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Thoughts on Beslan

| 171 Comments | 33 TrackBacks

I didn't intend for this to be my first blog entry on Winds of Change since my return from DC, but I thought it might help to supplement Armed Liberal's earlier remarks on Chechnya and in particular the people who orchestrated the wave of terrorism that has killed upwards of 500 Russian civilians since last week.

This should in no way be seen as an endorsement of Russian policies in Chechnya, which have been worse than brutal - they're simply ineffective. I'll conclude with a link to a reputable organization that is seeking to raise money for the victims of this tragic act of barbarism.

A little background ...

First of all, claims that this has to do with the Russian military presence in Chechnya completely misunderstand the situation.

The problem with Chechnya, more or less, is that the Russians tried to surrender after their failure to bring the rebellious republic back into the fold in the first Chechen war and it didn't work. The country was taken over by a mixture of international terrorist organizations, Wahhabi theocrats, drug cartels, and other criminal organizations that subsided more or less on generous funding from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

This funding helped the Wahhabis to finalize control over the institutional infrastructure of the de facto independent state and led for calls for the imposition of sha'riah even though most Chechens (and Caucasus Muslims in general) are Sufis. The al-Qaeda presence in Chechnya was headed up by bin Laden's protege Amir ibn al-Khattab, a Saudi national who had previously assisted Islamic fighters in the Tajik Civil War and the Armenia-Azerbaijan War over Nagorno-Karabakh.

In 1999, Khattab and his "Islamic International Brigade" used Chechnya as a base from which to invade the neighboring Russian republic of Dagestan (summarized here by GlobalSecurity) as part of a long-term al-Qaeda strategy to export the Chechen political culture to the rest of the Caucasus. That failed invasion of Dagestan marks the proper beginning of the current fighting in Chechnya.

Originally, the Chechen command structure was fairly solid and made up of both secular nationalists led by President Aslan Maskhadov and Wahhabi extremists led by Shamil Basayev, the former Chechen prime minister who serves as Khattab's superior, having fought alongside him in Nagorno-Karabakh and been yet another product of Afghanistan's terrorist training camp. However, since the fall of Grozny in 2002 the Chechen Wahhabi fighters under Basayev have increasingly been in ascendance and are set up along the following lines:

  • United Forces of the Caucasian Mujahideen: The Russians refer to this group as the Supreme Military Majlis ul-Shura of the Mujahideen Forces of Caucasus, but this is the coordinating organization under which all of the Chechen Wahhabi groups operate that is headed up by Shamil Basayev. It also includes the Chechen sha'riah court, which provides theological rationales for activities such as that which we witnessed in Beslan.
  • Islamic International Brigade (IIB): Commanded first by Khattab and then his late successor Abu Walid al-Ghamdi (a relative of 3 of the 9/11 hijackers), the IIB is also known as the "Arab brigade" or the al-Ansar Mujahideen due to the high percentage of Arab al-Qaeda fighters in its ranks. While other Chechen groups contain al-Qaeda members serving either as "officers" or in some kind of a military advisor capacity, the IIB is unquestionably the hub of the al-Qaeda presence in Chechnya.
  • Special Purpose Islamic Regiment: (SPIR) Also known as the al-Jihad Fisi Sabiliah Special Islamic Regiment and formerly commanded by the late Ruslan Gelayev (killed in early 2004), SPIR engages primarily in guerrilla attacks against Russian forces as well as the execution of those Chechens deemed to be collaborators. Also contains a fair number of Turkish jihadis in its ranks.
  • Riyadus Salikhin: This is a Romanization of the Russified form of Riyadh al-Saliheen or Garden of the Righteous, which I believe comes from Islamic descriptions of Paradise. This is basically the Chechen equivalent to the Tamil Tigers' Black Tigers suicide bombing squad and essentially performs the same duties for the Chechen Wahhabis. It first came into existence in June 2000 when two suicide bombers blew up a truck loaded with explosives at a checkpoint near a Russian OMON (Special Forces) unit at Alkhan-Yurt in Chechnya.

Suicide bombing, I should mention, is not an indigenous Chechen tradition but rather a Middle East import, although the Chechen sha'riah court has appropriated the concept of smertnitsi (the idea of virtuous warriors willing to sacrifice their own lives in defense of others) in its theological justifications. In most cases, members of Riyadus Salikhin are the widows of dead Chechen jihadis.

  • Islamic Army of Dagestan: The name given to the Karamakhi-based Dagestanis recruited by Khattab that helped him to forment his 1999 invasion of Dagestan.
  • Military Council Majlis al-Shura of Ingushetia: The name given to the Ingush Wahhabis who fought alongside the United Forces during the June 2004 raid into Ingushetia and led by Abu Kutayba, a Saudi national.
  • Urus-Martan Front: A small Ingush group led by Akhmed Basnukayev that was fighting for greater autonomy in the Urus-Martan and Achkoi-Martan districts of Chechnya before it was absorbed into the framework of Basayev's United Forces.

Basayev's terror offensive ...

Since August 21, Russia has been subject to a wave of Chechen terrorist attacks masterminded by Basayev and bankrolled by al-Qaeda through the personage of an Arab national named Abu Omar al-Saif who serves as the network's paymaster in the Caucasus. While the European and Pakistani arrests of numerous mid-level al-Qaeda figures over the summer appear at least on the surface to have disrupted the network's plans for attacks inside Pakistan and hopefully the continental United States, no similar pattern of disruption appears to have occurred in Iraq or the Caucasus by virtue of the famed al-Qaeda decentralization.

Here's a basic chronology of Chechen attacks prior to Beslan:

  • From August 21-22, upwards of 60 Russian and Chechen-backed troops were slaughtered in and around the Russian-controlled Chechen capital of Grozny. While Russian troops routinely die by the dozens inside Chechnya, these attacks utilized the same tactics that were first harnessed in the June 22 raid by hundreds of Chechen and Ingush jihadis into the Ingush capital Nazran as well as the nearby cities of Karabulak and Sleptsovsk. Over 100 Ingush were killed during that raid, including the republic's interior minister, and the 3 cities were more or less sacked by Basayev's fighters. I mention this because it indicates just how confident Basayev was feeling to have devoted such a large percentage of his forces to the raid. In contrast to the tactics employed by Sadr's Mahdi Army (which attempted to take and hold territory), Basayev's fighters took what they needed from the Russian armories and banks and left the town before Russian reinforcements could arrive.
  • On August 24, we had the twin plane bombings apparently carried out by members of Riyadus Salikhin that killed 89.
  • On August 31, a double suicide bombing in Moscow killed 10, also perpetrated by members of Riyadus Salikhin.

Why North Ossetia ...

Basayev's reasons for selecting North Ossetia in general and Beslan in particular are obvious to one familiar with the warped nature of al-Qaeda and its fellow travelers.

Unlike most of the North Caucasus, most North Ossetians are Eastern Orthodox Christians, so it "makes sense" to target them rather than say Russian Muslim schoolchildren in Ingushetia or Dagestan if you're a Wahhabi who subscribes to bin Laden's belief in a Huntingtonian-esque clash of civilizations. In addition to being majority Christian, North Ossetia was also one of the few regions of the North Caucasus that voluntarily joined the Russian Empire and its population formed a lot of the levies that were eventually used to subdue other Caucasus nations that refused to submit to the Tsar. As such, even the murder of innocent schoolchildren can be fit into a warped idea of "vengeance" for actions that their ancestors may have committed.

I should point out that regardless of what one thinks about Russian involvement in Chechnya, the people of Beslan had no power whatsoever to effect Russian policy in region. Basayev is an educated man who is quite familiar with the North Caucasus, so he must have known this when he was planning the attack. Things like this make his decision to target the innocent people of Beslan all that much more inexcuseable.

However, I should point out that Basayev's ambitions extend far beyond just Chechen independence, so everybody saying that a political solution to the Chechen war or Russian withdrawl from the region is going to solve the issue is going to be sorely disappointed. Here's Amir Ramzan, one of Basayev's flunkies, in an interview with the Chechen propaganda website Kavkaz Center from last year:

Q: From your words I can assume that you operate not only in Chechnya but all over the North Caucasus.

R: Yes, very much so. Not only we carry out raids to various areas in the Caucasus, but we also form local Jama’ats, militant sabotage groups locally. We are joined by a lot of Kabardinians, Dagestanis, Karachaevans, Ingushetians and even Ossetians (Muslims).

Q: That means that those in Russia who say that you want to create a caliphate in the Caucasus from sea to sea, are right?

R: Yes, it is so. Since they are unwilling to negotiate with us, then we’ll be doing what we can. And there is a lot we can do. Next year the war will seize the entire Caucasus from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea. Apart from Ossetia and Ingushetia, this year another guerrilla war has already started in two areas of Dagestan bordering Chechnya. I swear by Allah, this is only the beginning. Russian authorities are well aware of this and this is why they are trying to organize formations of the local residents in the area who could resist us effectively. Similar process is taking place in Chechnya. But it will come to absolutely nothing. Having reached a certain level of confrontation inside Chechnya, Russia will sooner or later have to withdraw its troops beyond the Terek River, for instance. In that case we will need no more than two weeks to destroy all the pro-Russian puppet formations.

Note that his reference to negotiations refers to the establishment of a caliphate from the Black Sea to the Caspian, not to Russian withdrawl from Chechnya. So unless one wants Putin to consider placing millions of people in the hands of these madmen, there is really very little for him to negotiate with Basayev about. Maskhadov is another matter entirely and the Russians might do well to obtain a political settlement on that end, as he has indicated that he might well be open to such a thing.

Fred Pruitt also has some thoughts on what the Russians can learn on their end from what happened in Beslan and I think he hits the nail pretty well on the head.

Links to al-Qaeda ...

People keep asking me about this over on Regnum Crucis or via e-mail, so I'll be up-front: in my own opinion, the only difference between al-Qaeda and Basayev's Chechen Killer Korps is one of semantics, especially when one considers the prominence of people like bin Laden's protege Khattab or Abu Walid al-Ghamdi within the hierarchy of the Chechen forces loyal to Basayev. I've said as much before, but since there is a fair amount of quibbling that can be done in this regard I'll just stick to what is pretty much universally agreed upon by serious observers of the situation in Chechnya, including even some politicians:

  • Khattab first met bin Laden during the Afghan War and later served as the leader of an al-Qaeda brigade sent to assist first the Tajik Islamists in the Tajik Civil War and later the Azeri military during the Armenia-Azerbaijan War during the early 1990s.
  • Ties between al-Qaeda and a number of other Chechen leaders go at least as far back as the early 1990s.
  • Basayev first met with Khattab while fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and then traveled to Afghanistan to receive al-Qaeda training along with several hundred fellow Chechens.
  • By August 1995, a large number of Basayev's followers were Afghan-trained Chechen or Arab fighters.
  • Several hundred additional Chechens were trained in Afghanistan during the republic's period of de facto independence from Russia and former Chechen president Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev convinced Mullah Omar to recognize Chechnya as an independent state and allow it to set up offices in Kabul and Kandahar. A number of elite Chechen fighters were also made members of bin Laden's personal guard.
  • Basayev and Khattab sent emissaries to Afghanistan in 1999, who met with bin Laden in Kandahar and returned with several hundred members of al-Qaeda's elite Brigade 055 as well as a large amount of cash to help bankroll the invasion of Dagestan. An additional $30,000,000 was later funnelled to Khattab from bin Laden through the International Islamic Relief Organization and Global Relief NGOs based in Georgia.
  • As the fighting intensified in late 1999, bin Laden sent large amounts of money and weapons to Basayev, Khattab, and Arbi Barayev and appointed Abu Tariq to oversee the distribution of al-Qaeda funds in Chechnya. Abu Tariq was killed in December 2002 and succeeded by Abu Omar al-Saif, another Arab national.
  • Al-Qaeda funding was used by Chechen commanders loyal to Basayev to recruit fighters from Georgia, Ingushetia, South Ossetia, Azerbaijan, and Dagestan.
  • The last contingent of Chechen trainees arrived in Afghanistan in the spring of 2001 fought against the US-backed Northern Alliance at Mazar-e-Sharif and Kunduz during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).
  • After 9/11, Khattab sent a token force of Chechen and Arab fighters to Afghanistan to demonstrate his solidarity with bin Laden as well as recognition of him as the undisputed leader of the international Islamist movement.
  • A number of key al-Qaeda commanders, including Saif al-Islam al-Masri and Abu Iyad, a member of the group's ruling council, sought sanctuary with Khattab following the fall of the Taliban.
  • After Khattab's death in February 2002, al-Qaeda contacted its various NGO front organizations in the Gulf to urge an additional shipment of $2,000,000 to Khattab's successor Abu Walid al-Ghamdi.
  • Al-Qaeda WMD chief Midhat Mursi has used the Chechen stronghold in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge as a base from which to train European al-Qaeda members in toxins and crude chemical weapons.
  • Abu Omar al-Saif has called for attacks on US forces in Iraq and Abu Walid sent a force of Arab and Chechen fighters to Iraq in answer to Abu Musab Zarqawi's January 2004 request for assistance.

This does not include, of course, Russian reports that Abu Omar al-Saif bankrolled this most recent attack or that there were dead Arabs found among the bodies of the Beslan hostage-takers.

What can be done to help the victims?

As I said, the innocent people of Beslan had absolutely nothing to do with Russian policies in Chechnya and should not be held accountable for whatever differences one may have with the policies of the Russian government. MoscowHelp has been set up to assist the survivors of this tragedy and has already raised $95,206, or nearly double what the US government is donating.

UPDATE: The Telegraph has a pretty good primer on what Basayev's ambitions are that should help to make it clear why negotiations aren't going to end the fighting in the region.

33 TrackBacks

Tracked: September 6, 2004 2:22 AM
RUSSIA from chiasm.blog-city.com
Excerpt: Interesting article from Haaretz here comparing - and, mostly, contrasting - the horrific Beslan terrorist spectacle with September 11th. If you can handle it, the Command Post has an extremely thorough timeline along with eyewitness accounts here. T
Tracked: September 6, 2004 2:25 AM
Excerpt: After the terrible massacre at the school in Breslan, N. Ossetia, more information on the situation in the Caucasus is sorely needed. Fortunately, Dan Darling comes through at Winds of Change. And Rantburg has suggestions on Russia's options for respon...
Tracked: September 6, 2004 9:05 PM
Excerpt: Dan Darling at Winds of Change has a terrific post on this subject: Winds of Change.NET: Thoughts on Beslan
Tracked: September 6, 2004 10:36 PM
Chechnya and the Jihadi Connection from mypetjawa v. 2.0 (beta)
Excerpt: Dan Darling does a great job of supplying the background info necessary to understand the Chechen conflict. He also delves into the connections between the jihadists and the Chechen nationalists. They run deep. It is possible that Chechens have a...
Tracked: September 7, 2004 12:11 AM
Excerpt: Winds of Change provides an excellent summary of recent Chechen history leading up to the massacre. I think most Americans would be stunned at the extent to which Al Qaeda and wahabbism had put down roots there.
Tracked: September 7, 2004 7:41 AM
Excerpt: For some insight into what's behind the massacre in Beslan, this piece from Dan Darling at Winds of Change is a great start. Roger Simon recommended it highly and I'm passing it on. It's too long to summarize here, but among the high poi...
Tracked: September 7, 2004 11:52 AM
Chechnya from Dean's World
Excerpt: For understanding the history of the situation in Chechnya, you could not do better than to read Dan Darling's Thoughts On Beslan.
Tracked: September 7, 2004 11:54 AM
Chechnya from Dean's World
Excerpt: For understanding the history of the situation in Chechnya, you could not do better than to read Dan Darling's Thoughts On Beslan. It's long, but it...
Tracked: September 7, 2004 2:09 PM
Wahhabi from Bunker Mulligan
Excerpt: Dan Darling has some interesting thoughts on the situation in Beslan. In particular, he notes some information on the problems in Chechnya you might not have known. For one, the majority there are Sufi Muslim, but the Wahabis are interested...
Tracked: September 7, 2004 2:28 PM
Viking burial site revealed from The Politburo Diktat
Excerpt: Viking burial site found in England LONDON (Reuters) - Archaeologists say they have excavated an "extremely important" burial site of six Viking men and women, complete with swords, spears, jewellery, fire-making materials and riding gear. The site in ...
Tracked: September 7, 2004 2:37 PM
Chechen History from King of Fools
Excerpt: Winds of Change has an in-depth look at the Chechnya situation. Great information source to find out the true scope of the problem. (Hat-tip to Dean's World)...
Tracked: September 7, 2004 2:38 PM
Excerpt: In the comments section of a post over on Winds of Change one of the commenters asked for commentary for Russian-readers on this article, West Unleashes Shahids on Russia. I quickly scanned the article and responded that it appeared to...
Tracked: September 7, 2004 4:00 PM
Excerpt: Winds of Change.NET: Thoughts on Beslan There's a lot of history we've not seen in the media on this area. But then again, it's on the other side of the world so why worry about it? /sarcasm. We ignore things...
Tracked: September 7, 2004 4:22 PM
A day at school from the fourth rail
Excerpt: Sincerest condolences to the the families and friends of those who lost loved ones in the unthinkable crimes in Russia. For a complete timeline of the Russian hostage crisis, go to Logic and Sanity. Stan and Olka are translating the...
Tracked: September 7, 2004 4:59 PM
The Root Causes from Ubique Patriam Reminisci
Excerpt: Listening to the BBC, as I am wont to do for lack of anything better on traditional radio, I keep hearing a lot about trying to find the "root causes" for the terrorism stemming from the Chechen situation. I'm still of the opinion that nobody can ju...
Tracked: September 7, 2004 7:07 PM
My Big Picture from Funmurphys: the Blog
Excerpt: Radical Islam is on the move, not just bloodying its borders, but at times fighting with state Islam. Where once state Islam was the agent, now private Islam is the agent of Jihad, except where radical Islam can take over...
Tracked: September 7, 2004 7:53 PM
Chechnya from RussBlog - Russell Newquist's Weblog
Excerpt: Dan Darling has posted a great piece on the history of the Chechen conflict over on Winds Of Change (thanks to Dean Esmay for the link). For those (like me) who aren't really all that knowledgeable about the situation, this is invaluable. The links a...
Tracked: September 7, 2004 8:32 PM
Beslan: Russia’s 9/11 from The Indepundit
Excerpt: IN THE AFTERMATH of one of the most devastating acts of terror since September 11, 2001, Russians are struggling coming to grips with the following horrific statistics: In Beslan, at least 335 are dead; the final number may approach 600....
Tracked: September 7, 2004 9:58 PM
Russian Front Update: Some 'Chechans' are Arabs from Weapons of Mass Discussion
Excerpt: It is my belief that al Qaeda had a role in this terrorist act. This was not the work of 'militants' or 'rebels' but rather the doings of terrorists. And they don't care if you sent troops to Iraq or not. Big surprise there...
Tracked: September 8, 2004 7:02 AM
Beslan Bedlam from Pundidiot
Excerpt: I haven't posted on this story yet, because I wanted the full horror to sink in. [And thanks US Media, for "protecting" us from the full horror of the story. You show Abu Ghraib in great detail, over and over again, to satisfy your sick hatred of A...
Tracked: September 8, 2004 9:51 AM
Excerpt: I have done a number of pieces ( here, here, here and here ) on the Russian school attack. There are numerous other writers covering different angles on the situation below. From the why to the how to the fallout...
Tracked: September 8, 2004 1:10 PM
Chechnya Background from The Unusual Suspects
Excerpt: Winds of Change has an excellentsummary of the Chechyan conflict, including how we got to this point today. Take this along with my comments about why Beslan is different than America's War on Terror, and why this is a tough situation to figure out t...
Tracked: September 9, 2004 1:52 AM
Excerpt: Below I've compiled a short history of what has been happening in Chechnya since WWII. The Chechyns and Russians go back to Tsarist Russian conquering it 1815. Its not a particularly happy relationship. This is offered as a backgrounder to...
Tracked: September 9, 2004 5:30 AM
oh yeah from live from los(t) angeles
Excerpt: That business with the Chechens killing schoolkids last week was pretty damn awful. For some more background on the whole Chechen situation, see here. Informative....
Tracked: September 9, 2004 6:28 PM
NOT-SO-FAIR HARVARD from The Protocols of the Yuppies of Zion
Excerpt: Many thanks to Jessica for linking the Winds of Change Entry on the history of the Chechen conflict, particularly because it exceeds and contradicts an editorial written by a Harvard Professor and printed in the New York Times. In his piece, Pipes fail...
Tracked: September 10, 2004 4:08 PM
Chechnya Analysis. from The Bayou City Perspective
Excerpt: Being as this blog is, in part, a public notebook into which I post different things that I take note of, I wanted to post a link to this post over on Winds of Change that goes into the whole...
Tracked: September 14, 2004 7:32 PM
Excerpt: Speaking of safe areas and insurgency, I’m still puzzled by Russia’s support of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Even before the Beslan...
Tracked: September 23, 2004 4:03 AM
Excerpt: In fact, I don’t just see parallels between Beslan and al-Qaeda, I see no real distinction between the Beslan attack itself and the great problem that al-Qaeda represents. Dan Darling gives a succinct primer on international terrorist groups operating ...
Tracked: September 23, 2004 6:48 PM
Excerpt: In fact, I don’t just see parallels between Beslan and al-Qaeda, I see no real distinction between the Beslan attack itself and the great problem that al-Qaeda represents. Dan Darling gives a succinct primer on international terrorist groups operating ...
Tracked: July 13, 2005 10:33 PM
If you haven't seen this... from The Defiance, Colorado Democrat
Excerpt: Winds of Change includes the Beslan Middle School massacre in this al Qaeda/bin Laden timeline. I found this questionable because while Shamil Basayev certainly is a Muslim terrorists, his partner in the Beslan massacre, Ichekeria Maskhadov, is not. I ...
Tracked: October 14, 2005 10:12 AM
Thoughts on Nalchik from Winds of Change.NET
Excerpt: The attack on Nalchik in Kabardino-Balkaria is yet another sign of the deteriorating situation in the North Caucasus. While this is the first high-profile attack by Basayev's Chechen fighters and their allies since Beslan, this...
Tracked: December 16, 2005 9:00 AM
Excerpt: Read this. Read this. A comment from Tom's blog:I have another quote in mind. Jeremiah 32:35:And they built the high places of the Ba�al, which are in the valley of Ben-hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass...
Tracked: July 10, 2006 3:30 PM
Excerpt: Shamil Basayev in Dagestan, in 1999. Click image to view. Chechen terrorist leader and al-Qaeda commander Shamil Basayev has been killed by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), according to the chief of the security Basayev was killed during a...

171 Comments

Dan! I'm so glad you're back!
I want to know now why there's not a breath of this in the MSM. Stan at Logic and Sanity showed me a Wash post article from last year about Al Qaeda influence in Chechnya-- why isn't this at least a visible story now? And is it visible in the Russian press?

"...my first blog...."

Blog entry. Blog entry. You've not started a whole new blog here, and metonymy isn't what you're doing.

Yes, I'm a usage wonk.

One makes an entry in or on a blog. A blog is a web log.

That's all that is written, and if people want to make multiple "blogs" they should show their many URLs.

decaf, Gary, decaf...<g>

A.L.

jinnderella:

Aww, thanks ;)

C-SPAN was (and is?) very kind to provide us with direct translation feed of the events from the Russian news services and just from watching what's reported internally within the Russian press, there isn't any doubt that al-Qaeda was involved. As for why this isn't being covered among the US press, don't ask me, but you have to remember that while American press coverage of this attack is certainly better than it has been in previous cases, in general Western coverage of events inside Russia is extremely poor. I think Isikoff and Hosenball have a Newsweek "web exclusive" up dealing with al-Qaeda in Chechnya, though I don't think that they take it nearly as far as I do.

Gary:

Apologies, I'll try to do better next time ;)

My congratulations to you, Mr. Darling, as this is the kind of briefing this site was meant for. Very useful order-of-battle intelligence, among other things.

It also shows that, whatever grievances the Chechens have had historically, their war has been subsumed by AQ. Indeed, given the number of Chechen fighters found elsewhere, notably Afghanistan, it suggests they've enlisted.

It also suggests that President Putin has a much bigger fight than simply pacifying the Chechen-Ingush. If it means dealing with Riyadh rather than Grozny then maybe this Administration needs to look in.

Wow.. outstanding post. Thanks much for the information!!!

Finally, someone talking some sense.

Thank you Dan.

Here is my poorly hewn attempt at identifying the enemy: http://www.nopunditintended.com/?q=Who-is-the-Real-Enemy

Dan,

I am interested in your opinion of the level of reprisal that Putin will take in this matter. I interpret his comments regarding "fear" to mean that he intends to demonstrate a Russian lack thereof. What is the probability (in your opinion) of a Russian "Carthaginian" response?

Rick:

Russia can't mount a "Carthaginian" response to Chechnya for the simple fact that they already have - I believe the standing body count is something like 80,000 civilians killed so far in the second Chechen war, which is why as I said this blog entry shouldn't be seen as an endorsement of Russian behavior in Chechnya. The battle for Grozny left much of the city in ruins and Chechnya proper is now run by a Russian-backed government. Putin could strike at Chechen bases in the Pankisi Gorge or attempt some type of punitive actions against Saudi Arabia, but I think that the chances of either of those actions being carried out are far from likely.

The best steps that Putin can take are pretty much those outlined by Fred Pruitt over on Rantburg with respect to the Russian military in order to make it a more effective sword with which to aim at people like Basayev. An increased Russian military presence may also be necessary in places like Dagestan or Ingushetia, as the United Forces clearly have infrastructure in place there that facilitated their travels into North Ossetia to begin with.

How many non-combattants reside in the Pankisi Gorge. What general level of explosive yield would be necessary to reduce all enemy forces in the Pankisi Gorge to combat ineffectiveness? What total percentage of the Caucasus Muslim militants would be negated by this type of attack?

Hajjapalooza 2005: The Festival of Light and Heat
Venue: The Hajj (Jan.-Feb. 2005, Mecca, SA)
Attendees: 2 m Muslims
Entertainment: 10+ megatons of primo Russian thermonuclear attitude adjuster (i.e., 5+ tons of martyr-making hydrogen fusion per unwitting Muslim).
User name: Morituri
Password: Allah be braised!
Agenda: Remember Beslan!
Parting gifts: 72 virgins per attendee.
(NB: Because of the anticipated heavy demand for virgins at this event, we recommend that you depart for paradise ASAP, perhaps even before the Hajj.)

Dan,

The Russians face two related problems here - traditional Chechen nastiness and outside support for it. The latter greatly complicates the traditional, and highly effective, Russian solution for the former - wholesale slaughter. The Russians have calmed the Chechens down before with genocide and will again. Sooner than you think. You just aren't bloody-minded enough.

They're Russians, Dan. They ARE bloody-minded enough. History made them that way and whacks them repeatedly when they don't pay attention. Likewise the Chechens pay attention only when most of them are dead. It's a tough neighborhood.

I suggest you go here: http://www.strategypage.com/fyeo/qndguide/default.asp?target=RUSSIA.HTM</> and read the entries for September 2-3.

IMO the Russians will eventually use Saddam's solution to the Kurdish question - nerve gas delivered by air, only for purposes of genocide as opposed to intimidation.

I suggest you try focusing on where events are going instead of where they are now. That is how to predict the future.

Arab support for the Chechens - mestaticization of the Wahabbi cancer - will cease only when the Arabs no longer have significant unearned income, i.e., after the collapse of Saudi Arabia and our de facto seizure of control of the oil income of the other Arab states in the Persian Gulf. Iran's mullah regime will be gone in about 12-18 months - I have money on our invasion starting no later than 10/31/05 (for weather reasons).

So the Chechens will have funding and cadres coming in from the outside for some time. This means further horror shows like Breslan and the theater in Moscow. At some point the Russians will uncork.

So it's just a question of time. IMO that will take place after the Saud regime collapses. The EU will not then risk its relationship with will be, at that point, the world's largest oil exporter. And the nutballs will go absolutely berserk with atrocities.

Concerning jinnderella's comment... I think the failure to report al Qaeda's role in the Chechen war is symptomatic of something deep. I see two things at work. One is Western suspicion of Russia and of Putin in particular, based on real and long-running cultural differences and geopolitical rivalries. The other is the Western use of radical Islam as a pawn in its rivalry with Russia.

Consider how the West saw this series of wars: 1980s Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya. For us, it was about Afghan resistance, post-communist fractiousness, Serbian genocide, Chechen independence. For Russia and Serbia, it was largely all about Wahhabi terrorism, assisted by foreign powers. There really needs to be some sort of examination within the West as to how we ended up on the same side as al Qaeda so often. And I would like to see some of the blogosphere's self-made terror pundits reach out and make contact with their Russian counterparts, who must exist. We need to hear their side of the story.

Something about the CIA's support for the mujahideen has long puzzled me. Supposedly it was the biggest covert operation in the agency's history. Yet somehow the whole world knows about it! When and how did it make the transition from covert to common knowledge? Was it just that they stopped lying about it, once the USSR ceased to be? Furthermore, there was definitely overt support for the Afghans as well. So where was the line drawn? Was it as simple as: rhetorical support overt, material support covert?

We now face the opposite problem when it comes to the CIA and bin Laden - people are willing to believe in any sort of connection. The safe consensus, so far as I can make it out, is that it was Pakistan's fault. The CIA liaised with the ISI, and the ISI wouldn't let them see what was going on in the training camps. Pardon me for thinking that this is just another cover story. Bin Laden was there as the on-site representative of Saudi Arabia, the US ally which was matching the funding for the mujahideen dollar for dollar. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the famous dual-use Islamic charities were a CIA invention. I also find it very suspicious that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's brother Zahed, the one relative who almost never gets mentioned in the press, reportedly administered a Kuwaiti charity in Pakistan and Afghanistan, one that was finally declared to be a terror-financing organization just a few months before last year's war in Iraq. So I think there are people in American intelligence who have known about these guys from the beginning, and who may even have worked with them back then.

This is supposed to be a post about the Chechens, so here is another example. Ex-DCI James Woolsey has endorsed the theory that the 1999 bombings in Russia which precipitated the second Chechen war were actually carried out by the Russian secret services. I should hasten to add that this is a theory first advanced by Russians, on the basis of two things: the "Ryazan incident", in which Russian special forces were found placing a bomb in a building, and the presence of hexogen, a Russian military explosive, in the residue of the bombs that went off. I believe the official explanation of the Ryazan incident is that it was a training exercise. Perhaps it was an attempt to test the intelligence skills of local law enforcement (this is where contact with Russian warbloggers would be useful...). As for the hexogen, I am reminded of the argument that the 2001 anthrax letters must have been sent by an insider, because they carried an American military strain. In any case, my point is that if a senior intelligence official (retired) like Woolsey is willing to say that Russia bombed its own people as a pretext for suppressing the Chechens, is it any wonder that the foreign policy elite and the press in general have the attitudes they do?

jeffers:

I believe the Pankisi Gorge plays host to thousands of Chechen refugees and that most of the Chechen bases there are a mixture of small villages and mountain strongholds. The Russians also have a definite intel problem, see Fred Pruitt's remarks for more on this.

Tom Holsinger:

The Russian solution with respect to Chechnya thus far has been pretty much indiscriminate retaliation against those believed to be insurgents or to support the goal of Chechen independence. Keep in mind that there are only about a million Chechens out there to begin with and that tens of thousands of them were killed during the events that led to the current Russian control of their country. As far as the nerve gas solution, Putin appears to support the idea of a pro-Russian government in Chechnya backed by private armies and Chechens loyal to Moscow. As long as that continues to be his ideal outcome for Chechnya, I don't see the introduction of chemical weapons there as much of a feasible outcome.

Also, as the presence of Ingush, Dagestanis, Georgians, and Azeris in the ranks of Basayev's fighters should indicate, the issue is now going far beyond Chechnya to include other Caucasus republics. Basayev and Co are a symptom of a much broader problem.

The new political geography could complicate any Russian response. For one thing, the Pankisi Gorge isn't in Russian territory but in the Republic of Georgia. Georgia is something of a US ally, has a post-post-Soviet government now that its ex-Soviet strongman is out and a populist (Mikhail Saakashvili) is in, and Georgia has hosted our special forces. Russian forces in Georgia seem to be supporting breakaway movements (and out-and-out smugglers) in Abkhazia and in South Ossetia. That crap isn't helping either the anti-AQ war or the security problems on Russia's southern border.

And the smuggling is a problem, even if jihadis aren't themselves infiltrating. Weapons of all sorts are bought, sold and moved in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdnestria over on the Moldovan border. If an ex-Soviet nuke gets loose that's where it might be offered for sale.

For an ex-KGB man, Putin seems to be running an awfully anarchic empire. But it would help if he had a stronger neighbor adjoining Chechnya and North Ossetia, not a disgruntled neighbor with more holes than a Gruyère cheese, most of them with Putin's fingerprint. In any event, a Russian offensive in the Pankisi Gorge would very quickly cause problems in Tblisi. And in Washington.

(BTW, I wanted to provide hyperlinks to some very interesting articles on ex-Soviet territories -- the Economist has run quite a few of late -- but they're all archived as "premium content" on their website, exclusive to print subscribers. Still, people on this site may want to consider subscribing as this mag seems a lot more comprehensive than US MSM, if a trifle skeptical. Unsolicited plug.)

Thank you very much for this summary of such a labyrinthine situation. I really think is the best one I have read until now.

Let me reciprocate somehow telling you something about the Riyadh al-Saliheen myth; it’s very interesting and it doen’t surprise me that it has come up in Thetchnia. It has become central to much of the folk narrative behind the suicide “martyr” would they say terrorist attacks, but it is older. The expression means indeed “the garden of the virtuous”, but it has a larger meaning.
On the one hand it has been used as a title for haddits (Islamic traditions attributed to prophet Mohammad) collections; the one by Imam Nawawi is a best-seller not only among jihadist sympathizers but generally appreciated by revivalists. In fact, among lots of moral and sometimes esoteric tales, it is said to include the theological justification for the suicide bombers –Islam traditionally forbad suicide- and is apparently used in the mind conditioning previous to the suicide.

The candidate to "martyr" is isolated and told that he or she not only will go automatically to the Garden of the Virtuous but will also be entitled to designate 72 friends or parents that will win acceptance into Paradise thanks to his deed. Iran’s mullahs used also this folklore to motivate their revolutionary guardians during the Iran-Iraq conflict: the shock troops were issued a plastic key to the garden of the virtuous prior to being sent into WWI style attacks against the iraqui lines.

Dan,

Excellent post! Very informative.

I blog about the possibility of a Russian incursion into the Pankisi Gorge as a result of the Breslan massacre. I have a feeling there will be a pretty significant response, because Putin's speech highlighted a lot of weaknesses, which was quite surpising, because as you know, his whole presidency is based on an image of tough, uncompromising, strength when it comes to Chechnya. And he might conclude that the only way to redeem that "credibility" is to be brutal and launch some kind of offensive. Plus, not doing anything other than reforming his security services (while important) is an invitation to more horrendous attacks like this one. So, he might have no choice but to respond.

Dan,

That's where Putin is now. Consider where Putin will be 4-5 years from now.

His current solution would probably work but for the Chechen crazies having privileged sanctuaries out of country. Tell me how Putin's current program can work given the crazies' foreign support and sanctuaries.

Mitch P. and Dan-- Thank you so much! The past four days have just been horrible, with atrocities dominating the media and only clueless generalizations for analysis. I was starting to feel that there was no one at the helm!
But that can't be true, the "Cabal" is always watching, right?

Juan: You got my attention, that was absolutely fascinating. Gratitude for sharing. The Riyadh al-Saliheen myth sounds much more like a "Ghost Dance" cult than fundamentalism-- where is John when you need him?

Dan,

What Russia has done so far in Chechnya. while brutal and rather severe, is in no way Carthaginian. I tend to agree with Tom's post above concerning the probability of a very lethal Russian reaction.

I am just unsure as to the potential level of constraint that Putin will feel from the European community. What does Russia risk by adopting a program of ethnic cleansing in Chechnya? If the question is phrased as "Whose children?" then I'm not even sure that Europe will come up with a believable display of handwringing. Breslan may mark a European turning point.

Bob Harmon:

Georgia used to have Ed Shevardnadze, who turned a blind eye to Chechen activities in Pankisi and only really started paying attention to al-Qaeda activity there after large numbers of them started arriving from Afghanistan. He got with the program for a time, but then he stopped cooperating so the US started clandestinely supporting the Georgian dissident movements in concert with George Soros of all people. Enter the Rose Revolution and Saakashvili, who is US-educated and extremely sympathetic to our concerns in region.

Russian activities in Georgia are extremely complex (for example, Basayev at one point fought with the Russians in support of Abkhazi separatism before he met up with Khattab in Nagorno-Karabakh) and seem to have initially (and currently?) been started as an attempt to rein Georgia back into the Russian sphere of influence, as I believe both Abkhazia and South Ossetia support a union with the Kremlin. The US convinced Putin to drop support for another break-away region, Ajaria, earlier this year and the region came back under the influence of the Georgian central government. Saakashvili has undertaken some sterner efforts in Pankisi, but the region is still a haven for Basayev's Chechens and their al-Qaeda allies. As you mentioned, the region is entirely awash with cheap guns and other weaponry and there don't seem to be many prospects of that improving in the near future.

Because the US clandestinely supported Shevardnadze's ouster and now supports Saakashvili, a Russian invasion of Georgia is likely to cause a lot of trouble in Washington.

LJ:

The idea of a massive Russian invasion of Georgia proper or just Pankisi is still very much on the table, I suspect. They also now have to deal with Basayev's infrastructure in Ingushetia that would have had to have existed in order for the incursion into North Ossetia to have ever occurred. As it now stands, Russian forces have sealed off North Ossetia and are launching an aggressive search for any of the hostage-takers who may have escaped (they already paraded one escapee around on Russian TV). That should be their top priority while they assess the situation, identify who the foreign backers were (I imagine that Abu Omar al-Saif is getting his checks signed by someone other than bin Laden) and make preparations to neutralize them. Keep in mind that the Russians assassinated Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, the former Chechen president and Wahhabi ideologue who convinced Mullah Omar to recognize Chechen "independence," back in 2003 after they'd linked him to the theater seige. If I were a prince in a certain Magic Kingdom, I'd be doubling my security and getting somebody else to start my car and taste my food right about now.

Tom Holsinger:

By eliminating those foreign sanctuaries, IMO. Supporting efforts in Pankisi similar to those that were achieved in Ajaria (or, if Putin's feeling cranky, invading Pankisi outright) and continuing to press other regional powers on cutting off the flow to Basayev and Co. As for Saudi Arabia, there are a number of options here that are basically the same ones that the US has. This is one of those areas where working together with the Russians against a common foe should be helpful.

Rick Ballard:

Sorry, I interpretted "Carthaginian" to mean the demonstrable destruction of the center of the opposing power in such a manner that it leaves no doubt as far as who is in charge. Other than sowing salt in the ruins of Grozny, the Russians have pretty much done that. Ethnic cleansing is one possibility, but like I said I don't think Putin is too likely to exercise that option because right now his main supporters in Chechnya are independent militias and local security forces loyal to Moscow, all of them composed of Chechens.

I'd be very surprised if the combined membership in those groups I listed above ever topped 10,000 (plus their immediate families, if we're looking at the potential for more Riyadus Salikhin members). Those are the people that Russia needs to pull their intel and professionalize their forces in order to eliminate, along with their foreign backers living abroad. I don't think that a Hama-style response is too likely to change that.

As for a European reaction, if European elites focused on Russian treatment of Chechens with half of the ferocity and self-righteous outrage they do Israeli treatment of the Palestinians I very much doubt anti-Zionism would be half as acceptable as it is these days in European intellectual circles. The Europeans already have their eyes half closed on Chechnya and I doubt Russian ethnic cleansing of the region would do much to change that.

I have a vague recollection that the Pankisi Gore had been cleaned out; did I imagine this, or are the bad guys back?

Dan,

Thanks for your replies, you certainly appear to have a good handle on the intricacies involved. Is there any possiblity that Putin and Saakashvili might decide that a joint game of "cowboys and jihadis" was in order? Has Georgia ever mounted any military action at all wrt the Pankisi Gorge?

There are periodic reports that it's being or been cleaned out, but most of these (at least under Shevardnadze) were at best window-dressing to help secure US aid. Saakashvili has started cracking down on known arms depots and weapons caches, but he hasn't done much in the way of substance as far as the Russians are concerned.

I should also mention that Basayev's thugs coexist with the larger Chechen population in Pankisi and that separating the two out is by no means easy.

An increase in Russian-Georgian cooperation is likely something that the US would welcome but the problem is that such cooperation is precluded by the issue of the Russian-sponsored separatist enclaves in Georgia like Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We got a settlement on Ajaria that was okay for all parties, but unless we can duplicate that success I wouldn't see much in the way of improvement in bilateral relations.

This post is nonsense. For example, you say
The problem with Chechnya, more or less, is that the Russians tried to surrender after their failure to bring the rebellious republic back into the fold in the first Chechen war and it didn't work.
but then you say
From August 21-22, upwards of 60 Russian and Chechen-backed troops were slaughtered in and around the Russian-controlled Chechen capital of Grozny.
If the Russians tried to surrender why are there Russian troops in Grozny?

In actual fact, even after the Russians got kicked out of Chechnya in the first war they never relinquished their claims and they prevented international recognition or any aid from going in.

Chechnya was devastated, its government was incapable of controlling the country, and it descended into chaos. It was nobody's fault but the Russians'.

For a more realistic appraisal of who started the second Chechen war and Al Qaeda's minimal involvement, see Slate

Mike:

A couple of points here.

My reference to the Russians attempting to surrender refers to the Russian decision after the first war to grant Chechnya de facto independence with the very real possibility of it becoming de jure further down the line. Russian troops only returned to Chechnya after Khattab invaded Dagestan in 1999.

As far as this:

In actual fact, even after the Russians got kicked out of Chechnya in the first war they never relinquished their claims and they prevented international recognition or any aid from going in.

Chechnya was devastated, its government was incapable of controlling the country, and it descended into chaos. It was nobody's fault but the Russians'."

I believe I said at the very beginning:

"This should in no way be seen as an endorsement of Russian policies in Chechnya, which have been worse than brutal - they're simply ineffective."

On the substantive points raised in the piece you cite from Slate:

"So, what does al-Qaida and international Islamic terrorism have to do with any of this? Probably very little."

I would point out that CNN, Time Magazine, Time yet again, the UK Guardian, and the Washington Post all disagree on this one. More to the point, the Slate article doesn't even bother to refute any of the claims regarding people like Abu Omar al-Saif, it just pretends they don't exist.

"Chechens have plenty of reason to do what they do without outside inspiration. In addition, their tactics are very different from al-Qaida's."

Not really, hostage-taking was described in detail in an issue of al-Battar. I've even seen a videotape from Afghanistan showing training on how to hold a school hostage.

"Osama Bin Laden's group generally aims for maximum casualties;"

Not in Saudi Arabia they don't and the same goes with Pakistan. And don't 300+ civilians count as maximum casualties?

"the Chechens, at least when they have staged hostage-takings, have not seemed to have that goal."

Not if they get what they want. Bin Laden offered to call off attacks in Europe too, if they would get off his back for awhile.

"the Chechens, on the other hand, explicitly exclude Westerners from their list of targets;"

Eh? They sure as hell didn't when they took that Moscow theater hostage and Arbi Barayev was paid by al-Qaeda specifically for the purpose of killing Westerners.

"they target Russians and Russia-sympathizers."

Which, in their warped worldview, is everybody who doesn't support them.

"Finally, the Chechens' demands, when they have made them, have always focused on the war in Chechnya to the exclusion of any religious or international agenda. They have consistently demanded a the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya—an unattainable goal in the current Russian political climate, but one that may look plausible to the Chechens because it worked after Budyonnovsk."

See the Amir Ramzan quote above. Their agenda goes way beyond just Chechnya.

"Russian intelligence has produced little or no evidence that al-Qaida is present in Chechnya."

US, UK, France, and Australia all beg to differ on that score, but what the hell do they know?

"Russian officials claimed that there were Arabs among the hostage-takers, but this information has yet to be confirmed, and even if it is, it may mean only that foreign men have come to fight on the side of Chechens—something that has happened before and something that happens in every conflict, whether or not a major international organization is involved."

Yeah, that's why Khattab was running a freakin' Arab brigade or why Abu Omar al-Saif is Basayev's sugardaddy ...

"On the other hand, it would be surprising if al Qaida had no presence in Chechnya at all. Chechens are Muslims, and they are at war; representatives of virtually every Islamic organization have at one point or another sent missionaries and recruiters to the region."

I very much doubt they've all hosted the same training and exchange programs, however ...

"They have also sent money. Researchers of al-Qaida say that, in addition to its own organization, the terrorist network has a number of loose affiliates, essentially freelancers, who get occasional financial support. Most likely, some Chechen groups or individuals fall into that category."

You can split hairs as much as you like on this stuff, but let me reproduce a quote from Abu Omar al-Saif via MEMRI:

"Similarly, I recommend to the Mujahideen that instead of engaging in clashes and warfare against the Saudi government, it is better to go to Iraq. There, there are weapons aplenty and there they can fight the Americans. It is no secret that great damage will be caused the Americans if the Mujahideen turn to Iraq to fight them.

"As for the clashes in Saudi Arabia, there is no doubt that they gladden the Americans. It gladdens them that the Mujahideen are killed by the Saudi government. I recommend to the youth to act according to their interests and to turn to Iraq instead of dealing with confronting the Saudi government."

Like I said, split as many hairs between Basayev and al-Qaeda as you desire.

Thanks for the information, Dan.

Do you really think that it's possible that Putin would order the FSB (or the Russian agency that conducts foreign ops) to strike at various Saudi princes or Wahhabi clerics? Not that I would oppose such a move, but it seems as if that would create more problems than it would be worth.

Destroying the Pankisi and Ingushetian terrorist infrastructure seems to be the most important issue at hand. And another regarding the Pankisi, since it's part of Georgia itself, I can't imagine Saakashvili will take that laying down. Although, it appears doubtful that the Georgian military would pose any challenge to the Russian army. Or maybe Putin will say if Saakashvili tries to intervene, he'll march his army all the way down to Tbilisi. The close relationship between Washington and Tbilisi throws a wrench into this, of course. I think because of that, Putin will not go anywhere south of the Pankisi unless something else dire happens.

Mitch.P, very good points, all this is rarely mentioned anymore. You see, in Russia itself, there's a widespread opinion (ranging from suspicion to outright paranoia) that behind this explosion of separatism and terrorism stands not just Saudi Arabia as a money donor, but the West itself -- who's out to finish the job begun by the collapse of the USSR and destroy the country by fair means or foul. This conspiracy theory is not totally incomprehensible if one considers a few things, some of which you mention yourself.

First, militant Islamism (terrorism included) is in fact, or at least perceived as, a western creation constructed as a Western proxy in the 80s for use in the war in Afghanistan -- financed by the Saudis (formally; with oil money of course, but this money comes from the West, and besides, SA has been always the West's ally: as has Pakistan, btw, which had its role in the Afghan events too) with the US official and unofficial blessing, CIA help, British SAS tactics training and so on; don't forget Stingers, supplied to the mojaheddin by the US too -- they made a huge difference in the war power-balance by dramatically diminishing the efficacy of the Soviet air power, unchallenged before that. ObL and friends whom we are fighting now were there during all these years, "learning the ropes", so to say.

Second, Western (or at least, Anglo-Saxon) engagement with the Moslem world goes even further back in time, to the beginning of the 20th century at least, and definitely to WWI in the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire, when Arabs were basically bribed by the British to hit the Turks in the ass. The current layout of the Arab Middle East is a post-WWI British (and in a smaller degree, French) creation.

In other words, there's a perceivable long-term pattern of the Western (mainly Anglo-Saxon) use of Islam as a proxy in geopolitical struggle. Of course, Afghanistan, as well as the Caucasus, and Turkestan (Central Asian states) are, geographically, the heart of the old Russo-British imperialist conflict in Asia (a.k.a. The Great Game.)

I remember, relatively recently Zbignew Brzezinski (sp?) was interviewed on the radio, and someone raised this question with him, pointing out that the current "War on Terror" is really an offshoot of the fundamentally West-vs-Soviets Afghan war of the 80s. Someone asked him, was perhaps the WTC bombing and all that came afterwards -- the invasion of Afghanistan, Irak, etc -- too heavy a price to pay for the success there (against the Soviets in the 80s, that is)? No, said Zbig, this little donnybrook in Afghanistan (the recent one, in 2002) and the rest is nothing compared to the success against the Soviets in the 80s.

Russians are very receptive to this kind of things and, remembering their history, are suspicious that the West actually continues "The Eternal War on Russia" by using this Islamic militancy; and that the Chechen (at the moment) terrorism -- along with the developments in Georgia, which borders on Chechnya; and don't forget the new US bases in the formerly Soviet republics in Central Asia, Uzbekistan, and so on; and add in here the fact that the UK offered political asylum to Ahmad Zakaev (and Berezovsky, btw, who's a wanted man in Russia); plus Chechen rebel emissaries, received by the US officials -- is actually sponsored by the West seeking to excise the Caucasus, Georgia, and whatever possible of Central Asia from the Russian "zone of influence", as they call it, or at least penetrate this region significantly. They see their decade-old problem of Chechen terrorism as a manifestation of a much larger geopolitical threat to their country.

LJ:

They assassinated Yandarbiyev in the middle of Qatar, so I wouldn't put it past them. It all depends on just how angry Putin is and how much he's willing to risk escalating the conflict.

Saakashvili doesn't control Pankisi except as a measure of diplomatic myth, a la the idea that Somalia is some kind of a real country with the actual machinery of government. He couldn't stop a Russian push into Georgia, but it would almost certainly mean war between Georgia and Russia. Another problem is that a Russian invasion and likely conquest of Georgia would almost certainly mean importing the problems inherent to the lack of professionalism within the Russian military that we've seen in Chechnya into Georgia.

All the same, I don't think we can rule out a Russian invasion or punitive strikes against Georgia in the near future.

Can we correct Breslan to Beslan so people will stop parrotting it over the blogosphere? Even news outlets are starting to call it Breslan.

Breslan is in Germany.
Beslan is in N. Ossetia.

Where is that decaf Gary was offered?

Duly noted, Joel.

Dan,

As long as people are entertaining military fantasies here, any chance of our special forces and forward air controller guys participating in an OEF style sweep through Pankisi led by the Russians? Air support could come from our bases in Central Asia. Our presence could be a guarantee to Georgia that the Russians would stop before Tbilisi, and leave once the place was cleaned out.

Per mitch p. and Checkin Out, we could pitch it as helping to clean up a mess we helped create.

Well, it's a thought, maybe not a good one, but if your analysis holds (and it looks solid from here) then their fight is basically our fight, too.

Latest reports suggest the death toll will top 500. With ~350 already confirmed, and ~200 still "missing", I rather doubt they just decided to run away from home all at once.

With this being a deliberate attempt to target children, I don't think many realize it yet, but the response to this attack has the potential to put the 9/11 response in the shade.

For the record, I wasn't suggesting that Putin will put Russian soldiers at risk in the PankisiValley.

...and while I'm here, I'd point out that any implicit belief that the school attack ends this series of terrorism against Russia has zero corroborating support.

Where does this fit in with Al Qaeda's grand agenda?

Are their objectives met?

In Russia?

Globally?

Heads up.

jeffers,

You're right on all accounts.

Islamism is like any of the other terror mongering isms we've faced. They act towards the creation of their brand of Utopia. Until that is accomplished, their objectives are not met.

Russia should understand Islamism quite well. They are not far removed from their own "ism".

Yet, I wonder if living under communism has made them blind to the destructive force of another dangerous ism. Or is it simply that becoming Russia again has made people feel that the culpability of the Soviet Union no longer belongs to them?

Color me curious.

Anyone reads Russian here? Here's a Russian article entitled "The West unleashes Shahids on Russia". Anyone? comments?
http://www.rbcdaily.ru/news/policy/index.shtml?2004/09/06/58872

Also:
Putin Tells Nation 'This Is an Attack Against All of Us'

(...) In his address, Putin chose not to specify what terrorist organizations are waging a war against Russia. But in a clearly emotion outburst he revealed that the Kremlin believes some countries could be supporting the terrorist attacks to try to weaken Russia, whose nuclear deterrent they see as a threat.

The efforts to "tear off a big chunk of our country" are being assisted by those who "think that Russia, as one of the greatest nuclear powers of the world, is still a threat, and this threat has to be eliminated."

Putin did not say what countries he was referring to, but he appeared to have Western countries in mind. (...)

http://www.moscowtimes.ru/stories/2004/09/06/002.html
***

Here's an interesting overview of the region:
It's Time to Worry About the North Caucasus
By Thomas de Waal
http://www.moscowtimes.ru/stories/2004/09/06/007.html

Jeffers: I think that they targeted all the schools in the world, in the same way that in Madrid they targeted all the commuter trains packed with people going to work and in New York they targeted all tall emblematic buildings.

Terrorism is not only the concrete deed of kiling some people, it is above all to spread fear and lend credibility to the proposition: "If you don't meet all our demands, we'll do to you what we did in Beslan/Madrid/NYC". It's a form of taming, some sort of barbarian pedagogy.

This guys are in the league with the nazis.

Joel,
forget the "isms" for a sec :-) .

Give me one good reason I should believe "Islamism" is not a Western tool in taking over the world.

I mean, pardon my cynicism and all atrocities aside -- it was made in/by the West, and it's been darn instrumental so far (the War on Terror included: we now control Afghanistan and Iraq, have bases in Central Asia, relocate troops (Germany); watch the Caucasus region dissolve; no problem with Congress funding the war; Kosovo is ours -- and moslem, etc.) Osama used to be our boy : how do I know he still isn't? Maybe we can't catch him, or maybe we "can't catch" him, if you catch my drift. Do we know otherwise?

Cui prodest, you know (whatever W says.)

PS. Unrelated to above, but curious:
Islamist Totalitarianism - Attack on Democracies
The "totalitarianism of the 3rd type"
Alexandre del Valle
http://www.alexandredelvalle.com/publications.php?id_art=121

Osama used to be our boy : how do I know he still isn't?

I shouldn't have to tell you how ridiculous this is.

Everone knows that Bin Laden works for Ariel Sharon now.

Next time, show up on time for the meetings...

Sorry sarge, won't happen again, Sir.

CheckinOut-
You missed the real money quote, but Allah found it

"(W)ho fears our nuclear weapons? Who are they aimed at? It's the West. It's not Osama bin Laden," said Pavel Felgenhauer, an independent military analyst.

Other than that, I agree with you and mitchp that there is good reason for the Russians to think we are behind the jihadis (or at least some of them) and that helping them clean out some of the sewer might be good for Russo-American relations. I sure hope that Bush's attempts to keep the jihadis from destroying Islam work, but I make it only 50-50. And if it fails, the US and Russia will have to stand together in the creation of a Shelley-like conclusion to Islamic history:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Something about the CIA's support for the mujahideen has long puzzled me. Supposedly it was the biggest covert operation in the agency's history. Yet somehow the whole world knows about it! When and how did it make the transition from covert to common knowledge?

The Pacification Effort in Afghanistan became obvious when AID funded it. The founder's background is typical of a huge error; NPR, Peace Corps, and a 'indescribable love for the people of Afghanistan.' It was the largest covert opertion in history, but fell apart around Plame, although most had a pretty good idea of how to get funding(the pacification effort became non-professional and poorly run). The Senate has asked the CIA be transferred into three new intelligence organs, but this appears to be simply a Union issue. The CIA cannot recover from its transition and the attacks on politicians.

The School attack was financed. The murderers were just paid thugs. The articles in the paper the next day explained that Bin Laden is broke, but forgot to mention how he financed. These were not his 'professional' paid terrorists, just thugs. Who has the new money?

The US has little affect in this area of the world. The answers will be the EU and their military. Terrorists are'nt risking anything by alienating 'the future US' in this region. Saudi or other middle eastern royal family financing is irrelevent because it is an EU proxy area. It is something to be financed or traded by the 'leaders' in the other region, the middle east, where the US is currently 'on the ground' and open to attacks. If Al Quaeda or the new Als are financing through a new source, we have to ask our entrenched open intelligence organ(s) if they are involved-we cannot afford to be tied to this type of terror; even though the Union at the CIA does not want to re-apply at the New Intelligence. In the end their errors were too great and involved domestic use of overseas strategies on American politics. The only way out of this entrenchment is to abolish CIA and make it clear they really are not wanted at the New Intelligence-Union or not.

Checkin Out:

A quick scan of the RBC Daily article you cited suggests to me that the main complaint is soft treatment of Chechen terrorists in the Western (particularly British) news media. I'd say it was fair comment. However it has been many years—more than a generation—since the last time that the New York Times, for example, could reasonably be characterized as hewing tightly to the U. S. government line.

The Russians are concerned and rightly so about terrorism and its sources and financing. If we've got a lick of sense we'll try to work out a closer collaboration with the Russians.

Gzt.ru is reporting that some of the terrorists responsible for the seizing of the school had been workmen who had been involved in remodeling of the school and had prepositioned weapons and explosives in the school in the course of their work.

Dan,

Thank you for providing this information in a clear concise way. I am glad that you are back. I have always found that your posts are straight forward and without bias.

This is a lot of information to absorb which for the most part, is new information to me.

Thanks,

SBD

Dave - I scanned the article as well, and came to the same conclusion: that the American Leftist Press is making the Russians think that we are rooting for the jihadis. One point: what does SMI stand for? Absolutely nothing came to mind, although it clearly seemed in context to refer to the press.

Dan,

So how can Russia do anything about the sanctuaries in Iran, Pakistan, Syria-Lebanon and the Arabian peninsula? Nuke them?

Russia could deal with the Chechens short of genocide were it not for their foreign support, notably the money from Arabian peninsula oil income (not all Saudi) and totally secure sanctuaries in Iran, Pakistan (jihadi training camps nominally targeted at Kashmir) and Syria-Lebanon. The Russians can't reach those save with strategic weapons. The Caucasus they can reach. Not elsewhere.

Which means Beslan/Moscow theater scale atrocities will go on and on and on until the Russians resort to genocide. For the third time - the Czars and Communists did the first and second times, and it worked for them.

http://www.techcentralstation.com/031103A.html

"This gives a sense of Greek tragedy, with its dialectic of hubris and nemesis, to what has been unfolding in the Islamic world. If they continue to use terror against the West, their very success will destroy them. If they succeed in terrorizing the West, they will discover that they have in fact only ended by brutalizing it. And if subjected to enough stress, the liberal system will be set aside and the Hobbesian world will return - and with its return, the Islamic world will be crushed. Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad."

Oscar:

SMI = Sredstva Massovoi Informatzia = means of mass information = MSM

Well, I got Informatzia right :-)

Tom Holsinger:

So how can Russia do anything about the sanctuaries in Iran, Pakistan, Syria-Lebanon and the Arabian peninsula? Nuke them?

I can't speak for Dan but I have my own ideas on the subject. First, the Russian petroleum industry can be in a position to exert a certain amount of leverage. Second, Russia can stop giving support to rogue regimes like Iran particularly nuclear support. Third, real rebuilding in Chechnya rather than the phony efforts heretofore. Fourth, know their real potential friends (the West) from their actual enemies (the jihadis).

But Russia needs a replacement for the foreign exchange that they're getting from deals with the mullahs and other no-goodniks and the West has to be ready to pick up the slack.

Dan,

Wretchard had a comment on his blog the other day to the effect that ‘if you can’t kill the ones you want, kill the ones you can reach.' is how the weak deal with evil they can't touch.

It happened in Nepal with Muslims there after 12 Nepalese were beheaded in Iraq and it will happen again with Russia when the Chechen branch of al-Qaeda sufficiently motivates the Russian government and people.

I have stated over and over on this blog and elsewhere that mega-death was coming and that it will be both outposts on the way and a stopping point on the end the road we are traveling. The end of this road will see the extinction of Arab Muslim tribal culture. The only question is how many Arabs physically survive the 'cultural adjustment.'

Why do you insist on being 'informed by events,' like Joe Katsman an A.L., when the truth of the matter is sitting right in front of your face?

History is a process that goes from the past to shape today, then the current events of today close out options for the future.

In the case of the Islamist Chechen insurgency, there is no 'there' there for the Russians to strike. The people who created Beslen are not in reach and will forever stay beyond the grasp of the Russian military and security forces...especially given their corruption. Russian corruption made this possible and Russian corruption will make it happen again and again.

Terrorists go for soft targets. America had become a harder target for al-Qaeda so it is striking where the forces of order are weaker. Russia's "Haiti with nukes" corruption leaves it made to order for more and more of this kind of Arab atrocity.

So how many more Beslans do you think it will take to get the Russians to break out the nerve gas spray tanks? Two? Ten? Several Dozen?

Tom Holsinger spoke of it taking five years for Putan to get there. Tom is being very generous. I think the genocide of the Chechens will start happening serveral months prior to the next Russian Federation Presidential election. After all, leveling Grozny the 2nd time worked to reelect Yeltsin.

Dave raises another interesting point: "First, the Russian petroleum industry can be in a position to exert a certain amount of leverage. ..."

Who's in charge of the Russian petrochemical industry these days? At whatever's left of Yukos? Or at Gazprom?

And more to the point, where are the oil and gas pipelines going from ex-Soviet central Asia to the Black Sea ports?

If the Russian and ex-Soviet republics want legitimate revenue they're going to need to secure it.

‘if you can’t kill the ones you want, kill the ones you can reach.' is how the weak deal with evil they can't touch.

I got the Russian joke(The cold war eneded in February this year;seven hour nuclear war) , but the real answer appears that Europe is going EU and M.E. is going US. Russia will probably go EU, but its difficult to deny that we are pulling out of Europe and focusing on the M.E., which may have been the new money here.

Putin also hired a bunch of GRU, who normally handle these types of criminals, which he then fired. I forgot if it was before or after they blew up the Chechnyan President, but it was pretty professional work.

Putin is not brining up the GRU?

Re: Oscar (09/06 06:04 PM / #28620):
---------------------------------------
>Dave - I scanned the article as well, and came to the
>same conclusion: that the American Leftist Press is
>making the Russians think that we are rooting for the
>jihadis.

Oscar, I re-read Dave's note you're referring to and found nothing about "the American Leftist Press" there. Could you explain what you mean? (Both re Dave's note and in general.)

And of course, thanks to you and Dave for taking a look at that RBC article (as well as The Money Quote :-) )

Trent,

The Russian reprisals may not be as official as you say ("break out the nerve gas spray tanks"?). What may unfold instead is the Gujarat scenario -- remember what happened in 2002 after that train was burned? The official response to the resulting pogrom of Muslims seems to have been nonfeasance and malfeasance (e.g., police standing by, unsympathetic state officials, selective anti-terror prosecutions, the BJP winning the next state elections) rather than direct military action.

Likelier scenario, especially given the anarchic nature of today's Russia.

Well, Trent, I hope the situation does not get as desperate as quickly as you seem to suggest. There's evidence pointing both ways. I saw a a call for moderation in the Russian press pre-September 3. Subsequently there's been what might be called a building rage. But I'm not seeing a nuke 'em now or crank out the nerve gas attitude, either. It may come in time.

As far as we're concerned Chechnya is a sideshow and I don't see genocide of the Chechens as moving events in a direction that we'd like to see them go. Putin may see it as politically necessary.

An online editorial from Gazeta.ru that I quoted on my blog took a "pox on both your houses" position WRT Putin and his opposition accusing both of opportunism (and ineffectuality) in the handling of the Chechnya situation. I think that's pretty accurate.

I would rather see Maskhodov distance himself from Basayev and the other thugs and ally himself with Putin in rooting out the jihadis as the more sensible Chechens are urging him.

Is there some interlocutor who could help to promote real cooperation between the Russians, Georgians, and other people in the Caucasus to get rid of the no-goodniks? Could the U. S. have such a role? There's an awful lot of mistrust going around.

Bob,

"The Gujarat scenario" is going to happen whatever else happens and will likely go down in the next few weeks. The Caucus vengence codes demand it.

What Tom and I are talking about is deliberate genocide of Chechens as Russian government policy because they can get away with it. That will happen after the al-Saud clan falls.

Once the Arabs prove themselves as unreliable oil suppliers such that the only way to get oil from their territory for the world economy is with western and primarily American military force. No one in the E.U. will say "Boo" when the Russians drop the hammer on the Chechens because they will then be the world's number one exporter of oil.

Dan, I have one minor quibble. You wrote:

even though most Chechens (and Caucasus Muslims in general) are Sufis.

Surely not. From MSN Encarta:

The Chechens have been Sunni Muslims (see Sunni Islam) since the 18th century...

and

also:

It seems that a large part of the Chechens were once Christians, but during the 16th to 19th c., they were all converted to Islam by Sunni missionaries from Dagestan and other neighboring areas. Since the 17th c., Islam has been a basis for Chechen nationalism. In the wars against Russia, Chechens found inspiration in fanatical, secretive, and mystical Sufi brotherhoods, which still exist and are perfectly suited to clan-based underground warfare against an occupying power.

From WAIS:

But the Chechens were still primarily pagans at the time the Great Caucasus War began (unlike the Dagestanis who had accepted Islam centuries before). Paganism is still practiced in some remote areas. But the war against the Russians was lead by Imam Shamil, who used Islam as a way to unite the Chechens for the struggle. By the end of the war, most Chechens had converted to Sunni Islam. It is evident today, however, that Islam still does not have deep roots in Chechnya. Many practices from paganism remain, and many of the dictates of Islam are ignored. The clan system (complete with blood feuds) is the dominant motif, and religious prejudice is practically non-existent (the clan system and blood feuds provide plenty of outlets for hatred and mayhem)

From Amir Taheri:

A majority of Chehens, however, belong to the Malekite school of Sunni Islam and have a strong Sufi tradition that dates back to the early stages of Islamisation in the region.

So that appears to be the scoop. Sunni. With an accompanying Sufi tradition and Sufi undertone.

Trent:

"The Gujarat scenario" is going to happen whatever else happens and will likely go down in the next few weeks. The Caucus vengence codes demand it.

The lead quote in my post, "Fathers will bury their children" supports this conjecture.

Dave,

I understand right now there are CIA analysis that the al-Sauds will go down to the Wahhabis some time in the next five years.

When that happens the 6-8 million foreign workers will leave Arabia for reasons of their health, oil production will crash from lack of a skilled work force. Then, when the oil money is cut off, both the civic infrastructure and Arabian population will crash from lack of water and inter-tribal violence.

That is when the window for the Russians to deal the Chechens to death opens wide.

Once megadeath is loosed any place, it will be far easier for it to happen any where else for other reasons. I have been beating both Joe Katsman and A.L. like drums about this for 18 months and just added Dan to the list.

You also missed a point I made earlier. There will be more Beslans. The Russian's "Haiti with nukes" corruption makes that bloody well certain. They are the "Soft Target."

The Chechen's Arab backers will pay for more Beslans because a) they can and b) they enjoy it. It gets their Wahhabi rocks off just like what is happening in Sudan does.

One more thing, the Arabs have lost. And by that I mean everything.

The Arabs had an opportunity to separate themselves in the eyes of the American public from the Wahhabis with Beslan and they failed to do so. Between that, Sudan, and the continuing murder-suicide attacks against Israel, they have mortally offended America's Jacksonians. Large portions of the American public no longer view Arab Muslims as fully human.

This isn't because the Jacksonians are racist. As a group they are not It is because the Arabs and their non-Arab Islamist allies are dehumanizing themselves by their actions.

Those in the West who go around saying that the West needs to "understand and address the underlying causes" when faced with barbarism of this sort are also identifying themselves in the eyes of Jacksonians as enemies of not just America, but of civilization.

Just go to Little Green Footballs or Free Republic.com and read the stream of consciousness reactions to the horrors of Beslan. That reaction plus the photos and the stories of Child rape and snuff videos sent to the Russian Federation government, are being repeated and spread through the internet to literally millions of American homes unfiltered by the media. Point in fact the lack of coverage of Beslan both discredits the MSM and enrages those reading these stories. The American Internet and Talk Radio Samizdatz is staring at Arab Muslim Islamist horror in the face and drawing some highly lethal conclusions.

What is coming from all this in American domestic politics, let alone its foreign affairs, will be far more divisive than those protesting the Vietnam War ever thought of being.

Trent, I agree with quite a bit of what you just wrote but that doesn't influence my belief that it is worth substantial effort consistent with our national interest to prevent just this eventuality from coming to pass. But with each passing day and with each further atrocity it does seem more inevitable.

Dave,

Prevention indicates a level of influence that I don't believe we possess. Had Bush had that kind of influence with Putin, wouldn't there be a Russian brigade in Iraq today? (Not that I wish there were.) I'm not even sure that we can (or, regretfully, should) speak out against whatever action Russia decides to take.

The Arabs have made a decision, if the Saud's, Assad, Mubarak, Musharraf, the Gulf Emirs, and the mullahs in Iran (I know some of those aren't Arabs) can't quite bring themselves to a public outcry concerning Beslan, then perhaps a dignified silence on our part as the Russians "cleanse" Chechneya is in order.

>Is there some interlocutor who could help to
>promote real cooperation between the Russians,
>Georgians, and other people in the Caucasus to >get rid of the no-goodniks? Could the U. S.
>have such a role? There's an awful lot of
>mistrust going around.

Dave,

Region wide order enforced by a sovereign outside power is ABNORMAL for the Caucuses. The endemic tribal violence we see in the Caucuses today is the default mode for the people there and intertribal atrocity is standard operating procedure.

This happened after WW1 in the 1920s until the Red Army conquered the place and killed a large fraction of the Chechens and it was the same in the 19th century prior to the Czarest Army's conquest in the late 1880's-early 1890's and large-scale massacres of Chechens.

A strong Russian Federation government could repeat the exercise...but there isn't one.

Further, the outside intervention of Arab Jihadi oil money buying the deaths of more Russian Christians means the insurgency cannot be put down by local means. That was the communist Bear trap of Vietnam for America.

The result will be that rather than establishing order by overawing if ham handed Russian military force. There will be genocide in Chechenya as an political objective rather than a by-product.

These are facts that Dan Darling knows intellectually but just doesn't feel in his gut. So he can't put them together and see the future Tom Holsinger and I do.

>Trent, I agree with quite a bit of what you
>just wrote but that doesn't influence my belief
>that it is worth substantial effort consistent
>with our national interest to prevent just this
>eventuality from coming to pass. But with each
>passing day and with each further atrocity it
>does seem more inevitable.

Dave,

If we lack the clear eyed policy driven brutality to level Fallujah so as to clear out the Jihadis and pacify the Iraqi Sunni. What makes you think we could do anything effective in the Caucuses?

American are liberators, not conquers.

It took years of war, the freeing American prisoners with the full story of the Bataan Death March and the Kamikaze fighting of the Okinawa campaign to get the American government and people ready to drop the A-bomb on Japan in 1945 and prepare to use genocidal scale B-29 poison gas attacks if the A-bomb failed.

We Americans are not in the proper state of mind for the mass brutality as policy necessary in the Caucuses to prevent genocide there.

Once we are, it will be far, far, too late.

This is why I keep hammering certain people here about their inability to learn save by events.

Trent,

Agree to a limited extent, but what Dan's point was, at the top of this post, was that this is not the usual local banditry nor even the Great Game kind of intrigue in dicey regions like the Caucasus, like Afghanistan, like the Balkans that went on in the 19th Century. The Chechen cause is now a part of a seamless garment of AQ operations.

Maybe the Russian government can't govern that kind of region but the issue now has to do with how they defend themselves against a threat originating outside that region. More to the point, how we interdict that threat. Occupation of the Pankisi Gorge or even a reconquest of the Caucasus won't solve it.

A Gujurat-like pogrom is quite likely, especially given that Putin's Russia appears to resemble Russia under Alexander III with a weak central government, endemic corruption, and Black-Hundreds-like thug groups available for seasonal pogroms.

Oh, and another quote further up:
>>Point in fact the lack of coverage of Beslan both discredits the MSM and enrages those reading these stories.

I wonder. Saturday's San Francisco Chronicle ran, above the fold, this particularly brutal photo of the children's morgue at the school. Similar coverage seemed to run in much of the MSM, at least in local markets, so that little comment was a bit too talk-show simple. People might've gotten some rage, seeing this over their Wheaties, and they may just get the idea that this could have been a US school. Give that time to sink in.

Certainly it prompts gut instincts, Trent, as you say, but security strategy shouldn't run on gut instinct. Thus the contradiction, you realize that the Caucasus is ungovernable but that the Russians might waste limited resources on a genocide when pogrom-and-forced-migration is their old habit. And our military resources aren't limitless either.

Might be nice for Jacksonians to think of economy of force. And not to take digs at Dan for being insufficiently willing to make 1+1 make 3. His purpose in writing the post was to show us the enemy order of battle, which he shows is more and more outside Chechnya, outside the Caucasus. Our purpose should be to figure out what to do with this intelligence.

SBD:

You're quite welcome.

Dave Schuler:

As I wrote over on Roger Simon's blog, it is entirely possible for one to be both a Maliki Sunni as well as a Sufi. Most Sufis consider themselves to be good Sunnis and only the Wahhabis tend to regard an overlap the two as being against the teachings of Islam. Wahhabis are very much, as I believe Joe and other have noted, extremely anti-Sufi.

I'll try to reply to the rest later on tonight.

As I noted here, Pankisi is not a remote, lawless land. You can get there via a 1.5 hr minibus ride from Tbilisi and then a short taxi ride. There are Georgian police and interior ministry checkpoints at the first village in the valley. There are a few villages, and a lot of sheep. Other than a few small mosques, it looks a lot like any other valley in Georgia's mountains.

The Georgian military and border police are much better trained and equipped than they were a couple of years ago (due to the American, uh, "Georgia Train and Equip Program"), and conduct more than perfunctory security sweeps. All of this speculation of a Russian invasion (and annexation!) of Georgia is simply unfounded and irresponsible. Are there Chechen fighters there? No doubt, as Chechen refugees outnumber the ~7000 Kists (native ethnic Chechens). Russia has dropped a few bombs there in the last few years, to no apparent effect.

Any notion that Pankisi is the nerve center of an anti-Russian terror campaign is misbegotten, and the Russians know better than to think that obliterating Pankisi would solve their problems.

Since 9-11 I have been perplexed by the lack of cooperation between the US and Russia - it seemed clear to me that we share a most dangerous common enemy. After nearly a century of confrontation distrust - or lack of trust - is expected, but Putin and (at least) Powell strike me as pragmatists.
Is the Beslan crime an 'opportunity' to forge an alliance between Russia, US, and US-influenced Georgia? Could a coordinated effort effectively eliminate the Pankisi Gorge elements? Or are Russian and Georgian corruption and US politics too big a barrier?

Dave Schuler (#28654)
--------------------------
>>>Dan, I have one minor quibble. You wrote:
>>>even though most Chechens (and Caucasus Muslims in
>>>general) are Sufis.
>Surely not.

Dave, they are. And there may not be a contradiction here -- sufism is a sorta mystical tradition in Islam, so, they are at once sunnis (rather than shiites) and sufis, as a sort of sub-branch. Here's an article by one David Damrel.

What's "MSM"? I keep seeing this word but can't figure what it means...

Bob,

There are more photos and there are worse photos on the web logs and the Free Republic.com.

Try this link from the www.logicandsanity.com web log

Or this link from Free Republic.com which is a search of the site for every article post with with "Beslan" in the title. Just look through those titles and compare them to the facts in your Chronicle story.

This Freep link is one of the photo essay's on the site and this link is a 1997 biography from the US Army's Foreign Military Studies office on Shamil Basayev, the Chechen leader responsible for the Beslan atrocity.

This is a quote from the Israpundit blog that particularly sticks out about the MSM coverage:

"I've noticed that the world media and our leaders are still in denial, calling the killers "activists", "militants" and "rebels", but not once have they mentioned Islamic terrorists, despite the following events which have happened in the past week..."

It is plain that what happened in Beslan, but try to find the words "Arab" or "Muslim" or "Terrorist" or "Islamist" or "Atrocity" or "Child Rape" in your Chronicle story. These mainstream media types are shying away from naming the evil that we are fighting every chance they get.

We are dealing with al-Qaeda inspired and funded Islamist terrorists in Beslan who are commiting Evil for Evil's sake because they liked too.

Hell, Bob, you listen to Mike Savage from time to time. He has been apoplectic over Beslan. He is not the only one.

Beslan is striking those of strong religious faith in America like a jackhammer on a number of levels. These are also the people who listen to talk radio in leu of the MSM and have their own alternate religious and conservative Internet media that they rely on.

There are other things going on besides Beslan that have Arab Muslims on the Jacksonian they are not human list. Try this post TODDLER TERRORISTS-IN-TRAINING posted on Michelle Malkin's blog. Similar posts have been standard fare for Little Green Footballs for YEARS.

There is a phase shift happening in American culture over Beslan that won't be noticed until after the Presidnetial election and not widely acknowledged outside the journals of the professional campaign and elections periodicals, a few political web blogs and some of the talk radio hosts who read them.

Umm, I think Trent is right about this-- look at this comment from the Stirring thread http://windsofchange.net/archives/005467.php#28674
There really are schools of jihaadi thought where Beslan is perfectly acceptable strategy. That is why it will happen again.

Checkin In:

MSM = Main Stream Media

jinn, I read Landon's post as sarcasm. Based on some other posts I've seen from him I think it is satire.

Ooops, sorry lewy-- I guess I need a sarc tag, I don't know him. :(
But the palestinian intifada school of jihaad does rationalize slaughter of children, doesn't it? Weren't there children in the twin towers? So Wahhabist brand endorses it. And Beslan, Chechyan style jihaad?

Thanks, Dave.

>Thus the contradiction, you realize that the
>Caucasus is ungovernable but that the Russians
>might waste limited resources on a genocide
>when pogrom-and-forced-migration is their old
>habit. And our military resources aren't
>limitless either.

Bob,

You are not thinking this through.

First, in a situation where the al-Saud government has fallen, what would the price per barrel be that Russia would be getting for its oil? Oil prices at $60-$80 dollars a barrel will enable the Russians to buy fleets of Western helicopters to fit with spray tanks of persistant nerve and blister agents. There is indeed quite a bit of 'economy' in that force.

Second, Caucuses that are not governable with the Chechens have been made governable in the past with far fewer of them.

Now consider the near future of the Caucuses without any of them from the Russian point of view, most especially after several more Beslans.

>Might be nice for Jacksonians to think of
>economy of force.

Economy of force for Jacksonians is to kill their enemies the first time, every time.

Please consider that in light of Bush Administration policy in Fallujah and Najaf.

>And not to take digs at Dan for being
>insufficiently willing to make 1+1 make 3. His
>purpose in writing the post was to show us the
>enemy order of battle, which he shows is more
>and more outside Chechnya, outside the
>Caucasus. Our purpose should be to figure out
>what to do with this intelligence.

It is not only the job of intelligence to give a snap shot of enemy orders of battle. It is also there to give capabilities, intentions and probable courses of action.

The last two are done best when you take of the blinders of preconception -- AKA "Think outside the box" -- and put together mental templates that fit all of the available facts, rather than fit a few facts to the current template and ignore the rest.

Everything that happened in Beslan has happened before in Russia. The difference this time was the imported Arab muscle and the unremitting Evil with which this seige was carried out.

This Evil we have seen with our prisoners in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. The Russians, Algerians and Indians have also seen it in Afghanistan, Algeria and Khasmir respectively.

This Evil is pure Arab Muslim tribal in nature and it will keep pushing worse and worse atrocities where there is weakness. Like there is in Sudan and now is in Russia.

That makes Russia's Chechen problem no longer Chechen. It is a problem of the Islamist Imperialism of Arab Muslims playing out their Fantasy Ideology with their oil cash. They are using Chechnya as a forward staging area. The problem will exist as long as the Arabs have oil income and Arab oil states as ultimate sanctuaries.

Given past Russian history with the Chechens and our recent history with the Islamists, what happens next?

I have been there and Dan, Joe and A.L. refuse to go.

Trent's terminal typographical disorder strikes again. What he said was:

Economy of force for Jacksonians is to kill their enemies the first time, every time.

What he meant was:

Economy of force for Jacksonians is to kill all of their enemies the first time, every time.

>>As I said, the innocent people of Beslan had absolutely nothing to do with Russian policies in Chechnya and should not be held accountable for whatever differences one may have with the policies of the Russian government.

Amen to that. Thanks for the informative OOB.

>>The Arabs have made a decision, if the Saud's, Assad, Mubarak, Musharraf, the Gulf Emirs, and the mullahs in Iran (I know some of those aren't Arabs) can't quite bring themselves to a public outcry concerning Beslan, then perhaps a dignified silence on our part as the Russians "cleanse" Chechneya is in order.

I see. The Chechen children who get "cleansed" will "have it coming" as a result of the actions of murderers they didn't know and couldn't control.

How is this attitude different from that of the terrorist sympathizers?

Today's lead Opinion Journal (Wall Street Journal) editorial addresess the Beslan massacre:

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110005577

THE CHILDREN OF BESLAN
The unique depravity of modern Islamic terror.

T.J. Madison,

The Caucasus is like that. Most places aren't like America. Fortunately very few are like the Caucasus.

I suggest you avoid slaughterhouses if you are not a vegetarian.

David Brooks' column in Tuesday's New York Times fits some of the people posting in this thread:

"Dissertations will be written about the euphemisms the media used to describe these murderers. They were called "separatists" and "hostage-takers." Three years after Sept. 11, many are still apparently unable to talk about this evil. They still try to rationalize terror. What drives the terrorists to do this? What are they trying to achieve?

They're still victims of the delusion that Paul Berman diagnosed after Sept. 11: "It was the belief that, in the modern world, even the enemies of reason cannot be the enemies of reason. Even the unreasonable must be, in some fashion, reasonable."

This death cult has no reason and is beyond negotiation. This is what makes it so frightening. This is what causes so many to engage in a sort of mental diversion. They don't want to confront this horror. So they rush off in search of more comprehensible things to hate."

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/07/opinion/07brooks.html

Trent, from what I can tell, you are implying that the only hope for Iran's survival is to develop a bunch of nuclear weapons and lob them at Russia in the hope of starting a nuclear war that obliterates both Russia and the USA.

And they better do it fast.

Well, I hope they're not reading your posts :-).

Iran's mullah regime will be gone in about 12-18 months - I have money on our invasion starting no later than 10/31/05 (for weather reasons).

With what army and with what political will?

Invading Iraq has basically used up both for the next decade. Unless there's absolutely pure 100% proof of threat (and that will never happen), GWB's Iraqi caper has prevented US intervention anywhere else, pretty much regardless of the danger.

Both Iran and North Korea have been handed "get out of jail free" cards for a long, long time.

T. J. Madison,

The only remaining question is "Whose children?". There is absolutely no earthly reason to think that the Beslan experiment will not be judged a success and reiterated in Florida next week and Missouri the week after. It's a relatively low tech operation requiring very little expertise. This type of terrorism is going to be abated in the same way that piracy was.

If Arab leaders can't or won't root out the killers then we will. Sorry for the lack of sophistication.

>>The only remaining question is "Whose children?"

I don't buy the notion that we must kill "their" children to save "our" children. But lets assume for a moment that this actually is necessary.

Could you bring yourself to do it? Personally? Would you kill someone's innocent child to save your own? Could you hold down a strugging five-year old girl and plunge the dagger into her chest?

I suspect not. That's because you're a decent person. The loss of your own child would be horrible, but if you killed a little girl you would be ruined. Every time you looked in the mirror from then on your reflection would scream back, "MURDERER!"

The unwillingness to murder innocent people is what distinguishes us from the terrorists. It's also a potent weapon which, if used properly, will help us defeat them. It would be foolish for us to relinquish this weapon -- without it we have little hope of mobilizing the general Muslim population against our true enemies.

>>If Arab leaders can't or won't root out the killers then we will.

Of course the terrorists need to be dealt with -- captured if possible, killed if necessary. None of this has anything to do with revenge, or needs to involve the use of violence or intimidation of any sort against Muslim civilians anywhere. Quite the opposite, in fact.

T.J. Madison,

We fire-bombed Tokyo and other places, and nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There were lots and lots of "innocent" people there and hundreds of thousands died. The fire-bombing of Dresden, though, was a for-real atrocity.

I am not aware, however, of how the traditional Russian solution for Chechen nastiness involves you, me or us (as in the American people). We were talking Russians and Chechens, not Americans.

But since you have such an idealistic view of this matter, I suggest you go to Chechnya and volunteer to help the Chechen people. Think of it as evolution in action and go here - http://www.darwinawards.com.

You can expect to be kidnapped and held for ransom, then tortured on film and made the the subject of a snuff film for fun and profit. This is what Chechens traditionally do to uninvited foreigners.

Well, I exaggerated a little bit. It is what they do to all foreigners they can catch, including those in nearby countries. And to each other - Chechen kidnap gangs were doing this to Chechen resistance fighters engaging the 1994 Russian invasion while the invasion was going on.

And they're still doing it. This lovely Chechen tradition is why there are zero, zip, nada, none, NGO's or foreign aid volunteers in Chechnya. Or newsmen. And haven't been since about 1994.

Which makes it just the place for you. After all, no one, and especially no people, ever deserve genocide. And take everyone who thinks like you. The world will be a much safer place afterwards.

Tom:
>why there are zero, zip, nada, none, NGO's or foreign
>aid volunteers in Chechnya. Or newsmen. And haven't been
>since about 1994.
This is only partially correct. The full truth is that the Russian army does not let them in. Our own reporters in Iraq, too, were "embedded", not free-lancing around. Everyone likes to massage the news before the broadcast. Reporters, btw, were in Chechnya till at least '96 -- Russian authorities did not at the time maintain such a tight grip on the media there: and paid for this dearly, since they were violently bashed in the press and on TV. They've learned their lesson, and beginning with the second invasion did not allow free press to the area.

#28720 Posted by Tom West on September 7, 2004 05:35 AM

Iran's mullah regime will be gone in about 12-18 months - I have money on our invasion starting no later than 10/31/05 (for weather
reasons).

With what army and with what political will?

Invading Iraq has basically used up both for the next decade. Unless there's absolutely pure 100% proof of threat (and that will never happen),
GWB's Iraqi caper has prevented US intervention anywhere else, pretty much regardless of the danger.

Both Iran and North Korea have been handed "get out of jail free" cards for a long, long time.

Replace "Iran" with "Iraq" and this post is an instant replay of 2002, in its entirety.

Suffice to say, I'm not doing that again. Everyone who could add 2 and 2 and get 4 knew Iraq was going down then, and knows iran is going down now.

As for troops, you don't seriously think those 120k reshuffelees are coming home to America to stay, do you?

"Trent, from what I can tell, you are implying that the only hope for Iran's survival is to develop a bunch of nuclear weapons and lob them at
Russia in the hope of starting a nuclear war that obliterates both Russia and the USA.

And they better do it fast."

Did you know that the Russian invasion of Afghanistan which resulted in both the downfall of the Soviet Empire and the globalization of Islamic terrorism began as a result of a single lie the KGB spread to discredit an enemy and then believed when it circled around back to them from a different source?

Even the best intel service on earth isn't geared to factor unbelievable lies which are believed anyway into their forecasts.

I also venture to guess they are well behind the cure in realizing that any of the most likely Russian responses to the school massacre will result in Iran being 100% totally surrounded on all sides.

Iran doesn't need to read any posts here to see where their enemys are. All they have to do is go outside and look in any direction.

Those "Silkworms" are slow and old, but a mess of them will easily saturate a lone Aegis platform.

T.J. Madison

If that child has been raised up in a culture that exults children putting on belt bombs and doing suicide attacks on Russians, Americans and Jews. Then the child is already dead and yet another blood sacrafice to the Death cult.

This is how David Brooks names our enemy:

We should by now have become used to the death cult that is thriving at the fringes of the Muslim world. This is the cult of people who are proud to declare, "You love life, but we love death." This is the cult that sent waves of defenseless children to be mowed down on the battlefields of the Iran-Iraq war, that trains kindergartners to become bombs, that fetishizes death, that sends people off joyfully to commit mass murder.

This cult attaches itself to a political cause but parasitically strangles it. The death cult has strangled the dream of a Palestinian state. The suicide bombers have not brought peace to Palestine; they've brought reprisals. The car bombers are not pushing the U.S. out of Iraq; they're forcing us to stay longer. The death cult is now strangling the Chechen cause, and will bring not independence but blood.

But that's the idea. Because the death cult is not really about the cause it purports to serve. It's about the sheer pleasure of killing and dying.

It's about massacring people while in a state of spiritual loftiness. It's about experiencing the total freedom of barbarism - freedom even from human nature, which says, Love children, and Love life. It's about the joy of sadism and suicide.

This is evidence of the cultural shift I was talking about with Bob Harmon up thread. Brooks just picked up, caught and expressed the Jacksonian meme about the Death Cult. The American public had just made a fearful and irrevocable judgment.

The last time such a judgment was made Tokyo and Dresden burned.

Then America dropped the Atomic Bomb.

Welcome to my nightmare...

One more clip from Dennis Prager's latest column for Bob Harmon and perchance for A.L. to consider:

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/dennisprager/dp20040907.shtml

According to The New York Times, when the terrorists took over the Russian elementary school, they shouted "Allahu akbar" ("Allah is the greatest").

Does this surprise you, dear reader? Does it shock you that the people who deliberately attacked a school and then systematically shot and blew up little children did so in the name of Islam?

Unfortunately, the question is rhetorical. Having targeted little children for death, there is no atrocity, no barbarity, no act of evil that the human race cannot imagine fanatical Muslims committing.

We have already become almost inured to:

The slaughtering of innocent human beings as if they were animals while chanting Muslim prayers.

The reintroduction of black slavery and genocide against blacks.

The murder of daughters and sisters for imagined or real sexual behavior.

The stoning of women accused of adultery.

The burning of Hindu temples and Christian churches, and the destruction of among the greatest Buddhist sculptures.

The ban on women driving cars or learning to read.

The idolization of young men who blow themselves up while murdering and maiming innocent non-Muslims -- and the theology of sexual rewards in heaven for doing so.

These are some of the atrocities being committed by Muslims in different parts of the world today.

Much snippage....

"...it is with the greatest sadness that I feel compelled to ask two questions:

First, is there anything in Islam or in the way Islam is now taught and practiced that dulls the conscience and thereby enables many religious Muslims to engage in or support atrocities that other groups, religious and secular, find inconceivable?

Second, the laudable condemnations of Islamic terror made by the Islamic Center notwithstanding, why are there virtually no public demonstrations of Muslims against the unspeakable evils committed by its adherents?

And while posing questions, here are two for liberals: Why are almost the only people asking these questions aloud conservative and religious? Where are you when it comes to acknowledging evil?

Yes, some people do shoot children, and good people have a right to ask why."

As I said up thread, those who ask what it is the Death cult wants and talks about past Western sins as justification for "Muslim Rage" are being marked by Jacksonians as fellow travelers and enablers of monsters -- in other words the enemy.

This will have consequences

I can't wait to see Bush sell an invasion of Iran to the American people. Or will we have dispensed with the "lying war hysteria" phase, and Congress?

We still need 120K troops in Iraq in 2005 to prop up our government there, or help it out in the civil war, depending how things are developing. You might also check a map: Iran is larger, more populous, has a much better army, better defensive terrain, and probably higher morale than Iraq. Just because Chalabi has promised us a second cakewalk doesn't mkae it so.

Hi.

The title of the thread is "Thoughts on Beslan," but it seems to be about Chechnya? I do not think these two things are the same problem.

George W. Bush has no alliance with Chechnya as far as I know. (What John F. Kerry might do on humanitarian grounds and out of sheer folly is anyone's guess.)

Russia has a problem in relation to Ossetia, and that is Georgia and its mighty ally the U.S.A.. This puts Putin in an exquisitely painful position, as he has not failed to notice. If we want to give fair consideration to the problems he has in defending Mother Russia's children - literally! - and come to some reasonable guesses as to what he may do, surely we should think about this?

It seems to me Putin has concluded that George W. Bush is the least evil. This would be why he told that lie about Iraq. He was trying to negate the most damaging charge against the American president, that he made war against Iraq with no justification. (I think that this charge is bogus, but that's not the point. Putin's job is not truth-telling but defending Russia.)

Why does Putin want George W. Bush to stay president? I have to speculate, but this is what I think, and it may suggest something about Putin's priorities. He (Bush) is a strong leader. He's willing to take on the Muslims, within the limits of his own plans. He thinks, more than most, that the Cold War has given way to a new war, the 9/11 war. He's not a prisoner of the liberal lobby in whose eyes Russia can do no right: Colin Powell is an adult and knows good wishes alone won't work in the Caucuses. And George W. Bush seems to be a Christian - a real one. (For example, to him that cross in the girl's hand in the photo from Beslan might actually mean something.) Every little emotional edge that may be there is precious when you're a country with a Christian tradition fighting for your homeland against aggressive Muslim terror financed by jihad international (especially Saudi Arabia).

Of course Saudi Arabia is also in bed with the Americans - Brince Bandar always in the White House and so on. The tensions and dilemmas of the Americans being so strong and everywhere, and still regarding the Russians as possible rivals or enemies in a way that seems to be a shadow of the Cold War, are really painful. Especially if you are a traditionally paranoid Russian - with lots of real enemies.

I see Putin as a KGB guy, not a saint. But he is Russia's defender now, and I am very Russophile. So I want him to succeed in defending his country. And I just thought I'd mention this perspective.

Bluntly, I would like to see the Americans take Russia's side as much as they can given the morally bad, stupid and dangerous things that Russia still does. (Iran.)

Oh, I should also say: welcome back Dan Darling and thanks for all the great info!

David Blue:

The title of the thread is "Thoughts on Beslan," but it seems to be about Chechnya? I do not think these two things are the same problem.

Perhaps not the same problem but they are two among a group of problems so intimately interrelated that they cannot be solved in detail. First, the terrorists who seized School #1 appear to have been a mixed group of Chechens, Ossetians, Arabs, and Slavs. Second, is it possible to stabilize Chechnya without stabilizing the remainder of the Caucasus? I don't believe so. And it is absolutely certain that the Russians don't believe it. And that, in turn, means that it's a point of view that must be taken seriously.

Trent says: "those who ask what it is the Death cult wants and talks about past Western sins as justification for "Muslim Rage"..."

Ummm, this is actually a survival issue, and a terribly important point. I can offer a little "wet ware" insight.

From the species survival viewpoint, killing children is the worst thing you can do. As homosapiens, we're wired to take care of children, and they are designed to evoke caretaking reactions in adults. The story Charles posted at LGF about the boy who asked for water and was bayonetted broke my heart. I felt anger and I felt hatred. That is a natural physiological response. Anger and hatred have roughly the same cortical mapping. That is why it is sometimes difficult to distinguish them.

It is natural for us to question, "Yes, some people do shoot children, and good people have a right to ask why" It is unimaginable, unthinkable that humans could do this.

I think "Muslim Rage" is fueled by revenge, not anger or hatred. Revenge maps to a much smaller area of the cortex, both more potent and more primitive. Revenge shares its cortical region with the mappings for love/lust/sex and drug useage. Revenge is a stronger and more primitive urge than mere hatred, just by its biochemistry alone. And revenge is addictive. Case in point, the Palestinians. Prob'ly revenge, sex, and drugs can override the most powerful species taboos.

Trent, killing children is very much against human nature, because this is internal to species homosapiens. The answer to 'whose children' has to be ours. That is why the reaction to this will be incredibly powerful.

David Blue (#28749)
>The title of the thread is "Thoughts on Beslan," but it
>seems to be about Chechnya? I do not think these two
>things are the same problem.
How so? The terrorists were Chechen; the only intelligible demand they made was for Russians to get out of Chechnya; the only one of them taken prisoner said that the reid was planned by Basaev.

Ah. Mr. Putin has made his meaning clearer.

Dave Schuler, OK, I agree with that.

Jinnderella, from Mr's Putin's statement which I linked to:

In one dramatic moment, Putin said Russian security forces overheard a disturbing walkie-talkie conversation between the terrorists:

"What are you doing? Why? I hear some noise. What's going on? I'm just in the middle of shooting some children."

"They were bored," Putin said. "So they shot children."

Checkin Out,

Foreign aid people and newsies stopped going to Chechnya about 1996 due to the certainty of being kidnapped. At that time the Russians had completely backed off from Chechnya, and were doing nothing to stop foreigners from seeking Darwin Awards there. At that point even the European NGO's gave up, and news organizations have since relied entirely on local stringers.

Since then no aid groups, other than Muslim fronts for terrorists, have even tried to send people to Chechnya. I wouldn't be suprised if Al Jazeera has tried to get its own "newsmen" there, with the Russians refusing visas to Muslim "newsies" and "aid personnel". The Russians know who those really are.

David Blue: Yes, taboo for homosapiens. "Men who have forgotten how to be men". Or given up their humanity for revenge.

Uberanalyst Dan: I read your Chechyan stuff from April, and I highly recommend it-- between you and Trent, this is getting positively scary.
I read the links above about Basayev (Thanx, Checkin, Dave, Trent) and I wonder if Basayev is a Chechyan Muslim or a Muslim Chechyan? That is, which cause is more basic to him, in your opinion, the Islamic Caliphate or Chechyan liberty?

David Blue:

But he is Russia's defender now, and I am very Russophile.

So am I if by Russophile you mean that I believe that a strong, economically vibrant, and democratic Russia will not only be good for Russians and good for the world it will be good for America. Like de Tocqueville (and historians afterwards) I think that Russia and the U. S. are twins (or maybe mirror images).

That's why I was so upset when American and European so-called experts went in to help Russia after the collapse of the USSR. Armed with too little knowledge and little insight into Russia their advice did not do much to help (except possibly themselves).

jinnderella:

I wonder if Basayev is a Chechyan Muslim or a Muslim Chechyan?

I'll throw in my two cents (where it's probably not wanted). I'm a cynic. I doubt that Basayev makes that distinction or distinguishes among the goals of a free Chechnya, a Chechen caliphate, or his own advancement and power.

OK, after agreeing on the taboo (nods), I think there are other factors that will affect the impact this has.

First, documentation. Text is nothing, pictures are a lot, video with sound is king. There are a lot of pictures. Some of them I don't expect to forget.

Second, transmission and access issues. Is there the pipeline to get the visual information out, and are there sufficient ways for people to be made aware of it and to get at it, especially in Russia where of course it is most relevant?

Third: cultural/religious fit. To atheists, the culturally dominant type in Europe and to some extent in the West, this is probably +/-0. Strong Christians I think will give the victims a little more saliency. From a Muslim point of view, this is potent stuff, not because they will care about the victims at all (they clearly don't), but because it does touch a key value, the good name and positive image of Islam. They won't like that.

Fourth, I think race/culture/socio-economic status will count for something. It helps if you can easily read people's facial expressions and body language. If there is a bonus for being "people like us" poor whites will be most affected. This is obviously, by American standards, not a rich community.

Fifth, action-relevance. Can this stuff be turned into concrete actions? Yes, in charity. So we should eventually look at giving, because those who give will be more affected. Other than that, I don't know. One of the powerful things about terrorism is that it teaches helplessness by arousing very powerful motivations like anger and hate, and then there's nothing to do, so the spine goes right out of people. They become whipped dogs. But anyway, this has gotten off topic.

Dave: I'll take your two cents. Much appreciated! :)
I wonder even about Osama. How much is Islam truly believed by the upper echelons, and how much is it merely a tool to manipulate. At the base it must all be about territory and reps, right?

On my post,
http://tomgrey.motime.com/1094587723#335762,
I also quote the Dennis / Sam Harris debate, where Sam says the academic problem is political correctness, and Dennis says it's lack of morals.

And I tie it with Kerry's Lie, that his 1971 advice of leaving SE Asia is the morally superior choice.

This is BIG LIE at the heart of PC / Leftist junk:
Peace (and Genocide) is morally superior to fighting evil.

http://tomgrey.motime.com/1093629194#330293

Trent, AL, can I ask what you think?

jinnderella:

I wonder even about Osama.

I wonder especially about Osama (if he's still alive). If he's trying to establish a new caliphate, I wonder who he has in mind as the caliph?

Didn't Michael Barone say something about people speaking out in favor of totalitarian states not so much because they'd like to live in one as that they'd like to run one?

And I don't think our own leaders (of either party) are immune to this disorder. How often do you hear statements from one president or another in which they have clearly conflated their own interests or the interests of their party with the interests of the country?

>>If that child has been raised up in a culture that exults children putting on belt bombs and doing suicide attacks on Russians, Americans and Jews. Then the child is already dead and yet another blood sacrafice to the Death cult.

I see. What percentage of children in these terrible cultures grow up to become suicide bombers (or any other brand of terrorist for that matter)?

Is it 1%?

Right.

>>I am not aware, however, of how the traditional Russian solution for Chechen nastiness involves you, me or us (as in the American people). We were talking Russians and Chechens, not Americans.

Well, there is the small matter of US tax dollars being sent to the Russian government.

>>As I said up thread, those who ask what it is the Death cult wants and talks about past Western sins as justification for "Muslim Rage" are being marked by Jacksonians as fellow travelers and enablers of monsters -- in other words the enemy. This will have consequences

The differences between "Jacksonianism" and the Muslim Death Cult seem to be shrinking. You seem to be claiming that if things don't improve, US Jacksonians will unleash death not seen on a scale since, well, the US did it last. This claim is probably accurate. You also seem to be claiming that said Jacksonians will find people like me and hang them for treason. This is also probably accurate.

I'm curious: which team are you on? When it comes time for the murder of those US citizens who are "insufficiently patriotic", what will you be doing?

Putin has problems within his own army/security forces/paramilitaries to consider, such as the fact that the child-killers seem to have bribed their way through roadblocks to get to a school 200 meters from a police station.

It is also difficult to believe that they were able to pre-position substantial amounts of explosives and firearms without paying off someone in the local government to look the other way while they smuggled "something" in to town.

See this link

I wonder if Putin will reconsider, in the light of this atrocity, his intent to help the Iranians get their own set of nuclear bombs via the "peaceful nuclear" program? Someone tell me why a country that exports oil and flares off natural gas for streetlighting needs up to six nuclear power plants?

Any ICBM's from Iran towards the US will go right over Mother Russia, and if boost-phase ABM's are used guess where the wreckage will land?

And why would Putin want to give the Iranian mullahs nuclear capabilities anyway, when they are certainly allies of the Islamofascists who bankrolled the school massacre?

Dan, an excellent article! Many thanks for your insights. My hope is that now President Bush will extend his hand to Russia, and bring her on board.

Could Iran's sudden willingness to freeze its nuclear program for now be a first sign? Are they playing the West again, or did Moscow tell them to shove it?

jinderella,

"I wonder even about Osama. How much is Islam truly believed by the upper echelons, and how much is it merely a tool to manipulate. At the base it must all be about territory and reps, right?"

I was composing a post with the exact same thought when I noticed yours. :) I mean, we didn't see Osama on any of those planes on 9/11, did we? And we never will, because the people who carry out the terror acts are just tools, and their actions are just tactics.

Once you look past the actuality of terrorist attacts and realize that, in the end, it all comes down to power -- getting it, holding it, using it -- then it becomes easier to figure out what to do.

Being fanatics, the Islamofascists themselves will not stop until they either win or are destroyed. But they're just the tip of the iceberg. Until the price for giving them money, or safe haven, or... well, any assistance at all, really, becomes too high to pay for their Iranian, Saudi, etc. backers, the war on terrorism will go on and on. But take away the state sponsors and the wealthy donors and Islamofascism will ultimately wither on the vine.

Whatever the levers are that will bring the pain to the right people, we (the "West") need to be employing them. I don't think we are yet, not in any effective way. Maybe Beslan will be the start.

Observer:

It is also difficult to believe that they were able to pre-position substantial amounts of explosives and firearms without paying off someone in the local government to look the other way while they smuggled "something" in to town.

As the story is currently being told in the Russian-language press some of the terrorists were actually workmen involved in a recent remodeling of the school. Makes you wonder about low bidders.

And why would Putin want to give the Iranian mullahs nuclear capabilities anyway, when they are certainly allies of the Islamofascists who bankrolled the school massacre?

The answer to that one is easy: cash. Russia is strapped. IMO the best solution to that one is for the West to step up to the plate and give Russia an alternative.

Dave S.,

It is unlikely that they were low bidders. It is far more likely that the Beslan city authorities who let the contracts took bribes. This is SOP for Russia. They didn't know who they were dealing with, and might not have cared even if they did. Trent is entirely correct in labelling Russia "Haiti with nukes".

I note that Jeffin' Kerry has had zero to say about Beslan.

Not even gentleman enough to offer condolences.

Still encouraged by him A.L.?

And Joe - why isn't Kerry's response (or lack) news?

Aren't we supposed to be deciding who to vote for based on such issues?

Or is it all Viet Nam all the time? Kerry gets a tactical loss but a strategic win?

T.J. Madison,

If you look at WW2 in the Pacific you will find that there is never any difference between the death cults and the Jacksonians while there is a war on.

The difference is post war. The Jacksonians are not oppressors.

==

Where are Jeffin' Kerry's condolences for Beslan?

>I see. What percentage of children in these >terrible cultures grow up to become suicide >bombers (or any other brand of terrorist for >that matter)?
>
>Is it 1%?
>
>Right.

The Israeli experiance is that it takes an organization of between 30 and 100 people to enable a single child-suicide bomber.

There is a whole food chain of 'talent scouts,' propagandists/psychologists, intelligence, money men and procurer/manufacturers of the suicide belts behind each bomber. In this case Hillary Clinton's "It take's a village to raise a child" happens to be spot on. Except in this case it 'raise' means 'to martyr to the after life' the child.

>Well, there is the small matter of US tax
>dollars being sent to the Russian government.

Your point is...?

We, the E.U. and the Israelis give aid to the Palestinians that they divert to suicide attacks against Israel.

Anything the Russians do with our money is small beer in comparison with that Evil.

>The differences between "Jacksonianism" and the
>Muslim Death Cult seem to be shrinking.

No. Jacksonins have a very tribal attitude about their enemies. You fight with honor they will meet you with honor.

You fight outside the rules and they get biblical wrath of God on you.

>You seem to be claiming that if things don't
>improve, US Jacksonians will unleash death not
>seen on a scale since, well, the US did it
>last. This claim is probably accurate.

America is the only nation to use the atmomic bomb in anger and we were fully prepared to gas the Imperial Japanese like bugs if they did not surrender after the Atomic bombings.

Go read these following Strategypage.com articles:

Two American Traditions in the War On Terror
by Tom Holsinger
October 28, 2002

http://www.strategypage.com/strategypolitics/articles/20021028.asp

Failure to recognize these traditions, and address the factors which might rouse the American people to direct involvement in the war on terror, could result in America and the world becoming a much uglier and more dangerous place. This almost happened in 1945 when the U.S. government decided, if Japan did not surrender after being nuked, to commit genocide by spraying Japan's cities with poison gas. And then invade while continuing to gas all Japanese possible – civilians included. Japan survived only because it surrendered. See the republished article, When a Democracy Chose Genocide, now appearing in the Strategy & Politics archive.

This appalling prospect is made possible by a major element, or "meme", in American nationalism called "Jacksonian" in Walter Russell Mead's Special Providence, named after President Andrew Jackson. Development of the Jacksonian meme is well described in David Hackett Fisher's Albion's Seed. Most Americans are blends of the memes identified in these and related books - few are all one or another and the blends vary according to the situation. The Jacksonian meme has historically tended to become dominant during war among individuals and the nation overall. Its major wartime expressions include utter ruthlessness towards enemies perceived as not abiding by accepted rules of conduct (by bloody-minded Jacksonian standards), insistence on conclusive victory and impatience.

Jacksonianism was definitely dominant in the war against Japan (see John Dower's War Without Mercy), though the decision for genocide incorporated additional factors, not least that suicidal Japanese attacks and resistance had dehumanized them to us. Terrorist suicide attacks could get us into that dark place again. The possibility of genocidal events in the war on terror should not be dismissed given these similarities - few in 1939 perceived 1945.

The Bush Administration and American Nationalism
by Tom Holsinger
November 20, 2002

http://www.strategypage.com/strategypolitics/articles/20021120.asp

America's war with terror is unique in our history in that its people are directly involved. The high degree of their emotional involvement is best illustrated by the spontaneously created shrine to the passengers and cabin crew of United Airlines Flight 93. That has major political and sociological significance.

What most drives this unprecedented emotional involvement is that the American people are targets at home. Such attack is the overwhelming issue in the war with terror, and the heart of the threats and opportunities for the Bush Administration. It incites a converging response from three different major themes in American nationalism: (a) the militia tradition most recently exemplified by Flight 93 wherein citizens attack domestic threats themselves without waiting for government action, (b) uniquely American "populism" in which large segments of the population band together to force government action blocked by Madisonian factions/special interests, and © the "Jacksonian" tradition named after President Andrew Jackson in Walter Russell Mead's Divine Providence.

The Jacksonian trait most pertinent here is its quasi-tribal, and brutal, distinction between members of the community and outsiders. A perfect example of this distinction, and of justified concern about rising Jacksonian feelings, is a bill recently introduced in Congress to strip Al Qaeda members John Walker Lindh and Jose Padilla of their American citizenship.

and

Such changes would enhance homeland security while giving the Bush Administration some political insulation in the event of more terrorism here. Public relations gestures would help with the latter too, especially concerning the Jacksonians, and that is where partisan gains are possible. Putting into words what is in peoples' hearts and minds, but not their mouths, focuses public energy while being marvelous PR. The message should be denunciation of Islamofacism and exposure of the lies of its sympathizers, as shown by President Reagan's successful confrontational speeches in bringing down the Soviet Union.

The best venues for these speeches will be those which produce the most partisan benefits for the Bush Administration - American colleges where anti-American and anti-Israel demonstrations by resident Arabs (students & immigrants) well and truly inflame the thoroughly tribal Jacksonians. War on terror, etc., speeches by Administration officials here will gladden Jacksonians, inspire emulation by college patriots and, if repeated enough, motivate college administrators to enforce existing rules concerning civil discourse. Such well-publicized confrontations with foreign anti-American demonstrators in America will encourage Jacksonians to vote Republican and produce other partisan benefits.

The Bush Administration and American Nationalism
by Tom Holsinger
November 20, 2002

http://www.strategypage.com/strategypolitics/articles/20021128.asp

The American people won’t tolerate being attacked at home by foreign terrorists. This is THE dominant factor in the war against terror. Americans' definition of victory here is security from attack at home, which even the Democratic Party does not understand, let alone foreigners. This war began when we were attacked at home and will end when further danger of that has passed. We’re fighting for our security at home, not to create a better world elsewhere, but the latter is all the Democratic Party proposes.

The Democrats banished their national security faction long ago, and feel military policy is merely a variant of domestic policy - either pork-barrel spending or armed social work among ungrateful foreigners. Every problem looks like a nail if your only tool is a hammer. Democrats are unable to accept the existence of evil or the necessity of winning in war. This resulted in collapse of public confidence in the Democrats' ability and willingness to protect the American people, even if many Democratic internationalist proposals have merit.

It is highly unlikely that the Democratic Party will regain national office for the duration of the war against terror, even if takes a generation and one or more Republican administrations fail seriously. Replacement by GOP primary challengers is more likely in such event.

Europeans, especially the EU, are quite similar to American Democrats here (with greater aversion to using force), but are noisier and more righteous about it as they don't have to face American voters or, on the Continent, even their own due to the incestuous nature of their parties and parliamentary systems. This happy freedom from responsibility permits them to act almost entirely for domestic advantage. They need only minimize terrorist use of their countries as sanctuaries to satisfy security requirements, and can otherwise grandstand as desired.

Europe's peril arises from different issues. They do not seem to have noticed that America's new ”National Security Strategy” - http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nssall.html - entails pre-emptive regime change there, including the EU’s, albeit by peaceful means. Governments inhibiting Europe’s “return to strong economic growth” threaten “vital” “U.S. national security interests”. Such blunt statements by a hyperpower are ominous.

I helped Tom Holsinger write these. I was his sounding board an our conversations were the gensis for these pieces. He and I have been living here for quite a while awaiting events. The events are hard upon us and still people deny the in bound freight train of hell exists.

Some people will not believe unless it is their children who are dead.

>You also seem to be claiming that said
>Jacksonians will find people like me and hang
>them for treason. This is also probably
>accurate.
>
>I'm curious: which team are you on? When it
>comes time for the murder of those US citizens
>who are "insufficiently patriotic", what will
>you be doing?

This says more about what you think of your fellow Americans than I will ever be able too.

Andrew L.,

Do you believe the Iranian government when it says it will nuke Israel as soon as it gets the capability?

Do you think such a nuking will improve the world situation?

How do you think the Israeli counter response will affect the course of human history? For better or worse?

Breslan and Iran's impending nuclearization have brought us to Phase II of this war, in which the supreme challenge will be to contain Iran and its proxies. Jack Straw's asinine mission to Teheran is actively undermining our efforts to box Iran. High time we brought the curtain down on this farce.

Which will take us to the brink of a diplomatic revolution that will shape the next several decades. Despite all the convergence between us and the Euros, despite the common rhetoric and values, the truth is that on the crucial test of wills between us and the mullahs and the Iraqi resistance, most leading EU politicians are inclined to support the other side. In France's case, it's blatant: the French are now running around the middle east proclaiming their solidarity with the region's anti-US and anti-Iraqi forces.

This is a radical new development. Even during the height of European hysteria about Reagan, neither Mitterrand nor Schmidt nor any west European leader would even think of breaking ranks with Reagan and supporting Andropov or Chernenko.

The upshot here is that the West as a coherent strategic entity no longer exists. We have no choice but to accept these hard, sober facts about the new world reality:

-- there will be no ceasing of the pronounced western tendencies toward self-hatred and self-blame.

-- there is no correlation between the degree of democracy in a nation and that nation's importance to us as an ally in our war with the jihadists;

-- though our cause is just, we cannot win this war unless we make common cause with many nations and regimes that we have heretofore considered alien or not compatible with US values;

The implication of the above is we must abandon the nonsense that only democracies can be our allies. It's 1941 again. We need to quit wasting so much time with Europeans who cannot help or harm us much in this new world and set about re-ordereing our alliances and diplomatic priorities with a cold eye on the main chance.

In other words, Russia and India's support and eager, active coordination are more important to us than anything France or Germany are likely to provide. If we're to defeat the jihadists, we need to go back to diplomatic realpolitik and shift our attention to this century's emerging great powers, the ones that truly do have critical assets to lend us in the near and far east, and ensure that those powers be effective allies of ours int the crucial theatres that they occupty.

NATO's useless to us in Phase II. The West is dead. Move on, Americans. Time to Let NATO die and start developing deep, strategic relationships with Russia, India, Turkey and of course Israel.

Trent,

I read somewhere today that Michelle Malkin will speak at UC Berkeley this fall concerning the subject of her recent book defending the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War Two. As part of her proposals for ethnic profiling of Arabs in the U.S.

"The best venues for these speeches will be those which produce the most partisan benefits for the Bush Administration - American colleges where anti-American and anti-Israel demonstrations by resident Arabs (students & immigrants) well and truly inflame the thoroughly tribal Jacksonians."

Malkin's appearance will be interesting. My problem is that I live close enough downwind to be in the fallout pattern.

>>We, the E.U. and the Israelis give aid to the Palestinians that they divert to suicide attacks against Israel.

>>Anything the Russians do with our money is small beer in comparison with that Evil.

Yes, giving my tax money to the PA is stupid and nuts. That said, Palestinian terrorists have killed, maybe, 3000 Israeli civilians in the past 10 years? Dan gives the Chechen civilian body count at 80,000.

That's at least 25x the body count. But it's "small beer" because the victims weren't in a state backed by the US. Chechen civilians are expendable, whereas Israeli civilians are not.

>>The Israeli experiance is that it takes an organization of between 30 and 100 people to enable a single child-suicide bomber.

Sure. Let's assume ~1,000 suicide bombers in the West Bank in the last 10 years. Let's assume that each one used a completely different support group of 99 people. That's 100,000 people, or maybe 3% of the total Palestinian population. That's an absolute ludicrous maximum.

>>No. Jacksonins have a very tribal attitude about their enemies. You fight with honor they will meet you with honor.

What was done to Tokyo and Hiroshima certainly strikes me as a weird form of "honor."

>>Go read these following Strategypage.com articles.

Links seem broken. But what you've posted makes perfect sense to me. I certainly believe that many Americans are Jacksonian tribalists and will behave as you and Tom have described. I share your belief that many here are quite naive about the upcoming mayhem.

Both the Jacksonians and the Islamofascists share the belief that any atrocity is permissible as long as some component of the enemy force has acted badly enough. Both embrace the concept of total war, where enemy civilians are fair game.

I find both despicable.

I'm curious to know what Dan, Joe, Gary, and lewy14 will do when "Jacksonianism" takes over here again. Will they cheer the Muslim holocaust with the majority of Americans? Or will they attempt to resist the Murder Train and get steamrollered?

>>If you look at WW2 in the Pacific you will find that there is never any difference between the death cults and the Jacksonians while there is a war on.

>>The difference is post war. The Jacksonians are not oppressors.

Let's look at MacArthur, the guy tapped to clean up Japan post-war. Was he a Jacksonian? Hint: What did he think of the use of nukes against Japan?

Mark Steyn wrote a very good opinion piece on this story over the weekend. It can be found here:

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

The conclusion is excellent:

"What happened in one Russian schoolhouse is an abomination that has to be defeated, not merely regretted. But the only guys with any kind of plan are the Bush administration. Last Thursday, the President committed himself yet again to wholesale reform of the Muslim world. This is a dysfunctional region that exports its toxins, to Beslan, Bali and beyond, and is wealthy enough to be able to continue doing so...

...If you've got a better idea, let's hear it. Right now, his is the only plan on the table. The ideology and rationale that drove the child-killers in Beslan is the same as that motivating cells in Rome and Manchester and Seattle and Sydney. In this war, you can't hold the line against the next depravity."

T.J.,

You can find my Strategy Page articles here:

http://www.strategypage.com/strategypolitics/default.asp

BooPear!
Did you see Juan's comment above?
"The candidate to "martyr" is isolated and told that he or she not only will go automatically to the Garden of the Virtuous but will also be entitled to designate 72 friends or parents that will win acceptance into Paradise thanks to his deed. Iran’s mullahs used also this folklore to motivate their revolutionary guardians during the Iran-Iraq conflict: the shock troops were issued a plastic key to the garden of the virtuous prior to being sent into WWI style attacks against the iraqui lines."

Now Trent-- "The Israeli experiance is that it takes an organization of between 30 and 100 people to enable a single child-suicide bomber.

There is a whole food chain of 'talent scouts,' propagandists/psychologists, intelligence, money men and procurer/manufacturers of the suicide belts behind each bomber. In this case Hillary Clinton's "It take's a village to raise a child" happens to be spot on. Except in this case it 'raise' means 'to martyr to the after life' the child." Add Dan's Sufi references- the Sufi are mystics, y'know, and doesn't this shape into some elements of John's Ghost Dancers paradigm?

Maybe there is another way to stop terrorism, other than removing the substrate-- perhaps terrorists could be educated to see they are being used. like in your post about Osama?

jinnderella,

Yes, both of Juan's comments were excellent. Corrupting established memes to indoctrinate young, unemployed, un-or-under educated men is a fabulous way to crank out expendable foot soldiers. After all, it's sooo much easier to commit an atrocity if you truly, honestly believe you're not committing an atrocity at all.

From your reply to Trent --

"Maybe there is another way to stop terrorism, other than removing the substrate-- perhaps terrorists could be educated to see they are being used. like in your post about Osama?"

I think the ones they've already got are a lost cause -- reformed fanatics are a rare breed. But the ones who haven't made the leap into nuttiness yet... the more we catch now the less we have to deal with later, and if the food chain is disrupted enough maybe we've got a looming Islamofascist extinction on our hands.

You mentioned in another thread the notion of creating and distributing cheap, easy-to-read and understand Islam-friendly media. I LOVED that idea. If the worst parts of Islam can be subverted to the use of evil, then surely the best parts can be used to fight it. Think of cartoons, comic books, pulp fiction -- all designed for mass appeal, and all designed to subtly steer potential Islamofascist recruits away from extremism.

There's a solid Non-Profit waiting to be born somewhere in that idea, if you ask me. I'd give.

David Blue:

Putin desires a Bush victory for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that the opinion among Russian elites is that Republican presidents are far less likely to intervene in Russian internal affairs. There are lots of other reasons for Putin's actions, but that's probably the shortest explanation.

Dave Schuler:

Right now Chechnya is pretty much the root of a lot of instability in the North Caucasus and the root of Chechnya's problems lie with people like Basayev. Eliminate him and his minions and I think you'll find solving a fair number of other problems will be much easier. A political solution with regard to Maskhadov, as I mentioned earlier, is also likely to help to lessen the fighting.

jinnderella:

I strongly suspect that Basayev is a very cynical bastard who regards the goal of Chechen independence and the creation of his little caliphate in the North Caucasus as being one and the same with the advancement of his own power.

As far as the Sufi element goes, the Wahhabis who make up the overwhelming bulk of Basayev's cannon fodder are vehemently opposed to it and sought to stamp it out in both Chechnya and Dagestan. See how Ansar al-Islam treated the Naqishbandi Sufis in northern Iraq for a good idea of how Wahhabis treat those they deem to be insufficiently Islamic.

Dave Schuler:

Bin Laden's alive, not that it matters too much from the perspective of the Chechen insurgency since his main function there is as Supreme Ideologue and Grand Master of the Checkbook.

And I believe that is indeed a Barone quote and I think he's dead-on on that point.

V-Man:

Russia is currently expanding its ties to Israel and both Putin and Bush have made tentative signs that they're preparing to do the same (Bush even offered to assist Putin in Beslan, something that would have been all but unthinkable just 3 years ago). We'll just have to wait and see if anything substantial comes out of all of this.

oog - Michelle Malkin will speak at UC Berkely tomorrow night!

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/09/07/BAGRA8KN0U1.DTL

"Right-wing pundit aims for left's center Backer of racial profiling to speak at UC
- Charles Burress, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 7, 2004

A political scorcher is forecast for UC Berkeley Wednesday night.

Syndicated columnist and Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin, author of a provocative new book defending racial profiling and the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II, will bring her conservative crusade to what she views as the citadel of political correctness and sniveling, anti- American leftists.

She wants to go "mano-a-mano" against critics of conservative speakers, she told talk-show host Rush Limbaugh on Aug. 20. "It will be quite revealing to see how these acolytes in liberal education and liberal arts colleges treat me."

Malkin seeks to undermine the prevailing view and collective guilt about the internment because she believes it has shackled today's fight against terrorism.

"She has courage, folks," Limbaugh said. He recalled a UC Berkeley speech in 1983 by Jeanne Kirkpatrick, President Reagan's ambassador to the United Nations, who was shouted down by protesters opposed to U.S. policy in El Salvador.

Malkin's 7 p.m. appearance in 145 Dwinelle Hall is sponsored by the California Patriot, a conservative student magazine on campus. One of her past columns referred to UC Berkeley as "Sodom & Gomorrah U," while another was titled "Berkeley vs. America," and another referred to "the Manhattan-Berkeley- Hollywood Axis of Snivel."

Her newly released book, "In Defense of Internment: The Case for Racial Profiling in World War II and the War on Terror," was listed on the New York Times best-seller list last week and has provoked blasts of criticism ..."

Stan at Logic & Sanity has pointed out this video from vesti.ru (in Russian). The sole captured terrorist implicates Maskhadov. Very bad.

Rantburg has actually been following this for some time now. It seems the captured guy is just regurgitating what he got from his (late) boss, which is that the operation was approved by Maskhadov and ordered by Basayev. Maskhadov's tacit alliance with Basayev is one of the reasons why the Russians are refusing to negotiate with him at this time until he makes a definitive break with his one-time prime minister.

You said:
"Russian government. MoscowHelp has been set up to assist the survivors of this tragedy and has already raised $95,206, or nearly double what the US government is donating."

Is there no event in this world where an asshole jab at the USA is out of place? Hundreds or children have been slaughtered and all you can do to sum things up is to again blame the USA for "not doing enough"?

You're one fucked up dude.

indego2: Not that I disagree with your sentiment, but please consult the posting rules. No profanity, please.

Jeffers, you old Command Post jedi. How are you. Please stick around at WoC, the C-P is kinda beat for commenters. Those "Silkworms" are slow and old, but a mess of them will easily saturate a lone Aegis platform. Heh. Read you five by five, roger that.

T.J. Madison, when the whip comes down, if it does (God forbid), you won’t be hanged for treason. You will suffer a fate worse than death – you will be ignored. But why wait? This is a fate I try to consign you to at every opportunity.

Trent, I wonder who isn't thinking this through, vis a vis Russian oil production. It is true that a price spike might benefit Russian (and ex-Soviet Asia, and Azeri) oil profits.

If they can get it to market.

First, there's the disarray in their energy companies, notably Yukos and Gazprom, among others. Next, there's the fact that the pipelines from the oil fields to the Black Sea ports or elsewhere cross some very dicey territory, and Russian security forces seem unable to protect much of anything.

(sigh) I wonder if Jacksonians ever think about either (1) what underwrites a war -- and that includes the logistics, in this case oil, and (2) economy-of-force in the sense of precision in military operations?

Oh, Trent, and this thing you directed at A.L.:
>>As I said up thread, those who ask what it is the Death cult wants and talks about past Western sins as justification for "Muslim Rage" are being marked by Jacksonians as fellow travelers and enablers of monsters -- in other words the enemy.

This will have consequences
<< [punctuation sic]

Care to complete that sentence?

I'm not threatened by it, I know what the "death cult" wants, it wants the West destroyed utterly. I care nothing about what Richard Lionheart or the Spanish Reconquista did to Islam, not when they're at war with us. But I am beginning to wonder whether this little squib betokens some agenda for the second George W administration?

Economy of force, Trent. You have plenty of enemies in Islam to fight. You don't need to create more in the homeland if they're merely bewildered, not active belligerents.

Salam,

About leaders, it is hard to find one those days who haven't blood on his hands.
But when Putin says "We don't negociate with children killers" I see a bit of irony.

What do you think about his words ?

Putin desires a Bush victory for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that the opinion among Russian elites is that Republican presidents are far less likely to intervene in Russian internal affairs.

Republicans tend to pursue Russia policy goals with much more consistency and clarity than now-Wilsonian, now-realpolitik Dems.

Carter was the worst example: OTOH Jimmah and Vance talked up human rights and waffled on Iran and Nicaragua while pushing SALT II. OTOH Jimmah gave a green light to his machiavellian Polish NSA to aid the mujahiddin in Afghanistan. By Nov 1980 even the Politburo wanted a REpublican back in the White House.

Clinton, too, was baffling to the Russians, constantly mouthing the Talbott mantra, "The Cold War is over" and also pushing for NATO expansion; indulging Russian pride with summit after summit and then bombing the f*** out of Russia's brataslavyanskiye in the balkans; dispatching top economic advisers to aid Russia's economic transition and then watching idly as Russia's financial house of cards collapsed in August 1998...

I could go on, but you get the point: Bush's Russia policy has been, after the riptide that was the Clinton admin, a harbor of consistency and clarity. Anti-Americanism in Russia today has DECREASED from where it was in 1999, when rampaging mobs attacked foreigners in teh streets of Moscow, shots were fired into the US EMbassy and elite Russian students led protests under banners scrawled with slogans such as "Monica, Sharpen Your Teeth!"

All of which is to say that Bush, Condi and Rummy can, in a second term, start to finally put the US-Russian relationship on a long-term, stable, realistic footing. We need Russia to succeed. Russia needs our help to succeed. Isn't this obvious to anyone outside the Kerry campaign and the NYT editorial board?

Indigo2:

As lewy14 noted, please consult the posting rules.

As far as my statement goes, it wasn't intended to as a jab at the US so much as to hopefully encourage people in government do more. I'm not the only one who thought that the initial $50,000 wasn't enough in assistance either, as VOA is now reporting that we've now delivered over $600,000 in medical supplies to North Ossetia with more on the way.

Abdel:

What do you think about his words ?

I agree with you that if we limited the leaders with whom we dealt to those who were completely innocent we'd be talking to very few indeed. But we have to play the hand we've been dealt.

His rhetoric is for domestic consumption. He was brought to power to bring security and stability to Russia. He hasn't been too successful so far.

Regardless of its political and economic woes Russia is a big, powerful country and is likely to remain that way. We'd rather see a stable, economically vibrant, democratic Russia than an unstable, bankrupt, autocratic one. I believe that Putin has been weakened by the atrocity in Beslan but, in the absence of an alternative, we shouldn't hope for his fall or facilitate it.

Instead we should engage with Putin, encourage him to tone down his rhetoric, look for acceptable moderates, if any, in Chechnya, and engage in dialogue providing what support we can.

His "do we negotiate with terrorists?" rhetoric is great for domestic consumption but, unless he believes that all Chechens are terrorists, it isn't very constructive.

If he does believe that all Chechens are terrorists the implications are very bad indeed.

Dan Darling:

Your VOA link is pretty encouraging. But given the situation in Russia and the Caucasus in general the less fungible any support we give the happier I am.

>>T.J. Madison, when the whip comes down, if it does (God forbid), you won’t be hanged for treason. You will suffer a fate worse than death – you will be ignored. But why wait? This is a fate I try to consign you to at every opportunity.

And why is that? Seems we have the same goal: minimizing the body count. What exactly is the problem?

M. Simon: Do you believe the Iranian government when it says it will nuke Israel as soon as it gets the capability?

No, because they said no such thing. I'm sure you're thinking of Rafsanjani's famous words:

"If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world."

That is a comment about strategic balance. You can tell because he says "stalemate", not "defeat". If he was talking about nuking Israel and then just enduring the consequences, he wouldn't say that the result was a stalemate - the end of Israel is his victory condition. The philosophy is: Israel is a proxy for imperialist domination of the Middle East, and it's the regional hegemon because of its nuclear monopoly.

So what does Iran want of Israel? Here are the words of supreme leader Ali Khamenei, as reported by MEMRI:

"There is only one logical solution… All the Palestinian refugees should return from Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt, and the other Arab countries to their motherland, Palestine. [Only] the people closely connected to it [the homeland] [must return]; we are not referring to the people who were brought here from afar [i.e. from Europe]. The people who were in Palestine prior to 1948 are the Palestinian nation – the Muslims, the Christians, and the Jews. They should choose the nature of their desired political system… This is democracy!… This proposal, based on the soul of democracy and the rules of human rights, is quite logical, and very practical, and therefore I encourage all Arab and Islamic countries, as well as all other world nations, governments, and global communities to aim for its realization."

On the question of whether "Jacksonian warfare" is morally equivalent to targeting children, as in Beslan - I think it is. There may be some moral nuance separating obliteration of everything (which is what I take to be the "Jacksonian" or "Carthaginian" approach) and the deliberate targeting of the weak and defenseless, but it's not very far. At the moment, when we kill children with bombs or sanctions, it's regarded as collateral damage, a regrettable side-effect which we strive to minimize - but we go ahead regardless. The Jacksonian way is to forget all psychological considerations and win through sheer magnitude of physical destruction. But what do you do if you have reached the Jacksonian mindset, but you don't have that sort of firepower? You aim at your enemy's daily lives or at what they love the most, things they never imagine that you would attack. Thus we have 9/11, Beslan, and Palestinian attacks on restaurants and pizzerias - "the terrorist equivalent of strategic bombing". It's Jacksonian asymmetric warfare.

Tom Holsinger (#28762):
>Checkin Out,
>Foreign aid people and newsies stopped going to Chechnya
>about 1996 due to the certainty of being kidnapped. At
>that time the Russians had completely backed off from

Tom,
notice, I didn't say this is not true. I've said this is only partially true. At the moment Chechnya is fully under Russian control, yet there are still no free media there (nor NGOs) -- why is that? They are simply not allowed in by the Russians, who, although they did depart in '96, returned in '99 and have remained there since. They even waged something like a media intimidation campaign at the beginning -- I remember there was a big brouhaha about some Russian journalist arrested by the military, "mistreated", and somehow mysteriously lost, later turning up as a prisoner a terrorist group that no one quite knew (and still doesn't) if they were really terrorists or a bunch of KGB stooges dressed as terrorists. There was something like a scandal at the time, though I don't remember the details.

What I'm getting to is this: undoubtedly there's a huge threat of kidnapping or murder there (weren't back then a number of Western engineers kidnapped by a bunch of bandidos and eventually beheaded?) It's all true. But even if it were safe, there'd be no media there: they're not allowed in -- having learned their lesson, this time around the Russians are running a tight ship. And it's quite understandable why, considering their propensity to commit war crimes on a daily basis. It's one thing that they may not have many options on one hand, but otoh, they (understandably) don't want to do it on TV. Also, with no reliable reporting, it is easier for the Western humanitarians to look the other way -- don't ask don't tell sorta thing.

Jinderella:
>Basayev ... which cause is more basic to him...the
>Islamic Caliphate or Chechyan liberty?
Not to speak for Dan, but Basayev is first and foremost a former Soviet. Meaning he's an atheist by background, and he definitely was never exposed to any kind of deep religious upbringing when young. My guess is, he's about as Moslem as Saddam Hussein was -- for the show that is. He's simply a daring adventurist questing for power, caliphate or whatever. He worked with KGB once, as a Russian proxy fighter supporting moslem Abkhasia in its war against Georgia (of which another round seems to be in the making, though this time, if he gets involved, it'll be on Georgia's side.)

Dave Schuler (#28823)
>Stan at Logic & Sanity has pointed out this video from
>vesti.ru (in Russian). The sole captured terrorist
>implicates Maskhadov. Very bad.
Anyone captured by the Russians is likely to implicate whoever the Russians want to be implicated. Maskhadov is a fairly legitimate Chechen leader: he had actually been elected as president during their brief de-facto independence period. He's definitely more legitimate than either Kadyrov (recently assassinated) was, or this new guy the Russians just "got elected" there (forget his name at the moment.) The continued presence of Maskhadov in the picture is annoying to the Russians, and they've been forever seeking to discredit him -- by fair means or foul. Which doesn't necessarily mean M-v is clean: all I say is I wouldn't rely on anything a Russian prisoner says.

Checkin Out,

You are playing games. Foreign NGO's and news organizations haven't sent foreign staff to Chechnya in years because of Chechen folkways. You just claim that, if any of their people were fool enough to volunteer as the stars of Chechen snuff videos, the Russians wouldn't let them go there.

I lose absolutely nothing with the following forthright statement:

If you are fool enough to give me all your money, I'd donate it all to charity.

You won't give me all your money, so it makes no difference what I might or might not do with it, because I'll never get it.

Find a non-Arab NGO or newsie who has tried to officially go to Chechnya in the past eight years, and been refused entry by the Russian government, and I'll admit you are right.

Note that I said "officially". If they really want to get in, they can just bribe their way in, as the Arabs do.

Re: authorization for next campaign (Iran/Syria/Lebanon/…)

Resolution in response to 9-11: ...“That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”...

It's pretty clear the President has all the authority (minus eventually needed budgets) to prosecute the war in all these theaters. Aid and harbor and prevent future acts are very broad terms.

The language in the congressional resolution will be interpreted by the (historians of the) victors. So this is an open hunting license for any one or more of the 20K-40K cadre trained in the al qaeda camps in the 90s (which were some small fraction of those recruited from the tens of millions of students that passed through the madrassas), and any country they (or their current or past organization) happen to have been in or been helped by (that hasn't become fully cooperative and transparent in gathering intelligence, documenting money and people flows, and locating and handing over these individuals and leaders of these groups).

The reason for the Iraq resolution was less necessity than fair-play and diplomacy (many reasons for a vote outside of authorization), and politics (we see a grand political strategy emerging, given they understood within weeks that the new National Security Strategy had to include pre-emption, which they duly published, took the heat, and then said Iraq looks and smells like a threat by these rules, yet "if it was a fact, it would not be intelligence" so "it's time to vote, place your bets").. Granted, the president was able to use the Iraq resolution (and "does or does not national security trump any and all past sloppy practices and constituencies?" card) against his opponents in the 2002 election (nothing like your opponent begging you to use your hammer to beat him). And the current team are irascible poker players (and I do hate to watch pros play poker).

With regard to current "commitments" (i.e. are we too tied down to do anything else?), - there are none other than to lend a helping hand, right? We didn't break anything that wasn't already broken. We offered the leadership that was a probable threat a deal they should not have refused. When they did refuse, we removed them and wished the liberated that remained a good life. Not unlike welfare reform. You can't give someone "security" (civil society) any more than you can give someone self-respect. You can give them a hand up (bullets and bombs and our own casualties... we bleed all over the world for our friends, and even to hold down the casualties of some of our enemies), but the rest they have to do themselves, including bear the costs in lives and treasure. And if they screw it up (to the point they are not at a minimum cooperative and transparent), they know we will remove that leadership as well. Unfortunately, given human nature, most anything more that we do (as a government, vs. private efforts, just like welfare) is likely an unappreciated gift (e.g. there's no reason to expect the Iraqi soccer team to be grateful even if we'd put the five million troops into the country that it would have taken to completely lock down (like a prison) the border and cities, Iraq being a BIG country. IMO those that called for more troops are in the same category as those that demanded some stalinist fully-scripted 5-year-great-leap-forward plan for pacification to be in place before going to war, both are actually arguing against going to war. Similar items filled the European press around the time of Munich.

From a military perspective we're now in a position to use force to move towards our end-objectives (societal change in ME, either by direct application of force (deposing leadership), or through Libyan-like acquiescence and cooperation - which has never been obtained by bluff, i.e. most UN-SC resolutions).

We've both equipment and people in the field. The equipment is not coming back (i.e. use it or lose it, sooner than later, wrt wear-and-tear in the desert, call it $1T we'll walk away from if we "give up"). Good to great supply lines are running smoothly. Soldiers are rested and battle-hardened, and getting impatient (Navy and Air Force have had a year's vacation). Pacification is not what they signed up to do and is no fun, long term - (even in Najaf where we learned how to do urban warfare w/ minimal casualties to us and non-combatants by knocking down buildings Israeli-style, vs, say, the horrific Russian armored losses in Chechnya).

Which means now's the time to prepare for the next (threat of) pre-emption. If there's demand for a vote, I'm sure the poker players will be happy to double up the ante (they'd love to have a filibuster proof senate).

Right, there will be no serious diplomatic or Libyan-class victories until after the election, and as Mr. Cheney observes, Mr. Kerry winning eliminates the opportunity for a bloodless battle, where if we withdraw to our borders not only will we be attacked here, but what remains of our civil liberties will disappear. i.e. maginot-line-like defenses are always destructive of liberty, if only as a tax on our productivity that no other nation pays for the same goods.

We seem to need to relearn every generation that punitive offense (eliminating those that would take away our freedom) is the only way to maintain civil society at the level where we don't need to fear our neighbor - and in a moore's law age of weapons and information, there's no one who is not our neighbor - i.e. borders are fictions (and if we manage to get everything that transits recorded, it's only because we made it in their interest to be recorded.. i.e. no black market in anything remains). Individuals and small groups, especially apocalyptic ones, can increasingly find the ever-decreasing amount of expertise and money required to wield the power of last-century's nation-states.

Mr. Kerry will discover that EU / France and Germany are really as toothless and "poor" as we (the U.S.) would be today if his party's Ted Kennedy's and he had succeeded in demobilizing and stripping our forces, and killed off U.S. productivity by regulating and taxing us into a European welfare state. And no amount of $$ or Kyoto treaty bribes will be enough to enable the EU to mount an effort that is larger than 10% of ours. (which should be no surprise given the moral hazard we created when we guaranteed Europe's security without appropriate human and $$ compensation, to say nothing of casting a blind eye towards their crony statist capitalism that corrupted any chance of check-and-balances in their countries' financial relationships with, and dependencies on, these dictators).

Note that it's not just a case of France and Germany being unwilling to provide forces and monies, they simply have little more to provide than what they already have in Afghanistan (thousands at best). And their economies are "broke" in all aspects (not competitive in terms of innovation or productivity, not solvent, and not providing their middle class w/ the comforts of our poor). So odds of them being able to "moore's law" equip a soldier (so they are 10x more destructive and protected than any opponent) are small and nil without our help, and even then they'll need years of training in our facilities.

Worse, to admit that the large headcount and budget consumed by their "armed forces" is "only" a jobs program would be an unbearable loss-of-face (and it would uncover a significant amount of post-berlin-wall decay, if not corruption, likely leading to their elites falling from power) - not unlike the U.S. political constituencies that hang on to unused military bases, processes and even agencies. Granted, our own tooth-to-tail ratio in the DoD is at a minimum shameful, if not corrupt in a manner that costs us lives, and stuck in the 70s, something Rumsfeld and team must (and are) fixing.

So the fifth campaign (of I'd guess 10) is coming. Afghanistan. Iraq. Libya. Pakistan (Kahn). (?) Some will appear multiple times.. Not unlike WW2 ebb and flow.

Good thread, great blog.

(I wrote far more than I intended.. I wager Wretchard can say all this in 3 paragraphs :-)

/Ari

Fyi, David Gelernter (a unabomber casualty) gets the moral issue exactly right (at the level a 6th grader can understand).

Tom:

"Arrest of Journalist, Blanket Media Restrictions on Chechnya Condemned

(New York, February 1, 2000) -- Human Rights Watch today condemned the virtual ban on access to Chechnya which Russian authorities have placed on international and local journalists reporting on the conflict. It called the Russian restrictions arbitrary and obstructive. (...)

Russia is keeping international and local journalists out of Chechnya through arbitrary and obstructive regulations," said Jean-Paul Marthoz, European press director of Human Rights Watch. "Journalists have a right to report on this conflict, and the obstacles placed in their path by the Russian authorities are unacceptable." Added Marthoz, "by keeping journalists out, Russia is trying to hide the evidence of its brutal campaign in Chechnya from the eyes of the international community."

http://www.hrw.org/press/2000/02/chech0201.htm
***
Tuesday, September 7, 2004
Groups worry about Russia's press freedom
By BETH GARDINER - ASSOCIATED PRESS

LONDON -- The detention of several journalists traveling to and from the deadly school siege in Russia is raising new concern about press freedom in the country, media watchdogs said Tuesday.

There are also accusations that a prominent Russian journalist and critic of Moscow's campaign in Chechnya, Anna Politkovskaya, was victim of a deliberate case of food poisoning. (...)

The detention of four reporters has also caused alarm.
Andrei Babitsky, a correspondent for the U.S.-funded Radio Liberty, was detained last week at a Moscow airport on suspicion of carrying explosives and prevented from flying to southern Russia, said Vladimir Baburin, an editor in the station's Moscow bureau.

No explosives were found in his bag but he was held again after two men provoked him into a fight, Baburin said. The men later identified themselves as airport security officers who had been ordered to create trouble for the reporter, Baburin said.

Reporters Without Borders said two Georgian television journalists had been held by police in Beslan since Saturday and prevented from covering the aftermath of the siege. (...)

Chechnya is the most taboo subject, watchdogs say.
"There is a complete blackout of information on what's happening in Chechnya," Blatmann, of Reporters Without Borders, said."
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Checkin Out,

You are right. The 2000 story does it.

"#28748 Posted by Andrew J. Lazarus on September 7, 2004 02:17 PM

I can't wait to see Bush sell an invasion of Iran to the American people. Or will we have dispensed with the "lying war hysteria" phase, and
Congress?

We still need 120K troops in Iraq in 2005 to prop up our government there, or help it out in the civil war, depending how things are developing.
You might also check a map: Iran is larger, more populous, has a much better army, better defensive terrain, and probably higher morale than
Iraq. Just because Chalabi has promised us a second cakewalk doesn't mkae it so."

"Sell" is for first term Presidents.

Just kidding, and you don't have to wait long. Next meeting of the UNSC sets the stage.

We have 120K in Iraq, and another 120K being rounded up worldwide. Plus a few other aces up the old sleeve. Heard much from 3INF lately? Hmmm.

I know a little bit about maps, and even about the terrain in Iran.

See:

http://users.in-motion.net/~jefft/tech/Mapping/afghanistan/index.html

The terrain works against Iran. With the oil fields, pipeheads and refineries around Khorramshar, not to mention the sea terminals and harbors, all of Iran's treasure is right next to the Iraqi border and the Gulf. The 120k US troops there act to fix a huge piece of the Iranian military, which is why they just moved 4 divisions there in addition to normal deployments. They already had over half their total force ready the re-fight the Iran-Iraq war, not exactly an unexpected response, but I suspect we won't play Saddam for their benefit.

Problem for them is that the Zagros then prevent them from responding to a salient through Qom towards Tehran. Or from Bandar, or Afghanistan or Turkmenistan.

Yes, Iran is marginally stronger on paper than Iraq was, but not by much, and they have some serious C and C issues to overcome. They have been subject to sanctions for longer than Iraq was, and their total military expenditure since the end of the war with Iraq is less than 30 billion. In the same period we've spent roughly 3 trillion, a 100x disparity.

Depending on how you measure it, half the total Iranian force is Pasdaran, the other half regular army. My numerical simulations (you don't think I slave over those maps just to decorate my walls, do you?) show that coordinating maneuvers along a pair of LOCs in the northern half of the country, which evolve to a split pair of single LOcs in the southern half is a 14 carat goatrope. It's even worse right now, because the Pasdaran has been redeployed to co-locate with regular army units, to prevent them from turning on the Mullahs.

You'll have a highly mobile force, with air supremacy after Iran's "air defense network" is dismantled, which will take less time than Kari or Tiger Song did in Iraq, (figure about three minutes from the start of festivities) against a dug in, immobile force operating under two disparate chains of command that hate each other, over one main road. From first boots on the ground to downtown Tehran hasn't taken more than 6 weeks in any of numerous scenarios I've run to date.

Lewy, good to see you. You know me, I'll haggle combat over politics or diplomacy any day of the week. RT and the Cap'n have been lurking a bit over at FR, but Dan knows his business so I won't be a stranger here either.

Dan, can't source it offhand, but I read via a reputable conduit that Bush wanted to send more than 50K but is limited by some law or another in the short term. Maybe needs Congressional approval or some such. Expect to see orders of magnitude more as conditions permit, assuming that Dub and Vlad aren't locking horns before then.

Ari, that's the most vapid and crudely fraudulent article I've read in at least a week. What did you like about it? I'm curious. It's just a bunch of thoroughly unsupported pronouncements mixed with downright bullshit. One could write just as baseless an article "proving" the opposite.

"Lincoln said, "Let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it." Bush answered: "Okay; let's roll." We accept our obligation to be the world's policeman."

Huh? "Answered"? Is this a bunch of nonsense of what. There's no connection between the two phrases: the second doesn't follow from the first in any way. Why "world policeman"? Why not "no foreign entaglements"? Or anything else.

"The Iraq war started as a fight to knock out a regime that invaded its neighbors, murdered its domestic enemies with poison gas, subsidized terrorism, and flouted the international community. Obviously such a regime was dangerous to American interests." (emphasis mine.)

LOL. It was much less obvious when he (Saddam) actually did all these bad things -- 'cause then he was fully supported by the US (politically, diplomatically, financially, equipment, etc.) He gassed Kurds in '84 and got nary a word of condemnation. Iranians he gassed even earlier. We only got mad at him in '90, not when he gassed, killed, invaded, etc. Saddam was in fact "dangerous to American interests" -- but for entirely different and far from obvious reasons, which have never been articulated by Nukelar George publicly. But "invaded, murdered, poison gas, subsidized terrorism"?
Stuff like doesn't bother us at all -- unless, of course, it can be used as a politically-correct pretext to justify taking out someone whom we want to take out for some other reasons.

Etc. etc.

PS. I can understand why Unabomber wanted to take this Gelertner guy out ;-).

PPS. Oh yea, and "the international community" didn't seem to mind being "flouted" -- at least based on the UN action diring the ramp-up to the invasion. Or how come they promised in no uncertain terms to veto the SC resolution that would authorise the automatic use of force, should such a resolution be put to vote (by the U.S.)?

Trent, Tom

I'm sorry, but barring a catastophic (100K+ dead) attack on the United States, I can't imagine widespread support for a Jacksonian policy. America and Americans have changed over the last 60 years, and such a policy of genocide or near genocide would require unanimity in the populace that is totally absent.

Troops in Iran is a dream. After burning all his political capital in Iraq, GWB hasn't (again barring catastrophic attack) got 1/10th of the political means to start another war. If he even hinted at it today, he'd hand JFK a decisive victory.

As it is, the majority of the public only accepts the WoT because it doesn't effect them in any significant fashion. Can you imagine how many miliseconds GWB or the Republicans would last if he tried to impose a draft and rationing? If he tried to require the sacrifices that are needed by a population truly at war?

what about a Russian ground invasion, backed up by US air power, of Iran?

As I've posted elsewhere, the inexorable fall of the House of Saud lends itself to an "occupation/ stabilizing force" comprised of Chinese, RoK, Japanese and EU troops; since they are the major importers of Saudi oil. 600K or more?

Given our Navy and Air Force and some of our Army are now somewhat underemployed in OIF, we might expect to lend logistics support to all those peacekeeping troops sent by the coalition-of-oil-starved nations.

At that point, Iran will become especially susceptible to regime change.

«#28512 Posted by Tom Holsinger on September 6, 2004 12:03 AM

Dan,

The Russians face two related problems here - traditional Chechen nastiness and outside support for it. The latter greatly complicates the traditional, and highly effective, Russian solution for the former - wholesale slaughter. The Russians have calmed the Chechens down before with genocide and will again. Sooner than you think. You just aren't bloody-minded enough.

They're Russians, Dan. They ARE bloody-minded enough. History made them that way and whacks them repeatedly when they don't pay attention. Likewise the Chechens pay attention only when most of them are dead. It's a tough neighborhood.

I suggest you go here: http://www.strategypage.com/fyeo/qndguide/default.asp?target=RUSSIA.HTM</> and read the entries for September 2-3.

IMO the Russians will eventually use Saddam's solution to the Kurdish question - nerve gas delivered by air, only for purposes of genocide as opposed to intimidation.

I suggest you try focusing on where events are going instead of where they are now. That is how to predict the future.

Arab support for the Chechens - mestaticization of the Wahabbi cancer - will cease only when the Arabs no longer have significant unearned income, i.e., after the collapse of Saudi Arabia and our de facto seizure of control of the oil income of the other Arab states in the Persian Gulf. Iran's mullah regime will be gone in about 12-18 months - I have money on our invasion starting no later than 10/31/05 (for weather reasons).

So the Chechens will have funding and cadres coming in from the outside for some time. This means further horror shows like Breslan and the theater in Moscow. At some point the Russians will uncork.

So it's just a question of time. IMO that will take place after the Saud regime collapses. The EU will not then risk its relationship with will be, at that point, the world's largest oil exporter. And the nutballs will go absolutely berserk with atrocities.»

Dude, do you really need a reminder about the casulties US troops perpetrated in the past 50 years? If Russians are bloody-minded, what are the US? Please..

”America is the only nation to use the atmomic bomb in anger and we were fully prepared to gas the Imperial Japanese like bugs if they did not surrender after the Atomic bombings.”

Tell that to my mother or my grandfather and be prepared for their anger towards you fed by their perception of your stupidity. To them it was not a matter of anger it was a matter of survival. Pearl Harbor was enough to convince them there could be no quarter without absolute submission. That mind set was without regard of how we got involved in the war in the first place. It was driven by the reality of their current situation. They, by the way, could give two hoots about the Jacksonian mind set. They are no more interested in people dissecting their beliefs and tagging a name to it than they are about the price of rice in China.

”The candidate to "martyr" is isolated and told that he or she not only will go automatically to the Garden of the Virtuous but will also be entitled to designate 72 friends or parents that will win acceptance into Paradise thanks to his deed.”

Makes one wonder how many times the leaders and proponents have been nominated?

”If the worst parts of Islam can be subverted to the use of evil, then surely the best parts can be used to fight it. Think of cartoons, comic books, pulp fiction -- all designed for mass appeal, and all designed to subtly steer potential Islamofascist recruits away from extremism.”

Great idea but who says the actionist can read? Certainly the perpetrators can and attempts at negotiations or convincing them to stop was nothing more than rhetoric that went in one ear and out the other. One might also look to the fact that those that are not involved that may have some influence certainly aren’t speaking loudly against or to the factions that promote it. The question of why they aren’t has been side stepped on many fronts. Could it be they really don’t have any influence at all?

”Maybe there is another way to stop terrorism, other than removing the substrate-- perhaps terrorists could be educated to see they are being used.”

This doesn’t address the educated ones that flip to the side of f terrorism such as John Walker Lindh. True there are less of these than the others but eventually these are the ones that become the leaders if allowed free reign.

Ah, but USMC, was John Walker Lindh ready to be a homicide bomber? Did he really have the makings of a top echelon al Qaeda operative? I think he was a wannbe, a low-level token for Osama, a throw away. Otherwise, wouldn't he have been better protected?

"Great idea but who says the actionist can read?"
Well, wouldn't comic books be the absolute best vector then? :)

a low-level token
Aren't all the suicide bombers low level tokens?

No, lurker. Actually they are carefully groomed, and quite expensive if you read Trent above. After all, you don't want that particular tool to fail in a stress situation. I doubt Lindh was ever judged to be of that caliber.

jinnderella
I'm sure the top echelon would that into consideration. Even he wanted to become a homicide bomber they probably would have assured him he had more value as a token alive than a token dead. Yet that in and of itself would not have mattered to JWL if he truly believed in the cause.

USMC: Here, you can read this about 'true believers'. :)

"Troops in Iran is a dream."

Rather than discuss......current realities.....I will merely rest on similar assertions made as to Iraq during 2002.

I see that failure has not diminished the oppositions faith in their crystal ball.

I will merely rest on similar assertions made as to Iraq during 2002.

Well, that's a pretty good point. However, GWB burnt an awful lot of his credibility with Iraq. Are there many people left (outside of the true believers) who think that invading Iraq has actually lessened the risk of terrorism? How many will believe the same claim about invading Iran (even if they are far more true)?

I still think that the Iraq adventure has made it pretty much impossible for the US to intervene where and when it may desperately need to. GWB may not need to get reelected, but a lot of senators would like to.

The Chechens' American friends

The Washington neocons' commitment to the war on terror evaporates in Chechnya, whose cause they have made their own

John Laughland (The Guardian)

[...] They include Richard Perle, the notorious Pentagon adviser; Elliott Abrams of Iran-Contra fame; Kenneth Adelman, the former US ambassador to the UN who egged on the invasion of Iraq by predicting it would be "a cakewalk"; Midge Decter, biographer of Donald Rumsfeld and a director of the rightwing Heritage Foundation; Frank Gaffney of the militarist Centre for Security Policy; Bruce Jackson, former US military intelligence officer and one-time vice-president of Lockheed Martin, now president of the US Committee on Nato; Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute, a former admirer of Italian fascism and now a leading proponent of regime change in Iran; and R James Woolsey, the former CIA director who is one of the leading cheerleaders behind George Bush's plans to re-model the Muslim world along pro-US lines. [...]

Allegations are even being made in Russia that the west itself is somehow behind the Chechen rebellion, and that the purpose of such support is to weaken Russia, and to drive her out of the Caucasus. The fact that the Chechens are believed to use as a base the Pankisi gorge in neighbouring Georgia - a country which aspires to join Nato, has an extremely pro-American government, and where the US already has a significant military presence - only encourages such speculation. Putin himself even seemed to lend credence to the idea in his interview with foreign journalists on Monday.

Proof of any such western involvement would be difficult to obtain, but is it any wonder Russians are asking themselves such questions when the same people in Washington who demand the deployment of overwhelming military force against the US's so-called terrorist enemies also insist that Russia capitulate to hers?

Um, Checkin Out... Dan Darling, the guy who wrote this little expose? He spent the summer working for Michael Ledeen at AEI (admirer of Italian fascism? what a loon this writer is). I guess that should make Dan part of Laughland's cabal.

Last I looked, there really were serious human rights violations in Chechnya, and legitimate concerns about Putin's Russia and democracy. And raising these is a problem why? To me, it says these guys are serious about the standards they put out there and the goals they espouse; it would have been very easy for them to look the other way on this one. They did not.

But that does not make them supporters of the Chechen rebellion, however much some clueless British writer likes to imagine foreign plots. As Dan (who now eclipses me as the blog's uber-neocon) notes, that rebellion has become part of a trans-Caucasian jihad with al-Qaeda connections. I'm sure (quite sure, actually) that the folks at AEI are well aware of this. Which may explain why you're not actually hearing any of them take the Chechens' side.

Laughland is a perfect name for this writer... and once again I find myself wondering: "This is supposed to be the PROFESSIONAL media?" I think we need to retire the term.

Hmm, just going through the earlier sections.

Trent...

Actually, I fully acknowledge that your analysis could come true. A Russian genocide in Chechnya is not impossible at all, especially if stuff like Beslan continues, and even more so if the Chechens start to target Russia's oil & gas export pipelines, a vast target with some bottlenecks in it.

There's also no question in my mind that Putin could gas the Chechens from the air and the EU would do nothing, as usual - maybe charge Putin in The Hague, but only after he was out of power and the Euros were sure that whoever was in power wouldn't punish them economically.

America would also have few useful options in that scenario, just as it had few options when the Chinese invaded Tibet and began their cultural genocide.

In the near term, I see Department V (or Dept. 8 of Directorate S, or whatever it's called these days) getting kicked up in a big way across the globe. I'm thinking that the experience when Lebanese terrorists unwisely took Russian hostages during the 80s is about to be repeated, this time on a much broader scale. If someone wanted to develop special envelopes designed for fingers, toes and ears, there's probably a business opportunity there.

No matter the history. That fact is. This people killed children. I do not care about what has happen in the past. There no reason you kill kids.

Joe Katzman (#29117)
bq. "Um, Checkin Out... Dan Darling, the guy who wrote this little expose? He spent the summer working for Michael Ledeen at AEI (admirer of Italian fascism? what a loon this writer is). I guess that should make Dan part of Laughland's cabal."

Joe, I quite agree with you in that the author doesn't come across as a reliable journalist (I've searched on his name there and found a bunch of articles, all of which turned out as expected :-).)

Nevertheless I thought it interesting and necessary to notice an opposing voice, so to speak -- at least because those are rare. After all, it does stand to reason that the Russians harbour those suspicions -- with the US (and UK, i.e. Anglo-Saxon) record of cultivating Islam as a geopolitical proxy, it's quite rational to suspect some kind of support for the Chechen cause, at least in its nationalistic guise. I'm researching this topic in hope of finding more reasonable, solid materials.

The British cultivated Arabs in WWI against the Turks (the current Middle East is the result), they practically created and then gave support to the Islamic side in Indian politics; the West has certainly been happy with autocratic regimes in oil-producing states, no matter how brutal or atavistic (Saudi Arabia, etc.); the West supported the same islamic butchers during the Afghan war in the 80s: the very same jihad was fine when directed against the soviets in Afghanistan -- and, with that in mind, it wouldn't be totally paranoid to suspect that the West in general, and the US/UK in particular, may be seeking to go one, quite logical, step further and eject Russia from the Caucasus too, thus cutting Russia down to size similar to the dismemberment of the Ottoman empire in WWI; Russia today is every bit as much of a Sick Man of Europe as the Turks were then. With all this in mind, I suspect that as far as terroristic jihad is concerned, we would understand the situation better from the rather cynical chickens-came-home-to-roost viewpoint, instead of raising sanctimonious noise about "the enemies of freedom", of which we hear a lot today.

Today's "islamofascists", as Hanson likes to call them, are literally the same forces that were lauded as Afghani "freedom fighters" in the 80s; they were the bearers of the very same theocratic reactionary medievality, terrorism, beheadings, the whole nine yards. Aaaaand... -- at the time, all of this seemed quite alright with us so long as they, geopolitically speaking, toed the line.

Interestingly, the Russians seem to have fallen victim to the same approach in realpolitik: Basayev used to be a "volunteer" proxy fighter in the Abkhasian war with Georgia in 1990s (Abkhasia was -- and still is -- supported by Russia against the Georgians, which is curious: while fighting separatism in Chechnya, they seem to foster it right next door, in Georgia.) Of course, ironically, the Russians now offer $10 mil for Basayev's "head."

I'm trying to learn more about this stuff. It amazes me how both sides cynically foster mind-bogglingly evil forces in their struggle with each other, and how they then lose control of their puppets -- and what unimaginable evils these proxies unleash on unsuspecting locals caught in the geopolitical middle, both when in our service (which we accept and like), and later, when, after having acquired a taste for blood and power, they strike out on their own (which, provided we're on the receiving end, we don't like.) When I then hear this deliberately "forgetful" of historical fact (and therefore disingenuous) dumbed-down and specious sermonizing by W and his friends about the "enemies of freedom", and "they hate us for what we are", I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Today's "islamofascists", as Hanson likes to call them, are literally the same forces that were lauded as Afghani "freedom fighters" in the 80s

No. Wrong. Read Robert Kaplan's book Soldiers of God.

And btw, Joe, regardless of whether Ledeen is in fact an admirer of Mussolini or not, take a look at this American Committee for Peace in Chechnya:

"Founded in 1999, the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya is the only private, non-governmental organization in North America exclusively dedicated to promoting the peaceful resolution of the Russo-Chechen war. Chaired by former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, Jr. and former Congressman Stephen J. Solarz..."

http://www.peaceinchechnya.org/about.htm

And then -- this Laughland guy does point to something interesting -- check out the Members.

Morton Abramowitz
Zbigniew Brzezinski
John Calabrese
Eric Chenoweth
Eliot Cohen
Alexander M. Haig, Jr.
Irving Louis Horowitz
Robert Kagan
Max M. Kampelman
William Kristol
Michael A. Ledeen
Seymour M. Lipset
Joshua Muravchik
William Odom
P.J. O'Rourke (of all people :-))
Richard Perle
Richard Pipes
Norman Podhoretz
Stephen J. Solarz
Caspar Weinberger
R. James Woolsey

Eh? Is there an American Committee for Peace in, say, Kurdistan with the same or similar membership? :-)

lewy14 (29438)
> No. Wrong. Read Robert Kaplan's book Soldiers of God.
OK, thanks for the pointer, lewy14. I will check it out. Meantime, ObL was active in Afghanistan then, no? Does Robert Kaplan say otherwise.

Checkin' Out,

I work long-distance with a Russian biophysicist at a university in California. Kind of a stereotype: passionate, loyal, patriotic, hard-drinking, friendly, smart... and very prone to paranoid conspiracy theories.

We had an email exchange on one idea that was making the rounds of Russian emigres: that the US's master plan was to continue to weaken Russia and hence the Russian military through 2012. At that point it will have an ineffective nuclear retaliatory capability. And the US will launch a massive, unprovoked, surprise first strike, finally destroying Russia.

My friend was completely refractory to any of the arguments I made that this theory was unlikely to be true. Most obviously, because its successful execution would not serve any conceivable American interests.

So, when you talk about Russian suspicions about American involvement in Chechen terrorism, I suspect that you may be more right than you know. If my friend is any indication, these ideas may be difficult or impossible to rebut, and widespread.

Yes, AMac, this is a good point. However my interest is a bit different -- I'm not as much curious about psychological afflictions Russians may be prone to, as whether, and what exactly, may be taking place there. I suppose it's true that attacking Russia is nothing the US would want -- no one needs such a huge chunk of land in chaos (and moreover, if that did happen, I suppose it might be good for the Russians themselves if we did the same job for them as we had in Germany or Japan: themselves they don't seem to be good at that.) Plus I'm not sure why by 2012 they'd lose their nuclear deterrent: I think they're very very careful about it, since they have basically nothing else left; their army is crap and won't get better any time soon, at least as compared with the US equivalent.

But "destroying Russia" is one thing (arguably, quite paranoid), while pushing them out of the Caucasus is another. The latter is not unimaginable, I think; it may actually be in the West's interests to, sorta, round out the belt of friendly states around the greater Middle East (to say nothing of Caspian oil.)

My question is, can it be true? I mean, with the level of discourse that one gets from Dubya, one just never knows; they obviously don't tell the truth about many things. How does one find out? I hope there are other ways, but resorting to a sort of kremlinology is all I can see at the moment. When I see some NGO "for Peace" in a two-bit country hell knows where chaired by no lesser figure than Zbig the Great Gamer, I think it's worth noticing. His great-game book, gave Russians all they need to be paranoid about current events. Meantime, thousands perish. I wonder what really goes on there.

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