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Root causes

September 5th, 2004

There is no excuse or justification for terrorism. But that doesn’t mean it is inexplicable, the product of purely irrational evil impulses. There will always be people willing, under certain circumstances, to resort to terrorism. If we want to fight terrorism effectively, we have to avoid creating those circumstances.

Successive Russian governments created the conditions in Chechnya that allow terrorists like those responsible for the Beslan atrocity to flourish. There was a long history of oppression, from Czarist times to mass deportation under Stalin. But the current outbreak can be traced most directly to the actions of Yeltsin and Putin. When Chechnya sought independence from Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Yeltsin’s response was one of brutal and incompetent repression, eventually leading to an effective Russian withdrawal, and the creation of a failed state, in which warlords and militias flourished, and terrorism established itself.

After a series of Chechen terrorist attacks in Moscow and an attempted invasion of the neighbouring republic of Dagestan, Putin came to power with a policy of crushing Chechen resistance, which he implemented with high civilian casualties and the destruction of much of the capital city of Grozny[1].

Again, this history doesn’t justify, excuse or mitigate horrible crimes like the one we have just witnessed. But there is also no excuse for those who advocate policies that are bound to promote terrorism while rejecting any analysis of “root causes”.

fn1. Those interested in a more detailed history can find what seems to be a pretty good one at Global Issues. This is a leftwing site, but seems to give fairly objective coverage.

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  1. September 5th, 2004 at 11:28 | #1

    Another Middle East has been created by hardliners like Putin.

    It is an insult that a former KGB star is able to give orders today not unlike those Putin was giving under the Soviet regime …

    Bizzare!

  2. d
    September 5th, 2004 at 11:51 | #2

    Why does attribution of the root causes have to stop at Yeltsin – Why not blame the situation on Breznev, or perhaps most appropriately on Stalin and the convenient fools who tolerated the Communist lie that deeply underlies the current chaos in the former SU. Afterall, this went on for a much longer period than the Yeltsin watch.

  3. John Quiggin
    September 5th, 2004 at 12:20 | #3

    d, I’m puzzled by your comment, since I refer explicitly to “a long history of oppression, from Czarist times to mass deportation under Stalin.”

    You can read my views on Brezhnev here.

  4. d
    September 5th, 2004 at 12:57 | #4

    Then why does the root cause argument you make unambiguously stop at Yeltsin: do root causes suddenly run out of steam in 10 years or so?

  5. d
    September 5th, 2004 at 13:10 | #5

    To continue, news reports claim there are Arab ethic connections of some of the school terrorists, so perhaps also the “root cause” arguments should extend in that direction also.

  6. September 5th, 2004 at 13:18 | #6

    The root causes go waaaaaaaaaaay back to the initial chess moves in the great power game. In the late 18th century the Veinakh (Chechen) tribes has a loosely affiliated vassal status within the Russian Empire. As the great power game progressed, Russia needed full control of the Caucasus in order to inhibit any northward Ottoman ambitions.

    From that point on – the Chechens have maintained a habit of launching a rebellion against Russian rule at twenty or fifty year intervals.

    The Turks are no longer a threat to Russia but the discovery of vast Caspian Sea oil and gas reserves dictates that Putin cannot afford to leave such a crucial territory in the hands of a 300 year old enemy. Chechnya itself is relatively rich in fossil fuel deposits but that isn’t the main issue.

    Pipelines (again) are the motivation for maintaining the Chechen offensive, even though these are sabotaged on a daily basis, the potential for future Caspian Sea projects is enourmous.

    For this reason, Chechnya will probably never regain an inkling of autonomy let alone sovereignty.

    The Veinakh’s are a fiercely proud and independent people – they would rather go down fighting than live under perennial Russian rule.

    It’s just incredibly sad that innocents on both sides have to die as a result of these two things.

  7. Peter Murphy
    September 5th, 2004 at 15:34 | #7

    Then why does the root cause argument you make unambiguously stop at Yeltsin: do root causes suddenly run out of steam in 10 years or so?

    d: come clean. You’re trying to suss out any signs of ideological bias in the post, aren’t you? For chrissake, JQ concentrated on the last ten years, then chucked you a link where you can do your own research. And he said:

    Successive Russian governments created the conditions in Chechnya that allow terrorists like those responsible for the Beslan atrocity to flourish. There was a long history of oppression, from Czarist times to mass deportation under Stalin.

    There’s your root causes there.

    One thing I read is that conscripts will not be serving in Chechnya after 2005. That’s probably a good thing as draftees aren’t the best at fighting counter-insurgency. The bad news is that their older brethren, the kontraktniki, aren’t much better:

    The “kontraktniki” have an especially fearsome reputation for atrocities both against Chechen civilians and against the Russian army’s younger, less hardened draftees.

    I guess “kontraktniki” means Russian soldiers on tours-of-duty, rather than private companies of mercenaries as found in Iraq today.

  8. Dave Ricardo
    September 5th, 2004 at 16:38 | #8

    Well, no doubt the Chechens do have a legitimate beef with successive Russian govenrments, though what those children have got to do with it, beats me. It would be like if terrorists who didn’t like things done by the Howard government murdered the children of the people who post to this site.

    But in any case, according to media reports, 10 of the 26 terrorists were Arabs. They don’t have any beef with the Russians. They’re just taking part in a Depravity Sans Frontieres campaign. Personally, I couldn’t give a rats what’s going on between the ears of people like that. They should be exterminated forthwith, and we can leave it up to historians to sort out at their leisure what motivated them.

  9. d
    September 5th, 2004 at 17:48 | #9

    Peter
    Thanks for cottoning on to the bias factor although I’m not certain ideological bias is the cause: it just seems to me quite simplistic to nominate one root cause with discussing the others; JQ is right in pointing out the blunders of Yeltsin et al but wrong to stop there, the later posts really opened up the possibilities as to how Chechnia got into this mess. None of them cheer me up.
    Leaving out perverse religious manias of the terrorists, and their sources – not Yeltsin I’d bet – as a root cause is missing a major point
    and I’m honestly puzzeled as to why JQ doenst place much importance on it. From the reports in the news the evident moral madness of the terrorists seems to be a very direct cause of the deaths.

  10. Matt
    September 5th, 2004 at 18:40 | #10

    We don’t blame religion (or mathematics) for terrorist attacks (including on abortion clinics or in the UK) because it’s simply not relevant in most cases.
    A terrorist is made when certain type of unbalanced individual is exposed to a lengthy period of perceived or real opression and injustice.

  11. John Quiggin
    September 5th, 2004 at 18:41 | #11

    “They should be exterminated forthwith, and we can leave it up to historians to sort out at their leisure what motivated them.”

    The first part is right enough, but unless we want to keep on creating situations like this, I suggest that we can’t leave this to the historians. As I pointed out a while back, current policies are turning Fallujah and other parts of Iraq into the next Chechyna.

  12. gordon
    September 5th, 2004 at 18:41 | #12

    I understand the meaning of Prof. Quiggin’s post to be that if Chechen terrorists are even in part provoked by a long history of oppression, then ending the oppression may make at least a contribution towards ending the terrorism. Though this may seem to be bleeding obvious, in the current climate of election-driven terrorist hysteria it is probably worth saying in a clear, calm and distict way, as Prof. Quiggin has done.

    To explain terrorism only by reference to “perverse religious manias” and “moral madness”, as d seems to want to do, looks like abandoning cause and effect as a basic analytical tool. I don’t think I’m willing to do that just yet.

  13. James
    September 5th, 2004 at 19:42 | #13

    Cool.

    Can Matt and Gordon now explain the terrible oppression suffered by Osama bin Laden, a member of a family of high status and wealthier than myself and everyone I know squared?

    And while we’re at it, how about David Hicks, who reportedly fought in Chechnya before his capture in Afghanistan?

    Evidence of oppression please?

  14. James
    September 5th, 2004 at 19:50 | #14

    Oops, posted too soon.

    Could I add to Matt and Gordon’s homework the chronicle of oppression suffered by the Saudi hijackers of 9/11 fame, and while we’re at it, the Bali bombers?

  15. John Quiggin
    September 5th, 2004 at 20:25 | #15

    James, no-one is claiming that terrorism is, in general, an individual response to personal experience of oppression (or at least, I’m not claiming this). If the right circumstances exist, they attract people who see themselves as volunteers in wars of liberation, jihadis, crusaders etc. These people are probably more likely than the actual victims of oppression to take extreme positions, resort to terrorism etc.

    But a substantial terrorist organisation can’t survive on fanatics alone. It needs the base of popular support, or at least acquiescence, that is provided by actual or perceived oppression.

    It’s also true that terrorism is frequently encouraged by governments and others who think they can use it as an instrument e.g. OBL’s US and Pakistani backers in Afghanistan.

    In the case of the Bali bombers, the development of militant Islamism was encouraged by elements within the military, who fomented much of the intercommunal fighting in Ambon (their control was sufficient that, when they pulled the plug after Bali, the main terrorist group apart from JI, Laskar Jihad, disbanded and has not been heard from again).

  16. Dave Ricardo
    September 5th, 2004 at 20:55 | #16

    John, when I said we could leave it up to the historians to sort out the terrorists’ motivations, I meant the rent-a-terrorist hangers on (in this instance, the 10 Arabs) not the Chechnyans. No doubt the whole question of Chechnyan independence is very complex, both sides have committed appalling acts of violence, blah blah blah. That is usually the way, and until a settlement is reached, the – dare I say it – cycle of violence will continue. Though I think the Chechnyans have, on this occasion, not just committed a terrible atrocity but committed a terrible political blunder as well. Putin will no doubt go after them with an intensity that will make Ariel Sharon look like a model of restraint.

    As for the non-Chechnyan rent-a-terrorists, I am not going to wring my hands about their Muslim-solidarity internationalism, or whatever it was motivated them to massacre hundreds of Russian children, who were, in a grim irony, themselves Muslim. This year alone, we’ve seen the bomb in Madrid, bombs in Istanbul and the Russian school. There is no rational political motive here. This is just killing, maiming and terrorising for its own sake.

  17. Peter F
    September 5th, 2004 at 21:01 | #17

    The confirmatory example that many of us would be at least somewhat familiar with, is Northern Ireland. The IRA terrorism was made lethally feasible by the widespread sympathy)and even wider non-co-operation with the British and Ulster authorities), which those engaged in the terorism were able to draw from the Catholic community. Why? because the Catholic minority had real grievances, and endured real discrimination. That is not to deny the extortionate behaviour of the Provisional IRA, and indeed their Protestant counterparts, but the violence could (and did) only die down, when the oxygen of support from Catholics, not directly engaged, dissipated.

  18. James
    September 5th, 2004 at 21:49 | #18

    JQ writes: : “James, no-one is claiming that terrorism is, in general, an individual response to personal experience of oppression (or at least, I’m not claiming this). If the right circumstances exist, they attract people who see themselves as volunteers in wars of liberation, jihadis, crusaders etc. These people are probably more likely than the actual victims of oppression to take extreme positions, resort to terrorism etc.”

    Then you would be disavowing what Matt (the subject of my post) wrote ” A terrorist is made when certain type of unbalanced individual is exposed to a lengthy period of perceived or real opression and injustice.”

    But let’s throw the question back to you JQ – what were the oppressions that OBL and the Saudi hijackers of 9/11 seeking to redress?

    And remind us of the oppression suffered by the Bali bombers and their supporters that caused them to act out against Aussie backpackers & football teams in Bali.

  19. Fred
    September 5th, 2004 at 22:54 | #19

    Mmmmmm

  20. John Quiggin
    September 5th, 2004 at 23:42 | #20

    OBL’s history is pretty well known James. He started out fighting the Russians in Afghanistan with American and Pakistani backing, then turned against the Americans when they stationed troops in Saudi Arabia after Gulf War I. But I think the Afghan war was crucial here.

    As regards Bali, I think Bashir got his start as an opponent of the Suharto dictatorship, but, as I pointed out above, Islamist militancy was fomented by elements within the military after the fall of Suharto.

  21. michaelh
    September 5th, 2004 at 23:55 | #21

    James, there’s no need to guess what OBL thought was the oppression suffered. He wrote it all down for us.

    When he refes to “us” he obviously refering to all Muslims and “you” the US.

    Here’s a few samples,

    “You attacked us in Palestine”,

    “You attacked us in Somalia; you supported the Russian atrocities against us in Chechnya, the Indian oppression against us in Kashmir, and the Jewish aggression against us in Lebanon.”
    (Which may help explain the presence of Arab fighters in Ossetia.)

    “Under your supervision, consent and orders, the governments of our [Arab]countries which act as your agents, attack us on a daily basis”

    “You have starved the Muslims of Iraq, where children die every day…”

    “Do not await anything from us but Jihad, resistance and revenge. Is it in any way rational to expect that after America has attacked us for more than half a century, that we will then leave her to live in security and peace?!!
    (3) You may then dispute that all the above does not justify aggression against civilians, for crimes they did not commit and offenses in which they did not partake:
    (a) This argument contradicts your continuous repetition that America is the land of freedom, and its leaders in this world. Therefore, the American people are the ones who choose their government by way of their own free will; a choice which stems from their agreement to its policies. Thus the American people have chosen, consented to, and affirmed their support for the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, the occupation and usurpation of their land, and its continuous killing, torture, punishment and expulsion of the Palestinians. The American people have the ability and choice to refuse the policies of their Government and even to change it if they want.”

    Some of this is very contestable, but unfortunately, some isn’t.

    A point worth noting is that people may act in a just cause, or in a cause for which there are valid reasons, but may do so by illegitimate means. We should condemm such means, but this does not nullify the justice of the cause.

  22. Dan Hardie
    September 6th, 2004 at 00:01 | #22

    This is a long post, also appearing in comments to a Dsquared thread on CT, so JQ can delete it if he thinks I’m thread-jacking. But if not, I’m going to argue that there must be a Russian withdrawal from Chechnya, with Chechnya becoming either an autonomous region or an independent state- despite the grotesque and barbarous atrocities carried out by Chechen rebels, of which the school massacre is the latest.Critics of my patriotism, toughness, etc can go Cheney themselves.

    Why Russia should get the hell out of Chechnya:

    One, claims of ‘moral equivalence- all sides are equally guilty’ are garbage EXCEPT when evidence exists to indicate that all sides are indeed using the same tactics. Such evidence abounds in the case of Chechnya- as noted above, every Western foreign correspondent or human rights investigator to have come out of Chechnya reports the same things: a Russian army entirely unlimited in its use of terror tactics against civilians, the rape of Chechen women by Russian troops on such a scale as to strongly suggest deliberate orders or at the very least a ‘blind eye’ policy, the levelling of Chechen villages and towns by Russian firepower. The Russian troops and the Chechen rebels are morally equivalent, and the reason we do not have the TV photos to remind us is that being a cameraman in Chechnya is both suicidally dangerous and not something editors are willing to pay for.

    Second, there is strong reason to believe that Russia is fighting this war for no vital national interests, whereas a deal on the lines of the Tatarstan compromise of ‘94 or the Lebed-brokered Chechen deal of ‘96 would be accepted- and would, furthermore, have a strong tendency to lead the Chechen population away from support of the grotesque tactics and Wah’habi ideology of the current rebel leadership. States, or autonomous regions, have an interest in maintaining some form of stability and peace- States do not want Wah’habi thugs terrorising their neighbours, and the neighbours responding by bombing bridges and power stations. Rebel leaders, on the other hand, thrive on the violence and chaos of the kind currently prevailing in Chechnya.

    Third, moving on from the above, there is abundant evidence that every further year of the war has led to the leadership and rank and file of the Chechen rebellion becoming more and more radically Islamist. Early reports of the Chechen leadership in ‘94 and ‘95- eg in Carlotta Gall and Tim De Waal, ‘Chechnya: A short Victorious war’- state that they were essentially nationalists, fuelled by grievances against Moscow, and dreams of oil riches and power, and that their behaviour and rhetoric was hardly Muslim at all. The first reports of Sharia law imposed by rebels date from ‘95, and since then the ultra-Islamic tendency in the rebellion first became more prominent and now seems to dominate. There must be all sorts of dynamic going on that can explain this- the provision of weapons and military instruction from Bin Ladenite groups, the provision of money from Gulf Wah’habis, the need for an extreme ideology to motivate fighters outgunned by one of the world’s biggest armies- but the point is that all of these ‘Islamising’ dynamics will continue if the war continues, but may be reduced if the war is ended.

  23. James Farrell
    September 6th, 2004 at 00:56 | #23

    I can’t see that anything would be lost if the term ‘moral equivalence’ were to disappear without trace from the political discourse. Nobody ever defines what they mean by it; nor does anyone ever use it except to denounce it, as in the case of ‘political correctness’.

    If you are sure that someone is condoning violence and you disagree, then go ahead and condemn them. If you’re not sure, ask for clarification. But blathering about moral equivalence is a Claytons accusation, and it is bound to get in the way of meaningful communication.

  24. tipper
    September 6th, 2004 at 01:44 | #24

    As a friend of mine says, and this is directed to anyone with a bit of economic nous, “but it has become apparent that terrorism is an externality of rotting societies, an effluent, which if unchecked will poison the whole world. No cologne, not even French perfume, will long prevail against it. Civilization cannot hang back but must step forward, if not for love then for survival.”
    Compare the externality of pollution with terrorism. How do you handle the externality of pollution? It’s pretty straight forward, go back to the polluters and make them pay. The same with the rotting societies who create and nurture terrorism.

  25. Matt
    September 6th, 2004 at 01:48 | #25

    James,

    I won’t be disavowing my previous post characterising terrorism as a personal response to perceived or real injustice and oppression. I’ll elaborate a bit further.
    When an individual makes the choice to become a terrorist they’re unbalanced. That’s obvious because he/she believes:
    - a violent act against innocents is justified to further their cause by intimidating those with power
    or
    - they believe their cause is so undeniably just that anyone with an opposing view is fair (violent) game
    An individual in that state of mind can be exploited by others who hold or purport to hold the same beliefs to form terrorist groups. But the unbalanced perspective is an individual choice or reaction that stems from real or *perceived* persecution.
    Perhaps more obviously, I believe Al Qaeda et al to be groups of well organised aggrieved individuals. I don’t imagine Al Qaeda would be as successful recruiting in Mosques/Muslim Schools/Shopping Centres/Other Countries if there weren’t such a ready supply of aggrieved individuals.

  26. Matt
    September 6th, 2004 at 02:00 | #26

    “Compare the externality of pollution with terrorism. How do you handle the externality of pollution? It’s pretty straight forward, go back to the polluters and make them pay.”
    Or alternatively you introduce better systems, devices and procedures that reduce the level of pollution/terrorism.

  27. observa
    September 6th, 2004 at 02:18 | #27

    Today’s Adelaide Sunday Mail had a full front page coloured photo of a dirty bloodstained child’s hand clutching a crucifix with one word “Carnage”. Not much room for root causes there.

    IMO Breslan has now distilled in the Australian electorate’s mind, what Islam stands for. While it is true that Breslan was the act of Islamic fundamentalists, all of Islam now stands irrevocably stained by it as well as preceding terrorist acts. Around the world Islam appears to have increasing problems coexisting with its neighbours. There appears to be one root cause to many now, despite attempts by some to paint more. Decent Islam now has only one choice. It must take a resolute and concerted lead, to denounce and expunge terrorism and violence from within its ranks. Failure to do so will leave its apologists high and dry. Included among these apologists have been a number of small-L liberals and leftists, which do cross political party lines. Their talk of root causes and a degree of blind acquiescence to the indefensible is now a major election issue for a Latham led Labor. Noone will say it but Latham’s troops home by Xmas, has now become a millstone around his neck with the events in Breslan. As much as you may question the reason/s for intervention in Iraq, Latham must now answer why the COW should abandon Iraqis to the fundamentalists now?

    In contemplating a decision to abandon the plight of Iraqis, or if you prefer, to allow them self-determination over their own future without security assistance, another issue arises. How much real control does much of Islam have over terrorism in its ranks and could it be entrusted to facilitate decent civil society in Iraq? I noticed that the Olympics passed with no Islamic terrorist incident. Interestingly enough the bus bombings in Israel began after them. Was this because the Arab League had a great deal of moral suasion in calling off the dogs, or was it more a case of Western resolve in Iraq, winning a major strategic battle with terrorists, which has seriously weakened their capacity to strike? This seems to me to be a Catch22 question for the apologists of Islam(ie that Muslims should not be unjustly tarred with the same brush) It certainly has ramifications for a Latham type stance to Iraq. IMO Breslan has placed Latham Labor in a serious dilemma here.

  28. September 6th, 2004 at 03:46 | #28

    There is a big difference between causal responsibility and moral culpability.
    The West has its share of the causal responsibility for grievances that currently blight the relations between it and, what might be loosely called, Islamia. We should not be where we are not wanted by the majority.
    But the moral culpability of terrorists in seeking to deliberately amximise the death of innocent civilian is uniquely evident and awful.`
    Bin Laden’s WTC-attacking strategy was too maximise violence in the hope of either disheartening the US with the high cost of their Holy Land occupation or provoking a Helter-Skelter Crusade-Jihad. In this he was all-too successful.
    But Bin Ladens sectarian goal are irrational and his terrorist tactics are evil way beyond the civil Professors of Arms. For once I can agree with Chistopher Hitchens:

    Terrorism, then, is the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint.

    The irrationality lies in his end, which is the reconstruction of a theocratic Caliphate.
    The evil lies in the means chosen, which are wantonly destructive of human life. As one of the senior jihadists said :

    [we will win because] the Americans…love Pepsi-Cola, but we love death.

  29. Matt
    September 6th, 2004 at 04:36 | #29

    “IMO Breslan has now distilled in the Australian electorate’s mind, what Islam stands for. While it is true that Breslan was the act of Islamic fundamentalists, all of Islam now stands irrevocably stained by it as well as preceding terrorist acts”
    I hope not. Surely the Australian electorate won’t extrapolate the vile work of 20 or 30 terrorists onto the entirety of Islam.
    Some political leaders might like to, but I’m pretty sure we’ve seen that act before. Hopefully the voters have better sense second time around.

  30. observa
    September 6th, 2004 at 04:58 | #30

    “As one of the senior jihadists said :
    [we will win because] the Americans…love Pepsi-Cola, but we love death.”
    Well he may simply have underestimated our ability to give the customer what he wants, after careful and considered analysis of the market-place. Basically SWOT!

    “Surely the Australian electorate won’t extrapolate the vile work of 20 or 30 terrorists onto the entirety of Islam.”
    That might depend entirely on mainstream Islam now.

  31. Paul Norton
    September 6th, 2004 at 10:28 | #31

    I’d just make two observations on this thread:

    1. Identifying and addressing the root causes of terrorism, and eliminating the grievances which cause some people to become terrorists is an essential part of the solution, but not the whole. At least some of the people involved in terorist acts are, in Weber’s words, living off the cause (materially or psychologically) rather than living for it, and hence will shop around for other grievances to exploit, or invent them where they don’t exist,in order to have an excuse to continue their activities.

    2. Remedying the root causes is usually worth doing irrespective of the impact it makes on terrorist activity, and should therefore be argued for on its own merits. A just peace between Israel and the Palestinians is something we should support even if it doesn’t bring an immediate end to bad behaviour by Hamas and the like.

  32. MB
    September 6th, 2004 at 11:11 | #32

    If terrorism in Chechnya is to do with the Russian occupation, why did the terrorists attack Degestan, forcing Putin to re-invade Chechnya in the first place? Giving the Chechens independence won’t automatically lead to an end in violence, no more than the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon led to an end to Hezbollah terrorism in that part of the world. They are fanatics who manipulate and exploit desperate people for their own ends, just like the Nazis did.

  33. September 6th, 2004 at 11:40 | #33

    There’s no excuse for terrorism?? Of course there is! For example, I have some sympathy with the American terrorists who fought for independence from the british in the 18th century. And if terrorism is killing non-combatents for war/political purposes, then I should mention that I also supported the bombing of the innocent civilians of Hiroshima.

  34. September 6th, 2004 at 12:51 | #34

    precisely, humphreys.

    quiggin is getting a bit confused because on the one hand he wants to act as a perfect moral agent, on the other hand he wants to be a rational political commentators:

    “There is no excuse or justification for terrorism. But that doesn’t mean it is inexplicable”

    this statement is true, and consistent, but not very practical.

    if you act in a morally reprehensible way, but you achieve your goals, you are rational. furthermore, your goals may create a better situation (in moral or ethical terms) so they may be ethically rational (although quiggin would say they are inexcusable; this is where he gets confused, things are inexcusable but have reasons)

    examples:

    it has been claimed that the WTC attacks were rational since they achieved bin ladin’s stated goal of getting the US out of saudi arabia. (news report on removal: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2984547.stm)

    and humphreys’ example above of killing civilians to end a war. (its debateable whether in the japanese case, demanding total surrender was cause enough to bomb hiroshima and nagasaki with nuclear weapons, but its at least a potential example)

  35. tipper
    September 6th, 2004 at 15:08 | #35

    Matt wrote:
    “Or alternatively you introduce better systems, devices and procedures that reduce the level of pollution/terrorism.”
    By Jove, I think you’ve got it!
    Leaving out the pollution angle, could you flesh out what the “better systems, devices and procedures” that are going to reform the Islamic world, might be?
    Abdulrahman al-Rashed, the general manager of al-Arabiya Television, for one, would like to know. He wrote a column in Asharq al-Awsat headlined, “The Painful Truth: All The World’s Terrorists Are Muslims!” “Our terrorist sons are an end-product of our corrupted culture,”

  36. tipper
    September 6th, 2004 at 15:25 | #36

    Matt wrote:
    “I won’t be disavowing my previous post characterising terrorism as a personal response to perceived or real injustice and oppression. I’ll elaborate a bit further.”
    Would you like to compare and contrast your views with Iannaccone?

  37. Martin Pike
    September 6th, 2004 at 15:44 | #37

    What this incident has brought out is just how badly informed most Australians, and it appears many of those on this thread, are about un-trendy international conflicts.

    Why is it puzzling that the black widows turn out in droves to commit these acts? How can you be sure your approach would be any more rational if you and your daughter had been raped, and all the males in your family executed?

    We sit around and do deals with the Russians, while they are sweeping from village to village unleashing hell on the Chechens- and they’ve been using Spetznaz on Chechens living in Inhushetia for a couple of years as well- then give the matter front page space when they unleash some terror of their own. This isn’t rational.

    Comparing them to bin laden et al is simplistic, uneducated, and downright sick. I’ve got a simplistic question for you in return James- are you endorsing the genocide of the Chechens?

    All killing of civilians is barbaric, whether you label it “terrorism” or whether you stick it in 2 paragraphs on page 15 under “Russian troops clean up rebel outposts in obscure Muslim region”.

  38. Martin Pike
    September 6th, 2004 at 16:00 | #38

    To try and apply an objective test, re causes of fundamentalism, is anyone aware of whether Azerbaijan, also an islamic region in the Caucuasus but one which, unlike Chechnya, was handed self-determination, has seen a steep rise in islamic fundamentalism?

    I don’t think so, but I admit I’m not sure, hence the question. There have been mutual waves of ethnic cleansing between the azeris and armenians, resulting in a resettlment of about half a million people each way, but in my research on the topic I found no evidence that it was driven by religion.

    If the chechens are flocking to wahabism at a much faster rate than the azeris, while not proving anything conclusively, it would give some empirical weight to the argument that the russians’ brutal activities are causing this unfortunate conversion.

  39. Fyodor
    September 6th, 2004 at 16:15 | #39

    Fair point, Martin. The Chechens only attract media attention when they’re killing Russian civilians, not when their non-combatants are being killed by Russian armed forces.

    This probably explains why they keep doing it – they’re not winning the war in Chechnya, and are resorting to extreme measures, i.e. terrorism, in their desperation. It’s happened many times in many countries, and this pattern of behaviour is not unique to any one ethnic group or religion.

  40. James
    September 6th, 2004 at 17:04 | #40

    “Comparing them to bin laden et al is simplistic, uneducated, and downright sick. I’ve got a simplistic question for you in return James- are you endorsing the genocide of the Chechens?”

    Martin,

    I’m not at all convinced that the Russian activities in Chechnya constitute genocide. Further, I doubt that the Russians would be doing much at all in Chechnya if it weren’t for the activities of the Chechen nationalists. I’ll concede that rather like the Israeli-Palastinian conflict there’s a fair bit of chicken & egg.

    I wasn’t comparing OBL and the Chechens at all. Someone (Matt, I think) suggested that terrorists were responding to oppression. I was pointing out that OBL was hardly oppressed. As JQ notes, he was in bed with the US in the 1980s and his primary objection appeared to be the stationing of US troops in Saudi Arabia where they are (well, were) conspicously un-oppressive.

    But since you draw a parallel, I’ll bite. Via his Afghani training camps, OBL managed one of the most successful export industries in the Middle East – the export of terror. My personal view is that this is an expression of the scapegoating of the west (and post-Soviet Russia) for the failure of Islamist societies.

    Hence many of the Breslan terrorists are Arabs (David Hicks apparently fought in Chechnya, and it’s hard to believe that would because of some deep-felt Chechen nationalist sympathy as opposed to a jihadi mindset).

    Chechnya has certainly suffered under a succesion of Soviet/Russian administrations, however these days a large proportion of its population is Russian and there are a lot of Chechens distributed across Russia courtesy of Comrade Stalin.

    Contrary to some reports, Chechnya is poor in natural resources. It has a pipeline, but little oil itself. It couldn’t possibly survive as an independent state. Chechnen independence would achieve nothing, and most likely result in an internal civil war.

    What is being played out in Chechnya is a religious agenda, the same as that expressed in 9/11, Bali, Spain and any other number of terrorist actions.

    I have no idea what the answer is, but I know it won’t involve appeasing the Chechan terrorists or other jihadi cells operating across the world.

  41. James
    September 6th, 2004 at 17:23 | #41

    Update, Martin,

    I’ve just listened to an interview with Rohan Gunaratna, author of “Inside Al Quaeda”, who contends that OBL’s organisation maintains strong links with the Chechens, and that the Breznev attack, in the outcome of causing mass-death, has Al Quaeda tactics written all over it.

    So I guess I’ll own up to being “simplistic, uneducated, and downright sick”.

  42. Fyodor
    September 6th, 2004 at 18:03 | #42

    James,

    I agree that the Russian army is not intentionally carrying out a genocidal policy in Chechnya, but the level of brutality is such that you’re arguably debating semantics.

    I also disagree with your assertion that the Chechen conflict is religiously motivated, or, at least SOLELY religiously motivated. Dan Hardie’s provided the best post on this subject above, and I recommend you re-read it.

    The conflict began as a Russian response to a nationalist separatist movement, not an Islamic movement. The Chechens were historically a moderate Sunni – not Wahhabist – people, and there was little scope for fundamentalism under the Soviet Union in any case.

    The religious radicalisation of the separatists appears to have begun AFTER the Russian Federation used force to prevent Chechnya’s secession, and there does seem NOW to be a significant level of Islamic militancy in the Second Chechen War (1999-). It seems highly likely that the Chechens were radicalised by the infusion of muslim veterans (mujahideen) of the Afghan war (many of them Arabs), and this has given the recent terrorism a distinctly Muslim flavour, but that’s not how the conflict started out. I think it would be a mistake to see the Chechen’s actions as driven solely by Islamic fundamentalism. More likely, the Islamic fundamentalists are exploiting a nationalist grievance for the furtherance of their own cause.

    Lastly, I believe Chechnya is predominantly populated by ethnic Chechens, not Russians.

  43. Martin Pike
    September 6th, 2004 at 18:22 | #43

    Not genocide, ok I am happy to be a bit more precise. My roll call of well-founded accusations against the russians would read:
    Genocidal acts (as defined by Israel Charny, the Genocide theorist), that is individual acts which aim to destroy communities, rather than substantial parts of a peoples, but with the same requisite elements of genocide (to destroy them, as such).
    War crimes, specifically the mass usage of rape as a weapon of war, and the targetting of targets that are entirely civilian in nature.
    Breaches of the international convention on the rights of the child, specifically (but certainly not limited to) killing them and raping them.

    Of course, several of these have now been breached by the terrorists. But I don’t think the tenor of the more moderate posts on here has been “terror is justified” but rather “terror in this case has horrific and easily identified roots, and just blaming religion is stupid”.

  44. James
    September 6th, 2004 at 19:35 | #44

    Martin,

    I appreciate the moderate tone of your reply, but I won’t buy your accusations (against the Russians) of mass rape and child killing without substantive evidence.

    I know that you disagree, but I would submit that the recent atrocities are almost entirely religiously based. What is happening in Russia is a manifestation of what happened in 9/11, Bali, Madrid and anywhere else Al Queda has reared its ugly head.

    These people are dedicated to the establishment of Islamist rule wherever they think that can be achieved.

    I say “to hell with that” and believe these ambitions should be opposed by all possible force. If that gets in the way of the aspirations of genuine Chechen nationalists, then they should have thought more carefully about their bedfellows.

  45. James
    September 6th, 2004 at 19:43 | #45

    Fyodor,

    I agree with everything you’ve written, but it doesn’t change my opinion about the current state of the conflict.

  46. September 6th, 2004 at 22:57 | #46

    Terrorism not endemic to Arabic peoples or Islamic religion. Mesopotamian Arabs were the cradlers of civilisation. The intial Islamic Caliphate experienced a Golden Age of Civilisation. Turkey and Malaysia are Islamic and not prone to fundamentalist terrorism.
    When talking about the causes of terrorism, one should distinguish between proximate (apparent) and ultimate (root) causes. Terrorism is both an immunological reaction Western xenomorphs in Islamc societies and a virus within Islamic societies.
    As Eland shows the proximate cause of terrorism against the West is the irritating presence of Western agencies in Islamic lands:

    According to the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board, a strong correlation exists between U.S. involvement in international situations and an increase in terrorist attacks against the United States…This paper fills that gap by citing many examples of terrorist attacks on the United States in retaliation for U.S. intervention overseas…the United States could reduce the chances of such devastating–and potentially catastrophic–terrorist attacks by adopting a policy of military restraint overseas.

    The main war on terrorism is being fought within, not between the West and, Islamic societies. Fundamentalists are attempting to take over Islamic states which include many countries with functioning civil societies, such as Turkey and Malaysia. And as Hitchens says terror is their weapon of choice:

    There is a civil war raging within the Muslim world, where many believers do not wish to live under sharia any more than I do.

    Terrorism serves the dual function of both impressing the civilised powers and opressing those nations negotiating the passage to modernity.
    The root cause of Islamic terrorism is not poverty. Bin Laden is rich. As Krueger demonstrates in Education, Poverty, Political Violence, and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection? NBER Working Paper No. 9074:

    Any connection between poverty, education, and terrorism is indirect, complicated, and probably quite weak…Instead of viewing terrorism as a direct response to low market opportunities or ignorance, we suggest it is more accurately viewed as a response to political conditions and long-standing feelings (either perceived or real) of indignity and frustration that have little to do with economics.

    The ultimate (root) cause of terrorism is the failure of Arabic countries to construct civilised social institutions that allow indvidual autonomy but maintain social authority. A series of subjugations and divisions have thwarted their institutional passage to modernity. Arab nations never got a chance to develop political civilisation. The Ottoman Empire supressed the development of local Arab civic institutions.
    Islamic law tends is antipathetic to capitalist legacy. Large businesses must be divided between heirs on the death of their owners. This discourages the accumulation of wealth..
    Finally, the Islamic religion is chronicly schizoid. They split into Shiite and Suuni sects. There has never been a single centralised ecclesiastical authority to lay down the law. Paradoxically, this has made it difficult to seperate the Church from the State when modernity came aknocking.
    When a backward civilisation with a high birth rate meets a progressive one with a low birth rate, there is bound to be tears. One hopes that the aging of Arabic baby boomers and the growth of Arabic womens lib may take the sting out of their simmering discontent.

  47. d
    September 7th, 2004 at 00:22 | #47

    My earlier post Questioned Q as to why he was looking at Boris Yeltsin as a root cause of the dreadful school massacre. Mark Styne in todays Australian can see more obvious “root causes” that Q doesnt seem to notice-

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,10677436%5E7583,00.html

  48. Brian Bahnisch
    September 7th, 2004 at 01:40 | #48

    We should all read the story on the Beslan tragedy which should be up on the Lateline site in the morning.

    It seems that it may have had nothing to do with Chechnya, nor with 9/11, al Qaeda, Islamic jihad or anything like that. Not sure of the big words, but it may be a very nasty local scrap between North Ossetia and Ingusetia, where, we were told, there is a tradition of bloody revenge.

    So the women were weeping, not only for what had happened, but for what they know will follow.

    Putin would have us believe it is international Islamism. Yesterday I heard that he didn’t mention Chechnya at all in his speech to the Russian people. Possibly this is because reality is far worse. He may be afraid of the balkanisation of the North Caucasian area, with the corrupt and inefficient Russian forces unable to stop it.

    I understand the perpetrators were Muslim, but the victims had converted to Christianity last century. Deal in oil, oil pipelines etc and it looks like a very nasty situation.

  49. Niall
    September 7th, 2004 at 06:44 | #49

    ‘root causes’ only become obvious when they appear to fit one’s overall ideological viewpoint….IMO

  50. d
    September 7th, 2004 at 07:19 | #50

    Niall

    Very well put

    But be careful also before taking everything that Lateline offer as the final word too-they filter stuff and unconsciously ignore stuff like we all do

  51. Dan Hardie
    September 7th, 2004 at 07:51 | #51

    Shorter James: I want evidence that the Russians are mass-raping and mass-murdering people in Chechnya, so I’m not going to read the history of the Chechen war mentioned above, but I did actually take a minute or two to listen to a snippet on an Australian radio programme. You know it’s odd, the way that I never seem to come across information that changes my mind about anything.

  52. Brian Bahnisch
    September 7th, 2004 at 09:43 | #52

    d the big point about the Lateline interview with Martin McCauley is that we have no information other than what we’ve had from the Russians and that seems designed to mislead. The Russians, he says, don’t want us to believe it is a domestic Russian problem.

    McCauley does a good job in delineating other likely possibilities.

    Another possibility was given on AM this morning. That was that the Chechens did it to stir up religious/ethnic conflict in the area so they could take advantage from the chaos.

    Quite simply, no-one knows, except perhaps the Russians and you can’t trust them. So it is far to early to blame international Islamist Jihads or whatever.

  53. Fyodor
    September 7th, 2004 at 10:06 | #53

    Jack,

    As always, you’ve made some important and interesting points, but I disagree violently with the following set of assertions:

    “The ultimate (root) cause of terrorism is the failure of Arabic countries to construct civilised social institutions that allow indvidual autonomy but maintain social authority.

    A series of subjugations and divisions have thwarted their institutional passage to modernity. Arab nations never got a chance to develop political civilisation. The Ottoman Empire supressed the development of local Arab civic institutions.

    Islamic law tends is antipathetic to capitalist legacy. Large businesses must be divided between heirs on the death of their owners. This discourages the accumulation of wealth..

    Finally, the Islamic religion is chronicly schizoid. They split into Shiite and Suuni sects. There has never been a single centralised ecclesiastical authority to lay down the law. Paradoxically, this has made it difficult to seperate the Church from the State when modernity came aknocking.”

    First off, the Arabs/Muslims do not have a monopoly on terrorism. People of many different religions and ethnic groups have resorted to terrorism when placed in extreme conditions: Irish catholics, Communist Chinese, Buddhist Vietnamese etc. There’s nothing unique about “Islamic” terrorism. The fact that Arabs resort to terrorism says much more about their weakness in the relative balance of power than about the particular social, political or religious attributes of Islamic countries.

    Secondly, you seem to be suggesting that the terrorism emanating from Arab countries is driven by the socio-political backwardness of these countries. This may explain the opposition of fundamentalists within these countries against their own governments, but does not explain their attacks on Western targets.

    What DOES explain terror attacks on Western targets is the West’s interference in the region and, in particular, the USA’s hegemony, which regularly takes an anti-Islamic flavour. The running sore in this regard is Israel, and the USA’s inability/unwillingness to play the role of a truly honest broker between the combatants in that conflict. Opponents of this Western interference resort to terrorism because they are so hopelessly overmatched in conventional power by the West, not because there is a particular bias towards terrorism in the Arab or Muslim consciousness. It has nothing to do with birth rates, modes of inheritance or the theological/secular divide in governance.

    By referring to “irritants”, “xenomorphs” and “immunological reaction” you are deliberately – albeit perhaps unintentionally – sanitising the root cause of the problem: the West, and primarily the USA, have stuffed up the Middle-East, and opponents in the region are retaliating the only way they can, with terrorism.

    The solution should be obvious to a devotee of Machiavellian realpolitik: stop pissing off the natives, force a resolution of the Israel/Palestine issue and encourage the evolution of Islamic countries towards secular government and all the economic goodies that liberal capitalism can bring.

  54. Tony Healy
    September 7th, 2004 at 10:08 | #54

    It is overly simplistic to ascribe Chechen terrorism to “oppression” or atrocities by the Russian army.

    As Fyodor correctly summarises, there was a marked Islamicisation of the Chechen campaign in the late 90′s, with the appearance of suicide bombers, involvement by outside Islamicists, and Chechnya changing over to an Arabic script. This seems to have been driven by external interests and financing, and seems to have wider aims than expelling Russia from Chechnya. Putin understood this new threat but the West at the time rejected his attempts at explanation.

    There have been atrocities by both sides, and it is puzzling that it’s only the Russians who are condemned.

  55. Tony Healy
    September 7th, 2004 at 10:14 | #55

    In connection with the atrocity, there is a big difference between inadvertent death in war and the deliberate targeting and murder of children. If any further pointer was needed, it’s provided in the needless torture by thirst and the deliberate shooting into the backs of fleeing children.

  56. John Quiggin
    September 7th, 2004 at 10:33 | #56

    “… it is puzzling that it’s only the Russians who are condemned.”

    Read the post before this one, Tony. And even in this post, I referred to terrorist attacks in Moscow.

  57. michaelh
    September 7th, 2004 at 10:34 | #57

    Tony’s right that we tend to ascribe a great difference between the ‘inadvertant’ killing of civilians in war and by terrorism.

    While this is perfectly rational, I think it probably makes much less difference for the surviving families who’ve seen their children killed, whether it was by terrorists’ bombs or the bombs of a regular military force.

    And in resposne to Niall,it’s just as true that,

    ‘religious causes’ only become obvious when they appear to fit one’s overall ideological viewpoint.

  58. Tony Healy
    September 7th, 2004 at 10:42 | #58

    JQ, my apologies if there was a suggestion I was referring to your commentary when I wrote “it is puzzling that it’s only the Russians who are condemned.” I was not. There has been a lot of commentary on that theme in Western media, preceding the current atrocity.

    Perhaps it has resulted from the extreme danger that Chechnya posed to journalists, which has deterred media organisations from on-the-ground reporting.

  59. Martin Pike
    September 7th, 2004 at 12:18 | #59

    James, I get most of my info from sources like the Guardian. Seriously, and I’m not trying to be a patronising w****r here, but if you haven’t heard for years of Russia’s conduct in Chechnya then you need to review your news sources. Sure, the G is lefty, but what about Times international or the Economist?

    You asked for it, so i’ve found it, a summary of the issues in the centre-right Economist:
    http://www.economist.com/agenda/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3170269

    Note this key quote:
    “Though there is some evidence of links between al-Qaeda and Chechen rebels, the conflict in Chechnya is essentially a home-grown problem in need of a home-grown solution. Many of the terrorist attacks in Moscow and elsewhere have been carried out by “black widows”—Chechen women who have lost family members in the conflict—not foreign jihadis. Women were reported to be among the hostage-takers in Beslan. It was the carte blanche given to Russian security forces to abduct, torture and kill young Chechens suspected of rebel ties that spawned the black widow phenomenon. “

  60. Tony Healy
    September 7th, 2004 at 13:01 | #60

    This 2003 Washington Post article is one among many that report the Islamicisation of the Chechen conflict.

    The Guardian is notoriously one-sided in its discussion of this subject. I would add also that the Global Issues summary in JQ’s introduction seems to present a sanitised view.

  61. Martin Pike
    September 7th, 2004 at 15:08 | #61

    It’s a good article Tony. The Guardian is left of C but also puts more effort into actual reportage in un-trendy areas of the world; it is genuinely global in outlook.

    But you have more right wing options that are still good for keeping tabs on such issues as they spring up- for example the Economist, or the UK Times.

    Assuming both the articles in the previous couple of posts have some merit to them, wouldn’t that suggest a carrot + stick approach? Attack the causes (the repression etc that has the locals opening their arms to the Arab pseudocolonialists) and simultaneously attack al qaeda et al (focussing on its heartland, and financial channels)?

  62. Tony Healy
    September 7th, 2004 at 21:13 | #62

    Martin, I honestly don’t know. These events where people kill each other always have multiple layers of interpretation. They enormously increase my respect for diplomacy and people like Kofi Annan. I hope we can start avoiding these types of things.

  63. September 7th, 2004 at 23:46 | #63

    Causes of terrorism are many. Putin classifies editors of newspapers as terrorists ….

    The well-regarded Raf Shakirov editor of Russia’s top daily newspaper, Izvestia, has been forced out over the graphic coverage of the Beslan hostage tragedy (via Radio Liberty)

    Unless Russian society demands a change in policy toward Chechnya, the prospects of change rest solely in the hands of Putin, a man who, on the issue of Chechnya, has over five disastrous war years showed himself to be a chronically limited, vicious, failed leader The Beslan school massacre as a Chernobyl moment; 9/11 The discovery of the financial backing of the two hijackers ‘would draw a direct line between the terrorists and the government of Saudi Arabia, and trigger an attempted coverup by the Bush administration …

  64. September 7th, 2004 at 23:53 | #64

    The only way to minimise international terrorism is to drop the Good vs evil crap that western leaders such as george, john w, and putin go on with.
    I mean George says he is good and calls on his god for guidance and then turns around and gives the nut case leaders of Turkmenistan and uzbeckistan arms until the cows come home.
    And the scaring thing is, George will continue to decide our foreign policy if he and John W are reelected.

  65. September 8th, 2004 at 15:43 | #65

    Of course, it could be that the perpetrators saw the killing (and raping) of kaffir children as their religious duty. This, combined with a world view which sees the Muslim convinced of his inherent superiority and constantly confronted with evidence to the contrary, is an extremely toxic mix.

    It seems to me that many in Umma believe that being of equal status to Christians, Jews, Atheists and other infidels constitutes being ‘oppressed’.

    Caving into the demands of the Islamists over Chechnya is about as helpful as caving into the demands of the Nazis over Sudetenland.

  66. September 8th, 2004 at 17:41 | #66

    Of course terrorism isn’t caused just by a religion. Nobody is that stupid. Surely! Surely?

  67. Fyodor
    September 8th, 2004 at 19:07 | #67

    murph,

    I don’t think many Chechens believe that they have equal status within the Russian Federation, as testified by the fact that the Russian army keeps raping and killing them. So, yeah, they probably have some right to feel “oppressed”. That may explain why they want to secede.

    I believe your last sentence is factually incorrect and also violates Godwin’s Law, so isn’t really helpful.

    John Humphreys,

    Please read Dan Hardie’s comments earlier in the thread. He provides a much more insightful and helpful analysis of the situation than the usual RWDB explanation of muslim = terrorist.

  68. nikos
    September 8th, 2004 at 22:44 | #68

    I GENERALY AGREE WITH YOU ,BUT IT SEEMS RUSSIA HAS GREATED A SMALL PALESTINE NEXT DOOR TO THEM , HISTORIC LESSONS WERE NOT LEARNED BY BOTH PUTIN OR BUSH THEY BOTH HAVE GREATED THE PROBLEM .IT STARTED WITH PALESTINE (CO-SPONSORS OF THE PROBLEM ARE EX-USSR-USA – ISRAEL ,AFGANISTAN THEN IRAQ ,ALL THE ABOVE HAVE CREATED TERRORISTS – BOMB ATTACKS-HIGHJACKING PLANES-SUISIDE BOMBERS ETC.THE FIRST IDEAS OF TERRORISM ON THE MUSLIM WORLD CAME FROM THE PALESTINIANS WHICH IN THE PAST HAVE DONE SEVERAL TERRORIST ATTACKS AND STILL ARE DOING(BOMBS ETC). BUT THEN WE HAVE ANOTHER ISSUE WHAT PEOPLE CAN DO WHEN THEY ARE CORNERED TO A WALL WITH NO ESCAPE ROOT OR JUST AN ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION??
    THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN GIVEN THIS ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION AND SAVE THE WORLD FROM THIS ATROCITIES WHICH HAVE BEEN DONE IN THE NAME OF LIBERATION ,OF LIVING A LIFE AS HUMANS , OF ISLAM .
    ANOTHER ROOT OF THE PROBLEM IS LITERACY , THE MIXTURE OF ISLAM WITH NON EXISTENT LITERACY ,EDUCATION ,CIVIL LIBERTIES ,LEAVES THE IMAMS OF ISLAM AN OPEN FIELD TO EXERCISE THEIR BRAIN-WASHING TO THIS PEOPLE, OF LIFE AFTER DEATH STRAIGTH TO PARADISE WITH THE URI( WOMEN ) OF PARADISE WAITING FOR THEM .THATS WHY THE TERRORISTS IN THE BESLAN OSSETIA SAID THEY DO NOT FEAR DEATH , ALL HAD A TICKET TO PARADISE BY SOME “CLEVER” IMAM WHO DID THE BRAIN-WASHING.
    WELL WHATS THE ANSWER TO THIS ?? FIRST THEY SHOULD FIND WHO IS SUPPORTING THEM ,WITH MONEY ,ARMS,ETC ACTUALLY WHO IS BEHIND ,LANDEN? THE SAUDIES ?? OR SOME OTHER REGIONAL COUNTRY ??
    STOP THE MONEY AND ARMS !!! AND THEN TRY TO FIND A SOLUTION .LOOK AT AFGANISTAN AFTER 5 YEARS MORE THAN HALF OF THE COUNTRY IS RUN BY WARLORDS ,USA DID NOTHING WITH THEIR ARMIES ,STILL THE PROBLEM IS THERE ,LADDEN OR HIS BUDDIES ARE AT LARGE !!AND STILL IT SEEMS ,EVERYONE THERE ,HAS ITS OWN PERSONAL ARSENAL OF SMALL ARMS AND MONEY TO BUY THEM .LOOK AT IRAQ THE INFRASTRACTURE OF THE COUNTRY DESTROYED,POLICE ,ARMY,EDUCATION SYSTEM,HEALTH SYSTEM,SOCIETY, AND STRAIGHT AFTER WE HAVE THE RISING OF IMAMS -ISLAM WITH PERSONAL ARMIES OF FANATICS READY TO SUICIDE ON THEIR ORDERS.
    WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE ?? WELL FIRST TAKE OUT THEIR LEADERS -LIKE SADDAM AND THE REST OF THE HIERARCHY OF THE REGIME ,STOP THE MONEY TRAIL AND THE FINANCING OF TERRORISTS, BUT NEVER-NEVER I SAY AGAIN NEVER TARGET THE PEOPLE ,NOT EVEN BY MISTAKE OR OTHER ( SEE THE PRISON ATROCITIES IN IRAQ BY USA FORCES,OR THE DESTRUCTION OF GROSNY BY RUSSIANS OR THE DESTRUCTION OF HOUSES BY ISRAELIS OR THE PRISON ATROCITIES BY USA IN AFGANISTAN ,OR PLANE BOMBINGS )GIVE HOPE TO PEOPLE ,GIVE THEM A FUTURE ,STOP KILLING INNOCENT PEOPLE BECAUSE THAT CREATES FANATICS-TERRORISTS – READY AND OPEN FOR THE IMAMS GUIDANCE.
    I BELIEV THAT BOTH PUTIN AND BUSH NEED A BUNCH OF NEW ADVISORS,BETTER INFORMATION SERVICES,BETTER STRATEGIC PLANNERS FOR THE LONG TERM – HOW TO HANDLE SITUATIONS LIKE THIS ,WE WOULD HAVE AVOIDED 11/9 ,BESLAN ,AND MANY OTHERS . THE STRAIGHT AND OPEN WAR TO THEM (TERRORISTS)IS NOT THE SOLUTION AS I EXPLAINED ABOVE OR THE HEAD STRONG OPINIONS .LIKE ,THIS IS THE WAY/SOLUTION ,TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT ,AND IF THEY DONT TAKE IT WE BOMB THEM!!!THERE IS NO OTHER WAY ??? JUST BOMBS???
    ALSO THEY SHOULD MAKE AN AGREMMENT ,UNITED NATIONS ,OR SOME INTERNATIONAL BODY ON THE PUNISHMENT OF TERRORISTS -THEIR SPONSORS -THEIR SUPPORTERS ,WHEN THEY TARGET/KILL CHILDREN .

  69. September 8th, 2004 at 23:08 | #69

    Does anyone remember this-hey,hey LBJ how many kids did you kill today?

  70. R J Stove
    September 10th, 2004 at 20:47 | #70

    There is one aspect of the Beslan horror which perhaps is worth noting here, because no journalist in a major Australian newspaper can be bothered with it (although anyone with expatriate Russian or Baltic friends is bitterly conscious of it).

    That aspect is the media near-deification in recent days of KGB heavy Putin. And by extension of the entire Communist slave empire which, you know, “collapsed” 13 years back.

    Save on blogs like Professor Quiggin’s, I have not discovered a single local reference since the school atrocity to the career of Putin, who braggingly refers to himself as a “Chekist”; and who – displaying a gift for effective symbolism scarcely inferior to Lenin’s own – revived “The Internationale” as national anthem, in addition to leading the campaign to restore Felix Dzerzhinsky’s Moscow statue. (Both these phenomena are sufficiently well documented on the Internet to obviate the need for URL links here.)

    So while the most vocal elements of Australia’s mass-media commentariat are howling about the need for us Westeners to bail out Putin in the War on Terror (what, if not terror, do they seriously imagine the Russian army has been bringing to Chechnya for the last decade? Tiddly-winks?), my own heartstrings remain resolutely unwrung by Putin’s sob-stuff. I grieve, of course, for all the foully murdered victims, above all the children; for the Putins of this world who exploit such carnage, I harbour the same disgust which is aroused by convicted paedophiles.

    The peculiar susceptibility of Australia’s commentariat to Putin’s opportunistic born-again Soviet gangsterism deserves an article to itself. How much of it is the result of provincial ignorance (it is chilling to encounter, again and again, tertiary-educated opinion-makers who have never even heard of Dzerzhinsky, let alone of his crimes!)? How much of it derives from active malice? Others must answer that question.

    Professor Quiggin deserves to be thanked for the reasonableness of, in particular, his “Root Causes” entry. Reasonableness is not a quality much in evidence among the antipodean yelping classes – “chattering classes” scarcely begins to convey the predominant noise levels – at present.

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