[VIEWPOINT]No sign of an end to terrorRussia is haunted by the recurring nightmare of Chechen terrorist attacks. The atrocious terrorism of Chechen separatists is nothing new, but its frequency and intensity seem to have risen sharply this year. Beginning with the February terrorist bombing on a subway in Moscow, they have committed seven large and small terrorist attacks this year.
As it is assumed that international Islamic terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaeda, joined the attacks, it is no wonder that our government has asked Korean tourists to refrain from traveling to some areas of Russia in addition to Iraq, where our troops are dispatched.
Terrorism is currently taking place everywhere on the globe indiscriminately regardless of differences in religion, race and ideology.
Particularly frequent targets of terrorism are located in Central Asia, where border lines have been unstable after the end of the Cold War; the Middle East and North Africa, which have been traditionally unstable regions; and northern Kafkaz in Russia, where powerful rule by the state was possible in the past but now is being swept by a strong wind of nationalism.
Meanwhile, due to many geopolitical, racial and religious reasons, the United States and Russia, the superpowers of the Cold War, have been the focus of terrorist attacks.
The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States and the Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia have in common that they were waged against strong powers by international terrorist organizations.
These attacks may give justification to both the nations under attack and the terrorists to impose restrictions on human rights and freedom or to engage in battle in any form, but the problem is that the lives of innocent civilians are sacrificed in the process.
It was the same with the school hostage-taking of Sept. 1 in the southern Russian town of Beslan, the Republic of North Ossetia. After 52 hours of confrontation, the hostage stand-off ended as a terrible case of bloodshed, leaving more than 1,000 dead and injured.
The victims of this incident became terrorist targets without any fault of their own, and eventually their lives were sacrificed.
The opinion of the international community is that both the Chechen militants and Russia are responsible for this bloody disaster.
First, they point out the atrocities and violence of the Chechen terrorists, who use any means or methods. Their attacks on the innocent lives of a great number of civilians cannot be justified by any reasons. Their attacks are also unforgivable acts of brutality against civilization and humanity, particularly because they used young children as human shields to achieve their political goals.
On the other hand, many point out that given the Russian government’s hard-line countermeasures against past Chechen terrorist attacks, this incident accompanied by mass killing was probably inevitable.
Suited for his nickname, “The Gray Cardinal” or “Mr. Terminator,” Russian President Vladimir Putin made clear at home and abroad his firm determination to crack down on the Chechen terrorists and carried out strong operations to suppress them without refraining from sacrificing human lives.
Although the frenzied terrorist acts of the Chechen warriors were extreme, the Russian government’s suppression can also be said to be extreme.
The Putin administration far-fetchedly contends that its operations to suppress the hostage-takers were not planned from the outset, but accidental. But given the precedents, they were intentional, if awkward, plans in many aspects, and Russia put an end to the incident in its own manner of doing things that shocked the Western world.
The September terror disaster in Russia is a clear warning to the world. Despite its powerful military forces, large quantities of human power and formidable military equipment, Russia, one of the world’s superpowers, was trampled by dozens of triumphant terrorists.
The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States and the Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia signify that now the world will never be free from wars against new enemies, nor is it easy to get rid of them.
In this regard, the arguments that the terrorist attacks on the two countries were the natural consequences of the nations’ own imperialistic ambitions are becoming less and less credible to most people.
But aside from the discussion of justifications, the world seems forced to carry out a tough war against merciless armed groups for some time while resisting the use of the “language of terrorism.”
Korea joined the war on terrorism, whether willingly or unwillingly, by dispatching its soldiers to Iraq to help the United States.
In this context, the Korean government authorities and the people should cool-headedly mull over the significance of the war on terrorism to come up with effective measures against terrorism.
* The writer is an adjunct professor of international relations at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Hong Wan-suk
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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