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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Editorial: Dear John (re Beslan)


Dear John (re Beslan)

It's no secret that we here at La Russophobe consider ourselves to be rather good at exposing the flaws inherent in the the russophile position that supports continued power to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. But we have to admit that, next to the russophiles' own ability to destroy themselves, our powers are puny indeed.

Case in point: A comment offered on our recent post about Beslan by a reader who calls him/herself "John." This idiot says that blaming Vladimir Putin for the mass killing that occurred at Beslan is no more legitimate than blaming George Bush for the 9/11 killings. Let's help "John" look foolish, shall we?

To start with, of course, there is no analogy between 9/11 and Beslan because at 9/11, unlike Beslan, all the victims were killed instantly by the terrorists. At Beslan, there was a siege and a so-called rescue effort. At 9/11 there was no such effort mounted by George Bush. So it's clear from the beginning that "John" didn't think for even a second before making his comment, he simply and predictably spewed out the same ridiculous sort of propaganda that destroyed the Soviet Union. It's emperor's-new-clothes stuff, all over again.

A better analogy to the Beslan crisis would have been, for instance, the 1993 assault by Bill Clinton on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, which killed many of the people inside the compound, including innocent children. But if we actually go so far as to compare the facts of Waco and Beslan, then Vladimir Putin comes off looking even worse than he did in our post about Beslan. For that reason, perhaps, it's not surprising that "John" would fail to do so. Then again, his failure might be attributable to simply russophile ignorance.

There are two key differences between Waco and Beslan.

1. Clinton Waited, Putin Attacked

Bill Clinton's FBI forces laid siege to the Branch Davidian compound in Waco for a period of more than 50 days (nearly two months) before they attacked. They tried everything they could think of to negotiate with the terrorist group and save the innocent children inside before taking action.

Vladimir Putin, by contrast, waited only two days before attacking the Beslan compound. His government proved itself totally incompetent at the basic task of communicating with the terrorists, much less in protecting the interests of those inside the school. And this should not be surprising to anyone, given that Putin's only strategy for dealing with Chechnya has been to kill its people (who are supposedly Russian citizens) "in their outhouses."

2. Clinton Investigated, Putin Covered Up

After Waco turned ugly, Bill Clinton appointed an independent counsel, John Danforth, to investigate the Waco tragedy and issue a public report on accountability. Senator Danforth was a Republican, a member of Clinton's opposition party, so nobody could question his objectivity, and he was given full power to explore all leads in his investigation, as well as the financial resources with which to do so. The Danforth report concludes that the Branch Davidians themselves set the fire which killed so many of their members.

Vladimir Putin, by contrast, has steadfastly refused to conduct any kind of genuine independent public investigation of the Beslan events, much less to place such an investigation in the hands of a rival like Grigori Yavlinsky, and thrust the matter into the backrooms of his rubber-stamp legislature. That investigation has been exposed as a pure sham. As Wikipedia states:
At a press conference with foreign journalists on September 6, 2004, Vladimir Putin rejected the prospect of an open public inquiry, but cautiously agreed with an idea of a parliamentary investigation led by the Duma. He warned, though, that the latter might turn into a "political show". On November 27, 2004, the Interfax news agency reported Alexander Torshin, head of the parliamentary commission, as saying that there was evidence of involvement by a foreign intelligence agency. He declined to say which, but said "when we gather enough convincing evidence, we won't hide it". On December 26, 2005, Russian prosecutors investigating the siege on the school claimed that authorities had made no mistakes. Family members of the victims of the attacks have claimed the security forces of incompetence, and have demanded that authorities be held accountable. On August 28, 2006, Yuri Savelyev, an MP and member of the official parliamentary inquiry panel, publicized his report proving that Russian forces deliberately stormed the school on 4 September 2004 using maximum force. According to Savelyev, a weapons and explosives expert, special forces fired rocket-propelled grenades without warning as a prelude to an armed assault, ignoring apparently ongoing negotiations. On December 22, 2006, a Russian parliamentary commission ended their investigation into the incident. They concluded that the number of gunmen who stormed the school was 32 and laid much blame on the North Ossetian police; the commission stated that there was a severe shortcoming in security measures. Also, the commission said the attack on the school was premeditated by Chechen rebels including Aslan Maskhadov. In a controversial move, the commission claimed that the shoot-out that ended the siege was instigated by the hostage takers, not security forces. Ella Kesayeva, who leads the Voice of Beslan support group, suggested that the report was meant as a signal that Putin and his circle were no longer interested in having a discussion about the details. "We personally didn’t expect anything different from Torshin," she said. In February 2007, two members of the commission broke their silence to denounce the investigation as a cover-up, and the Kremlin's official version of events as fabricated. The pair said they refused to sign off on the report because of their misgivings.
Since then, as we reported in our post about Beslan, evidence continues to mount that the Russian government itself was the primary cause of the fatalities at Beslan. Putin's dogged refusal to allow an independent public investigation, combined with the obviously rash manner in which his forces attacked the school, are clear indications that he has something to hide. In a courageous and heroic manner, the parents of the children who perished in Beslan are organizing and demanding that justice be served, and it is to be expected that they will be met with dishonest propaganda such as that which "John" is repeating on behalf the malignant little troll who dwells within the high blood-red walls of the Moscow Kremlin.

This is the way it has always been in Russia. Instead of actively looking to expose mistakes and reform, Russia's response to failure is inevitably denial and cover-up. Instead of trying to root out Putin's mistakes at Beslan, these russophile scum, more dangerous to Russia by far than any foreign enemy, argue instead that since George Bush has also made mistakes Russian errors should be ignored. Because of this, Russia goes on repeating the same mistakes over and over again (for instance, electing a KGB spy to be president) while America learns from its mistakes, reforms and grows stronger. In less than a century, Russian society has collapsed not once but four different times (Tsar Nikolai, Kerensky, Lenin and Yeltsin) while America has maintained the world's oldest continuously effective constitutional democracy.

To be sure, the analogy between Waco and Beslan isn't perfect. There was nobody inside the Waco compound except the extremist community; they were not taken hostage by interloping extremists from outside. But if the Kremlin thought it could save the hostages at Beslan by acting as it did, and that its action was justified because there were hostage-takers, nobody can now doubt that it was literally dead wrong. Yet it hasn't apologized, much less reformed. And Waco shows that incidents like these can erupt not only from the actions of aggressive terrorists but also organically, and therefore government action must be more sophisticated than simple blunt trauma in attempting to deal with them. Sophistication begins with introspection, something it's clear the Kremlin cannot even contemplate.

Indeed, Vladimir Putin's thug-like Kremlin is capable of nothing besides blunt trauma and, as Beslan and Dubrovka clearly show, it can't even do blunt trauma well. It's hard to imagine how anything the terrorists might have done could have caused the two incidents to end more horrifically for the people of Russian than they did when the Kremlin became active. America has not had one single incident of domestic terrorism since 9/11, yet the American people still crush George Bush with wickedly unfavorable reviews in the polls. Meanwhile, the pathologically cowardly people of Russia douse Vladimir Putin with maniacal praise, encouraging him to do more of the same.

And so it goes in Russia.


Chip said...

However justified the other criticism may be, there was no time to wait. People were drinking urine and dying. Three days without water and it's over.

La Russophobe said...


We can't agree. First of all, you're talking about hindsight, not what the benighted Russians knew at the time. What evidence is there that anyone had perished from thirst? Second, why was the Kremlin unable to arrange to provide water? Why was it unable to deal with terrorists? Isn't it a clear failure of the Kremlin's policy that it was unable to do so? Third, it was over anyway, and that nobody can dispute. The children are not better off being killed by their own government.

There's no doubt that the treatment of the children in the building by the terrorists was (a) barbaric and (b) insane, totally contradictory to their own self-interest. But what motivated them to take this desperate action? The Kremlin's similar treatment of Chechnya's own children in Grozny (and the outside world's cowardly failure to protect them)? The Kremlin's total inability to manage the situation? The people of Chechnya are not in the same relationship to the Kremlin as Osama does to the United States, they are Russian citizens and Russia has butchered them as if they were not.

R said...

"The people of Chechnya are not in the same relationship to the Kremlin as Osama does to the United States"

"The people of Chechnya" surely are not, Basayev's local Al Qaeda branch undoubtedly are (or, better said, was).

"Why was it (the Kremlin) unable to deal with terrorists?"

For the same reason that USA Government was unable to deal with the afghan fundamentalist regime. Their demands were absolutely unacceptable. Russia cannot tolerate the secesion of that one or another one of its regions. Especially if the main goal of the most active secesionist elements is the creation of an islamic regime similar to Afghanistan's pre-US intervention one. It's not a cuestion about putinism or antiputinism: was Yeltsin who decided the convenience of that war. Obviously he had translucent political motivations for doing it, but that's not the point: it's a cuestion of national integrity.

"The Kremlin's total inability to manage the situation."

¿Total inability?. You must be kidding. Chechnya is almost completely stabilized. Basayev and his men are all dead. There are only some islamist-separatist remnants without any real possibility of topple Chechnyan Government or regain the control of the region.

Just compare with Irak: there are 600.000 corpses, 4.000.000 refugees and an inter-islamic civil war.