Sunday, September 05, 2004

Putin Says Russia Faces Full 'War' to Divide Nation

The New York Times > International > Europe > The President > Putin Says Russia Faces Full 'War' to Divide Nation:
"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. On Friday, large explosions caused a panic and Russian troops charged the building as children began to escape, but hundreds died in the melee. "

The question is posed over and over again. “Why do they hate us? How can they kill children?” There is a terrible answer in this psalm.

Psalm 136
By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and we wept when we remembered Sion.
Upon the willows in the midst thereof did we hang our instruments.
For there, they that had taken us captive asked us for words of song.
And they that had led us away asked us for a hymn, saying:
Sing us one of the songs of Sion.
How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten.
Let my tongue cleave to my throat, if I remember thee not,
If I set not Jerusalem above all other, as at the heads of my joy.
Remember, O Lord, the sons of Edom, in the day of Jerusalem,
Who said, Lay waste to her, even to the foundations thereof.
O daughter of Babylon, thou wretched one,
blessed shall he be who shall reward thee wherewith thou hast rewarded us.
Blessed shall he be who shall seize and dash thine infants against the rock.

The other question that doesn't get asked is “How can you fire a tank round filled with over a thousand flechettes at women and children?” I'm sure there is an equally terrible answer in another psalm, but I'm afraid to look. I am not afraid to pray.

Over One Hundred Thousand chechens have been killed by russian troops. There has been systematic rape, looting, and summary execution of boys as young as eleven. Worse, the world doesn't seem to care enough to even pretend to look at what's going on.

What does it take to hate this much?
The psalm tells us that occupation, captivity and humiliation are enough. Hopelessness is enough. The sense that your own life isn't alued at all is enough.

In the meantime four hundred plus palestinians have died, versus sixteen israelis. If we don't value all their lives, we'll be seeing a lot more death. On both sides.

A Global War: Many Fronts, Little Unity
Russia, already rocked by two crashed planes and a suicide bombing, ended the armed takeover of a school by Chechen fighters with the loss of 200 lives or more. "War has been declared on us, where the enemy is unseen and there is no front," said Defense Minister Sergei B. Ivanov. That sounded familiar.

Months of calm in Israel were shattered by a bus bombing that killed 16 people; Hamas, the militant Palestinian group, claimed responsibility. At the same time, Hamas, well disposed toward France because of its opposition to the American venture in Iraq, joined a chorus of Arab voices calling for the release of two French journalists kidnapped in Iraq.

The cold war, at least from the distance of history, was straightforward enough: the free world against Communism. Aware of the force, and familiarity, of simple ideas, Mr. Bush has placed America once again in the throes of "a struggle of historic proportions." As he described it last week, that struggle is being waged by the "greatest force for good on Earth," against terrorists bent on America's destruction. Responding to "a calling from beyond the stars," America will, he insisted, liberate and democratize the Middle East.

Live from Madison Square Garden, that vision had a ring to it. It was couched in the religious idiom of the Republican Party base but calibrated to stir broader subliminal feelings: America as the vehicle of liberty against Nazism, Communism and now jihadism. At the very least it has put Senator Kerry, the windsurfing Democratic candidate, on the defensive. But as Hamas's double message backing France and bombing Israel suggests, neat geostrategic equations tend to unravel pretty fast these days.

Terror is not an enemy, but a method, used in different ways by different movements. The war on terror is a useful label. Most Americans know what it means and what a victory in that war would be: keeping their families safe from a reprise, perhaps nuclearized, of Al Qaeda's murderous assault on Manhattan and Washington.

But it is also a label that has been seized on by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel and, in various shades, by leaders from Italy to Pakistan to set their own agendas. It has become the reference for our age. But what does it mean?
con·cept: Putin Says Russia Faces Full 'War' to Divide Nation