It now apears that the number of victims of the Moscow theatre siege has risen to 117. It also appears that all the victims were killed by the gas that was used to overcome their terrorist captors.
Unarguably that is a terrible price to pay but I am forced to agree with Dale Amon that the Russian authorities had no other plausible options open to them. Faced with not being able to win them all, they settled for not losing them all. Decisions do not come any harder than that.
Negotiations, however framed, were a non-starter. To even commence them would be, and be seen as, a capitulation; a reward to the terrorists for their audacity and enterprise and a guarantee that every public venue in the civilised world would, henceforth, be eyed hungrily for the prospect of a repeat performance. Negotiations don’t always save lives.
Like it or not, the Russians have now established the template for dealing with these situations and, regardless of the whining in the mainstream media, it’s a template that will be followed, albeit improved upon. It is also a message to every terrorist nutjob in the world that all they can expect in return for their ‘heroic’ efforts is a miserable, pointless death. I wonder how many other planned terrorist ‘operations’ of this nature are, even now, being hastily reconsidered? The much-feared Russian proclivity for brazen ruthlessness has, for once, worked both in their favour and ours.
They have a saying in Russia: if you’re going to die, then die with music. It means go out with a bang, go down fighting, make sure your death has meaning. Whilst it will not constitute even a meagre crumb of comfort for the bereaved, I do not believe their loved ones died in vain. By their tragic deaths, many, many others might avoid an equally grisly fate.
I cannot bring myself to glorify an event which led to the deaths of so many people who went out to enjoy a musical evening. But I think it appropriate to pay them tribute by acknowledging that they died with music.
Perry has gone and got my creative juices flowing. I’ve already drafted the copy for the advertisement that I intend to place in all the Singles Columns:
“Practice safe sex! If you’ve arranged a date this morning, call me this afternoon.”
You can hardly blame me for wanting to cash in on (yet another) government ‘crackdown’. I’m getting too old to chase ambulances and voyeurism sounds like a far more appealing way to make a living.
‘Crackdown’. HMG just loves that word. They crackdown on this, they crackdown on that. Whenever they suspect that the British tax cattle have forgotten why exactly it is they need all these overpaid suits in Whitehall, out they come with another ‘crackdown’, straight from the Must-Be-Seen-To-Be-Doing-Something School of Political Science. HMG has become like an angry man who can no longer communicate with his children so he just takes his belt to them every now and then to keep them from asking so many stupid questions.
However, the thing about ‘crackdowns’ is that, very often, they never actually materialise. They’re announced, trumpeted by a compliant media for a while and, by the time the news-wagon has rolled on to the next terrorist atrocity or Boy Band break-up, it’s all been forgotten about.
This ‘crackdown’ on the sex laws has that familiar ring to it. They’ll probably knock it around at committee stage for a while, draft some new laws, put them before their own laywers for advice, be told that their ideas are insane, unworkable and likely to lead to chaos and then the whole thing will be quietly filed away. However, in the meantime, sufficient kerfuffle has been made to keep some radical marxoid feminist wing of the Labour Party quiet until after the next election.
I’m just speculating of course and I could (Lord help us) be wrong. So I shall maintain a watching brief in the meantime; one that I shall not actually be able to charge for. Damn!
Go and see just how idiotic a protest by an American pacificist group, Voices in the Wilderness, looks even to the Iraqis. A group of 12 activists lead by Kathy Kelly gathered on Saturday to bring the American style of protest to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. And of course, they are protesting against President Bush and his threats of war against Iraq. What a shrewd choice of venue! Salam reports from Baghdad:
Nothing in the news about it, and no one at work making any “look at those poor deluded souls going at it again” comments (which is one of two responses to this sort of thing, the other being “I wonder how much money are they getting as a ‘thank you’ gift from saddam”).”
And this is how he feels about it:
Dear american friends, please stop sending her over here, she is not helping. Some people might think that this sort of thing I like to see happening. It is NOT. Kelly baby you have been used. They have put you on show for the westerners.”
I think he is too kind to those brain-disconnected idiots, trying to understand that everyone has to make a living…somehow.
David Blunkett, Britain’s blind Home Secretary proved his blindness extends far beyond mere eyes.
New sex offence laws to be unveiled by the Government next month could include a crackdown on date rape.
Under the proposed law, reportedly being introduced by Home Secretary David Blunkett, men accused of rape will have to prove they made efforts to ensure their sexual partners gave agreement.
They will no longer be able to rely on the defence of “honest belief”, a legal loophole where suspects can be acquitted if they genuinely believed the alleged victim wanted sex.
What happened to the presumption of innocence? This is utter madness. Rape is an appalling crime, but how exactly can a guy who “genuinely believed the alleged victim wanted sex” somehow prove it to be a justified believe? Is he expected to get a second opinion from some third party before continuing at each stage? Perhaps lawyers like David Carr will find an new lucrative source of business as ‘dating lawyers’, sitting at the bottom of the bed and witnessing each declaration of consent.
Him: May I touch you there, my dear?
Her: Oooo, yes please!
Lawyer: Consent recorded.
Him: Oh yeah, baby…
Lawyer: Umm, is that ‘Ahhhh yes’ or ‘Ahhhhh no’?
Her: Yes! Yes!
Lawyer: Consent recorded.
Him: Lean back a bit…Oooooo!
Her: Mmmmm… a little lower darling.
Lawyer: Hold it! As your lawyer I must advise you that if you proceed, it could be construed as potentially non-consensual as she has clearly stated you are not touching her exactly where she wishes to be touched! Whilst not admitting anything to the generality of the foregoing on behalf of my client, I must advise my client to, er, withdrawn and seek written confirmation before continuing…
And back in Enlgand, the home grown idiotarians tie themselves into knots over capitalism.
Michael Meacher, the environment minister, told BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions:
“We do not believe in capitalism. Capitalism is something that threatens inequality across the whole of society1.”
The responses are fun to follow. Downing street refused to endorse his claims and referred the Sunday Telegraph reporter to the Labour Party spokesman who said:
“Socialism or capitalism is a sterile argument. The world has moved on.”
The comments caused ideological confusion among MPs identified with New Labour giving rise to gems like these:
“I think there is rather a philosophical black hole here. We really need an economist to sort his out.” and “Of course unbridled capitalism is very dangerous but we cannot deliver the advances that we want in equality outside the market economy.” (Barbara Follet, MP and Glenda Jackson, MP respectively.)
The Left-wing MPs were delighted:
“The party is moving away from New Labour back to its roots…”
This may place Mr Blair under pressure to spell out his attitude. In the summer he claimed that “we are moving away from Thatcherism now”. Care to tell us where you are heading, Tony? We have seen the posters…
1 = Mr Meacher is, of course, right, capitalism does threaten inequality across the society. It threatens it with prosperity, property rights and individualism. Marvellous!
12:00 noon GMT… That ghastly song with the refrain ‘The answer is blowing in the wind’ may have been hippy nonsense but everything else here in Central London bloody well is blowing in the wind.
The radio has just reported the winds have hit 75 mph downtown and whilst writing this blog article I have just seen a chair go flying past my window. I am on the third floor!
I finally saw some TV news on the marvelously skilled Russia rescue.
And what angle do you think the newsies are taking? Oh, lord. 90 hostages died. SCANDAL! SCANDAL! They killed the terrorists instead of pulling out of their war in Chechnya. SHOCK! HORROR! They used GAS! They haven’t told the DOCTORS what GAS they used on PEOPLE!
I want to know if the graduation ceremony for a Journalism degree requires brain removal. These people are just simply some of the most assinine, stupid, moronic, ignorant fools I can imagine standing on two feet while still retaining control of bowels and locomotion.
The alternative actions for the Russians were stark and terrible. They could have folded. Had they done so, Russia would have sent a message. Anyone along that entire Asian border stretching half way around the world from the Pacific to to Europe would know they could grab a piece of Russia. Terrorists would be planning their next demands and an even bigger attack before the last Chechen asswipe sobered up from the victory celebration.
Presumably this means journalists can’t understand maps beyond looking at the pretty colours.
The other alternative was to try talking and talking and talking. The problem is, we aren’t dealing with normal human beings. We are dealing with folk who got that old time religion. They aren’t people anymore. They are self portable Memes. The end result of this seige, whether it was tonight or several days from now would have been a charred wreckage with eight hundred corpses burned beyond recognition.
Perhaps it’s those children’s stories journalists read on airplanes. The ones where villains actually all have a good heart if you’d only figure out what makes them act so mean.
The only option for the Russians was to go in. The worst possible outcome of that was no different than the expected outcome. Acting meant some hostages might be saved. Inaction meant they all would die. As it turned out, brilliant tactics (and probably a healthy dose of luck) let them save better than 6 out of 7 of the hostages.
Our media people have become grotesque apologists for the most evil, ugly, murderous, callous, merciless killers on the planet. They are backers of our mortal enemies, enemies of a sort we will have to wipe from the face of this planet if we are to have a prayer of retaining a semi-liberal society.
I have no respect for these walking cowflops and their jaded, venomous self-loathing. It will be a happy day indeed when we have internet video broadcasts by intelligent and educated people on location and news anchors bringing the stories together who are more than a hair style holding their ears apart. When that day arrives, it will be with the greatest pleasure that I turn my back on them as I have already done with traditional print journalism.
We thank you for putting up with this brief interruption and return you to normal sedate Samizdata programming, now in progress.
The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles.
Serial comment writer Molly does not like the look of Britain’s future
The poster of the ‘kindly’ authorities watching us that Perry de Havilland wrote about on Wednesday scared the hell out of me. Is that really how they see themselves? Do they really think we want to have our movements watched? Do they actually think that a bunch of gobshites full of beer on a bus are going to be made to behave by a camera?
The fact is if you have ever had your house broken into in Newcastle (and I have lost count) then you know that the boys in blue, when they turn up a day later to take down your details, are never ever going to catch them. They are just going through the motions. If you are assaulted and raped by someone you do not know, they will take a statement and look around for evidence for a few minutes (like, maybe he dropped his f**king business card perhaps?) and then give you the telephone number of some tax funded and utterly pointless ‘counsellor’ to talk to who will keep forgetting your name.
And yet if you take a baseball bat to a burglar, they will throw the book at you because they know who you are and where you live. Of course they do because you foolishly called them to come.
All the people who live off my taxes, both the ones who empty my meagre bank account to ‘provide me with services’ and the ones on the dole who break into my house to steal what I have left, seem to me to be on the same side most of the time. David Carr is right that if ‘security’ is why the state is watching us, it certainly does not seem to be our security.
No, I am not sure why the cameras are going up but it sure as hell has nothing to do with my safety. The people who put them up do not give a f**k about that, this much I know for sure.
That 80 or more hostages have been killed is dreadful but the fact 750 were saved is a triumph.
But there are some very stark lessons here.
In 1995, a related Chechen group took over 2000 people hostage in a hospital in Budyonnovsk. After an initial attempt to free the hostages was botched with considerable loss of life by the Russian forces, a deal was cut by then Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin that agreed a cease-fire in the Chechen war and allowed the hostage takers to escape in return for the safety of their captives.
And of course that was proof that you can indeed get the Russians to cut a deal if you are daring enough and willing to slaughter enough innocent civilians.
Well I hope that Vladimir Putin has just signalled a complete rejection of that mind set. As terrible as it is that so many hostages have died, the fact is the Chechen terrorists who did this are now either dead or facing a very grim time indeed in a Russian jail… and were given nothing for their pains by the Russians. That is the only message that must be sent to terrorists everywhere, to do otherwise is to motivate such people to cause more horrors in theatres, hospitals and homes. The enemy may not fear death itself but I suspect they do indeed fear pointless death.
So whatever the cost, in the long run it is cheaper in lives to never negotiate (other than as a tactical ruse). Give them the death they desire but nothing that would further their aims, no matter how small.
Russian commando with SV-98 sniper rifle
For the last couple years many pundits have expected a black aircraft to have a coming out party “Real Soon Now”. It has finally happened but the new debutante is not at all what anyone expected.
It’s neat looking but only a technology demonstrator. Slow, low ceiling… and very hard to detect.
Personally I think there are a few other rather more interesting craft still in the deep, deep black of Groom Lake.
Photo: with permission, Boeing Aerospace
Russian special forces have pulled off a brilliant rescue. I was not surprised by the attempt. In fact, I was discussing this probability with a friend last night before going out to watch “The Bourne Identity”. There was simply no choice at all but to take the risk because the alternative was certain death for over 700 people.
I expected higher casualties among the hostages than what actually occured so my hat is off to the Russians. I’m also happy to hear of the death of such a large percentage of the terrorists. Thirty-six out of fifty ain’t bad shooting.
I’m really glad we’re on the same side now.