Beyond description

ESWN has amassed an amazing collection of photographs of the storming of the school held by Chechnya rebels in the village of Beslan. (Warning: these pictures are raw and graphic.)

I try to get into the minds of the rebels shooting children in the back, but I can’t. And looking at the photos and at the history of the conflict, centuries old, like the Middle East, I wonder if we should all just give up and acknowledge that terrorism is here forever, a part of the fabric of our world that we can only try to contain as best we can. I don’t pretend to have any answers, but it’s pretty obvious that what we’re doing now isn’t making much difference….

The Discussion: 10 Comments

I do not think we need to give up, it is just obvious that a change of tactics is necessary. In Chechnya, Russian troops committed brutalities that make Abu Ghraib look almost innocent in comparison. Hopefully, Putin will decide to pursue a policy of engagement with the more moderate rebel leaders like Maskhadov, instead of repeating the mantra “We will not negotiate with terrorists.” Ignoring terrorism will not make it go away. Marginalizing radical elements will.

September 4, 2004 @ 7:41 pm | Comment

I agree with you completely. Unfortunately, on our current course it seems the US is creating more and more radicalized terrorists, the exact opposite of your prescription. The Iraqis really did greet us with flowers at first. Look where we are today.

September 4, 2004 @ 8:03 pm | Comment

I haven’t been able to get much unbias news about this, could somebody clear something up for me.

Were the people killed because they were caught in the cross fire or because the militants machine gunned fleeing children? and was this preempted by the Russias storming the building or refusing to negitiate.

Is this an incident of heavy handed tactics by the Russians or of genuie cold blooded murder by militants.

I’d heard that a bomb went of because it was badly fixed to a wall or something and that this set of the other bombs, and that this was what prompted the shooting. what are other news services saying?

September 4, 2004 @ 10:03 pm | Comment

What on earth is engagement going to do? About time to consider a mighty prompt disengagement.

September 4, 2004 @ 10:08 pm | Comment

ACB, who could be unbiased? Where is the detached observer? Not in any of the photos linked.

It’s always smart to be sceptical, but events like this have no neutral observers.

September 4, 2004 @ 10:22 pm | Comment

We can’t just disengage from the world. In all instances, the only way to deal with terrorism has been negotiation, not extermination. Of course, that raises all sorts of emotional alarms: “Negotiate with the people who destroyed the WTC? Are you crazy?” But I hate to say it, right now people in the US government are working behind the scenes to negotiate with these guys. Just as with the IRA and the PLO and with North Korea, the negotiating route will be the only one that will really make a difference.

September 5, 2004 @ 11:08 am | Comment

ACB, each side tells a different story. Some hostages say the Russians started it all by storming the school. We won’t know for weeks. Either way, the rebels have shown just how sick they are and I don’t think they won any new friends.

September 5, 2004 @ 11:10 am | Comment

some comments about the photos:

consider the circumstances:these are photos of opportunities coming from multiple photographers at the such, they have not been stage-managed for maximum political effects.

originally,the post consisted solely of photos without words.i didn’t want any interpretation.i thought i should focus on the human pain and suffering.

the post now contains text.i have tried to use only reports on the people.i don’t want to deal with Putin or (worst yet) Bush on this matter.again, i focused on the pain and suffering that went with the photos.

on the subject of the Chechens, i can’t say i know much.i read this slate article:
and i was struck by this passage:

As an ethnic group, Chechens had been mistreated by the Soviet regime, and the Russian empire before it, perhaps worse than anyone else. In 1944, the Chechens, along with several other ethnic groups, were accused of having collaborated with the Nazis and deported to Siberia. Their collective guilt established by the order of Stalin, on Feb. 23, 1944, more than half a million Chechens were forcibly herded onto cattle cars and sent to Western Siberia. As many as half died en route, and uncounted others perished in the harsh Siberian winter; the exiles were literally dumped in the open snowy fields and left to fend for themselves. The Chechens were not allowed to return home until 1976. So by the time of perestroika, virtually all Chechen adults were people born in Siberian exile. No wonder they didn’t want to live side by side with the Russians, who had mangled their lives.

what do the Chechen rebels want?a massive disproporationate response by the russians aimed at Chechens will suit them just fine.this is how they can generate a pool of more black widows to carry out more attacks.

September 5, 2004 @ 1:37 pm | Comment

Thanks for the wonderful information, ESWN. A lot of us look at Chechnya in a vacuum with no context at all. It is not just a matter of “good vs. evil.” There’s a lot of history behind it, just as there is behind Al Qaeda. That history cannot justify these acts, but the better we understand it the better chance we have of actually changing things.

September 5, 2004 @ 2:11 pm | Comment

richard, yours is the most sensible statement on this terrible tragedy yet.

September 5, 2004 @ 5:22 pm | Comment

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