|A New Plan Needed|
They weren't quite unbloodied before, but Russia, after a long period of
dormancy on Chechen issues, may have thought the war had moved to the West. No such luck for
some 700-odd Moscow theater-goers who found the show didn't go on when the
theater cast was upstaged by 40 Muslim terrorists who took them
hostage. Apparently they want Russia to agree to Chechen Independence - which
they declared in 1991.
Traditionally prisoners are fed only on bread and water, but stories coming out
of the former Communist stronghold state that the hostages are only being fed
chocolate and water. Maybe this is a symbol of Western decadence, or
maybe that was all that was left in the Candy Bar after the rebels helped
themselves to the popcorn.
They are also keeping the Western hostages - not just the Russian ones. This
is a pretty clear indication that they think their war is not only with Russia,
but also with the West. They have only released Georgians - which could
explain why the Russians have been talking about attacking Georgia.
So far President Vladimir (hard-man) Putin hasn't done much
except to rehash his cold-war rhetoric by blaming 'foreign agents' for the
attack. The nationality of the foreign agents may have changed but his victim status apparently
hasn't. He saw that this worked for Bush after September-11 and
presumably hoped to emulate his success. Of course in America's case it was actually
Putin is not known for his compassion or sensitivity. After the Kursk disaster
which killed over 100 submariners, he didn't even interrupt his holiday. He
came to power on a ticket of security - particularly from Chechen rebels, and it
seems likely that he will choose to be the hard-man in this case. His problem
is that he can't let Chechnya secede or many others will follow. After the
collapse of the Russian Empire a decade ago, the battered ego of collectivist
Russia will not survive an implosion of Russia itself. Chechnya will stay
Russian, whether the Russian people want it to or not.
One of the interesting thing is that many of the hostage-takers are
women. Rumors are that most of them are Chechen women who have been raped by Russian servicemen, and
that traditionally, Muslim women raped in war either die or become whores. So in this case
they expect to die. This may
make them hard for Russian authorities to negotiate with.
The part about Russian servicemen committing rape is pretty believable -
their levels of corruption, ignorance and
lack of discipline surpass that of China's PLA. For Russian
Servicemen, telling transparent lies is a way to demonstrate their
dominance - at least the PLA have the decency to to try to argue their case
Of course rape is an effective weapon of terror, but few rape victims
feel endeared to their rapists. It is not an effective mechanism for dissuading
populations from seceding from the rapists.
The Russians seem to be reaping what they have sown.