Saturday, September 04, 2004

Terrorism in Russia

If anyone knows a good prayer for the Russian people and civil authorities, please send it my way. I'm floundering, caught up short by the horror of their loss at the school in Beslan, and uncertain of anything to say on their behalf other than "Lord, have mercy." Maybe it's enough.

Putin now says that Russia's past response to terrorism had been insufficient. I think that some other nations wanted to believe that Muslim terrorism was America's problem. I think that they had the idea that they would appease these factions within their borders and they would escape their own 9/11. I don't know if they will still blame us somehow, as if the powder keg never would have exploded without the spark of our war in Iraq and the fact that our own heightened level of security makes these attacks less possible in our country.

If there was any such illusion in Russia, it's gone now. I am terribly sorry for their overwhelming loss, currently listed at 342 dead, mostly women and children. If Russia now stands ready to join us in repelling a violent and merciless enemy, I would consider it a good thing to have come out of this horror.


4 Comments:

Blogger Grace said...

And of course, the story behind the story turns out to be more complicated than I thought. According to a story on www.worldmag.com, the terrorism in Russia may not be linked to al Qaeda after all. Putin may be inventing a connection just so he can pretend that a domestic problem is an international one.

According to the story, "Tying al-Qaeda operatives to Chechen extremists has become smart politics for Mr. Putin since 9/11, allowing him to paint all Chechen separatists with the same terrorist brush. The result: The United States views Russia as a player in the war on terror, and Mr. Putin doesn't have to negotiate with Chechens who want political independence."

Not that I want to start turning my blog into a window to the unending and infernal puzzlement of international politics -- especially when there are so many better avenues for that. But I think it does behoove us -- Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike -- to try to stay informed so that we can discern the truth. The mainstream media, in this country at least, is becoming less and less useful in this. They seem so heavily politicized to me that if they reported that the sky fell, I wouldn't buy an umbrella until I had checked it out on www.is-the-sky-falling.com. (Don't bother typing it in; I made it up.)

The internet provides information at our fingertips that would have been unthinkable in my parents' generation. (Remember when it was still called the information superhighway?) Though this gift comes with a price and brings out a dark side of humanity, as we've all seen, it is still an incredible gift that God has entrusted us with, and an enormous responsibility. We can't take in all the information available because it's simply not possible any more. We can't take in only the information from people that promise to think like us, because we'll miss out. We have to sift, to use critical faculties, to stay flexible where it doesn't interfere with matters of faith, and to proceed with common sense and caution.


Here is the link. I'm sorry I couldn't just link it to the text -- unless I'm missing something, I can't do that on a post:
http://www.worldmag.com/newsite/content/subscriber/displayarticle.cfm?id=9617

September 6, 2004 at 9:33 AM  
Blogger Fr. John McCuen said...

On my first trip alone in Russia (January, 1994; before I became Orthodox), traveling from Moscow to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, I was "adopted" by a man and his wife making the same trip, when we landed instead in Magadan because a winter storm had closed the airport to which we were traveling. We spent three days together beofer completing our journey.

Volodya was a Captain (First Rank)in the Russian Navy, commanding a submarine. (He never said what kind; but I already knew that the Kamchatka Peninsula was the home port for ballistic missile submarines.) At one point, late in the evening of the second day (and well into his never-ending supply of vodka), I asked him, jokingly, if he would have to fill out a contact report for our time together. He replied that we -- that is, the Russians and the Americans -- would need each other, would need to stand together in the years to come. Given where we were at the time, I asked him, "Kitai?" ("China?") He shook his head to respond in the negative; and then he said, "the Moslems..."

I've recalled that conversation many, many times since 9-11. I won't be surprised if their response to Beslan is ferocious...

September 8, 2004 at 10:19 AM  
Blogger Grace said...

How amazingly prescient! I understand that there were riots among the people to get the government to *do something.*

Who can blame them? With everything they've been through, to sit still now and let terrorists pick them off in planes and schools while the government wags a finger? Who could stand that?

September 9, 2004 at 2:43 PM  
Blogger Grace said...

The Tuesday Wall Street Journal had an editorial about the cycle of violence in Chechnya, and included a graph about the problem of terrorism in Russia that I hadn't thought of:
"Indiscriminate terror is a tactic against which Russian society, given its high level of corruption, has little defense. In 1995, [terrorist leader Shamil] Basaev was able to seize a hospital in Budyennovsk and take nearly 2,000 persons hostage because he paid off traffic policemen at 24 checkpoints not to inspect his trucks that were filled with 150 Chechen fighters."

September 10, 2004 at 11:20 AM  

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