[GLOBAL EYE]Blood calls for bloodThere is great controversy over the resolution of the school hostage-taking in Russia, which ended a horrible disaster.
Some say that there probably were other ways to try to rescue the victims or reduce the death toll. Perhaps that is true, but even if other ways had been tried, the tragic nature of the incident would not likely have changed. What significance would it have had if the Russian government had tried to hold a dialogue and negotiate with those who committed suicide together with hostages by exploding bombs tied around their bodies?
There are no more destructive people than those who act desperately at the risk of their lives. Bitter grudges and indignation, extreme despair and frustration after the last ray of hope disappears, blind self-confidence with which one believes he is doing the “right thing” cause a kind of hallucination. The border between fiction and non-fiction blurs. As a result, unimaginable things can become reality.
With hijacked aircraft, some venture to carry out suicidal attacks, and others cut the throats of innocent hostages. Still others die a “heroic” death by exploding themselves to pieces among innocent people. These people are horrible terrorists. But they believe themselves to be martyrs. This is the paradox of martyrdom and terrorism.
On the battlefield, killers become heroes. It is the same with terrorists and martyrs. Ahn Joong-geun, who killed Hirobumi Ito, the Japanese resident general in Korea, in 1909, is surely a righteous martyr and patriot in our sight, but the Japanese remember him as a terrorist.
Some distinction is made between terrorism and patriotic deeds, with the former being an act to kill innocent civilians indiscriminately and the latter an act to selectively kill those responsible for their plight. But when they return home, all of them are precious husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, children, and siblings. The sword of revenge may give them a keen pleasure, but blood is bound to call for blood again.
The Chechen problem cannot be resolved by suppressing it with power. History tells that with suppressive measures spearheaded by military power, the Chechens’ desire for independence may be repressed temporarily but cannot be quenched forever. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who came into power after his victory in the war with Chechnya, perceives yielding to the Chechen problem as a loss of his foundation of power. So he has persisted with his hard-line approach, and guiltless people are paying a terrible price.
Despite the peculiar nature of Russia, which has to lead a union of heterogeneous states, Russia should now seriously ask if there is any government system that can justify the blood shed by countless self-claimed “martyrs” who are determined to die and face their victims with them. But is this the problem of Russia alone? Historically, where there was domination, oppression, distrust and misunderstanding, there was a paradox of martyrdom and terrorism. The contradiction still holds on.
Some think that if the United States had more sincerely listened to the Islamic people’s discontents and demands and shown a willingness to have a dialogue with them, it could have avoided the tragic disaster of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Because it did not, the United States may be now mending the hole with nine stitches that could have been saved by one stitch in time.
There is no future in a society where people staking their lives with desperate hearts line up to die. Consoling and taking care of those in despair, frustration and disappointment is, above all, the role of politicians so that there are not more people who make light of their lives.
It is also the role of the haves. Vested interests with power and money should be able to heed the voices of the have-nots. This is the only way to prevent those foolish people who mistake terrorism for martyrdom from becoming terrorists.
* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Bae Myung-bok