The Guardian, London.


TOPICS: Australia/New Zealand; Editorial; Russia; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: alqaeda; antiwesternism; attrocities; beslan; brutality; globaljihad; holywar; infanticide; islamofascism; islamonazism; jihad; ossetia; religion; religiousintolerance; whywefight; worldwarfour
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1 posted on 09/06/2004 6:25:31 PM PDT by naturalman1975
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To: naturalman1975
next trick? An old peoples' home, a nursery, a hospital? There is no limit to the targets that may be chosen by terrorists who expect to die but know that they will make a splash in the process.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

2 posted on 09/06/2004 6:30:09 PM PDT by annyokie (Now with 20% More Infidel!)
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To: naturalman1975
next trick? An old peoples' home, a nursery, a hospital? There is no limit to the targets that may be chosen by terrorists who expect to die but know that they will make a splash in the process.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

3 posted on 09/06/2004 6:30:24 PM PDT by annyokie (Now with 20% More Infidel!)
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Sorry for the double post.


4 posted on 09/06/2004 6:32:22 PM PDT by annyokie (Now with 20% More Infidel!)
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To: naturalman1975
Join Mother Russia in its "full-scale" battle for democracy, truth and justice in the style and wake of Father Texas?

Huh?? I was about two thirds of the way through this when I realized the deep in his heart, Peter Preston admires the murders for giving him a stage to wail and grind his teeth about the evils or Bush and Putin.

5 posted on 09/06/2004 6:36:44 PM PDT by JimSEA ( "More Bush, Less Taxes.")
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To: naturalman1975
"Perhaps, in another life, that someone might have found other uses for his talents: orchestrating US Republican conventions or the backdrops at election campaign launches. He could have been super spin doctor, feted and interviewed. But instead, in the service of Chechnya, he sat alone in a darkened room and thought hard. What kind of outrage makes world news these days?"

This guy is insulting even for the Guardian.

6 posted on 09/06/2004 6:41:45 PM PDT by dinok
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To: naturalman1975
Peter Preston is a columnist with The Guardian, London. Peter Preston is a columnist communist with The Guardian, London.
7 posted on 09/06/2004 6:45:03 PM PDT by 7.62 x 51mm ( Veni Vidi Vino Visa "I came, I saw, I drank wine, I shopped")
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To: naturalman1975
Lemme try that again...

Peter Preston is a columnist with The Guardian, London.

Peter Preston is a columnist communist with The Guardian, London.

8 posted on 09/06/2004 6:46:53 PM PDT by 7.62 x 51mm ( Veni Vidi Vino Visa "I came, I saw, I drank wine, I shopped")
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To: annyokie
Be afraid. Be very afraid...

Nope. Wrong emotion. In giving in to fear, they've won, they've beaten you. Don't be afraid, be mad!! In fact, be mad as Zell!!

the infowarrior

9 posted on 09/06/2004 6:47:28 PM PDT by infowarrior (TANSTAAFL)
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To: 7.62 x 51mm

Wow, this double posting with corrections is going around tonight. Let's quit or put down the Johnny Walker.

; )


10 posted on 09/06/2004 6:54:24 PM PDT by annyokie (Now with 20% More Infidel!)
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To: infowarrior

I'm not afraid. The lefty morons who refuse to believe we are at war are the ones who make me afraid. Thanks!


11 posted on 09/06/2004 6:55:28 PM PDT by annyokie (Now with 20% More Infidel!)
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To: infowarrior; annyokie
Be afraid. Be very afraid...

Don't be afraid, be mad!!

No, be resolute. Coldly, calmly, resolute.

Train hard, aquire (additional) weaponry, be vigilant.

Be prepared and ready.

12 posted on 09/06/2004 6:56:29 PM PDT by facedown (Armed in the Heartland)
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To: facedown

We're there at Chez Okie. We had a chat with children after supper about how we and the Amish will be the ones to weather the storm should such a tragedy happen.

Guns, gasoline, diesel fuel, generators and canned food. We will survive.

Thank you for the wishes.


13 posted on 09/06/2004 6:59:53 PM PDT by annyokie (Now with 20% More Infidel!)
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To: naturalman1975

"That we have a duty of understanding."

No, our duty is to obliterate them.


14 posted on 09/06/2004 7:06:01 PM PDT by DB ()
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To: annyokie
We will survive.

Shoulder to shoulder, back to back.

Have a good night.

15 posted on 09/06/2004 7:08:27 PM PDT by facedown (Armed in the Heartland)
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To: facedown

You too!


16 posted on 09/06/2004 7:18:29 PM PDT by annyokie (Now with 20% More Infidel!)
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To: naturalman1975

Yeltsin did not "invade" Chechnya. Chechnya was part of Russia. You can't invade your own country.


17 posted on 09/06/2004 8:02:52 PM PDT by valkyrieanne
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To: annyokie

Remember the threat on VA hospitals this summer?


18 posted on 09/06/2004 8:03:55 PM PDT by ican'tbelieveit
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To: ican'tbelieveit

Yes, we need to vigilant. I am relieved to be past the Olympics and the RNC. I am still worried about the nutballs up to and after the election.


19 posted on 09/06/2004 8:15:14 PM PDT by annyokie (Now with 20% More Infidel!)
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To: naturalman1975
And if there is such evil, then perhaps there is also something called an international terrorist conspiracy.

Scant evidence, in all rationality, still buttresses that belief.

Light dawns over Marblehead.
What a maroon.

20 posted on 09/06/2004 9:20:19 PM PDT by thegreatbeast (Quid lucrum istic mihi est?)
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