The first step in any 12 step program is admitting you've got a problem:
"We have to admit we showed no understanding of the danger of processes occurring in our own country and the world at large. We failed to react appropriately to them and, instead, displayed weakness," President Vladimir Putin said in a somber televised address that followed a week of devastating terrorist attacks, including the loss of two domestic passenger aircraft and a Moscow subway blast, at the hands of three separate female suicide bombers. "And the weak are always beaten," he added.In the past Russia has attempted to isolate the issue of terrorism. Vladimir Putin appears to be taking the first steps towards internationalising the Chechen issue. As the mess in Chechnya is mostly the product failed policies out of of Russian there will be plenty of lumps taken by Putin in the process.
The bigger picture is that the highly visible links between Chechen terrorism and radical Islamic terrorism focus attention on the Middle East's chief export (aside from oil) - Islamic jihad.
There is a line connecting this weekend's mass murder in a school in North Ossetia, the ongoing genocide in Sudan, the bomb blasts on Madrid trains, the bombing of Istanbul synagogues and the suicide bombings in Be'er Sheva," Ha'aretz journalist Ze'ev Schiff wrote in Sunday's paper. "That line is Islamic - for the most part Arab - terrorism and it endangers world peace."Mark Steyn notes that for all the predictable condemnations and expressions of regret, there's only one man with a plan to end catastrophes like this weeks school massacre in Russia.
In the post- 9/11 world, which still views Israel as a greater threat to global security than the concentration camps of North Korea or nuclear ambitions of Iran, the news that Arab jihadists made up at least 10 of the two dozen so-called Chechen freedom fighters that killed some 350 children, parents and teachers in a southern Russian school on Friday has caused something of an earthquake.
In the Egyptian capital of Cairo a prominent Arab writer and television executive admitted on Saturday that Muslims worldwide are the main perpetrators of terrorism, and it is high term the Arab world acknowledge it. "Our terrorist sons are an end-product of our corrupted culture," Abdulrahman al-Rashed, general manager of Al-Arabiya television wrote in his daily column in the pan-Arab pan-Arab Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. The article ran under the headline, "The Painful Truth: All the World Terrorists are Muslims!"
What happened in one Russian schoolhouse is an abomination that has to be defeated, not merely regretted. But the only guys with any kind of plan are the Bush administration. Last Thursday, the President committed himself yet again to wholesale reform of the Muslim world. This is a dysfunctional region that exports its toxins, to Beslan, Bali and beyond, and is wealthy enough to be able to continue doing so.Thursday's speech by Bush reminded people who might have grown weary of the war on terror, that the battle is not nearly over. On the most important issue in this election it's still a one man show; with only the Bush campaign articulating a plan. Since the Kerry campaign's answer seems to revolve solely around the fact that Kerry is a patriot and a Vietnam veteran, it's hardly surprising that his campaign appears to be in free fall.
You can't turn Saudi Arabia and Yemen into New Hampshire or Sweden (according to taste), but if you could transform them into Singapore or Papua New Guinea or Belize or just about anything else you'd be making an immense improvement. It's a long shot, but, unlike Putin's plan to bomb them Islamists into submission or Chirac's reflexive inclination to buy them off, Bush is at least tackling the "root cause".
If you've got a better idea, let's hear it. Right now, his is the only plan on the table. The ideology and rationale that drove the child-killers in Beslan is the same as that motivating cells in Rome and Manchester and Seattle and Sydney. In this war, you can't hold the line against the next depravity.