World View: Memories of the Slaughter at Beslan, North Ossetia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Memories of the slaughter at Beslan, North Ossetia
  • Ukraine's sale of weapons to Syria's rebels backfires
  • Troubled Afghanistan counter-insurgency projects are costly and ineffective

Memories of the slaughter at Beslan, North Ossetia

A man touches a wall with pictures of children who died in the Beslan massacre (Reuters)
A man touches a wall with pictures of children who died in the Beslan massacre (Reuters)

One of the saddest stories I covered in the last decade was the terrorist attack on September 1, 2004, on a school in Beslan, a small city in the Russian province of North Ossetia. The attack took place over three days. Islamist terrorists took control of a large elementary school, and all the children were held as hostages in the gymnasium. Finally, Russian security forces stormed the building, and what was left afterwards were the charred remains of 341 bodies, half of them children. The perpetrator was terrorist leader Shamil Basayev.

Almost as shocking as the attack itself, was what happened afterwards. (From 2005: "Russia infuriated over ABC 'Nightline' interview of Shamil Basayev")

In July, 2005, ABC News Nightline, willing to exploit violence for politics, aired a lengthy interview with Shamil Basayev himself, allowing him to explain on worldwide television why the Beslan massacre was justified:

"It’s not the children [of Beslan] who are responsible. Responsibility is with the whole Russian nation... If the war doesn’t come to each of them individually, it will never stop in Chechnya.” Asked if a Beslan-type attack could occur again, Basayev said: “Of course ... As long as the genocide of the Chechen nation continues, as long as this mess continues, anything can happen."

Russia was infuriated by this interview. An envoy of Vladimir Putin said that America "is encouraging terrorism by employing 'dual standards.'" President Alu Alkhanov of Chechnya said:

"I was startled by how they allowed this person, who openly claimed responsibility for dozens of terrorist attacks in Russia, which claimed hundreds of human lives, to voice new threats against Russia and the Russian people. My opinion is that those who gave the floor to Basayev, have not fully realized what threat this person and other terrorists like him pose to the whole world. We will never succeed in the fight against terrorism if such an approach is adopted toward terrorists. Virtually no peaceful place remains on the planet. The world should present a united front against terrorism and refrain from dividing terrorists into good ones and bad ones."

Shamil Basayev died a year later in a huge explosion. There was evidence that he died in the midst of preparing for a new terrorist attack to coincide with the upcoming G-8 summit in St. Petersburg. Vladimir Putin said, "For the bandits, this is just retribution for our children in Beslan ... and for all the terrorist attacks they carried out in Moscow and other regions of Russia."

Ukraine's sale of weapons to Syria's rebels backfires

In spite of opposition by Vladimir Putin's Russia, Ukraine has been shipping arms to Syrian opposition forces through Arab proxies, including Saudi Arabian proxies. Weapons crates found in the Syrian city of aleppo show the arms, including AK-47 semi-automatic rifles, were shipped from Ukraine. However, Syrian rebels have been confusing Ukraine with Russia, and assume that Ukraine is supplying weapons to the Bashar al-Assad regime as well as to the rebels. Therefore, Syrian rebels have retaliated by kidnapping Ukrainian and Russian journalists and threatening to attack both countries’ diplomatic missions in Syria. Jamestown

Troubled Afghanistan counter-insurgency projects are costly and ineffective

A study by McClatchy shows that numerous humanitarian projects in Afghanistan are extremely costly, and either ineffective or counterproductive. In the rush to rebuild Afghanistan, the U.S. government has charged ahead with ever-expanding development programs despite questions about their impact, cost and value to America's multi-billion-dollar campaign to shore up the pro-Western Afghan president and prevent Taliban insurgents from seizing control. Many of these projects were begun in the Bush administration, and were failures at the time. The Obama administration said the failures were caused because the Bush administration was distracted by the Iraq war. So the Obama administration revamped the programs, and tripled the costs from $1 billion to $3 billion. But now the failures are continuing, despite the increased costs. McClatchy


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