« Damn Those Lying Historians | Main | No Comments »

Not Good...

... busy as I've been with the convention, I haven't been following the story of the Russian kids held hostage that's now reached its awful conclusion. Worse, even, than the reality of the crime is the knowledge that things will get worse. The situation, clearly, can only be resolved by Russian concessions on the underlying political issue in Chechnya. At the same time, in the wake of this sort of outrage there will not only be no mood for concessions, but an amply justified fear that such concessions would only encourage further attacks and a further escalation of demands. I don't see any way out for Russian policymakers nor any particularly good options for US policymakers. Partisanship and complaints about Bush's handling of counterterrorism aside, this business is a reminder not only of the horrors out there, but also that terrorism is a genuinely difficult problem -- I think we've been doing many of the wrong things lately, but no one should claim it's obvious what the right way to proceed is.

September 3, 2004 | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8345160fd69e200d83456a79a69e2

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Not Good...:

» you can't solve this one on the back of an envelope from Hunters Orange
In a rational world, the statement that "solving the terrorism problem ain't easy" would be considered banal. Unfortunately, we are ruled by people who actually seem to believe that ridding the world of insurgency (because that is what we are [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 4, 2004 2:26:12 AM

» Russia's 9/11 from ~Neophyte Pundit~
The horrifying images coming from Beslan, Russia are enogugh to tear at your heart and brings tears to my eyes. With two young school age children I can not fathom the sheer terror in these children's and their parent's minds.... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 4, 2004 11:45:33 AM

» On the limits of "Soft Power" from Welcome to Castle Argghhh! The Home Of Two Of Jonah's Military Guys.
For the Matthew Yglesias' of the world: Not Good... [NB: all emphasis mine, not Matthew's] ... busy as I've been with the convention, I haven't been following the story of the Russian kids held hostage that's now reached its awful... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 4, 2004 1:20:47 PM

» http://www.americandigest.org/sidelines/archives/002089.php from SideLines
MELTDOWN MONITOR 2: The look and feel of little Matthew Yglesias has, like the candidate he loves, been getting soft and flabby in the last day. First we have :matthew: Not Good... "The situation, clearly, can only be resolved by Russian concessions on... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 4, 2004 3:28:44 PM

» Yglesias, Reynolds, and Chechnya from The 80/20 Club
Update: Oops! I checked my hunch with a lawyer friend who said first that a good cross-examining lawyer probably wouldn't count on getting away with a "did you or did you not say... No further questions your honor" on a conditional statement ... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 5, 2004 3:58:54 AM

» Stirring the Pot from Winds of Change.NET
So I caught up with the blogs last night, after seeing our friend's short movie (which was better on a big screen!), and see that I've triggered a small squall. Let's discuss. On Friday, after... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 5, 2004 9:35:04 AM

» And now Beslan from WhatsAPundit
A pundit warns against tripping over root causes [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 5, 2004 2:16:44 PM

» The games begin from the fourth rail
With the conventions over, Labor Day passing and less than sixty days left to go before Election Day, the election season has officially begun. President Bush appears to have picked up a significant post convention bounce (in double digits) according... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 6, 2004 1:32:16 AM

» The Beslan Tragedy and Putin's Speech from THE BELGRAVIA DISPATCH
Putin's speech reacting to the senseless carnage of Beslan indicates that the tragedy, like 9/11 in the U.S., represents something of a pivot point in Russian history. To be sure, Russians are far less historically innocent than Americans given their... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 6, 2004 2:54:14 PM

» Chechnya from Catallarchy
Apropos of the recent bollocks on the subject of Chechnya, I figure it would be a good thing to link to a timeline of the Chechnya conflict, and point out: 1991 - General Dudayev seizes control of Chechnya, declares independence. Yeltsin says "WTF?... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 6, 2004 4:14:29 PM

» Beslan, Chechnya & the False Dilemma from Winds of Change.NET
Address the root causes, or refuse to negotiate at all and fight? I think it's a false dilemma. [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 10, 2004 11:07:05 AM

» Beslan, Chechnya & the False Dilemma from Winds of Change.NET
Address the root causes, or refuse to negotiate at all and fight? I think it's a false dilemma. [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 11, 2004 8:27:41 PM

» Been A While from Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Rational, unsentimental reactions are hard to pull off: when Matthew Yglesias tried, people jumped down his throat, and he finally closed off comments. [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 13, 2004 11:58:54 PM

» Revealing statements: What the Left is now saying about national security from Alpaca Burger Forum
It's not as much Know Thine Enemy as Know These Fools. From around the Web, in light of the "perfect storm" of recent news: The surprising Time poll; the apparently intoxicating effect Bush's speech had on Kerry; and the ugly... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 28, 2006 5:13:16 AM

Comments

Matthew is advocating capitulation to the terrorists.

That is the one thing Russia should NOT do because it would guarantee more terrorist acts.

Posted by: Kevin Gregory | Sep 3, 2004 10:06:28 PM

Pardon me, but I'm not advocating capitulation to the terrorists. As I wrote: "in the wake of this sort of outrage there will not only be no mood for concessions, but an amply justified fear that such concessions would only encourage further attacks and a further escalation of demands."

I'm not advocating anything, that's why I wrote that "I don't see any way out for Russian policymakers nor any particularly good options for US policymakers . . . no one should claim it's obvious what the right way to proceed is."

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias | Sep 3, 2004 10:11:39 PM

That's actually the most repulsive comment I've seen from Kevin Gregory in his short time posting here. But I have yet to see one that a rational person should ever reply to.
And may the dead victims rest in peace.

Posted by: John Isbell | Sep 3, 2004 10:20:23 PM

Why not let Chechnya go? I'm sure it's the principle of the thing. I know almost nothing about Chechnya but that it's probably a dirt poor craphole with little to recommend it. Does it have oil or something? They let Georgia and Uzbekistan and all those other places go. Why not?

Genuinely curious - not a rhetorical question.

Posted by: some guy | Sep 3, 2004 10:37:28 PM

Just posted about this myself. Hugely important, and affecting story. Russia As Empire seems to be the ongoing policy of the Putin government -- but it's becoming apparent, to everyone now, that it's not working. Matt's right -- no one can claim to know an obvious solution to the terrorism problem, no matter where it rears its unbelievable head.

Posted by: Amy | Sep 3, 2004 10:38:51 PM

"Why not let Chechnya go?"

Discussion of that in the comments at Crooked Timber, including the fact that Chechnya is surrounded by Muslim ethnic areas.

Kevin Drum just expressed disappointment at Kerry's emphasis on domestic issues, saying he has to counter Bush on national security or lose. Yup. This is going to scare Americans, the fact that it isn't an entirely rational or justified fear (I read your Tapped piece, MY) doesn't particularly matter.

And I don't know how to stop this kind of thing. I don't really accept that it is merely regional or related to specific grievances. The French are discovering that recently. On the other hand, neither is terrorism ubiquitous.

Two quick ideas: Since the damage is limited, can we learn to live with a certain level of this stuff? Israel survives, does it prosper?

2) Just the start of a rough metaphor that is not in itself meant to be taken seriously. Guiliani's "zero tolerance" policy. Are there small steps we can take that can lessen the big events? Don't suppose so.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Sep 3, 2004 11:05:07 PM

Gee matt, don't read your own work?

"The situation, clearly, can only be resolved by Russian concessions on the underlying political issue in Chechnya."

That's not advocating concessions? Shit, my english teachers ripped me off.

Posted by: Harvard@Cal | Sep 3, 2004 11:19:00 PM

Pardon me, but I'm not advocating capitulation to the terrorists.


It reads, to me, as though that's EXACTLY what you're advocating. Your only lament is that Russians will be in "no mood for concessions." Seems to me that the only way to read your post is that Russians should simply "get in the right mood" to make concessions to the terrorists. No?

Posted by: Al | Sep 3, 2004 11:21:40 PM

"Why not let Chechnya go?"

Why didn't Lincoln let the South go?

Was it worth 200,000 battle deaths, for hot, often swampy agricultural land peopled mostly by illiterate serfs? Lincoln was a warmonger, I tells ya!

Peace & love,

Posted by: Xavier | Sep 3, 2004 11:22:31 PM

"Why not let Chechnya go?"

Russia did let Chechnya go quite a while ago. Problem is, if you let Chechnya go, Chechnya comes back to you. Terror, kidnappings, slavery and drug trafficking forced Russia back to Chechnya.

Nothing is as simple as it's taught in liberal school of appeasement.


Posted by: P. | Sep 3, 2004 11:26:20 PM

Al and Kevin--

Do you think the Chechnya situation can be resolved without any political concessions ever being made by Russia? Why or why not?

Posted by: JakeV | Sep 3, 2004 11:28:44 PM

Why not let Chechnya go?

There are many natural barriers between Andalusia and Grozny.

But mental barriers between the two? Not in the minds of those who would do something like this.

Why would anyone want to encourage Al Qaeda's belief that terrorism works? The price for surrender is blood, where these people are concerned.

And that price is too high to willingly pay.

Posted by: SamAm | Sep 3, 2004 11:31:37 PM

"Why not let Chechnya go?"

If you show weakness to the monsters by giving in to blackmail, other monsters will arise and make their own demands. Simple market economics. If barbarism gets results, barbarians will arise.

The only way to defeat such barbarism is to show the world that it does not pay.

Posted by: Scott Free | Sep 3, 2004 11:36:50 PM

Actually, it seems to me that Chechnya is a case study of the results of "taking the battle to the terrorists" with extreme prejudice. Was there some subsection of Grozny that Russia failed to level, thus convincing the terrorists that Russia was weak? Were there some Chechnyan leaders that Russia didn't assassinate quite forcefully enough?

To the surprise of no one, it turns out that stopping terrorism is more complicated than simply "taking the battle to the terrorists." Who knew?

Posted by: Constantine | Sep 3, 2004 11:38:15 PM

I'm not advocating anything, that's why I wrote that I don't see any way out for Russian policymakers nor any particularly good options for US policymakers . . . no one should claim it's obvious what the right way to proceed is."..."

I believe this is precisely what Zell Miller meant by the term "a bowl of mush".

Posted by: Zebedee | Sep 3, 2004 11:43:35 PM

The third volume of Aleksander Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago has an excellent summary of the efforts made by both the Tsarist and Communist regimes to break down the Chechens (see especially pg 401-405 of the paperback edition). Solzhenitsyn says this of the Chechens, even when, at the behest of Joe Stalin, their entire nation was sent into Siberian exile: "Everyone was afraid of them."

If Joe Stalin, the toughest motherfucker of the xxth Century couldn't conquer these folks, it's going to take a hell of a lot more than a Sensitive War on an "Exaggerated" War on Terror to resolve the issue. No, on second thought, let's vote for Kerry and Wait until our kids are held hostage (JFK promises a swift response!)

Posted by: Caius Marcius | Sep 3, 2004 11:43:53 PM

Matthew wrote:

"The situation, clearly, can only be resolved by Russian concessions on the underlying political issue in Chechnya."

The underlying political issue is that mass murdereres want to be in charge of their own state, as they are in Iran. The only consessions they will accept is the surrender of the territory - followed by the surrender of neighboring territory.

The Jews should make consessions by marching into the sea? and all of Europe should make consessions by converting to Wahabbi Islam? Thay want that, too. What will you do when people attack American elementary schools, and demand that the midwest be ceeded to indian tribes, the southwest be ceeded to Mexico, and the south east ceeded to France?

You are a fool. Worse, you are a suicidal fool who get others killed with you.

If you reward something, you will get more of it. Anyone who has dealt with a taxpayer, a child or a dog knows that. Punish it and you get less.

There is a simple way to deal with these people. The same way that Khan did. Kill them. If they keep doing it, kill more of them.

There are other ways, but that one has the weight of history behind it. Once they are all dead, they will cause no more trouble.

Now, I will sit by the phone and wait. And pray. My sister in law teaches there.

Posted by: svolich | Sep 3, 2004 11:44:08 PM

Ok. Let us for the sake of argument, says this is not a case of transnational terrorism, but an insurgent group with grievances using terroristic tactics. Can anyone give me examples where negotiating and compromising in such positions increased terrorism?

I give an example of Northern Ireland where negotiation helped.

I mention the Oslo Accords and Clinton at Camp David as cases that are much argued about.

Any others? Sincere request.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Sep 3, 2004 11:46:43 PM

It's undeniable that Putin himself was at least partly responsible for exacerbating the situation in Chechnya in 1999, when (as Yeltsin's newly-appointed PM) he ordered Russian troops in Dagestan to head back into Chechnya after the Moscow bombings. (The role of Putin's FSB in those bombings has never been satisfactorily explained; the guilt of Chechen separatists has never been properly established.)

Putin used his strong-man tactics as the main plank of his electoral platform to succeed Yeltsin, and has continued to do so: it's the notion that Mother Russia needs a strong, disciplinarian father in control.

So, the civilian deaths in Chechnya go unreported while the terrorist attacks gain publicity. Putin has also successfully latched the Chechen crisis onto Bush's amorphous 'War on Terror', which helps hide the fact that it's a separatist conflict.

At some point, Chechnya may become a second Afghanistan, but this time one within Russia's borders; that may not happen, though, because the deaths are civilian rather than military. Right now, it's a fucking mess. It's going nowhere.

The approach has to be akin to that in Northern Ireland or the Basque region, in the sense that Putin needs to drive a wedge between the political opposition to Moscow and the military opposition. That's not 'making concessions to terrorists'; that's saying 'there can be a political process if and only if you disavow separatist militancy.' That's to say, a legitimisation of political opposition that goes hand in hand with the absolute delegitimisation (in terms of discourse) of terrorism.

Of course, Chechnya is far more brutal a conflict than either of those two examples. And Putin's past actions make it nigh-on impossible for him to begin that process, given that he's the Big Tough Daddy.

Holding schoolkids hostage is a fucking atrocity. It's hideous. But so are death squads and indiscriminate artillery bombardments in Chechnya. This isn't 'moral relativism'; it's a recognition that the secret, dirty war in Chechnya isn't to be excused just because George Bush 'looked into Putin's soul.'

And if you think that's a 'bowl of mush', then I really do fear for your ethical maturity.

Posted by: ahem | Sep 3, 2004 11:47:09 PM

This has little to do with Chechnyan aspirations. This is an AL Qaeda jihadist operation, pure and simple.

Posted by: Adam Herman | Sep 3, 2004 11:55:09 PM

The situation, clearly, can only be resolved by Russian concessions on the underlying political issue in Chechnya.

I think we've been doing many of the wrong things lately, but no one should claim it's obvious what the right way to proceed is.

Kid, you should spend your time trying to get a refund from Harvard.

Posted by: ajf | Sep 3, 2004 11:59:16 PM

In the real world, there is a simple solution to Terrorism that works every time..... KILL THEM!

Give them NO MERCY! EVER! Any thing else is wimpy Bull Shit.

Remember, these are Non-Human scum.

Posted by: leaddog2 | Sep 4, 2004 12:04:29 AM

Geezus, Matthews is more upset with Zell Miller than he is with the Chechnya rebels.

He won't get in a friggin' elevator with Miller but he'll consider concessions with Islamic terrorists.

And liberals can't understand why some people consider them weak on security matters?

It's mostly an unfair charge just as the charge that conservatives are callous towards the poor. But in both cases, there's more substance there than either side wishes to acknowledge.

SMG

Posted by: SteveMG | Sep 4, 2004 12:05:44 AM

I don't see any way out for Russian policymakers nor any particularly good options for US policymakers

The way out is simple. You keep killing those murderers until they stop or there are none left. It's the exact same solution that would solve our own problems if despicable leftists like Matthew Yglesias cared at all about the lives of their countrymen instead of being obsessed with partisan political gain.

Posted by: FLC | Sep 4, 2004 12:06:16 AM

Russia's broad goal should be to drive some small wedge between Chechen nationalists and Islamic (especially residing non-Chechen) fundamentalists. Basically, that means a lot of carrot and stick work, but as Matt pointed out (much to our local jingoes' chagrin), Putin has few carrots he can offer at this point. Of course, this is exactly the political position al Qaeda wants Putin in, I'm sure they'd like nothing more than to see more costly and innefective Russian forays into the mountains. (It seems Al and Kevin would prefer this as well)

America's goal should be to highlight (mostly to the Islamic World) the parasitical way al Qaeda preys on local independence movements. Obviously, these guys sabotage Muslim freedom, and I don't think it would be a superhuman effort to point that out. A good start might be for us to stop obscuring this fact.

Posted by: SAO | Sep 4, 2004 12:11:21 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.