The enemy is willing to die

Bits and pieces from the NYT’s piece about Putin’s address and comments

“Sept. 4 – In a rare address to his nation, coming at a time of grave crisis, President Vladimir V. Putin said Saturday that the school siege in the southern city of Beslan was an attack on all of Russia and called for the mobilization of society to resist what he called “a total and full-scale war” to splinter the country.

Mr. Putin spoke as the death toll from the violent end of the hostage crisis at Middle School No. 1 in Beslan rose to 330; half of the dead were children. Officials warned that the number of dead would rise further in the city, not far from Chechnya, as workers searched the school’s charred wreckage and as more victims succumbed to their wounds in hospitals.

“This is challenge to all of Russia, to all our people,” Mr. Putin said. “This is an attack against all of us.”

[Russian Deputy Prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky said Sunday that according to the latest information, 32 terrorists had been involved in the hostage-taking, and the bodies of 30 of them had been found, the Interfax news agency said, as reported by the Associated Press. Including the militants, at least 380 people died, according to the A.P.]

Mr. Putin sought to answer the seething anger that many here have expressed after a series of terrorist acts that in 10 wrenching days have killed more than 500 people. The worst was in Beslan, where heavily armed insurgents, some wearing explosives, seized the school on Wednesday, corralled 1,200 schoolchildren, parents and teachers into its gymnasium and threatened to kill them.”

Why do they refer to them as militants or insurgents. Terrorists is an apt description as is murderers. When you go after children you are not a “freedom fighter”

“We have to admit that we failed to recognize the complexity and danger of the processes going on in our country and the world as a whole,” said Mr. Putin, who spoke for 10 minutes, standing alone in front of Russia’s flag and a wood-paneled backdrop. “At any rate, we failed to react to them adequately. We demonstrated our weakness, and the weak are beaten.”

Mr. Putin did not accept personal responsibility for Russia’s failings, but he echoed a feeling of helplessness and fear that has shaken the country, demanding, as many here have, that security and law-enforcement agencies work more efficiently to counter the threat of terrorism. He also suggested that Russian society itself needed to develop to succeed in the fight.

“Events in other countries prove that terrorists meet the most effective rebuff where they confront not only the power of the state, but also an organized and united civil society,” he said.

He did not elaborate, but many Russians have been citing the experiences of the United States, Israel and Spain as more effective in protecting their citizens.”

Very strong words from the leader of a country.

“Although he made a broad appeal for national unity in the face of terror, he did not mention the war in Chechnya, a struggle linked to all of the attacks that have roiled the country. That suggested he would not consider changing the Kremlin’s strategy there, despite years of war and atrocities that have left the Chechen people embittered.”

The current plan is not working. They are not rolling over and giving up. They are prepared to die and happy to do so, provided that they take others with them. Time to rethink your strategy Vlad.

“Terrorists think that they are stronger, that they can intimidate us, paralyze our will, decompose our society,” Mr. Putin said Saturday night. “It seems that we have a choice: to resist or to cave in and agree with their claims, to give up and allow them to destroy and to take apart Russia, in the hope that eventually they will leave us alone.”

Noting his oath of office to protect the nation, he added, “I am convinced that in fact there is no choice.”

And now will we see Russia “enter” foreign countries to punish those who sent non-Chechen fighters. It will be very interesing to see what happens.

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  1. Jack's Shack September 5, 2004 at 3:52 pm

    Again, I mostly agree with you. The Russians have been hard and heavy-handed in their response. To some extent they can take responsibility for some of this.

    If you beat your “enemy” hard enough he/she will either lay down and die or they will develop their own calluses and respond.

    At some point you reach a time in which they do not care and will act accordingly.

  2. Anonymous September 5, 2004 at 3:25 pm

    It’s a contradiction in terminis that putin elaborates his war with chechnya to the unsec council as the ‘war against worldwide terrorism’ not mentioning the russian massacres in grozny produced the seed of this terrorism.

    It becomes apparent that the somewhat moderate militant maschadov has been replaced by basajev, an extremely violent militant with no illusions. He knows the russians will never retreat out of chechnya, therefore he designs his terrorist plans around maximum destruction. His aim is public fear and repulsion in the hope of shaping a movement that will gain enough public suport to change russian policy in chechnya.

    But the russians have their own agenda. They are not reluctant to kill and mutilate chechen civilians in their pursuit of militants. Or more precisely, to keep the country occupied and let it be terrorized by russian loyalists of chechyan origin such as kadyrov and aschlanov.


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