Politics make for strange bedfellows but become stranger due to changing times. I was lucky enough to grow up during the climax period of the Cold War. One of the lessons learned from that bygone era was that the U.S. and the USSR were identical in many respects with the only difference being the type of government and financial systems used. They were commies, we weren’t – simple as that.
We’re still two different countries, but the similarities exist; and last week brought that fact to light in the form of terrorism’s ugly specter.
It is a sad day when any government has to resort to measures that will cost innocent lives of a few to save the many. It is a sadder day when terrorist scum use the banner of religion, ethnicity or nationalism to hurt or kill innocent victims, such as was done by the Chechen “rebels” last week.
Granted, the USSR held vicious control over Chechnya throughout its seven-decade communist period, and it is true that the Chechens want an independent state. But we’ve all seen the cycle of harm and lawlessness that breakaway republics can spiral into.
How dare we, as one-time victims of foreign terrorism, criticize the methods applied by Russian anti-terrorist units to put an end to that siege at the theater where the terrorists were holding their hostages? Someone even went as far as to criticize the fact that the anti-terrorist squad that made the rescue raid shot and killed all 50 terrorists. So what? Save the taxpayers time, trouble and money in a trial and subsequent punishment. The message being sent here is simple: You mess with us, we mess with you tenfold. I don’t see a problem with that strategy.
When the al-Qaeda slime rammed loaded passenger planes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, the specter of terrorism with high body counts became a harsh reality. Another harsh reality was that of people claiming that the U.S. response and efforts to capture the responsible terrorists was nothing but a war against Islam. This is far from the truth. It was never about Islam; it was about extremism.
Remember the Oklahoma City bombing? High body count, two terrorists; both white, both Christian; both captured and tried; one executed, the other serving a life sentence. These two slimeballs were hunted, captured, tried, sentenced and punished, just like any other terrorist should be.
And now Russia faces the same charges based on the mostly-successful rescue mission performed last week. It was a tactically novel approach to fixing a potential no-win situation.
Of course, the media only seems to focus on the negative aspects of that event since bad news and controversy sell more than success stories do. It is the media’s way of getting even for being kept out of the loop when it comes to sensitive matters that may result in the life or death of those who protect the innocents or those innocents to be protected.
The clearest message sent by the Russian authorities in this case is a very simple, yet significant, one. Negotiations with terrorists do not exist and, if you choose to live up to your terrorist mission, Russia will live up to hers, which is to rescue as many innocents as possible and eradicate the terrorist elements at any cost.
My heartfelt condolences go out to those who perished in the rescue attempt, as well as their families and friends. My jubilation goes to those who survived the ordeal to tell us about it.
My congratulations go out to the Russian anti-terrorist units for a job well done when their backs were against the wall. It took smarts and resolve to get the job done. And finally, my scorn goes to those who take up the cause of terrorism. “Burn in hell” is my only message to them.
So with Sept. 11, 2001 in mind, understand that the Russian people are in a similar situation as the U.S., and our support for them is as crucial as their support for us was on that dreadful day.
Yes, we’re different in political structure, but we’re the same when it comes to getting a problem fixed. They saw the opportunity and they took the shot with deadly aim. Well done.
Henry Sarria is a long time Isla Vista resident.