Archive for March, 2010

31
Mar
10

Chechen Leader Claims Responsibility for Moscow Bombings

The BBC is reporting that a Chechen rebel leader, Doku Umarov (also known as Dokka Abu Usman), has claimed responsibility for this week’s bombings in downtown Moscow.

In his video statement, reordered on March 29, 2010, Dokka Abu Usman said that the attack had been a retaliation and a retribution for the massacre by Russian invaders of the poorest residents of Chechnya and Ingushetia, who were picking wild garlic in the Arshty village on February 11, 2010, to feed their families.

He stressed that the killing of the most poor part of local residents had been deliberate, because the criminal FSB special forces finished off innocent civilians with knives, and then mocked on their corpses.

Video can be found here. According to Kavkazcenter, Usman said that the bombings in Moscow were

legitimate act[s] of retaliation for continued killings of civilians in the Caucasus. *

To me, at least, this is indicative not necessarily of “Islamic fundamentalist terrorism” so much as what is known in the North Caucasus as ‘adat, or customary law. One of the main features of ‘adat is one that should be familiar to anyone who has seen a few Sicilian mafia films: the blood feud, a seemingly endless series of reprisal killings committed in revenge for some original crime, each of which must in turn be avenged.

In any case, whether the Moscow bombings were in fact motivated by some sort of ‘adat justification writ large, simple religious/ethnic separatism, Islamic terrorism, or some combination of the three only matters insomuch that each may require a different policy response in the future; regardless of what actually motivated them, the bombings were ghastly and unconscionable.

Of course, I may be reading too much into this. Or if I am correct in detecting a hint of the ‘adat mentality, it may only be a smokescreen intended to garner support from other North Caucasians. Nevertheless, if the tradition of blood feuding has in some way shaped the decision to commit terrorist acts against Russia, recognition of that fact may help to inform Russia’s response.

Russian security organs are notorious for casting the net rather wide in terms of who they consider “linked” to terrorists, and their tactics make anything that happened at Guantanamo Bay pale in comparison. While it is clear that a strong response is warranted, if special care is taken to neutralize those people who were actually involved in the bombings without “disappearing” dozens of innocent Ingush, Chechens, and Dagestanis, perhaps the chances of such an attack being repeated once again can be lessened.

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In any case, Usman’s admission of responsibility hasn’t stopped the head of Russia’s National Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, from openly speculating that Georgia’s “unpredictable” president, Mikehil Saakashvili may have been behind the attacks.

Unfortunately, Max Hastings could not be reached for comment, though sources indicate that he has attributed Patrushev’s statement to the recent health care vote in the United States.

* Note: Kavkazcenter.com isn’t exactly the most unbiased source on the Internet, in case you were wondering.

29
Mar
10

Bizarre Statement of the Day

In an otherwise mostly-useless article about the debate over the Marine base on Okinawa that’s existed since 1945 (shorter version: some people don’t mind it, others do; the debate rages on), I ran across this head-scratcher of a sentence:

The United States has been here ever since, but a peace deal signed 50 years ago was not an equal one, agreed in the aftermath of war, surrender, then occupation.

The first question that comes to mind, naturally, is :”Since when are peace treaties signed in the aftermath of a war that was started when the eventual loser of said war mounted an unprovoked sneak attack against the eventual victor as well as virtually all of its neighbors and numerous other countries into the deal supposed to be ‘equal’?”

The second question one might ask after reading that sentence might be: “In the aftermath of said war, didn’t the United States pump obscene amounts of money into the Japanese economy and, moreover, been a reliable ally and strong trading partner for the last sixty years or so?”

In light of all that, the final question should be: “Who writes this stuff?”

28
Mar
10

Suicide Bombing in Moscow [updated 03/29]

The BBC is reporting that at least 37 38 people have been killed in what are thought to have been suicide bombings in Moscow. No one has yet claimed responsibility, but it seems likely that the attacks are related to ongoing problems in the Caucasus, namely in Chechnya and Dagestan (and to a lesser extent, Ingushetia). The weapons were filled with wood chips and iron scraps, to maximize casualties. According to Russian authorities, the bombers were North Caucasian females.

[update]

Another source indicates that there may have been some warning that an attack was imminent:

Viktor Linnik, Editor-in-Chief of Slovo newspaper, told RT that “this is obviously a planned action.”

“Probably there have been leaks on terror acts being planned in Moscow because there have been very strong armed patrols in Moscow for the past five or six days,” he said.

“What has happened is a shock, but not a cause for panic. We have seen it before,” Linnik added.

Cell phones in the affected part of Moscow have reportedly been jammed due to fears that the blasts were set off remotely using mobile phones. The failure of cell phones in the area seems to have been caused by nothing more than an overload in the system.

[update 03/29]

Dmitri Medvedev and Vladimir Putin have both threatened to “destroy” the people responsible for the attacks. If the past is any measure of the future, we can expect a lot of innocent people in Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Dagestan to die or disappear in mass roundups of suspected terrorists.

A translation of Medvedev’s speech is here.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has expressed his condolences jointly with the President of Lithuania.

28
Mar
10

Foodies on the Dole

Via Instapundit, a story (long overdue?) about students who are increasingly encouraged to enroll in food stamps. Food stamps and other forms of social welfare aren’t necessarily a bad thing — some families honestly live below or near the poverty line and food stamps help them cover the cost of one of life’s truly basic necessities; I grew up around many such people and saw how they lived first hand. Unfortunately, like almost all government handouts (or, if you prefer a nicer euphemism, “entitlement programs” [though the word “entitlement” certain bears with it a certain amount of baggage]), food stamps have long since become abused by people who, to put it mildly, do not need them and should not have them.

Continue reading ‘Foodies on the Dole’

28
Mar
10

Federal Court Upholds D.C. Handgun Laws

A federal judge on Friday upheld the District of Columbia’s handgun regulations, finding them within Constitutional bounds and declaring public safety to be a compelling governmental interest. From the Washington Post:

“U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina found that the new regulations were crafted to make the streets safer and aren’t so restrictive that they violate the Second Amendment guarantee of a person’s right to own a gun for self-defense.” Continue reading ‘Federal Court Upholds D.C. Handgun Laws’

27
Mar
10

Do-Gooders Doing Well (For Themselves)

Via Samizdata, an interesting tidbit:

[L]awyers are also good at asking questions, and as far as what’s happening in Haiti is concerned, there is no shortage of those. Like, for example, what is happening to millions of extra dollars pouring into a country that already had a staggering 10,000 NGOs before the earthquake. For an island with a population of fewer than 10 million, there is at least one NGO per 1,000 people.

Now, I don’t have numbers on how much money various NGOs in Haiti actually get. My guess is that it isn’t inconsiderable. So if before the big disaster a couple of months ago there was at least one NGO per one thousand people, where did all that not-inconsiderable money sent to NGOs in Haiti after the earthquake go? To actually helping the people of Haiti? To strengthening infrastructure? Or did it go to the wallets of self-proclaimed do-gooders who feel eternally justified in cumulatively gobbling up tens of millions of dollars per year for their no doubt staggeringly impressive “administrative” talents while poorly- or unpaid volunteers are the ones actually out in the sun building the hospitals and digging the ditches?

And what of the dupes who sent their money to one of those NGOs charged with helping that roughly 1000 Haitians? Was their money wisely spent? How come Haiti, even before the earthquake was one of the most wretched places on earth despite the fact that for every thousand Haitians, an entire non-governmental organization was on the ground ready to provide for each person’s very existence? Perhaps more importantly, what of those Haitians whose entire existence is predicated on the presence of one or more of those NGOs? What does it mean when a state is too feeble to exist without massive and sustained subsidies from another state? Can it really be said to be independent? Can this state of affairs instead effectively be critiqued as representing a particularly insidious form of neo-liberalism, one dressed in the culturally (in)sensitive garb of Euro(American)-centric neo-colonialism? If so, what does that mean for the whole “humanitarian aid” project? Or, if not merely the manifestation of a new form of colonialism, is such aid in the final analysis merely the obligation of the rich to the poor? If that is the case, how do such clear power imbalances effectively translate into a situation that can not be described as “neo-colonialism”?

Well, never mind that! Who the hell are white engineers to suggest more earthquake-resistant construction techniques, anyways?

Racists. Prolly didn’t support the majority of the country that elected Obama on health care reform, either.

26
Mar
10

Scare Tactics

Well, health care “reform” passed, and it doesn’t seem to be wildly popular. Mid-term elections are looming, and the Republicans may very well stand to gain some seats in Congress. So what does a “progressive” do? Put on a big show about how crazy and dangerous and racist everyone who opposes health care reform is and hope that’s enough to make indepenents think twice about voting Republican, of course. The trouble is, it’s all pretty thin gruel. A couple of people phone in a few threats or some guy in a crowd of 30,000+ says something racist to a member of Congress and suddenly everyone is getting the vapors. Grand narratives are woven, linking “simmering right-wing hatred,” Republican Congressmen, and a backlash against the Civil Rights Movement that’s been waiting for a black man to have a desk in the Oval Office to finally go critical.

The thing is, it’s all a sort of epistemological kabuki theatre.

Continue reading ‘Scare Tactics’