Skip to comments.Disregard for Human Life (Was Putin referring to the USA as the hostile foreign powers?)
Posted on 09/07/2004 1:15:21 AM PDT by stlnative
Disregard for Human Life
By Pavel Felgenhauer
There can be no justification or sympathy for the hostage-takers who last week took the lives of innocent children in the school in Beslan, North Ossetia. The final body count still isn't in following the reckless, poorly organized attempt to free the hostages by Russian special forces. But it's already clear that only about 10 percent of the hostages escaped unharmed; the rest were killed or wounded, most of them children.
In his address to the nation last Saturday, President Vladimir Putin rightly said that a full-scale terrorist war is being waged against this country. Within two weeks, two passenger jets were blown out of the sky, a bomb killed pedestrians outside a Moscow metro station, and then came the slaughter in Beslan.
In has address, Putin acknowledged that Russia's law enforcement and judicial systems are corrupt and inefficient. Again, one can only agree, recalling the Yukos case and many other instances of blatant judicial bias.
Elsewhere in his prepared address, however, Putin referred to unnamed, hostile foreign powers that "think that Russia, as one of the greatest nuclear powers of the world, is still a threat, and this threat has to be eliminated." Terrorism, Putin said, "is only an instrument to achieve these goals." Since al-Qaida and other Islamist extremists couldn't possibly be threatened by Russia's nuclear arsenal, Putin was apparently referring to the West.
Putin said that although the Soviet Union had disintegrated, "the nucleus of that giant" was preserved. "We have called the new country the Russian Federation." His remarks seem to imply that present-day Russia is not a country in its own right, and that it could just as well be called something else. This falls into line with the praise for the Soviet past, and for Josef Stalin in particular, in programs on state television and in newly revised history textbooks used in the schools. For Putin, Stalin seems to be something of a role model.
In the Stalin era, anything that went wrong in the Soviet Union was blamed on foreign powers and their agents. The country, like Stalin himself, was paranoid and xenophobic. Putin seems to suffer from the same sickness, and is doing his best to make the entire nation paranoid along with him.
In his address, Putin promised to prepare "a complex of measures aimed at strengthening the unity of our country." He also pledged "to create a new system of forces and means for exercising control over the situation in the North Caucasus" and an "effective crisis management system." Such measures will mostly likely involve the further restriction of civil liberties, elimination of the few remnants of a free press and enhanced powers for the secret police -- all in the name of fighting terrorism.
Two prominent journalists critical of Putin, Andrei Babitsky and Anna Politkovskaya, were prevented from traveling to Beslan last week. Politkovskaya was apparently poisoned. Novaya Gazeta editor Dmitry Muradov told me that she is currently recovering from kidney and liver damage.
Stalin regularly used the secret police to harass or murder critics and opponents. The plight of Babitsky and Politkovskaya indicates that in Putin's neo-Stalinist Russia, the same methods will be used to eliminate terrorists and their "sympathizers."
Journalists are easy targets, but terrorism in Russia will only be bolstered by repression. Many in Chechnya and Ingushetia view the terrorists as freedom fighters. Only political dialogue can change their thinking. But Putin's address contained no reference to holding negotiations with anyone.
During the Beslan siege, the authorities deliberately and consistently lied about the true number of hostages taken, reducing the numbers to make the crisis appear less grave and the imminent attack by special forces less reckless. As they did in 2002 during the Dubrovka theater siege in Moscow, the authorities deliberately refused to negotiate with the hostage-takers. They did not reveal that the terrorists' only condition for releasing the children was for Putin to sign a decree on removing Russian forces from Chechnya.
A piece of paper could have saved hundreds of lives. Instead, a bloody attack by the Russian military and special forces was carried out to demonstrate Putin's resolve.
Terrorists in Russia display a blatant disregard for human life, and the Kremlin does the same. The victims of terrorism and the wrath of the state -- all of us, potentially -- are left in the middle with no protection.
Pavel Felgenhauer is an independent Moscow-based defense analyst.
Not knowing who Putin is talking about, I prefer to think that he's referring to the EU maroons who chided him last week for not being "sensitive" to the Chechen concerns.
I think you're right too that Putin was firing back at the EU that took a cheap and cruel shot at Russia in its hour of pain, and while I do not think Putin respects dissent as much as he should, the authors of this new story are greatly wrong if they compare Putin to Stalin. Who in their right mind thinks anyone could have written this article during Stalin's timese in Russia? That alone says the times have changed.
Not the West.
I don't believe that for a minute.
Six-year-olds were shot in the back.
You have a valid point but let us not forget that Russia, France and Germany have publically called for a military alliance against the US. Guess we will have to see how this shakes out.
Sounds sensible to me.
It's amazing that so many people can be so led by their emotions, as we've seen over the past few days.
Russia has opposed us every step of the way on terrorism, most recently on the matter of Syrian troops in Lebanon. Political people have come to this board from Russia to argue that the USA is conspiring with Saudi Arabia against them, demanded that we get all personnel out of Iraq and demanded that we cut other friendly ties in the Middle East. We know that Russia has had a thing going with Iran for some time and has demanded that we have nothing to do with Iran.
And I believe the defense analyst who wrote the column above. he knows the culture, knows what he's writing about and is doing so at great risk to himself.
Most people in some other countries do not think the way we think. For one, the norm of ideals in some other countries is far closer to regards of weakness vs. strength than good vs. evil (moral). Notice Putin's recent flaggelation of his country on "weakness." That's a very bad sign, folks, and not necessarily only for the terrorists.
Maybe it's time for more education on Russian culture and politics.
That reflects the view of western NEWSPEOPLE. That's who he was attacking. The newspeople spun it as an attack on the West.
In another report yeaterday (Monday), yes, there was an allusion to the West including the U.S. and the EU as bring those "foreign powers." The Russians seem deeply offended that the kinds of atrocities we've seen there in the last three weeks are regarded as the acts of "Chechen militants" rather than the acts of terrorists. They see and hear the hypocrisy loud and clear.
Certainly there is no doubt from European press accounts in the last few days, as well as the demands for "further information" by the EU and France, that the EU in particular sides with the Chechens. And our own State Department is firmly in the same camp.
By all accounts Russia's war against Chechnya has been brutal and hamhanded. In the cold light of reality, that is the price paid by all separatist movements run by deluded leadership and ultimately supported by the people. Including our own Civil War.
That the Chechens have resorted to baby-killing and the crudest expressions of terrorism is not Putin's fault nor that of any Russian. It is the road the Chechens have chosen under the familiar and hideous guidance of the one single ideology on Earth which encourages such barbarity. It isn't a separatist ideology or a political ideology or any other kind of ideology articulated by rational people.
Plain and simple, it is Islamism.
If we don't get our State Department on-board and supporting Russia's self-defense against this barbarity, it'll be a long, cold, and lonely walk in our own struggle against the Islamists.
Does anyone really think that Putin is accusing the USA for these attacks? That is ridiculous. I give him credit for being smarter than that.