Mark Steyn on Beslan:
I remember a couple of days after September 11 writing in some column or other that weepy candlelight vigils were a cop-out: the issue wasn’t whether you were sad about the dead people but whether you wanted to do something about it. Three years on, that’s still the difference….
When your asymmetrical warfare strategy depends on gunning down schoolchildren, you’re getting way more asymmetrical than you need to be. The reality is that the IRA and ETA and the ANC and any number of secessionist and nationalist movements all the way back to the American revolutionaries could have seized schoolhouses and shot all the children.
But they didn’t. Because, if they had, there would have been widespread revulsion within the perpetrators’ own communities. To put it at its most tactful, that doesn’t seem to be an issue here.
So the particular character of this “insurgency” does not derive from the requirements of “asymmetrical warfare” but from . . . well, let’s see, what was the word missing from those three analyses of the Beslan massacre? Here’s a clue: half the dead “Chechen separatists” were not Chechens at all, but Arabs. And yet, tastefully tiptoeing round the subject, The New York Times couldn’t bring itself to use the words Muslim or Islamist, for fear presumably of offending multicultural sensibilities….
What happened in one Russian schoolhouse is an abomination that has to be defeated, not merely regretted. But the only guys with any kind of plan are the Bush administration. Last Thursday, the President committed himself yet again to wholesale reform of the Muslim world. This is a dysfunctional region that exports its toxins, to Beslan, Bali and beyond, and is wealthy enough to be able to continue doing so.
You can’t turn Saudi Arabia and Yemen into New Hampshire or Sweden (according to taste), but if you could transform them into Singapore or Papua New Guinea or Belize or just about anything else you’d be making an immense improvement. It’s a long shot, but, unlike Putin’s plan to bomb them Islamists into submission or Chirac’s reflexive inclination to buy them off, Bush is at least tackling the “root cause”.
If you’ve got a better idea, let’s hear it. Right now, his is the only plan on the table. The ideology and rationale that drove the child-killers in Beslan is the same as that motivating cells in Rome and Manchester and Seattle and Sydney. In this war, you can’t hold the line against the next depravity.