Thursday, September 09, 2004

Russian Warfare

Juan Hervada posted a comment on my previous post regarding the massacre in Beslan that I think deserves serious thought.

He writes:
We shouldn’t underestimate the effect of the Russian decision, I think. “Pre-emptive strike” is a one of those terms that can be used to ornate a difficult press conference or to jump start a new strategy, but I think that General Yuri Baluevsky’s announces that something is going to be done about what the Russians considered their worst handicap in the war against the terrorists: asymetry.
That's true. It the "new" Fourth Generation Warfare tactics that the enemy has adopted in order to bleed us to death slowly, knowing that they cannot match us at all militarily. This was, in fact, echoed today by Osama bin Laden's right hand man, Ayman al-Zawahiri:
"The defeat of America in Iraq and Afghanistan has become just a matter of time, with God's help," he said.

"Americans in both countries are between two fires. If they carry on, they will bleed to death -- and if they pull out, they lose everything."
I will say that the Russian's, had they invaded Iraq instead of us, would have crushed this insurgency months ago. Why? Because, the way the Russian's fight, they would've leveled Fallujah, Ramadi, Sadr City. But we have a certain image to live up to around the world and have principles that won't allow us to fight wars like that, unless there's a nuclear attack here, then all bets are off.
Right now in Europe, not even a week after the Beslan massacre, we are already seeing some sorts of swarming spin campaign –and quite successful at that- to transfer the responsibility of the horror from the terrorists to Putin. Forgotten is that the murderers preventing water and food from being distributed to the hostages, the people killed in cold blood just to show that they meant business. The culprit is the one who didn’t bow and meet the demands of the murderers…
There's not much here to add, it sums up my feelings perfectly.
While every effort must be done to respect Human Rights, that can only be a second priority, after winning the war or perhaps I should say after not losing the war. Fisical elimination of the terrorist planners and hitmen, much in the way Israel has been acting against Hamas and I Jihad, is a measure bound to reduce their capacity of carrying out this kind of horrors. It also takes advantage of the big victory of the civilized world agaisnt them: their lack of a state to recure a rear-guard. I'm far from a fan of Putin, but I think we must support him on this one.
My worries though are that Russia will respond in such an indriscriminate way that it serves to radicalize the region even more. After all, that's what Osama tried to get us to do after 9/11. It failed and rationality prevailed, but I'm not sure that it will prevail in this case. Phrases like "human rights are a second priority" to defeating Islamism, scare me to no limit, if only because I've thought the same thing after each one of their atrocious acts. And I believe one day, the Islamists will do something so horrible (biological attack that kills tens of thousands) that we will resort to a genocidal response.

I too think we should support him, maybe it'll be our support and advice that will convince him not to launch a Red Army-style massive assault.