Yesterday’s New York Times editorial on the Opinion > Deadly Stalemate in Chechnya” href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/04/opinion/04sat1.html”>Deadly Stalemate in Chechnya could not be more predictable in its call for a negotiated settlement of the Chechen conflagration, but it is still worth commenting on because its argument is at the heart of the debate about terrorism. The Times is urging Russian President Putin to find some Chechen leaders who are not “Moscow-backed” puppets with whom to negotiate and settle this thing once and for all.
Well, here we are again, back at the Politics of Pirandello — “It is So!, If You Think So.” Just whom do the editors of the Times recommend? Actually I would like to believe the paper, but it almost seems they are yearning nostalgically for another era, perhaps one that never was. Considering that the attacks at the school were long planned and staged by Arab fighters from many countries, we must assume that national identity is only a part (maybe just a small part) of the question here. This is no longer just about Chechen rights, I’m afraid to say, if it ever was. It’s about jihad — a word that infrequently graces the editorial page of The New York Times because a very grim reality would have to be faced that might necessitate the newspaper reevaluating its policy.
Meanwhile, in the same editorial, the Times, believe it or not, is bemoaning Putin’s lack of “nuance.” [That’s what the Russians need.–ed. John Kerry..] Sure, the Russians ought to… and we ought to… look for more sane voices in Chechen and Islamic communities, but to think that that alone will even begin to solve things in the present world is not only absurd, it’s a cruel joke on those children who got shot in the back.
UPDATE: Debka has disturbing report on the Beslan school horrors in which their sources indentify a “decentralization” in Al Qaeda operations, which would make negotiation of any sort absolutely impossible. I doubt the NYT editors read Debka, probably too propagandistic for them. I used to be suspicious myself. Then I weighted them fifty-fifty. Now, on terror issues, I would prefer Debka to the NYT any time.