September 07, 2004

Good to see you, fly safely

The absence of any reports with any outbound flights from Pearson Friday night suggests long-term Flitters correspondent-pilot and Gulf War vet Cecil T. survived our mutual encounter with each other, and me with a pint glass, earlier that same day.

I haven't missed the old discussion forum much recently, to tell the truth (haven't been around to miss it) but I will say it was good to finally meet one of its more distinguished denizens. Of all the encounters with people I've "met over the Internet," this was definitely the most pleasant. Bar's open next time you're in Toronto, C.T. Maybe you'll even be able to drink next time.

Posted by BruceR at 09:58 AM

Good Chechnya summary

About everything useful I had to say about Chechnya was poured into this excellent analysis piece, so I won't bother.

I will say this, though... if you are willing to unquestioningly accept Russian claims, on the basis of zero impartial evidence so far, that "Arabs" were involved in the school massacre, or even worse, that you are able to then make the logic leap that therefore "Fallujah delende (sic) est," congratulations, you are now officially part of the problem.

For the record, here's pretty much the total evidence so far that there was Arab involvement in the recent school massacre:

"Officials have said nine or 10 of the dead extremists were Arabs, but the evidence provided by an unnamed "regional security official" to the Itar-Tass news agency leaves room for skepticism.

"'Experts are almost positive, judging by the type and size of their faces and other signs, that the nine Arabs come from countries near the equatorial part of the Arabian peninsula, such as Sudan and Yemen, the official is quoted as saying."

Sudan? In Arabia? Who knew?

Not that Al Qaeda involvement in these recent horrible events isn't possible, of course (and it's a certainty that the majority of suicide terrorists were Muslim). But foreign terrorist support certainly wasn't essential to this enterprise... Chechen leader Basayev has been engaged in acts as horrific as this for at least a decade now. This summary probably gets it about right (although I think it falls down in failing to mention the serious questions about the Putin faction's possible role in enabling some of the extremists behind the 1999 "invasion," in order to solidify their own power).

This is the ineluctable logic of suicide attacks. There's always going to be the human response of wanting to strike back, but you can't, because the certifiably villainous are all dead. Somewhat fortunately, advocates of more collective punishment for all Chechens or Muslims generally will run up against the reality that collective punishment has been ongoing, by forces far more ruthless than we, against Chechnya for decades. You just can't hurt them any worse than Stalin did, and that failed. So the present-day governments, regardless of their political orientation, will therefore ultimately reject this in favour of some more targeted approach. Which makes it imperative we understand where the political forces see those targets as residing, and how their various advocates are going to twist reality now in order to move the targeting hairs over in a pleasing direction... such as this professor's leavening of blame for Chechnya on "Iran (!) and Saudi Arabia", for instance. See also Iraq, invasion and conquest of.

Posted by BruceR at 09:52 AM