Live by the sword, die by the sword

Clayton Cramer writes on the Russian-Chechen situation:

I do not intend to make excuses for what Amnesty International calls: widespread and credible reports that Russian forces have been responsible for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including “disappearances”, extrajudicial executions and torture, including rape.

But these actions by the Russian government in no way excuse attacks on non-combatants or taking hostages. Chechnyan terrorism has completely destroyed any sympathy that I had for their cause. If you want to portray yourself as heroic freedom fighters, you attack legitimate targets: combatants or political leaders, not children; you take prisoners, instead of executing them.

It looks to me as though what we are seeing in the Chechnyan terrorism is not victims of Russian abuses responding badly, but an al-Qaeda farm team–a group that does not believe that there are any legitimate restraints on their use of terror.

Mr. Cramer admits that he knows little about the Chechen situation. Perhaps he, and everyone else who is rightfully horrified by the tragic events unfolding in Russia, would be more understanding – though surely not sympathetic – of the Chechen targeting of non-combatants if he realized that the Russians are estimated to have killed approximately 10 percent of the Chechen population over the course of the war. This targeting of non-combatants on the part of the Chechens is not a new terror tactic, it is a response in kind. The fact that so many Chechen women are involved should tell you all you need to know about the source of their motivation.