Russia out of Chechnya! No war on Iraq!
By Gerry Bates
A monstrous act of scarcely believable terrorism against innocent civilians was committed last week. At least 119 people were killed. The victims were Russian citizens. The terrorists were the Russian government and the Russian military.
Five hundred civilians being held hostage in a Moscow theatre by Chechen militants - demanding that Russia stop its war in Chechnya - and their captors were subjected to attack by nerve gas. 119 of the hostages died. Two hundred or so are still critically ill. The 50 Chechens in the theatre were all killed, many of them after capture.
The Russian government refused to tell doctors treating the critically ill survivors exactly what the gas used was, or what the antidote might be.
Vladimir Putin, posturing as a "strong" leader who would not give way to terrorism, thus committed an atrocity against his own people that is reminiscent of what Saddam Hussein did to Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s. US president Bush, leader of the "war on terrorism", and prime minister Tony Blair have endorsed what the Russian state did to hundreds of innocent civilians of Russia's capital city.
Thus did the savage war which Russia has waged against the Chechen people come to Moscow. The Chechens who seized the theatre began the process, but it was the Russian government which made it into mass slaughter. In Chechnya itself tens of thousands of Chechens have died at the hands of the Russian occupation forces.
George W Bush's "war on terrorism" is in fact a charter of rights for established, favoured terrorist governments engaged in wars like Russia's in Chechnya or Israel's in the occupied Palestinian territories. Bush and Blair appeal to people revolted by the often indiscriminate casualties caused by the suicide bombers in Israel or Chechen terrorists. Yet what happened in Moscow shows that for Bush and Blair their ally Putin has a licence to do such things. Putin is not a terrorist, but a bulwark against terrorism - in Chechnya, against the war of national liberation of the Chechen people.
There are "terrorists" and terrorists, bad terrorists and good terrorists. US president Franklin D Roosevelt once said of a Nicaraguan dictator in the 1930s that he was "a son of a bitch, but our son of a bitch". If he could string the words into a coherent sentence, Bush would say that Putin is a terrorist, but *our* terrorist.
And he would, if candid, say the same of many other rulers round the world. So would Tony Blair. They used to say it about Saddam Hussein. They armed and helped him for many years.
Saddam Hussein is indeed a terrorist on a large scale - in the first place against the peoples of Iraq. The peoples of Iraq deserve all the help we can give them to put Saddam where all good dictators deserve to be - strung up on a lamp post.
But the war planned by Bush and Blair will kill unknowable thousands of innocent Iraqis - in order to put some other Saddam, only one pliant to US wishes, where Hussein now is.
The events in Moscow show not only the brutal neo-Stalinist indifference to their own people which governs the rulers in Russia, but the double-dyed hypocrisy of those like Bush and Blair who endorse Putin, the butcher of Moscow and Chechnya, while claiming to wholesomely "fight terrorism".
Russia out of Chechnya! Self-determination for the Chechens! No war on Iraq!