A terrible atrocity

As usual in relation to terrorist attacks, and in common with others, I find it difficult to say much in relation to the terrorist siege in Beslan, which has now ended with heavy loss of life. The terrorists, who have sunk to new lows in this crime (the hostages, mostly children, were apparently denied water) were mostly killed. No decent person will mourn their deaths. No provocation or historical wrong can justify such foul actions.

I feel for those who have lost loved ones, and especially for the parents of children murdered on this tragic day.

20 thoughts on “A terrible atrocity

  1. I’m glad you posted this John. Violence and terrorism are bad enough, but to direct it against innocent children is unspeakable. As you point out, even that horror was magnified by inflicting thirst on the children. I hope this is not a harbinger of how this Century will play out.

  2. Anyone in russia or anywhere else feel anything for the chechen people.Any tears for the chechen kids killed by the russians?
    An estimated 100,000 killed in the first chechen war in 1994,god knows how many in the second war in 2000.
    Since then thousands of women have been raped,thousands of men and boys kidnapped,tortured and murdered.Russian gangsters are the cruellest in the world,ditto for russian soldiers I read.
    Putin is a despicable opportunist,british intelligence claim that at least one of those moscow apartment blocks bombed in 1993 was done by russian special forces with putin’s knowledge.
    I cry for the all russian and chechen children,victims of politics.

  3. Mate, we’re discussing a repulsive atrocity. What is the point of your post? To excuse this explicit violence against children? I dare predict you are not a parent.

  4. The world has to come up with a better way of solving territorial disputes whether in Chechnya, Palestine or Northern Ireland. The old solution of the brute force of superior armaments doesn’t work in the face of terrorism.

    I don’t know whether it’s a set of principles, a new process or some new responsibilities or all three but we cannot have things like Breslen go on.

    As in Northern Ireland, eventually we will abandon violence as a solution and come up with something else – I just hope its sooner rather than later.

  5. Did you notice how bad the Russian army has become?

    There were soldiers without body armour or helmets, and there were so few of them to control the situation.

    Civilians were able to run wild and get very close to the action and, watching it on television, I got the impression that no one was knew what was going on. It looked very chaotic.

    I imagine in the days and weeks ahead there will be a lot of analysis on what went wrong and what not to do in future.

  6. The Russians have managed to create their own Palestine in Chechnya. Simon Tisdall in The Guardian (appearing also in today’s SMH) says:

    ‘Britain and others can hide behind the pretence that, as Putin maintains, violence in the Caucasus is just another front in the US-led “war on terror” – and close their eyes to causes and remedies. They can give Putin what he wants, which is carte blanche to do whatever he deems necessary. Or they can find the courage to change the habit of the past decade.’

  7. Also, denying water to children – or anyone – for two days is torture. Most people never experience severe thirst and will not fully appreciate this.

  8. These religious partisans, on both sides of the fence, are willing to go all the way, aren’t they?
    The West, Christendom the Enlightened Powers, whatever one wants to call them, should get the hell out of Islamic Dodge. Huntington was right, we are living in an Age of Muslim Wars.
    The nations of the Caliphate are having a violent immunological response to the co-location of “Crusader infidels”. Our presence there is not wanted. There is not much point visiting the sins of our imperial fathers onto the heads of little kids.
    Since War is not the Answer I suggest that Peace requires some mutual re-accomodation. Over the next generation some borders will have to be shifted and protected, populations will have to be shuffled and vetted. A Borderless World was a nice dream and works well enough for jet-setting financiers and globe-trotting celebrities who can insulate themselves in Sheraton-land. But those of us who have to live with this civilisational clash should remove our selves from harms way and construct some kind of membrane to filter sympathetic from antipathetic entites.
    The strategy of prudent withdrawal and ameliorative containment should continue least until the whole South West Asian baby boom blows over. Or until Womens Lib finally takes off in the Middle East.
    If Westerners persist in irritating Islamics then I think that there is a fairly good chance that a fundamentalist suicide bomber will one day have a go at the CIS or the USA with a back-yard nuke. Given the propensity for violent reaction shown by American and Russians so far, I tremble to think of our security managers potential for Apocalyptic response when the nuclear sh*t hits the fan. One look at the implacable rage on Zell Millers face tells me they may decide that the Carthagian question requires an Armageddonian solution.

  9. Just to add another touch – it seems from the Beeb that most of the dead children were shot down as they tried to escape.

    That is truly ruthless.

    I think Jack’s apocalyptic tone is right for this geopolitical story. And we may have to face some unpalatable truths about the necessity to accept racism and move populations.

  10. There are rumours spreading that some of the terrorists were connected to Al Qaeda. If this is true then what the hell have we been doing since 9/11?

    What I fear is that the Russian response will be “See, we have our own 9/11 now” and the gloves (not that they were ever on) will be taken off. The Russia/Chechnya situaton is a long running mess where atrocities have been committed by both sides.

    I agree with Shaun in that we have to find a better way. The “sensitive” approach -as John Kerry was wrongly attacked by the RWDBs for suggesting – needs to be employed to isolate the terrorists and their supporters. That doesn’t mean that I not against with going after someone like Bin Laden. Far from it. But the cycle of violence just continues on. A new, brave approach is needed to remove the root causes of terrorism and have everyone on the same side.

  11. David Tiley at September 4, 2004 06:12 PM reveals his own apocalyptic premonition:

    we may have to face some unpalatable truths about the necessity to accept racism and move populations.

    A major terminological quibble: I reject ethno-racism. But the existential fact of theo-sectarianism may make it advisble for certain persons, individually or en masse, to leave an area for their own good. Or wall their own area in.
    This is not unique in human history – in some ways it is the story of human history.
    I don’t have any solutions to offer to the Chechen, or any other ethnic political conflict, apart from the overarching need to back-off the escalator of violence ie “prudent withdrawal and ameliorative containment”.
    This escalator of violence is getting measurably more steep in its incline.
    Intifada II was more violent than Intifada I.
    Gulf War II is more violent than Gulf War I.
    Chechen War II was more violent than Chechen War I.
    Once we get on this escalator, my gut feeling tells me that, the demonic convergence between theology and technology means there will be no stopping us until all hell breaks loose.

  12. Greg Lindsay at September 4, 2004 06:30 PM tries to strike a calming note:

    Surely Jack, a nuke strike on the CIS is a bit extreme. I know some don’t like us.

    Atta’s air-fuel explosive strike on the WTC had about 1.9 kilotons kiloton payload, around 10% of the value of Little Boy on Hiroshima.
    That “was a bit extreme”, given that the Bin Ladenites have even less reason to disliking the US than the US had for disliking Japan.
    But it happened anyway.

  13. Poor and badly timed attempt at humour I guess Jack. I meant my CIS (www.cis.org.au).

    I have no quarrel with our need to come to grips with Islamo-fascists, wherever they are. And to take the necessary steps to respond.

  14. Last night I heard an expert on the BBC say that they had a mixture of local troops and police on the scene, with some elite troops arriving from Moscow. But they didn’t even have a unified command. They didn’t properly clear the area of parents, journos and the public and didn’t establish a proper containment line.

    It seems an explosion went off, some hostages made a break for it, the terrorists fired at them, the troops returned fire, the terrorists triggered the bomb that brought the ceiling down and the troops attacked. The mid-evening news said over 300 dead – an utter tragedy.

    Of course one can’t be sure of the accuracy of the above, but it seems it was always going to end badly.

    For some time now I’ve been hearing knowledgeable commentators say that there will be no military solution to the Chechen issue. Putin seems unbending, so the future does not bode well.

  15. My observations of the man in the street,(largely blue collar workers) is that they are now very hostile to Muslims in general.

    In terms of the comments here and some of the references Jack refers to, some obvious questions arise as to how the ‘Muslim Wars’ should be handled.

    1. Is Israel’s wall more justified by current events?
    2. Is staying the course in Iraq more justified than ever now? (Kerry vs Latham stances)
    3. Should Islam and its teachings increasingly become the target of various HREOC acts and penalties domestically?
    4. Should we ban or actively discourage Muslim immigration into this country?
    5. Should we allow any additional muslim country to obtain nuclear or biological weaponry? Should Pakistan be made to disarm with security guarantees?
    6. Is Islam fast becoming the rising threat to Judeo-Christian western democratic values, that fascism and communism ultimately were?

    My observations are, that these are not questions you would want to see an Australian electorate asked about at present, if you believe their answers should largely be in the negative.

  16. Observa:
    I suggest that your premise is wrong.Why blame the man on the street (me), or more especially the blue collar worker, or more generally the low paid worker, if worker at all (me too). The problem is not Islam per se, but fundamentalism, in significant part, especially in the case of Afghanistan,and for all I know Chechnya too, as a reaction to the imposition of “modernity” on traditional societies. The mess in Iraq, guaranteed to sporn terrorism, is in its own way as well an example of the incompetent and immoral imposition of Western power.

    Furthermore, if the history of the West is examined (in the opinion of, at least, one historian), you will discover the contest between the open and closed mind and the open and closed society played out. Strange to remember that there was a time when the West was backward and barbarous, and the leading Islamic World advanced and enlightened. Curious, is it not, that those who most strongly react to as a general terrorist threat, as distinct from specific instances of criminality, for which their are degrees of individual responsibility, have the purpose of closing down an open society to one governed by fear and mistrust of the outsider (however defined)? Curious too, that most opposed to terrorism are it seems opposed to the effective operation of the International Criminal Court?

    We have reason to be sceptical of the anti-terrorist agenda, which come to think of it, we have seen an egregious example of in recent days, with the behavior of Phillip Ruddock. Of course, this example may be so selective, as to be mostly irrelevant.

    I realize that this is an ideological reaction to your ideological response. While I agree with John in the following post regarding the roots causes of the phenomena with the specifics of the history of the region, I tend to think that there are forces within our societies that are part of the equation as well.

  17. I am personally more worried about the use of designer viruses than backyard nukes. The nuke would have a devastating local effect and render a small portion of the globe uninhabitable for a period. Designer virus technology is arriving now, will be very sophisticated in 20 years, has way more negative potential, and is far easier to throw together than a WMD. A US (?) team recently sythesised the polio virus by ordering some DNA sequences from commercial labs and mixing them up in a bucket of bio-goo. At present, tying your bug it into resistance to some common third world infection would be difficult but this should change.

    On the whole, I’d prefer we stop providing potential terrorists with reasons to say “Why not?”

  18. No John, they didn’t stoop to any new low. They stooped very low indeed, but no lower than having someone shoot your husband and male children, then rape you and your female children.

  19. Interesting discussion here. Just a shame so few are participating while Andrew Bolt writes this crap to an audience of 500K+.
    He follows the now predictable Good vs Evil path, and slams anyone who suggest the 100,000 deaths in the russian/Chechen conflict may have had something to do with the “Islamist terrorists” actions in Beslan.
    Notice how Bolt lables those discussing the Chechen conflict as from the left. no doubt we will see bolt continue to appeal to the idiot redneck set during the election campaign, stirring them to the conservatives by whipping up the fear of a Labor government.

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