Thursday, February 27, 2003

Criticism of Russia Terror Response Unwarranted
By Alexander Marriott
UNLV Rebel Yell: November 7, 2002

The Russian government put an end to the terrorist siege inside a Moscow theatre last Saturday by pumping in what is now believed to have been a anesthesia-type gas that knocked out a large number of the people inside and resulted in the deaths of at least 116 hostages. Immediately after the situation was over, criticism from most of Europe, the Middle East, and the United Nations began to mount at the feet of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Is this criticism warranted, though, given the situation Putin was dealing with? Chechen terrorists had stormed a Russian theatre and held some 850 people hostage under the threat of killing all of them unless Putin agreed to end the war in Chechnya. If Putin had agreed to these terms, how long would it have been before some other bunch of terrorists held another group of people hostage in Russia demanding foreign policy change, money, or weapons? Putin offered the terrorists their lives if they released the hostages and surrendered, a lenient position considering what he was dealing with. They refused, though, threatening to begin killing people if he didn't immediately comply with the previous demands.

At this point, Putin had a couple of options:

• He could order commandos to storm the theatre which would carry the risk of a big shootout in a small space, potentially putting hundreds at risk of being caught in the crossfire;

• He could pump in gas to knock everyone out and attempt to administer the antidote to the hostages to prevent losing them; or

• He could wait to the deadline to see if they were bluffing and risk having everyone in the theatre killed after the Chechens had already shot one person to show their resolve.

With these three scenarios, Putin obviously chose the one he thought would save the most people and neutralize the terrorists.

Why, then, is there all this criticism of Putin for having to deal with a situation the terrorists had created? This is because the people criticizing him see the terrorists as his own creation for his handling of the war in the breakaway Russian province of Chechnya. Is this really the case, though? Both sides in this ferocious war have committed atrocities already, even before Putin was in power; and if the Soviet Union were still in place, would this war even be happening?

In our revolution, Patriots didn't go to Britain or Canada and perpetrate terrorist acts against Britain; we fought their army and allies until they gave up, partly because a good portion of the British populace was sympathetic to the American cause. Would they have been sympathetic if we had terrorists in Britain or Canada killing civilians? There are far better ways to fight revolutions than the way the Chechens have decided to fight, and it can only be attributed to the fundamentalist, irrational religious beliefs they hold that causes them to see even visiting tourists as the enemy.

Instead of milling around and criticizing the victim country in this tragedy for saving over 700 people, these other agencies and governments should be blaming the terrorists because the blood of 116 people killed by the gas is clearly on their hands, not Putin's.

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