Sunday, September 05, 2004

The Atrocity In Russia: Mark Steyn Gets to The Heart of The Matter

You need to read the whole thing, but Mark Steyn makes a number of points, and asks questions, that simply need the (civilized) world's attention. Some excerpts:

When your asymmetrical warfare strategy depends on gunning down
schoolchildren, you're getting way more asymmetrical than you need to be. The
reality is that the IRA and ETA and the ANC and any number of secessionist and
nationalist movements all the way back to the American revolutionaries could
have seized schoolhouses and shot all the children.

But they didn't. Because, if they had, there would have been widespread
revulsion within the perpetrators' own communities. To put it at its most
tactful, that doesn't seem to be an issue here.

So the particular character of this "insurgency" does not derive from
the requirements of "asymmetrical warfare" but from . . . well, let's see, what
was the word missing from those three analyses of the Beslan massacre? Here's a
clue: half the dead "Chechen separatists" were not Chechens at all, but Arabs.
And yet, tastefully tiptoeing round the subject, The New York Times couldn't
bring itself to use the words Muslim or Islamist, for fear presumably of
offending multicultural sensibilities.

In the 1990s, while the world's leaders slept – or in Bill Clinton's
case slept around – thousands of volunteers from across the globe passed through
terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and were then dispatched to Indonesia,
Kosovo, Sudan . . . and Chechnya. Wealthy Saudis – including members of the
royal family – invested millions in setting up mosques and madrassas in what
were traditionally spheres of a more accommodationist Islam, from the Balkans to
South Asia, and successfully radicalised a generation of young Muslim men. It's
the jihadist component – not the asymmetrical one, not the secessionist one –
that accounts for the mound of undersized corpses, for the scale of the
depravity. . . .

I wonder if, as they killed those schoolchildren, they chanted "Allahu
Akbar!" – as they did when they hacked the head of Nick Berg, and killed those
12 Nepalese workers, and blew up those Israeli diners in the Passover massacre.
. . .

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.

You can't turn Saudi Arabia and Yemen into New Hampshire or Sweden
(according to taste), but if you could transform them into Singapore or Papua
New Guinea or Belize or just about anything else you'd be making an immense
improvement. It's a long shot, but, unlike Putin's plan to bomb them Islamists
into submission or Chirac's reflexive inclination to buy them off, Bush is at
least tackling the "root cause".

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.

If Bush really does beat Kerry convincingly, it will be because Bush at least has a plan, even if it is imperfect; Kerry does not have one. That's really surprising, but it seems to be true.


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