Wednesday, September 08, 2004

William Pfaff: Appeasement is the Answer

Here are some key quotes from his piece in today's Internation Herald Tribune, "The pattern is global, but the causes are local":

"Putin's terrorism problem is specific to him and to Russia. America's terrorism problem is specific to the United States, its past, its foreign relationships and its policies. Israel's is a matter of Israel's relationship with the Palestinians."

Let's skip the first sentence for now. On to America's problems. We've had a terrorism "problem" for a generation, through Democratic and Republican administrations, during the Cold War and after. We fled Lebanon and Somalia and that didn't help. The PLO never had a better friend than Clinton and that didn't help. We saved the sacred land of Saudi Arabia from an atheist Baathist thug, and that didn't help. We give billions to Egypt and Jordon. Turkey is a close NATO ally. No help.

Israel's "problem" is with the Palestinians. Except for its problem with Syria. And Hizbullah. And Iran. And Saudi Arabia. So what's the point again. On to Russia's "specific" problem.

"Today there certainly are international reinforcements fighting for the Chechens, and there are increasing numbers of radical Islamic teachers and clerics in the Caucasus. Like Iraq, the region has become a battlefront in the war of Islamic radicals against the infidels."

So much for specificity. The real question that the first paragraph raises is this: why are all these so-called local problems between Muslims and non-Muslims? Why aren't the Tibetians setting off bombs in Beijing? Where are the Jain seperatists in India? Why aren't the Quebecois killing Canadian school kids in Ontario? But all over the globe it is Muslim "militants" killing non-Muslims who dare to rule over them with man-made laws. Nigeria, Sudan, Indonesia, Thailand, Central Asia, Spain. Muslims even act violently against minorities who accept Muslim rule. Look at the Copts in Egypt or Jews in Turkey. The pattern is global and the causes may involve local issues but clearly all these conflicts share numerous characteristics, the chief of these being that they involve Muslims fighting non-Muslims.

Pfaff seems to always blame the non-Muslims: Russians, Americans, Israelis. Certainly all three of these nations could have managed conflicts better in the past. All three made mistakes. America and Russia have a number of internal minorities and have foreign policies that impact regions all over the globe. It seems to be Muslims, not Hawaiians or Siberians or radical Catholics that are murdering civilains. If the US and Russia are so opressive and heavy-handed, so inept at relating to other cultures, why aren't others launching attacks. Do the Muslims in Chechnya and Palestine and Iran bear no blame? If Islam has been "hijacked" why is this particulat religion so easy to hijack while others are not? Pfaff doesn't have time for these questions. He wants to get to the heart of the piece.

"If the terrorist auction has a tangible value, such as an independent Chechnya (if that is what the Beslan terrorists wanted: nobody has yet said what they wanted, assuming that they wanted anything tangible), there is no solution except to give it to them."

Well, that's an answer. There are many answers. Stalin had a different answer - forcibly deport the Chechen people to the frozen tundra of outer Siberia, send many to prison camps and outright kill some more. I don't like that answer either. But it's an answer. Don't kid yourself William, there is always a military solution.

I, on the other hand, have a solution that combines both options. Give the Chechens their shitty little country and seal the border with barbed wire, trenches and mine fields. Shoot anything that crosses it. The Chechens could impose Sharia and a barter economy in their slice of the Caucasus mountains. How long would they last? And once they are their own recognized independent country there would be no reason for any attacks. In fact any attack coming from Chechnya would be an act of war by internation law. Then Russia could crush them utterly. This solution is a win-win. Or a lose-lose depending on your point of view.

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