Editor, Daily Nexus,
Henry Sarria’s recent opinion article (“Russia’s Tough Take on Terror Isn’t So Different From Our Own,” Daily Nexus, Nov. 6, 2002) brought up an interesting point: it is hypocritical of American media to be critical of Russia’s handling of their most recent terrorist attack but simultaneously support America’s war on terror. The willingness to kill civilians in a zeal to eliminate terrorists looks rather monstrous when viewed objectively. The media is absolutely right in criticizing Russia for this behavior, but they don’t go far enough. Russian soldiers regularly detain, torture, and kill arbitrarily chosen Chechen civilians, according to Human Rights Watch. There are mysterious disappearances regularly documented in Chechnya. It isn’t bad luck that made Russia the target of such a massive terrorist attack – this case is directly traceable to the systematic repression of a group of people. As long as they continue doing so, they will never have peace.
Come to think of it, I challenge you to name a country that has pursued revenge in lieu of justice and not been burned by their policy. Taking a hard line against the Chechen rebels has brought Russia four years of war, which has only escalated. Israel recently adopted the same policy and reaped an unprecedented frequency of terrorist attacks. Britain, on the other hand, resolved their issues with Northern Ireland. How did they do it? Not by invading, certainly. They didn’t demonize their opponents and ignore the need for any change in policy. Britain did not kill 1,000-1,300 civilians (a moderate estimate of Afghan casualties from the Project on Defense Alternatives) and thus make enemies for life of friends and family members of those who were murdered. Historical evidence indicates that the United States’ aggressive retaliation to terrorism will only exacerbate the problem; only a fool would conclude that a similar approach to a similar problem will yield entirely opposite results.