Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Punish France, Ignore Germany, Reward Russia

The sickening calls coming out of all of Europe's stinking corners, for Russia to 'open a dialogue' or other calls for appeasement, were put down masterfully by Vladimir Putin today:

"No-one has a moral right to tell us to talk to child killers," Mr Putin was quoted as saying by Britain's Guardian and Independent newspapers.

He added: "Why don't you meet Osama Bin Laden, invite him to Brussels or to the White House and engage in talks, ask him what he wants and give it to him so he leaves you in peace?

"You find it possible to set some limitations in your dealings with these bastards, so why should we talk to people who are child-killers?"
He's absolutely right. What seems to be happening at a rapid pace throughout Europe, is a realization by the Left that when public opinion starts to accept that Al Qaeda has active ties to the resistance in Chechnya, the end is near for their liberal, appeasement-driven approach to the War on Islamist Terror. But as the story is developing, and more details will come out of Moscow and Beslan, this will prove to be unholdable.

First, turn over to Winds Of Change's Thoughts on Beslan, an excellent backgrounder by Dan Darling on Chechnya's bloody conflict, the key players and the links to 'international terrorism' (that's Al Qaeda to you and me). He correctly points out that people claiming that these are separatist attacks, payback for Moscow's (repressive, hence 'understandable') presence in the Caucasus, do not have a clue:
The problem with Chechnya, more or less, is that the Russians tried to surrender after their failure to bring the rebellious republic back into the fold in the first Chechen war and it didn't work. The country was taken over by a mixture of international terrorist organizations, Wahhabi theocrats, drug cartels, and other criminal organizations that subsided more or less on generous funding from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

This funding helped the Wahhabis to finalize control over the institutional infrastructure of the de facto independent state and led for calls for the imposition of sha'riah even though most Chechens (and Caucasus Muslims in general) are Sufis. The al-Qaeda presence in Chechnya was headed up by bin Laden's protege Amir ibn al-Khattab, a Saudi national who had previously assisted Islamic fighters in the Tajik Civil War and the Armenia-Azerbaijan War over Nagorno-Karabakh.
There's a lot more, all pointing towards a 'hijacking' of a separatist movement by Islamist terrorism.

The fear of Europe's intellectual elites, press corps and politicians is simple. Six months after Al Qaeda's attack in Madrid, Bin Laden's repeated threats on accepting his truce, now echoed and amplified by the Iraqi terrorists holding two French reporters, are showing the French that their 'good' relations with all the thugs in the Middle East doesn't amount to zip when it comes to negotiating with terrorists.

They are afraid because all this talk about addressing 'root causes' in the face of butchers, rapists and death-loving Jihadists shows there is no plan, no alternative but to fight it, wherever you find it. They must take a stand, when they don't want to take a stand, or can't, because it means accepting they were wrong, because the world is more black and white than they imagined, because there is Good and there is Evil.

In the words of Condoleezza Rice: Punish France, Ignore Germany and Reward Russia (I mistakenly misquoted Rice, see update below for explanation). France has been punished and will find itself more and more isolated, perhaps only counting on the Spanish to back their strategy of appeasement. Germany has been isolated and is punishing itself, almost certainly ousting Schroeder's government in 2006 but perhaps sooner leaving him a lame duck in his own country where the states making up Germany are all falling to the opposition. Which leaves Russia's Reward.

The massacre at Beslan offers a unique, though grief-stricken, opportunity to the US to extend a hand to Russia, and take her on board in World War IV. The US should look beyond -for now- the anti-democratic forces at play in Russian domestic politics, and show she truly is her friend in this darkest hour. A mini summit, preferably in the next weeks, between President Bush and President Putin on Islamist Terrorism could be seen as the two finally coming together to combat their common enemy. The US could push for an end to Russia's support for Iran's nuclear program, and in return jointly develop and share the weapons systems it needs to reform Russia's outdated forces into units ready to fight asymetrically. The US should also firmly defend Russia's actions in places like Chechnya, while walking the fine line not to come across as supporters of state repression. This perhaps, more than anything else, is what Putin wants.

The US can work intensively with them on a common approach, nudging Russia gently towards democratic reform in its republics, demonstrating them that a hard fight against terrorism in absence of democracy only feeds the beast. The US could perhaps bring Georgia and Russia together, where a young president is looking to join NATO and fighting Al Qaeda bases used to attack Chechnya on his soil, while Russia distrusts their pro-Western agenda.

If we accept Pakistan, a dictatorship, as a key ally in the War on Islamist Terror, and along the way feel confident in moving them towards a decent form of self representation, then surely Russia should have an immensely higher status?

UPDATE 07/08/2004: I was pointed out by several readers, here and at The Command Post, that the quote attributed to Condi Rice was in fact: "Punish France, Ignore Germany, Reward Russia", rather the "Ignore France and Punish Germany" I initially used (since corrected in title and text). I don't think it changed the essence of the post itself though, which focuses on Russia.