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[P]
Ethics and Practice

By Shovas in Op-Ed
Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 12:42:30 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

In the recent Moscow theatre hostage-taking, Russian special forces used an, as yet, unknown gas to incapacitate and overcome the Chechen guerrillas, whom some sources cite at one point were holding more than eight hundred persons in the theatre building.

In the moments leading up to the raid which freed more than six hundred hostages, it became quite clear action was required before the rebels would begin killing their hostages. In this light, Russia showed admirable steel will, knowing many would likely die in such a raid. In the end, however, it was a twisted joke of victor, vanquished and victim, as a horrible, horrible truth became clear.


What has come about as a thunderclap to some in the aftermath of this event is that of a government concealing a petty secret at the expense of its nation's lives. For those unsure of the validity of this statement, one has only to read the multitudes of articles on the hostage-taking situation to find references to the refusal of Russian government to detail the gas used, even to medical personnel. The Guardian was the first I reviewed publishing directly concerning Russian government silence on this issue in their article "Russia tries to stem scandal over gas victims". The government has yet to respond to requests on the nature of the gas used while "150 [freed hostages] were in intensive care and 45 were 'in a grave condition.'" These hostages turned critical-state patients were directly affected by the use of the unknown gas. The refusal to elaborate on the gas used means upwards of 150 free hostages have died or are in jeopardy of dying, simply due to lack of information on the gas used in the raids.

The article also mentions Russian ambassador to Britain, Grigory Karasin, who claims "the authorities did not want to give away operational information helpful to potential terrorists." It would appear, from Mr. Karasin's statements, that Russian government has valued certain military secrets over human lives, all in the thinly veiled name of the War on Terror. Russian government is appealing to the public sense of something bigger than their own lives in order to excuse the government's negligent killing of their own people.

Most articles, if not all, have alluded to the refusal of Russian officials to name the gas used in the raids, but we have yet to see mainstream press denounce this behaviour as, what can only be described as, unethical. The choice to protect secrets at the expense of human lives is despicable and certainly more media attention and pressure on Russian leaders is needed if there is any hope of a resolution or at least an admission as to the proper mindset of the Russian officials. When all is said and done, however, we have the Russian government withholding information which may have aided doctors in the revival of freed hostages who have died or are in near-death states. This behaviour can only be described as horrid and tragic.

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Poll
Was it ethical to withhold information concerning the gas used in the raids after the fact in order to save freed hostages' lives?
o Yes 22%
o No 61%
o Undecided 15%

Votes: 184
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o references
o the refusal
o detail the gas used
o even to medical personnel
o The Guardian
o Russia tries to stem scandal over gas victims
o Also by Shovas


Display: Sort:
Ethics and Practice | 245 comments (198 topical, 47 editorial, 1 hidden)
Author's notes (2.00 / 4) (#1)
by Shovas on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 07:57:13 PM EST


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Edit: spelling NT (1.00 / 1) (#5)
by Shovas on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 08:18:07 PM EST


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[ Parent ]
Resectioned: Op-Ed (1.00 / 1) (#6)
by Shovas on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 08:19:19 PM EST


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[ Parent ]
Poll: Question revised. NT (1.00 / 1) (#8)
by Shovas on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 08:25:04 PM EST


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[ Parent ]
Edit: Ambassador to Britain & Misc Grammar (1.00 / 1) (#22)
by Shovas on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:18:13 PM EST


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[ Parent ]
Poll: Senseless (1.00 / 1) (#33)
by Shovas on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:37:03 PM EST

The current poll question doesn't make sense:
Was it ethical to withhold information concerning the gas used in the raids after the fact in order to save freed hostages' lives?
What this question actually asks is: Was it ethical to withhold information about the gas used in the raids? AND Was it ethetical to do so in order to save freed hostages' lives? It makes no sense.

As such, I'll try to change it to what it really is meant to ask:
Was it ethical to withhold information about the gas used in the raids, after the hostages were freed, which potentially prevented some freed hostages from living for lack of that information?
I believe this reflects how people were answering in the first question phraseology, so changing it to make sense won't be detrimental to the poll.
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[ Parent ]
Edit: Vanguished / jeoprady NT (1.00 / 1) (#84)
by Shovas on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 08:13:15 AM EST


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[ Parent ]
Are you trolling? (3.00 / 1) (#141)
by terpy on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 02:10:41 PM EST

All of these should be editorial comments.

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Parent ]

Wups. My bad. NT (3.00 / 1) (#143)
by Shovas on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 02:15:16 PM EST


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[ Parent ]
Withholding information at the cost of human life? (1.85 / 7) (#2)
by Demiurge on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 08:04:30 PM EST

What a horrible idea? And we're doing it here in America too! The first thing Bush needs to do is send every military secret we possess to Al Qaeda, Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. That way, there's no chance that any poor terrorists might loose their lives, because the Great Satan has decided it values its military secrets more.

No - You confuse knowledge (4.00 / 2) (#3)
by Shovas on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 08:15:34 PM EST

Terrorists are well funded(or can be). Next time they may come with air filtration units. Withholding information about a gas is not going to aide terrorists in their activities. Militaries can always brew up different concoctions. There's absolutely no basis for refusing to elaborate on this gas for the benefit of those people, those human beings dying. At this point, the blame for these people's deaths lies directly on the shoulders of those who don't want to release the information on that gas used. The blame is not now with the terrorists. These deaths are preventable.
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[ Parent ]
Preventable? (3.00 / 2) (#32)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:35:56 PM EST

How exactly do you know the deaths are preventable? Are you a chemical weapons expert? I'm not one, but can easily imagine a gas that does its damage in a few minutes or even seconds. Unless an antidote is given (which in this case obviously exists since Alpha went in the theater without gas masks) before irreversible damage is done, you're out of luck.

Maybe there is nothing they can do to help the victims, and that is the reason they don't see any point in releasing more info on the gas.

--
Life is like a box of chocolates. Fat people finish it first.


[ Parent ]
As another comment stated, (4.00 / 1) (#40)
by Shovas on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:50:16 PM EST

Having an antidote or treatment method for the effects of the gas used would be more beneficial to them than not having that information. There are many situations which support that argument. If they ever had a leak or spill or accident of their own, they would certainly want to have an antidote available. What if some crazed lunatic had access to it and pumped it into an arena, closed-stadium, or subway. With that many people in peril, the government would certainly act with an antidote or they would risk far more from an investigation as to why the risk of these chemicals without treatments were able to be used on the public.
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[ Parent ]
Solution (3.00 / 5) (#9)
by marinel on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 08:33:14 PM EST

The Russian govt does not have to divulge their secret concoction. If there is an antidote or remedy, military doctors can intervene and all the afflicted persons can be quarantined. This way no secret about the gas or its antidote spills out into the public. Of course, taking this approach would reveal that an antidote exists and the Russian govt probably does not want to give up this psychological ace (the illusion of a gas with no known antidote) in their own anti-terror war against the Chechens, even if it means letting more people die while the antidote sits nicely on a lab desk somewhere in Siberia.
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Yes. Exactly. Why I say it's unethical NT (1.25 / 4) (#11)
by Shovas on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 08:41:29 PM EST


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[ Parent ]
Antidote (3.75 / 4) (#24)
by Lord of the Wasteland on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:21:30 PM EST

How is the gas having "no antidote" a psychological edge for the Russian military? If anything, the more people die the more it weakens their ability to use the gas in another hostage situation. The reason they don't want to divulge information is to make it harder to take preventative measures. Knowing there is an antidote, but only the government has it, makes it more credible as an anti-terrorist weapon, not less.

[ Parent ]
Unethical or incompetent? (4.80 / 5) (#21)
by ukryule on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:17:47 PM EST

I believe there are ethically sound reasons for protecting the information about the gas from public release. Clearly, there is a very real possibility of a similar situation arising, and to give the terrorist information about your countermeasures could also cost lives.

However, if you know beforehand (as the Russian government did) that you are going to use a secret gas on civilians then it is unforgivable that you do not consider fully the implications. In particular, there was ample time to prepare medical teams with whatever preperation they need (get doctors to sign Official Secrets Acts, provide antidotes, brief on correct treatment for the symptoms, whatever) - and it seems that this was not done.

Russian government is appealing to the public sense of "something bigger" then their own lives in order to excuse the government's negligent killing of their own people.

I agree with you that they (seem to) have been negligent - but in that they didn't plan properly the consequences of their actions.

What's unforgiveable (3.60 / 5) (#25)
by Shovas on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:23:24 PM EST

Is, at the very least, not taking over care of the freed hostages and administering proper medication. Simply leaving it be, and inferring that protection of a state secret is more important that human lives, is truly unforgiveable and downright unethical. They are literally killing innocent people because they want to keep some mixture of chemicals a secret, even though they can develop new gases.

I agree that it may be beneficial to keep some information secret from the public in the hope that terrorists won't get a hold of it, but to keep something like a gas a secret in the plain face of your own people dying - that is simply horrific.
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[ Parent ]
Perhaps... (5.00 / 1) (#155)
by jmzero on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 06:03:02 PM EST

...there isn't an antidote that would have helped the civilians.  Perhaps they gave no information on technique because there was none to give, or it wouldn't have helped.

None of the reports I've read have been clear on this - I'd be interested to see something more concrete.  

In any case, they could certainly have done a better job with the evacuation.  That said, I can understand how they would want to keep the operation build-up small, so as not to tip anyone off.
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

Nix that... (5.00 / 1) (#156)
by jmzero on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 06:14:45 PM EST

From reading other stories, it seems pretty much agreed that the drug used was fentanyl or something similar.  The standard OD treatment, Narcan, was apparently given with some success to many of the victims.  

The stories seem to be getting more details as the day goes on - perhaps a clearer picture will emerge over time as to who knew what when.

I'm guessing that they were unprepared for the severity of problems - thought they could get the dosage more precise so as to incapacitate the lot without killing.
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"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

And this is the problem (none / 0) (#183)
by thejeff on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 10:49:31 AM EST

The doctors are going to try stuff and eventually get a pretty good idea what it was. At the cost of lives wasted when they tried the wrong thing. Now these doctors aren't bound by any agreements and probably pretty upset about not being given the information needed to save lives, so they'll have little motivation to keep the secret.

If you really wanted to keep it secret, your best chance is to bring the doctors in on it and bind them to secrecy. Some might talk anyway, but your chances are better.

I'm guessing that they were unprepared for the severity of problems - thought they could get the dosage more precise so as to incapacitate the lot without killing.

I'd be surprised if they thought this. Given that you have to knock them out fast so they don't have time to set off explosives, you have to massively overdose. It's the only way to be sure. Then, given the wide range of body mass, metabolism and physical condition as well as the actual dosage that each person gets, what's enough to knock out a large healthy adult will easily kill a child.

[ Parent ]

-1, NYFB (1.27 / 11) (#23)
by Luminion on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:21:24 PM EST

NYFB
Not your fucking business

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<spanisman> you are really a dork and I'm going to complaint against you in the undernet society for you to get lost the op status
Why? NT (2.50 / 4) (#26)
by Shovas on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:24:12 PM EST


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[ Parent ]
For a simple reason (3.00 / 10) (#73)
by Luminion on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 06:25:07 AM EST

Every time something like that happens, there is always some hypothetically theoretizing smartass which would build various theories about how government is not really better than terrorists.

Living in Israel, I do not believe that people who have not experienced the terrorism on their own ass (and I mean on your own ass, not on an imaginable over the TV ass) have a moral right to voice any opinion about the terrorism and how one should be dealing with it.

All you humanists, apologists and sympathizers who stand in the "you should do it better" line are as credible in this matter as I would be in consulting someone on taxes in Florida. You do not realize that the only way to deal with hostage situations is to presume all hostages dead until the end of operation. You do not realize that the only way to prevent terror is to answer with terror ten times as furious. All the leftwing pussies who use "1 + 1 != 0" argument forget that the first number should come with minus because it's an act of agression.

All in all, unless the author himself experiences being in a hostage situation or just lives through the experience of seeing a street surrounded by ambulances and fire cabs, torn apart bodies and parents crying for their children, I suggest the author shuts the fuck up and stops criticizing counter-terrorist forces.

Hence, -1
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<spanisman> you are really a dork and I'm going to complaint against you in the undernet society for you to get lost the op status
[ Parent ]

In all fairness... (4.83 / 6) (#78)
by irrevenant on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 07:52:40 AM EST

With all appropriate tact, wouldn't "having experienced terrorism on your own ass" make you less capable of viewing the situation in a rational manner, rather than more?

If the author has made errors, then feel free to correct him. But he should hardly be criticized for being distant enough from the situation to see the big picture more objectively.

[ Parent ]
that's not fair at all (1.00 / 1) (#149)
by Lode Runner on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 03:46:46 PM EST

Do you really believe that distance from an event confers objectivity onto one's analysis of that event?

Without getting into Geertz (and other anthropologists who've put some real thought into this matter), objectivity requires proximity because close-in is where the actors' experience is. Look, in any analysis, the more pertinent information you have to work with, the better off the analysis will be; and the further away you are, the less access you'll have to pertinent info.

Sure, distance could grant you otherwise inaccessable insight into an event's context, but in terms of understanding (or resolving) a situation that's no substitute for being or even being next to an actor. Fetishizing distance is dangerous:

    To see ourselves as others see us can be eye-opening. To see others as sharing a nature with ourselves is the merest decency. But it is from the far more difficult achievement of seeing ourselves amongst others, as a local example of the forms human life has locally taken, a case among cases, a world among worlds, that the largeness of mind, without which objectivity is self-congratulation and tolerance a sham, comes. -- Clifford Geertz, Local Knowledge


[ Parent ]
To clarify... (none / 0) (#208)
by irrevenant on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 03:02:47 AM EST

When I referred to distance from an event, I meant emotional distance. ie. the guy who has actually experienced it has more indepth knowledge of some specifics, but that usually comes at the price of objectivity. The guy who has studied it in depth, but is not emotionally involved, can sometimes misunderstand the specifics, but sees the whole with greater objectivity. Both approaches are valid and quite possibly the two working together are required for greater (full?) understanding.

[ Parent ]
Thanks for proving my point! (1.00 / 1) (#230)
by Luminion on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 09:29:58 AM EST

The person who wrote the article has no "in-depth" knowledge of terrorism. I bet they wouldn't be able to tell an act of terror from an act of terrorism.
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<spanisman> you are really a dork and I'm going to complaint against you in the undernet society for you to get lost the op status
[ Parent ]
These are all assumptions, (none / 0) (#231)
by Shovas on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 01:24:26 PM EST

So the point is moot. Who's to say whether I(the author of the article) have or have not had experience with terrorism, in general, and even if I was there when the Moscow incident happened?

The important thing to remember here is that the author is working from news sources. Russian news sources, domestic and international news sources. Unless you'd like to believe there's a grand global conspiracy of all media to make the Russian government look bad, you can go right ahead. However, the accepted facts of Russians and of the international community agree with each other.
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[ Parent ]
My penis is larger than yours et al (none / 0) (#233)
by Luminion on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 02:39:14 PM EST

You operate on news sources. I operate on news services, being in the 'hot spot', a bit of theoretical research, immediate participation and military service, including being under live fire.

I can not accept any attempt to rationalize terrorism. I can not accept any attempt to promote an apologism for terrorists. I am a firm believer of that in the modern days and civilized society, the very application of terrorism immediately invalidates any claim that the terrorists might have and any rights they have as people, including the right to live. I believe that the only way to stop the terrorism is to eradicate their terrorists, their families, houses, and permanently deprive them of any rights they claim to be entitled to. We do not live in fascist times and there is no real necessity to blow people up to achieve something. I can not accept an attempt to undermine any effort that resists terrorism. Terrorism is so extreme that any means against it are plausible and wanted. 100 people dead? Say thanks it's not 200. They are already dead. By attempting to restrain further anti-terrorist operations, you will not help these people, but you will get more in trouble.

Guess why the hostage takeover acts in Israel are next to non-existent? Because the terrorists know they will not get away with it. No matter what their threat is, they will die.

I have a feeling that americans really didn't learn anything out of 9/11. Instead of letting their government to put a rope loop on their own necks the americans should be making sure their government is putting a rope loop on a real enemy's neck.

Are you an american?
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<spanisman> you are really a dork and I'm going to complaint against you in the undernet society for you to get lost the op status
[ Parent ]

Err (none / 0) (#236)
by Shovas on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 05:04:36 PM EST

Does your post follow the general thought of this thread? I thought it would be somewhat related to my topic, but after you said you had first hand experience you went on to establish your belief in terrorism as inexcuseable. I don't see how you got on to that topic.

I certainly agree terrorism is inexcuseable.

I am not American.
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[ Parent ]
Bottom line (none / 0) (#237)
by Luminion on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 05:49:24 AM EST

I'll narrow it down for you.

Any counter-terrorism measures are good. Any attempt to criticize an efficient and successful counter-terrorism act is a supporting hand for the terrorists.
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<spanisman> you are really a dork and I'm going to complaint against you in the undernet society for you to get lost the op status
[ Parent ]

Citicism is key to Constructive Criticism (none / 0) (#238)
by Shovas on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 08:50:00 AM EST

So you need criticism there. Many people did miss the point of the story so I'll restate what I meant to get across and perhaps didn't: The use of gas is not being questioned in the story but rather the behaviour of the government after the fact when victims were in hospital. I can certainly see where arguing the use, itself, of gas would be detrimental to counter-terrorist efforts and largely unprofitable(although I must say I've not delved into that side enough to really say from solid ground). I would certainly disagree that criticizing a government, for not releasing information on the gas used, after the fact, is somehow a boon to terrorism. That people died from not having the information soon enough is questionable enough to beg the inquiries. Backing this point up is the US release of information(what they could find out testing it) on the drug sooner than the Russian authorities. What does that tell you?
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[ Parent ]
Exactly what I said (none / 0) (#241)
by Luminion on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 06:50:40 PM EST

That it's not your (or mine) fucking business.
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<spanisman> you are really a dork and I'm going to complaint against you in the undernet society for you to get lost the op status
[ Parent ]
I didn't say that in relation to my core point (none / 0) (#243)
by Shovas on Tue Nov 05, 2002 at 09:59:19 AM EST

Criticism of our own government and international governments abroad is not only a right and privilege, it a responsibility to look after our fellow man who may be in more dire events than our own. Looking outward and gaining perspective is also a good way to ensure that we keep on track at home. It certainly is our business and the actions of other governments have many repercussions on the governments and peoples of other nations.
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[ Parent ]
"Fetishizing distance is dangerous" (none / 0) (#232)
by Shovas on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 01:32:29 PM EST

An truly interesting thing to say. Would you then follow that logic and say anyone who hasn't tried, say, religion yet despises it can not have an objective view of religion? Or, perhaps, one shouldn't believe science unless one has performed the experiments or mathematics themselves? Following, one could excuse the law of gravity as, really, the god of heavy things, continually pushing down on the heads of objects so that they fall?

I whole heartedly agree one should get intimate with any subject one wishes to peruse, discuss and think about. And who's to say I, the author of this story, have not made that attempt, in any conceivable way possible? At the same time, maintaining distance and gaining perspective from those not directly affected by the event lends a much wider view of the situation than those at its heart.

Of course, the main question is does distance really matter when the simple fact is of a government and military refusing to relay information on a gas used in a raid? The topic is not simply gas use, it is the behaviour of the same officials after the fact. I think the story didn't pound that point home enough.
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[ Parent ]
Bah (4.12 / 8) (#27)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:31:36 PM EST

"It would appear, from Mr. Karasin's statements, that Russian government has valued certain military secrets over human lives, all in the thinly veiled name of the War on Terror."

Every nation values certain military secrets over human lives, nothing new here. And certain military secrets are valued more than lives of you own non-combatants. Knowing the specifics of the gas could give future hostage-takers an edge the Russians can not afford to give. If you give information to civilian medical personnel, it is almost sure to leak to media and forward to Chechens.

Whether this is unethical is debatable at best. Now, if you want to talk about unethical, you might want to think about all the Chechen's that were executed in their sleep in the theater.

War has no room for ethics, IMO, and the Russians treated the situation as a terrorist act from the beginning so I doubt ethics were exactly high up on their agenda. Their goal was to get as many hostages out alive and kill the hostage-takers. They had a tremendous success against incredible odds. In a situation like this there will be casualties. If they didn't act, we might have 750+ hostages dead instead of 200 or so.

--
Life is like a box of chocolates. Fat people finish it first.


What about (3.62 / 8) (#38)
by Shovas on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:45:36 PM EST

The Russian military taking the civilians to their own medical centres for treatment? Or, knowing the potential for use of that gas, have mobile treatment centres for that gas? Surely there's a treatment the military could've given itself without risking it falling into the wrong hands. They owe it to their populace, at the very least, to attempt to save their lives. And that's the bottom line - they protected a military secret, something as little as chemicals, at the expense of human life. That's just poor.
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[ Parent ]
Another atrocity (3.36 / 11) (#29)
by cdyer on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:33:20 PM EST

Personally, I can't decide whether I'm more disgusted by Moscow's lack of concern for their own citizens, or the fact that they executed the criminals point blank while they were unconscious. In the New York Times, they claimed this was because the authorities were afraid they would wake up and detonate the bombs strapped to their bodies. I'm sorry, but that is a pathetic argument. It doesn't take more than five seconds to bind their arms and legs. This is cold-blooded murder. Sure they were criminals. They were guerrillas. They were terrorists. But this is unconscionable.

Cliff

Something I didn't pick up on. (none / 0) (#34)
by Shovas on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:40:47 PM EST

Thanks for bringing that point up. I must have missed that point. It seemed to me that throughout all this, while I could have excused a vast majority of the controversial issues, I could not excuse the authorities for refusing to give information to their own medicare system to save their own nation's lives.
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[ Parent ]
Yep (4.00 / 9) (#42)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:53:40 PM EST

This is something that I'm surprised the western media hasn't caught up on, too.

Having said that, there is a very good reason why they 'executed' the rebels. If it takes only five seconds to bind their arms and legs, that is too much. They have to secure the building (with tens of explosives, two of them the equivalent of 50kg of TNT, which, according to Russian officials would've probably taken the whole building down) in minutes making sure none of the Chechens has time to trigger a single bomb (while a chain-effect is unlikely, it's still possibe).

If you see a Chechen slumped in the ground or seated, how do you know he/she is dead? You don't. If you touch her to tie her hands, boom. So you shoot her in the head. Simple, effective.

BTW, you might find it interesting this is standard operating procedure in western anti-terrorist forces, as well. When you are declared a terrorist, you lose your human rights. Whether that is right or wrong, is another matter altogether. But there was a good reason to "execute" the Chechens, and it was not "cold-blooded murder."

--
Life is like a box of chocolates. Fat people finish it first.


[ Parent ]
Losing rights (4.50 / 4) (#46)
by marx on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 10:26:11 PM EST

When you are declared a terrorist, you lose your human rights.
This is not possible though. It is even explicitly mentioned in the declaration of human rights.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

True (3.33 / 3) (#47)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 10:41:02 PM EST

But I didn't mean literally. It was just an observation based on how "terrorists" are treated by various governments.

--
Life is like a box of chocolates. Fat people finish it first.


[ Parent ]
Funnily enough (4.00 / 6) (#64)
by Rogerborg on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 03:25:08 AM EST

Rights are whatever you don't withhold from your worst enemy.  Anything else is a priviledge extended to you and your friends.

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

There's more (5.00 / 1) (#72)
by pyramid termite on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 06:02:22 AM EST

Having said that, there is a very good reason why they 'executed' the rebels. If it takes only five seconds to bind their arms and legs, that is too much.

That's a good point. However, it doesn't explain why they bothered to plant syringes and cognac bottles near the bodies.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
"Lack of concern" (4.00 / 4) (#49)
by Korimyr the Rat on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 10:44:53 PM EST

 As far as I'm concerned, the main problem I have with Moscow's actions was how long they took to decide to make the raid. They were too squeamish. We probably shouldn't throw too many stones, because we seem to have this problem even worse than they do.

 Protecting civilian lives is a worthwhile goal, but people forget that "no negotiation with terrorists" is a policy designed to protect civilian lives-- not the lives of the people held hostage, but the lives of all the people who won't be taken hostage because terrorists realize it's fucking hopeless.

 The time between learning of the hostage situation and the execution of the raid should consist entirely of the time it takes to get some basic reconnaisance. Number and location of terrorists, number and location of hostages, layout of the building, and there you go. Any kind of negotiation, any kind of delay, simply fuels the belief that people can get what they want by taking or hostages, or that taking hostages gives them a "bargaining chip" to increase the possibility of getting out alive-- which means that more people are taken hostage in the future.

--
"Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
[ Parent ]

Bound movement.... (4.60 / 5) (#88)
by Elkor on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 08:46:35 AM EST

Tell you what. Get a friend to tied your hands and feet together. Now touch your hands to your toes. How about your waist? Roll over? Odds are you can do all of these actions. And if you can do these actions, you can probably figure out a way to trigger a detonator.

Especially if you use a detonator that is simple to activate.

It is almost impossible to tie someone up so they can't move to some extent. While you can eliminate their ability to move in any direction functionally, it is difficult to eliminate all movement. It is just as difficult to figure out what movement needs to be prevented to keep them from blowing the place up.

And, these individuals have already demonstrated their willingness to die for their cause, so they won't hesitate to if things are going south. And you, as the trooper securing the building, has a strong vested interest in saving life. Both your own and the 600 people depending on you to save theirs.

So, yeah. I see why the troops would have shot them.

Regards,
Elkor


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
[ Parent ]
unethical (2.00 / 5) (#31)
by Anon 17933 on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:33:42 PM EST

I think saying it was(is) unethical for them to use this gas, knowing it could have these effects, and then to deliberately withold the necessary information from medical personnel falls way over the line past unethical into morally wrong.

In short, I believe unethical is far too mild a term -- someone should fry for this. The outcry should be long and loud -- I don't understand why people aren't rioting in the streets.

*sigh* (3.75 / 8) (#39)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:46:58 PM EST

Why do people assume all these things without knowing anything about the facts behind the decision?

How do you know the Russians knew what effects the gas would have? It might've been an experimental gas, something that was not thoroughly tested on human subjects (for obvious reasons) and/or the gas didn't perform as expected. The hostages were malnourished, tired, afraid, with a wide variety of body-weights, mental states, etc. The area was confined so the gas could not disperse. Maybe the military didn't have enough antidote to give around. Maybe they gave the antidote too late.

I am positive the general/president/whoever gave the order to use the gas made the most difficult decision of his life. He saw this was necessary under the circumstances. He knew more about the history of Chechen fighting against Russia, Alpha troops, hostage situations and the gas itself than you or any other arm-chair tactician (me included) could ever imagine.

I always find it amusing how people and the media spend minutes, hours or even days pondering the actions of police/firemen/soldiers/etc. who are in the heat of the situation and have to make a decision literally in a split second, under pressure, based on extremely limited or wrong information. Who can honestly judge that kind of action after-the-fact and say they would've acted in a more ethical/moral manner?

--
Life is like a box of chocolates. Fat people finish it first.


[ Parent ]
What if, what if, what if (2.37 / 8) (#41)
by Shovas on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:53:12 PM EST

The government was certainly not testing an experimental gas in such a sensitive situation. Please, think a little. Regardless of your arguments, an antidote or treatment or even the name of the gas itself would have been some help for doctors to treat their patient. The government refused even to name the gas. That is clearly unethical. They are simply protecting a military secret at the expense of human lives. I can not see how anyone can find that acceptable.
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[ Parent ]
what-if (3.25 / 4) (#43)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:59:03 PM EST

The experimental gas scenario was just one scenario I offered. Don't get too attached to that, I didn't.

While you are not giving any what-ifs, your whole argument is based on a big what-if, that you can do something to help these people. What good does the name of a gas do if there's nothing you can do to help the victims? If naming the gas can only heal the curiosity of people, there is clearly no reason to release the name.

My argument stands, you offered no insight whatsoever.

--
Life is like a box of chocolates. Fat people finish it first.


[ Parent ]
My argument isn't based on what-ifs, and (1.25 / 4) (#45)
by Shovas on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 10:18:53 PM EST

Probably doesn't centre around even the idea of helping these people from the effects of the gas. Rather, I wanted to bring to light and put up for discussion the concept of a government not revealing the gas used in the raid nor why they won't release that information which potentially is at the expense of human lives. From what I've read, it's not so big a what-if from doctors saying they could better treat(in any way) the victims if they knew what the gas was. Protecting a secret at the harm of others is unethical. A lie of omission or commmission is still a lie: so let out with it and tell the people you can't release that information because it won't help or even because you don't want to because you're keeping a secret.

Interestingly enough, I just saw a short blurb on CNN with a correspondent in Moscow who related speculation that the chemicals used might have been banned by anti-chemical warfare treaties and thus would show Russia as breaking that treaty. Just a though. I've no opinion on that. My concern is the lack of information on that gas to the people of their nation.

Concerning the explanation of the gas not being of any help: There are other gases able to be used in any given situation, it would be even worse if your government used a gas they knew would cause some victims to be helpless, even if they knew what gas it was. That just puts the "unethical" in a different position.
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[ Parent ]
On ethics and chemicals: Union Carbide and Bhopal (5.00 / 1) (#130)
by hydra on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 12:56:27 PM EST

Reading the responses to this article it is obvious that many find this action less egregious because it was a hostage situation. Let me bring up a situation which has strong parallels but lacks the military/terrorist/hostage angle.

In December 1984, 40 tons of a lethal poisonous gas (methyl iso cyanate) leaked out of the Union Carbide Factory in Bhopal. By 2002 the number of those dead as a result was estimated at 20,000. To this day Union Carbide (which in the meantime has been taken over by Dow Chemicals) have refused to release information on the nature of the gas, essential to the treatment of the victims, on the grounds of it being a 'trade secret'.

They have also reused to clean up the contaminated site.

You can read more about the incident here.

When hardly a day goes by without one part of the uS press or other stirring up hysteria about a potential biological/chemical warfare attack by terrorists, it appears that you can actually be responsible for thousands of deaths and continue to be an upstanding corporate citizen of the United States, which says a lot about the state of things in general.

http://slash.autonomedia.org

[ Parent ]

saving lives, at the expense of lives (2.50 / 2) (#56)
by dipierro on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 12:03:55 AM EST

Regardless of your arguments, an antidote or treatment or even the name of the gas itself would have been some help for doctors to treat their patient.

How do you know this?

They are simply protecting a military secret at the expense of human lives.

You've said this at least twice now. But the purpose of "simply protecting a military secret" is to save human lives.



[ Parent ]
The doctors said they need information(nt) (4.00 / 1) (#68)
by Anon 17933 on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 05:19:21 AM EST



[ Parent ]
So? (1.00 / 1) (#117)
by dipierro on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 10:59:43 AM EST

Show me the quote. Did "the doctors" say that "even the name of the gas itself would have been some help?" Do you believe them?

[ Parent ]
read my comment again. (4.00 / 1) (#67)
by Anon 17933 on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 05:18:18 AM EST

The decision on whether to use the gas or not was a decision that had to be made by the on-scene people. I am not qualified to comment on whether it was a good decision or not. Neither are you. What I am qualified to comment on is that the fact they used this gas, and then are continuing to withhold information from medical personnel who are trying to save people's lives is completely reprehensible.

[ Parent ]
Info on the gas (4.36 / 11) (#44)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 10:16:29 PM EST

can be found here.

According to that article the doctors were given an antidote. When that happened is still unclear. The following quote supports my initial thoughts that the antidote was given too late and irreparable damage has been done to the victims, which is why the Russians see no reason to release information on the gas:

"It would shut down the brain and if this happens for long enough the body stops getting oxygen and the brain itself dies."

More info on the gas: Pravda, BBC, info on BZ at Erowid (!).

--
Life is like a box of chocolates. Fat people finish it first.


Lethal loophole (5.00 / 1) (#60)
by Rademir on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 01:51:29 AM EST

From the Guardian article:

because of a loophole these nerve agents are not covered by the international chemical weapons convention.
Anyone know more about this? The article refers to these as "non-lethal" weapons, but obviously that is a misnomer...


Consciousness is our Oxygen Challenge


[ Parent ]
Opiate - simple anaesthetic (4.66 / 6) (#66)
by LQ on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 04:06:27 AM EST

Interviewed on BBC R4, a German doctor treating German victims said the gas was a simple opiate based anaesthetic. He had confirmed this from blood samples. Asked why so many people had died, he said without an anaesthetist, people die.

[ Parent ]
This story is now moot...somewhat (4.00 / 7) (#48)
by Shovas on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 10:42:05 PM EST

With the posting of this comment, it came to my attention that my basic premise--that the Russian government wished to keep a military secret at the expense of lives--is somewhat undermined by the receipt of antidotes by Russian doctors. They are now able to properly treat their patients suffering from the effects of the gas.

So, my story is half pointless now. We could discuss why it took so long to get the antidote or why the authorities didn't say a word about it until now, but it would be all pure speculation at this time. I think what may be better would be to generate new stories running from this starting point perhaps on the points I made above or possibly on the kill-on-sight directives, concerning the guerrillas, during the raid.

Whatever happens from here, I think this story may need to be cancelled. But I'd like input on that decision. Let me know.
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Not really moot (5.00 / 2) (#85)
by epepke on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 08:25:35 AM EST

The concept of an "antidote," like a "philtre" or a "potion," belongs in folk medicine. Real medicine has antagonists and opposition agents. For example, an overdose of an opiate can be treated by an antaxonist such as naltrexone. But administering antagonists still requires medical training and experience and some knowledge of what is being treated to do with reasonable safety.

On the other hand, I have to wonder to whom exactly this came as a thunderclap. Life is cheap in Russia. Not as cheap as in China, but still pretty cheap. It was cheap before Communism, as Napolean found out; it was cheap during Communism; and it can reasonably be expected to be cheap after Communism. How can one not know that, without either smoking an awful lot of dope or having an ideology disconnected with reality, both of which render thunderclaps effectively impossible?

These events are undeniably tragic and terrible, but they are also probably the best that could have been expected, all things considered.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
You really think that (1.00 / 1) (#114)
by Shovas on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 10:58:00 AM EST

Out of a democratized nation? I must be naive to have thought that a government philosophy change would have raised the bar on the value of human life. From all accounts, it has been much better than it was under communism. It seems to me the Russian government, in its foreign policy and internal operation, is closer to our governments than its previous government. That's why it strikes close to home, at least for me. The Russian government behaves "politically" as our governments would, and under the same pretences, yet this situation showed a different side of things.
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[ Parent ]
Culture dies hard (4.50 / 2) (#123)
by epepke on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:55:28 AM EST

I think that the benefits of "democratization" are vastly overrated. There's this belief that once you get a democratic government that everything gets fixed.

I don't know if things are better or worse than they were under Communism, but even during Communism, the Soviet Constitution was remarkably similar to the U.S. Constitution. It was, of course, interpreted in a peculiarly Russian way. So, for that matter, was Communism.

Democratic governments work pretty well, but they only work when they fit the culture that they're imposed over, and even then they're adapted to the culture. There is no way on God's gray Earth, for example, that Americans would ever go for a parliamentary system, but for most European governments, it's perfect.

Governments come and governments go, but cultures last a long time, and the culture of Russia involves a lot of snow and wolves and folk songs in minor keys and no warm-water ports and never quite enough food and the bloodiest fairy tales in the world.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Not Moot (5.00 / 2) (#93)
by dani14 on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:24:56 AM EST

I agree with the other comment, "not really moot," on the fact that antidotes aren't really antidotes, but counteragents.

Additionally, in spite of the hostages receiving and responding to the antidote, their bodies have had significant damage (evidenced by the hospitalization and critical listings of some). The antidote and poison competing within their bodies may cause further damage before helping them get better. These people could be crippled for life, the long term side effects of this poison could resemble those of Agent Orange or the Gulf War Syndrome.

Again, you're left with the debate of "was this compromise ethical?"

--


"The samaritans parable obviously missed the bit where jizzbug ... kicked the crap out of the guy "just to see if he could do it, you know, to test if the law was perfect and all"." -- Craevenwulfe
[
Parent ]
Clarification (4.00 / 4) (#50)
by marx on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 11:01:26 PM EST

it became quite clear action was required before the rebels would begin killing their hostages.
The situation is portrayed as if the rebels had started to slaughter the hostages, and something needed to be done fast to stop the killings. This is most likely not true. Evidence shows that the raid was planned in advance, and not made in response to any killings.

This is from the Moscow Times:

Government spokesmen said Saturday that the rebels provoked the storming by shooting two hostages before their 6 a.m. deadline for federal forces to start pulling out of Chechnya.

However, evidence suggests the special forces planned the storming as early as Friday night.

Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Vasilyev said Friday night that the area surrounding the police cordons would be cleared of the crowd of onlookers. Foreign diplomats were warned Friday of an upcoming storming, the Observer newspaper reported Sunday.

The raid was instead pre-emptive, and seemingly initiated entirely by the authorities.

I think this puts the whole operation in a different light. In an extremely urgent situation, a brute-force method such as this can be understood. If it's pre-meditated though, then I don't really understand how this kind of method can be accepted.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.

I don't follow (4.75 / 4) (#51)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 11:06:38 PM EST

One would hope that the Russian police started planning such a brute force attack at the very instant they heard that there was a hostage situation. Planning this attack and deciding to carry it out are two very seperate events, however.

Now if there is evidence that the Russian government had decided to go in prior to hostages being shot, then your point would stand. That the attack was planned long before people started getting killed is really neither here nor there because it is what any competent police force would have done from the get-go.

[ Parent ]

Evidence (4.25 / 4) (#53)
by marx on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 11:39:08 PM EST

Now if there is evidence that the Russian government had decided to go in prior to hostages being shot, then your point would stand.
Well, we just have to look at the physical evidence. This is from another paper:
Podlesny and Georgy Vasilyev, producer of Nord-Ost, disputed Russian officials' statement that the guerrillas had begun shooting hostages before dawn and prompting the special forces' assault.

A total of 118 hostages where known to have died after the Chechens stormed the theater - 116 from the effects of the gas, one young woman shot early in the standoff and one hostage shot Saturday morning shortly before the raid.

So the "slaughter" involved at most one hostage. It's not even clear how this one hostage died.

I don't think anyone will say that the brute force solution was warranted after a single shooting.

Also, I think the default assumption about the Russian authorities should be that they are lying. At almost ever step, they have come out with false information.

You also have things like these, which really make me sad (from the same article):

Podlesny questioned Russian television footage that showed the captors' corpses in the theater amid liquor bottles and syringes. "They didn't drink, didn't smoke, didn't swear. They were very disciplined," he said.
So they planted bottles and syringes to smear the image of the rebels. Somehow to justify their execution to the public I presume.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Still does not make sense to me (5.00 / 2) (#57)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 12:32:18 AM EST

First, the physical evidence does not speak to your point about planning an assault. Nor does it speak to my point about when the decision to go forward with the assault took place.

Second, you removed the context. There may not have been a large number of hostages shot prior to the attack by Russian police, but the shootings that did occur prior to the attack took place in the context of the terrorists' threat to kill all of the hostages.

Third, many would say that a brute force solution was appropriate after a single killing. Further, many would say that a brute force solution should have been attempted before any killings took place.

Fourth, the syringes and bottles are irrelevent. In fact whether or not we can trust the information that came from the Russian authorities is irrelevant. I don't know that anyone thinks that the Russian government is incredibly trustworthy in matters of propaganda. The facts that I do not believe are in dispute are as follows:

  1. Any competent police force would have begun planning an assault on the theater as soon as they were informed that the theater had been taken by terrorists.
  2. The terrorists stated that they intended to start killing hostages.
  3. The terrorists began killing hostages.
I see no reason to presume that the decision to begin the assault was made prior to the killing of hostages began. Nor do I need to rely on information provided by Russian authorities to reach this conclusion.

Could information come to light that would change my view? Certainly. Will it? Who knows?

[ Parent ]

Context (5.00 / 6) (#58)
by marx on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 01:33:39 AM EST

Second, you removed the context. There may not have been a large number of hostages shot prior to the attack by Russian police, but the shootings that did occur prior to the attack took place in the context of the terrorists' threat to kill all of the hostages.
No, I don't think you can start talking about context. As I've said before, I don't believe in this "calculus of the greater good". That unfortunate things happen in the heat of the moment I can understand, but you can't sit around summing fatalities against rescued and making decisions on the predicted result.

If you can do that, then the rebels were right in doing the exact same thing. By their calculation, this operation would help get Russia out of Chechnya, and that would save many times more lives than this could cost. Ironically, perhaps they will achieve this goal, since now the entire world knows much more about the Chechnya conflict.

3. The terrorists began killing hostages.
Well, this is the crux, isn't it? They certainly killed two hostages, but why?

One image we have gotten is that the rebels were murderous maniacs, with the goal of killing as many as possible. I don't believe that though.

First of all, they let people go. They let children and the sick go. I.e. they showed good will to negotiate.

Secondly, and I believe most important, not a single hostage was killed by an explosive (not even injured as far as I know). The gas was not instantaneous, we even have sound recordings of hostages describing the gas seeping in. This means that even though the rebels knew the raid had started, and even though they had the opportunity, they did not blow up the bombs.

The final fact is this: over 100 hostages were murdered, not by the rebels, but by the Russian authorities. You can sit and do your calculations, but at the end there is a huge difference between you murdering a person and someone else murdering that person. Ultimately you cannot control the actions and thoughts of other people, but what you can control, and what you have responsibility over, are your own actions.

If you tell me that it would be no difference between the rebels killing all the hostages and the Russian authorities killing all the hostages, then I guess we have radically different views of the world. The authorities made a choice to go in and kill, and now they have to take responsibility for that.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

i disagree... (none / 0) (#213)
by dze27 on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 11:16:28 AM EST

The final fact is this: over 100 hostages were murdered, not by the rebels, but by the Russian authorities. You can sit and do your calculations, but at the end there is a huge difference between you murdering a person and someone else murdering that person. Ultimately you cannot control the actions and thoughts of other people, but what you can control, and what you have responsibility over, are your own actions.

If you tell me that it would be no difference between the rebels killing all the hostages and the Russian authorities killing all the hostages, then I guess we have radically different views of the world. The authorities made a choice to go in and kill, and now they have to take responsibility for that.

I disagree here, I think it becomes a numbers game. What if the Russians killed one innocent person instead of 160-odd. Would you then agree that they made the right decision? I certainly would. On the other hand, as you say, if the Russians had killed everyone in the building we would both say the authorities had done the wrong thing. We could debate whether the actual result was the optimal situation, but I don't think that inaction can be justified by the existence of risks.

Don't we ask government to make tough decisions that benefit the most people? What if the hostage-takers had carried out their threat of blowing up the building (which by all accounts they had the means to do)? It seems as though this result would be satisfactory to you, since you would just say that the hostage-takers had the blood on their hands, not the government. Once the hostage situation exists, who cares about guilt? The object, in my view, should be to get as many people out as possible.


"Luck is the residue of design" -- Branch Rickey


[ Parent ]
Knowledge (none / 0) (#221)
by marx on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 12:59:45 AM EST

What if the Russians killed one innocent person instead of 160-odd.
I think the whole thing stands and falls on the knowledge you have before you do something. If you know, or are reasonably sure, that even one person will be killed, then you can't really proceed. Because that is murder, and I don't know a single person who would say that the state should be allowed to murder innocent people as long as society benefits from it.

It's all about balancing the good of the state vs. the good of the individual. If we say that the state can murder one person as long as it can produce evidence that the murder saved several others, then we are on very shaky ground. If you have a disaster scene where many individuals need urgent blood transfusions, then you could expropriate the bodies of innocent, healthy bystanders, take all their blood (which would kill them), and save, say 5 people for every 1 expropriated individual. Or you could apply the Stalin method of murdering people who interfered with the machinery of the state, since interference means a loss of resources, and thus a potential loss of human life, or at least harm to the good of the state.

I'm really surprised that so many people seem to support the Soviet-style methods of Russia in this incident. There are two aspects of the Soviet-style communism, one is the collectivization of the economy and the other is the disregard for the worth of the individual. I've always thought that it was mainly the second aspect that people were repulsed by, but it seems that many people actually agree with that thinking. So what must have been repulsive is the collective economic thinking alone. I think this is very odd, but perhaps it explains many things in the world today.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Not Quite... (4.00 / 1) (#52)
by Skywise on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 11:24:04 PM EST

The hostage rescue *was* planned.  The Russian Special Forces trained in a nearly duplicate theater in another town for the assault.

That's a "good thing".  You can knock out alot of the random things that might've occurred otherwise and refine some of the plan to prevent failure of the mission.  There's still lots of other random things that they couldn't train for.  But every less random thing to deal with is... one less random thing to deal with.

The question is whether or not the hostages were being killed at sunrise as was promised, or if the team just went in at sunrise.  (it was just about sunrise when they went in).  And I suspect we'll be arguing that for a very, very long time.

[ Parent ]

Gas the hostages! (3.33 / 6) (#54)
by StephenThompson on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 11:40:36 PM EST

Did you ever consider that perhaps the Russians killed those people as a message to the Chechens that they will not negotiate. They may have reasoned (in a hind-brain sort of way) that showing disregard for their own citizens would make the Chechens not try that tactic again. After so many many people have died in the war, one can easily see the generals just doing the math.

Isto non pote functionar (2.50 / 6) (#80)
by Mardy on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 07:56:06 AM EST

They may have reasoned (in a hind-brain sort of way) that showing disregard for their own citizens would make the Chechens not try that tactic again.

Impossibile. Tu pensa vermente que iste tactica habera successo?
Le Cecenos attaccara ancora. Le libertate non ha precio.

Salute, Mardy
Interlingua
[ Parent ]
Speak American commie! (none / 0) (#195)
by rjo on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 01:17:32 PM EST

Or take your Interlingua and go back to Russia!

[ Parent ]
I applaud the Russians for this action. (3.78 / 14) (#55)
by Skywise on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 11:44:34 PM EST

And for the record, I'm a US Citizen.

The Russians had no choice in the matter.  They could give in to the Chechen demands, and then open themselves up to future hostage situations whenever the Chechens got the urge for more goodies.  They could've stormed the building which would've automatically resulted in massive loss of life.  Or they could've just waited them out, while the Chechen's killed more hostages and eventually blew up the building.

The gas had never been used in this manner before.  That it had this sort of reaction is unfortunate.  I also suspect that the Russian military hadn't thought about what to do AFTER the attack.  Only to get in and secure the building without killing (shooting) hostages.  The gas was only meant to incapacitate so they probably figured everybody was just knocked out and needed time to "sleep off" the effects.  This was military triage... of the ~700 people in the building, 50 were dead and ~650 were "alive"  (IE they were breathing and had a pulse).  I suspect the next 48 hours was "old" russia coming in and denying everything, and not wanting to give future terrorists any ideas of what this gas was to defend against it in future situations.  Does this mean they value military secrets over human lives?  No.  It means that the next time, it may be a nuclear device in the theater and this time the terrorists will have the antitodes with them.

That the Russian government TRIED to do something to save the lives of those in the theater, especially in a no-win situation... is a powerful testament to how far Russia has come in 20 years.  And is a far better example than what we in the US did with the Branch Davidian complex in Waco Texas...


Strategy (4.75 / 4) (#69)
by sigwinch on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 05:20:25 AM EST

I suspect the next 48 hours was "old" russia coming in and denying everything, and not wanting to give future terrorists any ideas of what this gas was to defend against it in future situations.
I think it was just your usual battle, which is to say a general clusterfuck. Military organizations are designed to kill people quickly and efficiently. They are not designed to be public health authorities, nor to blab information because it feels right. And that's the way it should be.
That the Russian government TRIED to do something to save the lives of those in the theater, especially in a no-win situation... is a powerful testament to how far Russia has come in 20 years.
Indeed. The drugging operation was complex, and had a very high risk of total failure. A proper dead-man switch on the main bomb would've killed the hostages and a lot of soldiers besides. They certainly knew this, but they went ahead and tried it anyway. And what the hell, it worked, more or less. Let the armchair generals moan and whine -- when they're willing to haul ass into a building full of terrorists and bombs and poison gas, then I'll seriously consider their opinion.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Stupiditate (2.62 / 8) (#77)
by Mardy on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 07:50:32 AM EST

The Russians had no choice in the matter. They could give in to the Chechen demands, and then open themselves up to future hostage situations whenever the Chechens got the urge for more goodies.

Perque non?
Omne action destinate al suppression del libertate de un population es destinate a faller. Il es incredibile como in le 2002 on existe ancora personas qui crede que il es possibile (e conveniente) imponer su domination a un altere populo.
Cecenia es destinate a esser un nation libere, a minus que su habitantes es exterminate totalmente.

Salute, Mardy
Interlingua
[ Parent ]
That's it! (none / 0) (#197)
by rjo on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 01:24:58 PM EST

Back to Russia with you! Enjoy the bread lines.

[ Parent ]
the chechens also showed a steel will (2.11 / 9) (#59)
by turmeric on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 01:46:49 AM EST

for not nuking the entire russian population
out of existence, considering the massive
wave of genocide after genocide after genocide
that has been perpetrated on the chechen people
since the mid 1800s, not least of which was
mass deportation to siberia of everyone in chechnya
to work in slave labor camps, including breaking
up families, and the subsequent 'repatriation'
(minus the ethnic groups that were completely
obliterated by this action).... and then
the war startingin the mid 1990s in which
tens of thousands of people have been killed.

i am quite happy to see that the chechens
had such a 'steel will' as to only kill a few
hostages and not the whole damn lot.

Reality check: (2.66 / 3) (#101)
by tkatchev on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:55:08 AM EST

It's not the Chechens who have nuclear weapons.

I suggest that certain ape-men be thankful that they still exist. As long as they are still alive, they have a chance to evolve.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

I guess that makes the Chechens one of the weakest (none / 0) (#108)
by Vygramul on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 10:46:18 AM EST

Ukraine, having suffered 30 million dead at the hands of the Communist-created famine to thin them out, must have even more steel will not to use its nuclear arsenal on the Russians. Let's not forget other countries that were victims of Russia's Imperialism, like the Baltics.
If Brute Force isn't working, you're not using enough.
[ Parent ]
Offtopic (none / 0) (#163)
by tftp on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:55:27 PM EST

If Brute Force isn't working, you're not using enough.

Please use the correct quote:

"If violence isn't solving your problems, you're not using enough of it."
- Misato Katsuragi


[ Parent ]

Different meaning... (none / 0) (#181)
by Vygramul on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 09:44:04 AM EST

...and I didn't use quotes or reference a speaker. I specifically didn't intend to quote Katsuragi because violence and brute force aren't the same thing, though violence is a major component of brute force. One can be violent yet precise. You cannot use brute force with precision.
If Brute Force isn't working, you're not using enough.
[ Parent ]
Not that Stalin was a nice guy or anything... (none / 0) (#172)
by SvnLyrBrto on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 05:03:05 AM EST

But the deportations to which you refer took place because those chechens had allied themselves with, collaberated with, and aided, a certian genocidal madman with aspirations to rule the world, exterminate the world's Jews, and wipe out the Russians while he was at it (I believe he was sucessfull at offing 20 million or so.).

To give you an idea of who this genocidal madman was, without falling prey, myself, to Godwin's Law, I'll remind you that he had a funny looking moustache and was very effectively parodied by Charlie Chaplin.

So far as I'm concerned, NO ONE who signed on to said genodical madman's ideology deserves the slightest shred of sympothy.

cya,
john
 

Imagine all the people...
[ Parent ]

No such thing as safe knockout gases (4.28 / 7) (#62)
by pattern against user on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 02:20:21 AM EST

There is no such thing as a "safe" knockout gas, and probably will never be.

Consider that being an anaesthetist is a professional job, and quantities of anaesthetic in patients must be measured out very carefully. Even still there is always a chance that you will die from the anaesthetic.

Now with gases there is NO way to control how much of a gas a person inhales or who inhales what (is it a baby? an old person? An intoxicated person?).

ALL knockout gases will cause significant death amongst casualties. Otherwise, they would obviously be used by government across the world to control civilian populations during riots, uprisings, etc.

The point being that when the Russian commanders decided to use gas, they must have known that there would be significant casualties amongst the hostages. There was no mistake, even if the gas was experimental - it's a fact of nature that there would be deaths, which the commanders must have been acutely aware of.

Personally, I think the Russians were putting the value of the theater and/or the police forces above that of the civilian hostages. Which depending on your point of view might or might not have been the rght decision.


I think people understand that issue. (5.00 / 2) (#89)
by Otto Surly on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 08:53:33 AM EST

The complaint is that they didn't give doctors what information they had so they could treat their patients.

--
I can't wait to see The Two Towers. Man, that Legolas chick is hot.
[ Parent ]
this is a problem for nanotech (none / 0) (#194)
by Shren on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 12:58:18 PM EST

Dosage is the problem for all non-lethal weapons. Almost anything which can incapicate at dosage X (electricity, chemical agents) can kill at dosage Y. When you start pumping buildings full of chemical agents the dosage is at best irregular.

Imagine a nanotech capsule that won't open up if doing so would overdose the body. You can put someone in a room pumped full of the gas and only enough of the capsules will open up in thier blood stream to knock the target out, and no more.

It'd be a scary new era, as police could use knockout gas with impunity with no risk of loss of life. Pesky protestors? Flood the square with gas. You could use enough to get the whole square without concerns of overdosing.

[ Parent ]

Safe knockout gases (none / 0) (#214)
by treat on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 12:40:33 PM EST

There is no such thing as a "safe" knockout gas, and probably will never be.

The danger comes from the fact that the effective and lethal doses are so close. If a substance has a sufficient range, such as 100-1000 times, it will be a safe knockout gas.

Such substances exist, and advances in medical technology will make new ones at a rapid pace. Classic examples are LSD and THC, both with easily a 1000 times difference between effective and lethal dose. However it would probably not have been effective in this situation, as it is not likely that even a massive does would have caused unconsciousness quickly enough (if at all) to prevent someone from hitting a button.

It is a difficult problem, to be sure. But it is not unsolvable.

[ Parent ]

Here we go again (2.90 / 11) (#65)
by Rogerborg on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 03:28:05 AM EST


  1. Conflict is usually evil versus evil.
  2. Armchair generals always know better than the guy on the ground.
  3. ...
  4. Profit!


"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs

Come on now, we don't need this on K5 NT (5.00 / 1) (#104)
by Shovas on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 10:34:11 AM EST


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[ Parent ]
Sorry, fair point (3.00 / 2) (#131)
by Rogerborg on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 01:01:28 PM EST

I'm just a little tired of reading yet another "Here's what I think about some news that you can read in a heap of other places" article.  The subsequent discussion can be summed up in the first two points, the last two being to illustrate that all our sound and fury has as much substance or significant as a typical .com business plan.  A bit of a mixed metaphor, I freely concede. ;-)

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

I was talking about the vehicle (5.00 / 1) (#142)
by Shovas on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 02:14:24 PM EST

The poster may very well have had a point, but the lame, tired, cliched use of the 1-4 model is useless. It provides no backing evidence and attempts to be funny without even coming close.

If you feel like criticizing the story, write it in an intelligible manner. Slashdot is ridden with those 1-4 models in every discussion, we don't need to encourage that here.
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[ Parent ]
Well... (1.00 / 1) (#177)
by Rogerborg on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 07:26:46 AM EST

IYHO, and incidentally, nice sig.  Do as you say, not as you do, I take it?

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

If you disagree, post, don't moderate? <-- that (none / 0) (#180)
by Shovas on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 09:15:52 AM EST

I believe I did, in fact, post after I mod'd the parent down. Might've needed more explanation, but I think it was pretty obvious the post was a blatant attempt at humour which has been overused and tired for quite some time now. That, and it provides no insightful commentary to back up its claims. These should all be relatively obvious. I do attempt to keep to the spirit of my sig most of the time(check my recents mods and if I've replied).

It's also possible I didn't disagree with the post and what it said but rather disapproved of the style because it doesn't lend itself to concrete content. Either way, I stand by my sig and believe I've mostly kept up with it.
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[ Parent ]
Health of Russian Citizens (3.00 / 1) (#70)
by Aimaz on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 05:56:11 AM EST

I can understand the Russians chosen action, although I don't neccesarily agree with it.

My main concern is that many people's health could be ensured if they would just tell the doctors what the "Mysterious" deadly gas was.

Aimaz

One point I haven't seen ... (4.83 / 6) (#71)
by pyramid termite on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 06:00:26 AM EST

... is that it's certain the Chechan rebels will not attempt this tactic again - no, I'm afraid they'll go ahead and blow the place up next time without even bothering to negotiate. I don't know what else the Russians could have done, but I'm afraid that's what's going to happen.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
And then they'll lose. (5.00 / 1) (#109)
by Skywise on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 10:46:22 AM EST

The only real tactic from taking the hostages was to garner public awareness and public sympathy.

If you just start blowing up targets, you lose that aspect entirely.

And assuming it becomes a tit for tat, Russia will win because they have more bombs.

[ Parent ]

Hello? (2.50 / 4) (#139)
by tkatchev on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 01:27:15 PM EST

Where have you been for the last 11 years when the Chechens were blowing things up almost daily?

The whole reason they tried a hostage-taking plan this time was because people were becoming so used to daily bombings that they stopped even noticing them.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Bad act, good reason (4.40 / 15) (#74)
by Quila on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 06:44:29 AM EST

Before people go screaming "Muslim terrorists are at it again" remember this was a desperate attempt to gain freedom for their country. Unfortunately, resorting to terrorism reduces my sympathy for the Chechans. Here's a basic timeline:
  • 1600s: Group identity of Chechnya appears
  • 1818: Czars start taking over Caucasus, including the Chechens
  • 1850s: Repressed Chechen rebellion
  • 1921: Eventually conquered by the Bolsheviks and made part of the Soviet Union while being combined with the Ingush people
  • WWII: Chechans cooperate with Germans in the belief that Germans will let them have their independence
  • 1944: Stalin deports most of Chechnya to the gulags, survivors repatriated in 1956
  • 1991: Soviet Union disintegrating, independence granted to Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, a few *stan countries, etc., but not Chechnya. Chechnya declares independence
  • 1992-1996: Russia pretty much destroys Chechnya and withdraws
  • 1999-2002: Because some Muslim fundamentalists raid neighboring Dagestan, Russia re-invades and remains to this day.
The current occupational troops go on regular sweeps ostensibly to find terrorists. These sweeps are invariably accompanied with extortion of all residents for money, jewels and other valuables. Women who can't pay are raped and men who can't pay are beaten, tortured or killed.

Quotes like "I got raped on sweep #13 while my neighbor was killed on #16" are common.

The actual combatants are smart and well-funded, and therefore simply pay up and are left alone.

This is why the Chechens are fighting.

Please, (1.35 / 17) (#100)
by tkatchev on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:52:49 AM EST

go f-ck yourself.

We're to civilized to wrap you pigskin and strap you to a moon-bound rocket, but, in reality, that's the only language you barbarians understand.

Again, go f-ck yourself. Darwin said that man evolved from an ape, but empirical evidence shows that, in actuality, the opposite was true: apes and monkeys devolved from barbaric humans.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Very lucid comment (3.66 / 3) (#171)
by Quila on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 03:35:00 AM EST

Would you actually care to make an intelligent point?

[ Parent ]
Not with you. (1.50 / 8) (#176)
by tkatchev on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 06:47:43 AM EST

Please go f-ck yourself. You're disgusting, dude.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

I think I've touched a nerve (2.50 / 2) (#209)
by Quila on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 03:13:54 AM EST

Of someone who has fixed views on a subject, so much that he can't discuss it rationally for fear of having his views challenged.

Don't fear the light.

[ Parent ]

try this one on for size (5.00 / 2) (#216)
by adequate nathan on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 04:22:29 PM EST

Why do you think that you're qualified to lecture a Russian about details of his own nation's political history? You've shown that you know a certain amount, and you've also shown a slant characteristic of an intellectual parvenu who is only familiar with one interpretation of the issue.

Just imagine the monumental arrogance of it! What's next, you're going to show which one between Israel and Palestine has been right the whole time?

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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[ Parent ]

You can see this in the U.S. (5.00 / 2) (#222)
by Quila on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 04:33:12 AM EST

Try to get into a sensible conversation with your average American about possible war with Iraq. For the most part you will get the standard propagandized party line about why we should attack, and any discussion (not just an anti point of view, but discussion) will be seen as unpatriotic and even traitorous.

Sometimes a detached point of view helps a bit. It helps for me since I've been living outside of my country for a while.

I have been interested in Russian culture all my life, call it wanting to know exactly why we were supposed to hate all those people over there during the cold war (even learned Cyrillic and some Russian on my own). I was a regular listener of Radio Moscow on shortwave, and still read Pravda and others. BTW, your 1984 U.S. election coverage was hilarious, as it was one big commercial for Mondale. Don't want hard-ass Reagan in charge anymore, no way.

And even though my college never offered courses about Russia, for some reason they had lots of big books on the history and politics, and I snatched those up at bargain basement prices, as little as $1 a piece!

The reason for my post was that people want to just slap the "Muslim terrorist" label on those people as if they were related to the al Quada holy war, when it is actually about national independence. Being from a country that had to fight for its independence, I can identify with that -- at least the struggle part, not the killing-of-innocents part which was inexcusable under any circumstances. I might have some sympathy if they'd just blown up the old Conservatory spot on Vozdvizhenka Street, as at least that's a legitimate target.

Interesting you mention Israel/Palestine. I have Jewish and Palestinian friends and I've discussed it with both. I've learned a lot since in the beginning I admitted I knew little of the situation in the beginning, and for some reason it always stays civil. As in the case of Chechnya, it just seems to have been totally fucked up by both sides.

[ Parent ]

I don't buy it (4.00 / 1) (#223)
by adequate nathan on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 03:29:00 PM EST

Try to get into a sensible conversation with your average American about possible war with Iraq...

By analogy, any sensible conversation with Russians about Chechnya is unlikely. Therefore, we should bomb Iraq. Uh, I mean, dismiss any Russian's viewpoint in the cockiest way possible.

[P]eople want to just slap the "Muslim terrorist" label on those people as if they were related to the al Quada holy war.

CNN must be amazing if they've sold the Russians on this viewpoint! Sir, I am in awe.

Look, your pocket history of Chechnya could have been condensed without loss into "Russia oppresses Chechnya." Someone else pointed out that you left out the parts where, eg, Chechens raided the Russian frontier for rape and pillage. This confirms that your understanding of the Russian-Chechnyan conflict goes no further than a kind of negative CNN reading where the little guy is always blameless.

The truth is that nobody likes Chechnya, and for good reason. Those little bastards have been a nation of bandits for time immemorial. They are suffering frightfully in the war, to be sure, and I'd like to see a peaceful solution to the conflict; but Russia is not invading Chechnya out of simple Czarist expansionism. It's invading Chechnya because the thought of a wild Chechnya going nuts on its border was intolerable ca. 1992. Who knows what guys like that will do? The only constants in Chechen national history are smuggling, extortion, banditry, and misogyny.

You might quarrel with this reasoning, if you knew anything about Chechnya besides whatever you read in Der Arbeiters Freint, but you don't, do you? So shut up already and stop playing foreign policy expert for Russia.

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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[ Parent ]

conversations are hard (5.00 / 1) (#228)
by Quila on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 06:36:00 AM EST

By analogy, any sensible conversation with Russians about Chechnya is unlikely.

Exactly. As with Americans on the Iraq issue, there's often too much emotion in the way to allow sensible detached thinking. Another example, try to talk to someone from the ADL, treating the Holocaust as an historical event rather than regurgitating dogma. You will be called a revisionist.

Therefore, we should bomb Iraq.

LOL! That does seem to be where Bush always ends up. "Mr. President, what about the economy?" "Well, what I'm going to do about the economy is ...... what about that evil Saddam again, huh?"

Russia didn't let go of Chechnya because it has oil. It's no more complex than that. That the Chechens have shown themselves to be quite barbarous is only making it easier on the public relations front for Russia to do whatever it wants to keep that oil. But for me, rape and pillage on the part of the Chechens is no excuse for Russia to do the same. They should just get out and let the Chechens have their independence -- best to make a good deal for the oil since Russia did build the infrastructure in all fairness.

And I rarely ever read or watch CNN, CBS, ABC, Fox or MSNBC anymore. CNN especially sucked.

[ Parent ]

look at it this way (none / 0) (#239)
by adequate nathan on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 09:48:48 AM EST

Would the USA tolerate a pesthole full of terrorists, smugglers and bandits on its border? Let's up the ante. What if they might some day get advanced weaponry? What if they had a four-hundred-year-old hatred for the USA?

The Plains Indians were wiped out for no other reason than they stood in the way of expansion. The Chechens are more dangerous and cohesive than the Plains Indians (for all their valour) ever were, mostly because the Chechens live in the mountains and are armed with rocket launchers. They are much more aggressive and pose much more of a threat.

It's about more than just oil.

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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[ Parent ]

We have it (5.00 / 1) (#242)
by Quila on Tue Nov 05, 2002 at 04:06:51 AM EST

Would the USA tolerate a pesthole full of terrorists, smugglers and bandits on its border?

Depending on how you define terrorist, we already have it: Mexico. But then these days the definition of terrorist has expanded so much to include anyone who doesn't conform to mainstream thinking. Up until the theater takeover, I wouldn't have called the Chechens terrorists.

Whoever said we were right in wiping out the Plains Indians? At least the Chechens have rocket launchers with which to protect themselves.

[ Parent ]

answer what I wrote (none / 0) (#244)
by adequate nathan on Tue Nov 05, 2002 at 11:40:12 AM EST

Whoever said we were right in wiping out the Plains Indians?

Not me, that's for sure. It's an issue of realpolitik that's at hand, so why bother with discussing its morality? Can the clash between two peoples be prevented by pious slogans? If so, it has never happened yet. No one ever managed to talk a major power out of breaking a minor one.

Look, an independent Chechnya would be a threat to Russia. That's the only issue here. An independent Chechnya would be an intolerable security threat to Russia. Therefore, Russia has to prevent Chechnya from declaring its independence. Period! It doesn't have to be about oil!

Oil is probably a factor, but it's not the only factor, and there'd be a huge conflict there even if Chechnya had no resource value to the Russians whatsoever.

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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[ Parent ]

I don't see a threat (none / 0) (#245)
by Quila on Wed Nov 06, 2002 at 03:03:01 AM EST

Afghanistan was a huge security threat to Russia while it was meddling there. After Russia pulled out, the Afghani religious state was not a threat. The same would probably happen with Chechnya. Russia is creating its own problems, and every soldier who died there can have his death blamed on the Kremlin.

[ Parent ]
The word is "fuck". (5.00 / 1) (#220)
by it certainly is on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 08:46:33 PM EST

The very worst censorship is self-censorship.

If you want to tell Quila to "go fuck himself", as the colloquial expression goes, don't beat about the bush -- use complete, uncensored words. Above all, don't use tkatchevisms like "fhuck".

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

few missing points (4.75 / 4) (#159)
by notAcoolNick on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:17:53 PM EST

You forgot to mention about numerous raids by chechens during 17-19 centuries deep into russian teritory acompanied by pillageing, rape, murders and slave trade. The main reason why the Russian Empire went to war with them.

1905-1906 Chechens actually joined czars army in ruthless suppression of numerous revolts against Czar.

You also omitted the fact that many chechens collaborated with German Nazis. That led to the deportation of chechens in 1944. It is somewhat similar to what happend to japanese in US during WWII. But unlike japanese americans a lot of those guys actually did it.

I really admire your desire to color everything in black and white. But it seems most of the time chechens and russians are in grey area. Even in ongoing war human rights are abused by _both_ sides. Don't ask me ask those brithish telecom workers beheaded by chechens (you can read about it in Guardian).

The only difference that russian cannot  yet loose and chechens cannot yet win.

Just let me give you an example of Lithuania where in the begining of the movement for independence soviet government tried to use special forces to suppress the popular movement. Somehow this did not escalate into a bloody war. But after a series of actioins of civil disobidience Lithuania became  an independent country.

What is really appalling is an attempt by media to present this as yet another religious conflict. It  is an ethnic (very bloody) conflict. Russia after 75 years of enforced atheism and with 15% of muslim population is hardly a christian country (like Polland or same Lithuania) and chechens started to use religious rehethorics just recently.

The main difference between Chechnya and Lithuania is the duplicity of the Western countries. That do not desire to exert some pressure on Russain Federation to find a peaceful solution to Chechen conflict because they need russian support to go against Iraq for example. And may be also because it is happening way to far from center of Europe.

[ Parent ]

Nobody's clean (3.75 / 4) (#170)
by Quila on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 03:34:00 AM EST

You're right, nobody's clean on either side, but they should have been granted independence in 1991, then it would have all been over. But nooo, there's oil in Chechnya.

You also omitted the fact that many chechens collaborated with German Nazis.

No I didn't. Read again. The message given to everyone was basically to cooperate with the Germans if they promise freedom. It seems that throughout history all their decisions had to do with gaining their freedom, including the 1905 matter.

But it seems most of the time chechens and russians are in grey area. Even in ongoing war human rights are abused by _both_ sides.

Yep. The current president has a hard time. He has the Muslim fundamentalists on one side and the regular people on the other. And the fundamentalists won't stop their brutality until the troops leave.

What is really appalling is an attempt by media to present this as yet another religious conflict.

It pisses me off too. Americans all seem to be trying to equate Chechnya's cultural war and fight for independence with the Al-Qaeda Muslim holy war thing, all because most Chechens are Muslim. That's the whole point of my post.

BTW, did you know that those women in the theater with bombs strapped on them were war widows? This wasn't Palestinians sending out kids, this was women whose lives were already over to them.

I'm still glad they're dead though. There's no excuse for what they did in the theater.

[ Parent ]

something to add (4.75 / 4) (#173)
by notAcoolNick on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 06:12:24 AM EST

I am sorry about German Nazi comment. _I_ missed it.

I completely agree with you this is a _cultural_war_. The cultures are so different the coexistence is very unlikely.

Here are some additional points just to try to comprehend how much situation is messed up.

A lot of chechen fighters received special trainging from KGB and GRU (russian military inetlligence) in  guerrilla warfare. This is little discussed fact. Everything started when Abkhazia decided to separate from Republic of Georgia. In that instance Russia was on the side of Abkhaz (muslims) fighting Georgians (orthodox christians) and chechens were intencively recruited to fight on the Abhkaz side. I would not be surprised if there are still subtile connections between some chechens and some russian  hawks.

Use of wemen in not only in suicide mission but in any military action is a novelty. In that part of region war is exclusively occupation for men. What is interesting and I am quoting the representative of Al-Jazira in Russia the whole "event" was staged to make an impression on arab countries. He commented that female part of terrorists were dressed like arab not chechen women. I guess we can call this palestinization fo Chechen conflict.

1991 was the year of missed oportunities. And here we have smell of oil again. One of the major reasons that according to Russains idependence was out of the questions was oil rectifying plant that used to be there (iirc one of the larges in former USSR). 75% of this plant production was consumed by Air Force of former USSR. Unfortunatelly general Dudaev (first president of Chechnya) was a good man but not a politician. He witnessed separation of Lithuania (where he used to be a comander of one of the divisions of USSR Air Force) and genuinely hoped that the West would help him. As a result he did too many things in a hurry. Eventually he was killed.

1996 was another missed opportunity there was a peace treaty. General Lebed' from Russian side and colonel Maskhadov managed to forge it. Rumor has it that Lebed' (whos popularity was soaring at that moment Russia) promissed to Maskhadov that eventually (if Lebed' becomes president of Russian Federation) he will help chechens to obtain complete independence. What is interesting that appearently Eltcin (fmr. pres. of Russian Federation) appointed Lebed' to deal with Chechen problem with the only purpose to destroi Lebed's political carier. Everything turned out quite the oposite. Lebed' actually managed to get peace agriment. What even more Russian federation allocated funds on rebuilding Chechnya's economy. Unfortunatelly after that those funds were pocketed by few russian and chechen's buerocrats. Russian media (calling them media whores would be insult to real working girls) set up a compain to discredit Lebed' (he eventually became a govenor of one of the siberean regions and died recently in air traffic accident). On his side Maskhadov failed to controll chechen field comanders. This led to raid on Dagestan in 1998 that you mentioned. This is what also pisses me off. There is enough money to keep tens of thousands of troups on one side and numerous private armies on another but nobody whants to spend a dime to rebuild economy.

On top of that the borders in that region are totally bogus. They were set up by Stalin's regime and already led to several conflicts. Abkhaz conflict with Georgia could be one example. Conflict between Northern Osetia and Republic of Ingushetia would be another.

As in many cases both sides constantly trap themselves in their own rehetorics. And of course few individials (I wish we knew thier names) make shitload of money on all this. As usual there is enough people with enough influence on both sides and abroad who are perfectly ok with current situation.
I appologize for any grammatic and spelling errors


[ Parent ]

Thanks (none / 0) (#174)
by Quila on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 06:16:32 AM EST

I appologize for any grammatic and spelling errors

All is forgiven with such an informative post as that.

[ Parent ]

call it conspiracy theory... (4.66 / 3) (#164)
by notAcoolNick on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:59:37 PM EST

But to me whole thing (starting from 1998) stinks of oil. The fundamentalist raid you have mentioned happened about one week before multilateral talks about an oil pipline. The main question was which way to route the caspian oil around Black sea through Russia or Turky. (I've got this information from www.stratfor.com when you could get their newsletter for free)

Now comes 2002 and when US needs to squize an approval of thier plans regarding Iraq from Putin we have another "fundamentalist" holding hostages in Moscow.

[ Parent ]

Not criticising the counter-terrorist forces (4.00 / 1) (#75)
by Barly on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 06:55:53 AM EST

It can easily be argued that the use of the gas in the raid saved many lives.  The terrorists had explosives that they were apparently ready to use to bring the whole theater down.  Knocking them out was an effective way to reduce that risk.

It is not the counter-terrorist forces who are being criticised.  It is the government that is being criticised for not helping the hostages who were injured by the gas.  Why can't they send military doctors to help them?

Wouldn't people in Israel be upset if the same thing happened there?

oops (4.00 / 1) (#81)
by Barly on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 08:02:41 AM EST

My comment should have appeared elsewhere in this discussion.  I'm still getting used to how everything works.  Sorry if the comment appears a bit out of context.

[ Parent ]
Hold your horses (4.71 / 7) (#87)
by ph317 on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 08:41:46 AM EST

Your article, and the countless in the mainstream press, keep forgetting one very important view on this.  Follow this:
  1. Chechnyan Rebels have a history with Russia.  They're known to be ruthless, and to pull off mass killing.  They're known to be good enough to get past the anti-terror-squad's normal efforts.
  2. They've got some 800 people holed up in a building.  There's explosives all over.  If they don't have their demands met in a short amount of time, or if any anti-terror squad comes in to mess with them, they're going to blow the place and take out all 800.  Chances are even if you come up some incredible attack plan requiring 100 agents to do James Bond -like jobs with theatrical precision, chances are one of the rebels gets the picture before he goes down, flips a switch, and still takes everyone out.
  3. You've got a secret nerve-gas in your arsenal.  It will absolutely gaurantee the incapacitation of the rebels, thus allowing you to swoop in, take them, disarm the explosives, etc.  The downside is that the gas is quite dangerous, and you might lose 100 of those 800 people immediately to the gas, and the public will dislike for not revealing the super-secret gas to medical professionals for treatment, causing another 100 to die later.
So crunch time comes, there's a matter of minutes left before the chechnyans are gonna blow the building for not meeting their demands in time, and because of the tactical situation, the above nerve-gas is your best bet.  You can either let them take 800 lives, or you can stop them and take out 200 lives as a side effect.  The intelligent choice that they made was to save the 600 that they could.

Of course, (5.00 / 4) (#90)
by poopi on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:06:11 AM EST

the Russians could have ended the war, and let Chechens be a free people in a sovereign nation, but that would be ridiculous: it would mean that they would give in to terrorists and show all the rest of the conquered people that make up the Russian Federation that freedom is possible. That's just plain crazy. Then everyone would want to have their own country. Next thing you know Quebec will separate from Canada, Taiwan will call itself China and heck maybe even the South will try to secede from the North (US that is) or vice versa. Slippery slope and all that...you gotta keep them people down. If they have no hope then they won't try...........or they become suicidal terrorists but that's a whole different story.

-----

"It's always nice to see USA set the edgy standards. First for freedom, then for the police state." - chimera
[ Parent ]

That's not what they want! (2.00 / 3) (#165)
by tftp on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 12:03:52 AM EST

the Russians could have ended the war, and let Chechens be a free people in a sovereign nation

I urge you to remember what happened in Chechnya between 1990 and 1995, and 1997-1999. At that time Chechnya was absolutely free, meaning that not a single russian soldier was allowed in. But was Chechnya a democratic paradise then? Please research the history before proposing impossible.

[ Parent ]

Who chooses? (5.00 / 1) (#187)
by Kintanon on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 11:58:25 AM EST

Who do you suggest gets to be arbiter of the chechen's fate then? Do they not deserve the chance to live on their own, make their own mistakes, and work towards some kind of productive society without outside interference?
The fact is that the Russian government is forcefully controlling the chechen people, and that just isn't right. Freedom is important for its own sake, if the chechens don't know what to do with their freedom then that's their business.

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

Big misunderstanding (1.00 / 1) (#192)
by tftp on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 12:48:31 PM EST

I was thinking tonight about writing an article about that. No, what you say is all incorrect because you make a wrong assumption at the very beginning.

Do they not deserve the chance to live on their own

Who are "they"? This is a tricky question. The fighters represent feelings of less than few percent of chechen population. The rest is peacefully living in cities and villages, and has to be protected from these fighters by chechen own police force, and sometimes russian army. Fighters are more like IRA, where the rest of population is peaceful and wants nothing to do with the fighting; and the population does not need fighting, and hardly expects any benefits from it.

Think of army as peacekeepers. This function is needed because the "rebels" want to kill all chechens who are against them. We can be sure about it because that's what the "rebels" did last time they were in power. They even demanded extradition of their political opponents from Russia, and executed them.

The fact is that the Russian government is forcefully controlling the chechen people - this fact is incorrect, as I stated above. Majority of chechens do not need to be controlled, and they are not controlled. They elected local administration, they have national police force, and generally they just want to live in peace. That they now have, and they are not "oppressed" in any way. There is no military activity in cities and villages for more than two years - because there is no need to.

The "rebels" hate russians, but they hate their own people even more. They are not "freedom fighters" against "evil empire", they are more like an archaic feudal empire against modern democracy. That is because they hate democracy - last time they ruled, they instituted absolute monarchy of clan leaders (yes, they still have clans and all other signs of a tribal society).

if the chechens don't know what to do with their freedom then that's their business.

That does not work this way. But Russia followed your advice even before you gave it. Chechnya was allowed to exist as chechens saw fit - from 1990 (when they declared independence) to something about 1995, when they went too far the first time. All these years they were totally independent. What did they do then? They opened a crime haven in Chechnya, and engaged in all sorts of crimes themselves. This resulted in many deaths, including deaths of foreigners, inside and outside of Chechnya. Do you consider this to be an acceptable development? What do you do with a hostile country that attacks you?

Another thing to consider is that minority oppressed the majority. I am not only talking about non-chechens, they were oppressed as matter of course. I am talking about chechens themselves. Not everyone was violent, not everyone wanted to raid the neighbors, not everyone was lucky to belong to a ruling clan. These became prey for the rest. They couldn't fight back because, by definition, they were peaceful, or old, or not trained to fight, or just had not enough bravery.

What you advocate is possible again, but only if you can come up with an impenetrable barrier around Chechnya. Then yes, Russia will "free" them in an istant, exactly as they were free before. But such a barrier does not exist, and as result you'd get all sorts of cross-border attacks, crimes and terrorism. One of most popular activities of "free chechens" was to hijack buses with children in Krasnodar region (near Chechnya), demand millions of dollars, and if given - flee to Chechnya, where no pursuit was possible. Is this what you want to happen again?

[ Parent ]

Propaganda (none / 0) (#196)
by Kintanon on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 01:23:28 PM EST

Wow, that's a lot different from what the media tends to portray around here. We always get the "Poor oppressed Chechen freedom fighter" spin to everything. My apologies for my ignorance of the actual situation.
I still think that in this particular instance the chechen hostage takers showed restraint in not blowing up the theatre when they had the chance, and that the russian military/police made some bad mistakes in dealing with the situation. But I suppose you're right, the faction of chechens who are fighting the russians aren't representative of the will of the chechen people and probably shouldn't have their way after all.

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

Propaganda indeed (1.00 / 1) (#201)
by tftp on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 02:50:29 PM EST

There is plenty of misinformation in Western press, and plenty of omissions in Russian press. Nobody has totally clean hands in this. But what is obvious is that the Cold War is alive and well in the West, and too many politicians of all sorts try to gain political capital on a complicated troubles of a small people, terrorized from all sides (mostly - from within their own minds).

Read this article which correctly fumes about hypocricy and double standards toward Chechnya:

Here

There are many things wrong in Chechnya; most of those wrong things are related to a, honestly speaking, backward (and bloodthirsty) society that was receptive to war cries of Dudaev and Maskhadov. Whatever resulted from that only worsened things, of course. The Chechen society was - and mainly is - a loose network of isolated villages high in mountains and low in valleys. They had no democratic principles, ever. Instead, obedience to village elders was the law. It wasn't bad, actually - but the very limited understanding of modern political principles allowed the smarter, well-educated guys like Dudaev to seize the power, and institute his rule of terror that was totally unprecedented. The chechens did not understand where they were led, and many gladly swallowed the bait when offered unearthly riches for services rendered.

The only way to restore civility in Chechnya is to restore democracy, law and order (which were annuled in "free" Chechnya - anyone was free to have, carry and use any weapon he likes, with no restrictions). This has happened in most of Chechnya, except mountains where several hundred "rebels" still hide.

Those fighters lost all sense of direction. They suffer from Lebanon Syndrome. As you probably read in the news, these fighters are constantly drugged by their bosses so that they don't think for themselves. What can be done about that? Currently, they can be only captured, punished for what they did (no death penalty, though, in Russia), and released into the society. That has been already done to many, with success. There were several amnesties already, and many armed groups laid down the arms and returned to peaceful life. That is good. They are truly free to exercise their freedoms, to elect their representatives, to work in the government - they are now as free as anybody in Russia is (which is quite free by international averages).

By the way, here is another historical reading that might be of use:

What really happened

(If you doubt these links to pravda.ru - don't worry, it is not a Party mouthpiece; it is even quite moderate, compared to other publications. Those two links are factually correct, in my opinion. I wouldn't be offering them otherwise.)

[ Parent ]

Propaganda indeed! (n/t) (none / 0) (#211)
by poopi on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 09:30:14 AM EST


-----

"It's always nice to see USA set the edgy standards. First for freedom, then for the police state." - chimera
[ Parent ]

After-the-fact decisions (5.00 / 1) (#94)
by Shovas on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:29:08 AM EST

Check this comment for an explanation of what I was really trying to get at with this story. It's not the use of gas, per se, but rather the decision to refuse information on the gas used while free hostages were in jeopardy of dying in hospital.
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[ Parent ]
That's not totally true (5.00 / 1) (#103)
by CrimsonDeath on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 10:33:52 AM EST

I saw an interview on CBC TV last night with a man from Toronto that was there at the time. He said he felt sick and numb when he got out, was given an antidote and within a half hour felt perfectly alright. Sounds to me like they knew exactly how to treat it.

Besides, the gas has been identified. They knew it would be, as all it took was an autopsy.

[ Parent ]

All it took was an autopsy: heh (5.00 / 1) (#110)
by Shovas on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 10:46:46 AM EST

You said it well enough.

Was the Toronto man treated immediately after by Russian authorities? To the best of my knowledge, an antidote was not given until very much afterwards when many had already died in hospital. The Guardian carried a story revealing the nature of the gas used. It still seemed to me it was by far very late.
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[ Parent ]
Toronto Man (5.00 / 1) (#133)
by CrimsonDeath on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 01:09:57 PM EST

He claimed he was given the antidote when he got out of the theatre. The way he said it implied that he received it on the scene. I'm trying to find a link to a transcript, but can't find one yet.

Reading everything else though, it would seem that they must not have had enough of it, or weren't organised.

And about the autopsy, what I meant by that is that they must've known that an autopsy would reveal which gas was used, so trying to hide it wouldn't really get them anywhere. I'm not sure why they didn't reveal what it was before someone did an autopsy though...

[ Parent ]

The antidote immediately after the raid (5.00 / 1) (#136)
by Shovas on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 01:19:36 PM EST

Apparently, doctors had supplies of antidotes they did try to use but which had little effect. This story actually relays that information: Russia's killer gas is named by the US:
It has been suspected that the gas could be a nerve agent, but Russian doctors told US embassy workers they tried atropine - an antidote to many nerve agents - and that did not work. However, a drug that reverses the effects of opiates, Narcan, did appear to help.
So, apparently the government nor military supplied any real antidote or treatment. I do not presume to think that the attempted antidotes or treatments didn't work for "some" people, which may explain the Torontonian's case.
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[ Parent ]
You're ignoring the other side - (4.54 / 11) (#95)
by gbroiles on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:29:51 AM EST

the Russians aren't looking at this as "keeping a secret vs. saving lives", they're looking at it as "saving lives vs. saving lives", thinking that they'll still have the secret gas in their arsenal for next time if they don't disclose too much about it. It's not like the Chechens are going to give up now, or like there aren't other people in the world hostile to Russia and its current government - if they release information about the gas, it's more likely that potential attackers will have their own antidotes or countermeasures ready next time.

Yeah, security through obscurity. No, not a perfect solution. But sometimes it's a helpful edge over the bad guys. (* Also, it doesn't work well in a democracy. But that's for the Russians to worry about.)

Dead man's switch (5.00 / 2) (#107)
by Otto Surly on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 10:44:20 AM EST

All the hostage-takers have to do to avoid this next time is rig their bombs to go off when they stop squeezing the trigger. In fact, I'm surprised they didn't do that this time; it seems like the most elementary precaution, since they were expecting to get raided. It's not like it's any harder to buy a normally-closed momentary switch than a normally-open one.

In fact, that has an interesting implication: any competent hostage-taker could make a resolution like this impossible if they wanted. So were the hostage-takers incompetent, or was there some more important factor in this situation that overrode the goal of forcing Russia to either lose the hostages or comply with the demands?



--
I can't wait to see The Two Towers. Man, that Legolas chick is hot.
[ Parent ]
Dead man's switch (4.50 / 2) (#121)
by Neolith on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:38:05 AM EST

A dead man's switch might be a viable option for a short term hostage situation (think lone crazy that hasn't really thought their situation through) but would suck for extended use. Think about it. You'd have to kept it squeezed for days on end. You'd have to transfer it to somebody else when it was your time to eat, go to the bathroom, sleep, etc. You couldn't let your hand twitch if something alarmed you. You couldn't drop it, bobble it, or be less than perfect for the entire time you were carrying it. Sounds like a high risk of failure item to me.

[ Parent ]
Modular dead-man's switch (5.00 / 1) (#132)
by Otto Surly on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 01:04:39 PM EST

So you remove the detonator when you need to rest. (Remember, the bomb doesn't have to be tamper-proof, because if somebody gets a chance to touch it, you've already lost.)

And yeah, you can't accidentally let go or you'll blow yourself up. But you're a highly trained and motivated suicide terrorist, so that's OK; after all, the alternative is getting gassed and shot in the head without accomplishing your goals.



--
I can't wait to see The Two Towers. Man, that Legolas chick is hot.
[ Parent ]
My take on it: (3.66 / 6) (#138)
by tkatchev on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 01:24:13 PM EST

As far as I've been able to decipher it, it seems that the terrorists' plan was as follows: the women control the switch of the bomb, and the men guard the exits of the theater.

So, the setup goes as such: when the terrorists decide the set the bombs off, the men leave the theater according to a pre-determined escape plan, then they call the women on the cell phone and order them to set off the detonator.

That theory makes a lot of sense, actually -- at the very least, it explains why the women are there in the first place, since traditionally Chechen society is extremely misogynistic. I mean, a normal, self-respecting Chechen wouldn't even sit down to eat with women at the same table.

Also, Chechen traditions are very much averse to the whole suicide terrorism thing. They have never tried the suicide bomb tactic in the past; I guess they simply don't consider their women to be fully human.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Heavy, man (2.50 / 2) (#148)
by Otto Surly on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 03:22:58 PM EST

...if true. Do you have some sort of documentation, though? You've historically been quite the partisan for the Russian government, and what you just wrote would make very good pro-Russian propaganda.

--
I can't wait to see The Two Towers. Man, that Legolas chick is hot.
[ Parent ]
Whatever. (4.00 / 4) (#150)
by tkatchev on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 04:24:29 PM EST

The Chechen treatment of women is not any kind of secret.

The fact that only the women had worn explosive belts is also obvious -- heck, if you'd seen the news coverage of the "liberation" you know what I mean.

The fact that the men and the women were separated was also captured on film.

Also, the male terrorists (except for the leader dude) wore masks, which suggests that they were expecting to get out alive.

Plus, this is the first terorist act in which the Chechens used suicide bombers, and also the first time women were used. (This last fact in itself is very interesting -- under traditional Chechen values, fighting alongside with women would be viewed as a horrible shame and a disgrace that could ruin your whole life.)

If you connect these facts together, I think it becomes obvious. Although, I stress again that this is nothing but my own personal conjecture.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Some were wearing filter masks? Source? NT (1.50 / 2) (#151)
by Shovas on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 04:46:55 PM EST


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[ Parent ]
Some were wearing filter masks? Source? (3.50 / 2) (#152)
by Shovas on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 04:47:51 PM EST

Or do you mean simply face covering? Because up until now it's been a big question why the guerrillas didn't know/assume they would use gas.
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[ Parent ]
Masks -- (2.33 / 3) (#175)
by tkatchev on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 06:45:42 AM EST

as in woolen face coverings, to protect their "privacy".

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

OT (none / 0) (#210)
by adequate nathan on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 07:41:44 AM EST

I think it's neat how most of the people who casually call Western nations misogynistic sweep it under the rug when it comes time to talk about Chechnya or Saudi Arabia.

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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[ Parent ]

The truth: (3.28 / 7) (#97)
by tkatchev on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:49:19 AM EST

Fact is, even though the exact type of gas wasn't disclosed, medical personel were given clear instructions on how to treat overdosed patients. (Including the exact type of medicines that should be administered, etc.)

Actually, the body count was larger than we'd have hoped simply because medical and emergency agencies were not prepared to handle such a large amount of patients in such a short time. Roughly speaking, some paramedics bungled their job and didn't help some people on time. This problem has nothing to do with "gas".

P.S. The gas wasn't poisonous at all. They say that it was some sort of a derivative of generic medical anesthetic substances; and, as we all know, even in clinical, controlled conditions anesthesia is quite dangerous and even leads to death in some cases. No wonder that when the gas was applied to so many people in such stressful conditions (remember that they haven't eaten for three days, and have barely slept) there was a high percentage of overdosage.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.

Actually, closer to a nerve gas (3.00 / 2) (#111)
by Shovas on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 10:50:56 AM EST

I'm not positive on the exact differences between an anesthetic and a nerve gas, but The Guardian published an article here, saying,
Russian doctors treating hostages for the inhalation of the gas deployed during the Moscow theatre siege are using an antidote supplied by the Russian military for a rare form of nerve agent developed in the 1970s, according to chemical warfare experts.
So, question is, if used in proper concentrations, was it a general anesthetic or an actual "attacking" nerve gas? Or closer to one or the other?
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[ Parent ]
Their information is bunk. (2.66 / 3) (#135)
by tkatchev on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 01:15:54 PM EST

Doctors used the same sort of medicine for treating hostages that is normally used for treating heroin overdosages.

I think it's safe to assume that some sort of opiate-based sedative was used. (Plus, if nerve gas was truly used, there'd be nobody left to safe. Nerve gas is surprisingly effective.)

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Medical Knowledge (5.00 / 1) (#115)
by catseye on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 10:58:11 AM EST

The story I read in the Houston Chronicle (not online) said that the hospital personnel did NOT know what type of antidotes to use until hours after they'd been trying all sorts of things in vain.

----------
How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]
The truth revisited (4.00 / 4) (#119)
by fhotg on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:12:24 AM EST

If, as it stands now, an opiate based anesthaeticum was used, the authorities knew for sure beforehand and accepted the large number of casualties. It is well known, that the lethal and effective dose of these substances lie close together, as you can see from deaths occuring even in an OP-situation occasionally.

This is probably also the reason to mystify the substance used a bit, it gives more the impression of "oops, bad luck with secret new untested special stuff", intead of the true "good luck only 117 died, we estimated 350 but didn't care so much as a quick and deadly strike against the terrorists is more important for us than actually saving lives".
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

[ Parent ]

Obviously acted properly (3.00 / 1) (#147)
by wrax on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 03:17:50 PM EST

The russian government and President Putin acted properly under the conditions that they were faced with. If they sent in troops without any kind of disruption the terrorists would have blown up the building resulting in the loss of everyone including the special forces unit. They acted with the best weapons and personell that they had, a debilating gas that would knock people out quickly before they could activate the explosives and a special forces unit. Sure people died but over 700 survived the experience. I think that people are losing sight of that fact.

Is it bad that people had to die? Yes, but better some had died than all of them. A heavy hand has to be taken with terrorists or their style of diplomacy will destroy us and our way of life.

And that can't be allowed to happen.
--------------------

I don't know whats worse, the fact that people actually write this crap or the fact that people actually vote it up.
[ Parent ]

Russian Hostage Jokes (2.27 / 18) (#98)
by Rush Limbaugh on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:49:54 AM EST

Q. Why do they have 5 or more exits in a Russian theater?
A. Because people are just dying to get out!

Q. Why don't people like to sit by Russian soldiers in the movie theaters?
A. They have bad gas

Q. Why did the Russian theater patrons have to buy bigger clothes?
A. Because they were carried out of the theater on a stretcher

Q. Why did the Russian cinema fan fall out of his seat?
A. Because he was dead

Why the 1s? (5.00 / 1) (#112)
by dipierro on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 10:56:30 AM EST

"Comedy is tragedy plus time. The night Lincoln was shot, you couldn't joke about it. You just couldn't do it. But now, time has gone by, and now it's fair game. See what I mean? It's tragedy plus time."

[ Parent ]
Lincoln's death is humourous? (none / 0) (#118)
by Shovas on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:06:44 AM EST

I'm not American, so maybe I just haven't heard the jokes. Regardless, it seems inherently callous to joke and play on other people's sufferings.
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[ Parent ]
Sure it is... (5.00 / 1) (#125)
by gauntlet on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 12:18:00 PM EST

"Hey... did you know Lincoln was shot in the temple?"

"Really? I didn't know he was Jewish."

See?

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

I guess I should have been more explicit... (5.00 / 1) (#129)
by dipierro on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 12:52:25 PM EST

that my statement was a quote (hence the quotation marks).

Ob Lincoln assassination joke: A week before Lincoln was shot he was in Monroe, Maryland. A week before Kennedy was shot, he was in Marilyn Monroe.

Here's another one (which I think is funnier): Mrs. Lincoln (on whether or not she liked the play): "It didn't do much for me but my husband was blown away!"



[ Parent ]
Other than that, (none / 0) (#215)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 04:13:06 PM EST

how did you enjoy the play, Mrs. Lincoln?


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


[ Parent ]

I suspect (none / 0) (#122)
by aphrael on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:55:12 AM EST

I suspect that for Russians, making jokes about this *today* is as much in poor taste as making jokes about airplanes crashing into skyscrapers was in October of last year.

Hell, such a joke would *still* be considered in poor taste in my circles.

Your point about time making it acceptable is valid --- but not enough time has passed.

[ Parent ]

MasterCard (4.00 / 1) (#124)
by Rush Limbaugh on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 12:01:03 PM EST

Flight School tuition: $5000
First class tickets for you and your friends: $25000
Box cutters: $1.95

Striking back at the Great Satan: priceless

There are some things you can't buy, for everything else there is MasterCard, the card used by terrorists all over the world.

[ Parent ]

Ouch... (none / 0) (#145)
by dipierro on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 02:43:35 PM EST

yeah... Some tragedies require more time than others, although that might have been acceptable if it was funnier. As for the Russian jokes, I thought the first one was funny, the second was a groaner, the third was stupid, and the last one might have been funny if it had come as more of a surprise. My 4 was mainly to compensate for the 1s though. I couldn't give such bad jokes a 5 :).



[ Parent ]
Ahh, my favorite Woody Allen quote (none / 0) (#128)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 12:43:01 PM EST

http://us.imdb.com/Title?0097123

My bodyweight is muscle and cock MMM
Tenured K5 uberdouchebag Herr mirleid
Meatgazer Frau gr3y


[ Parent ]
BBC Q&A regarding what gas it could be (4.33 / 3) (#116)
by Vygramul on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 10:58:59 AM EST

BBCNews Russian Gas Q&A (No registration required.)


If Brute Force isn't working, you're not using enough.

What hasn't been said (4.20 / 5) (#137)
by WebBug on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 01:23:33 PM EST

and comments on what has.

For me there is no doubt that the Russian's did the hard thing, but the right thing.

Was there any doubt at all that the Terrorists had every intention of killing ALL the hostages? Not an ounce in my mind.

Because the Russian's pre-planned the raid only demonstrates that they are at least smart enough to realize that it would come down to a rescue attempt. It always does in the end. To my knowledge there has never been a good end to one of these mass hostage taking situations.

That they used a commercial anesthetic and provided emergency medical personel with a counter agent proves that they did what they could. I wouldn't tell the press anything either if I didn't absolutely have to.

They did not begin the raid until two hours after the terrorists told the hostages that they would not get out alive. To me, that shows that they were pushed into executing the raid ahead of schedule.

That only 115 people died ( the terrorists are plainly not to be counted) is a blessing the survivors are thankful for I'm sure. If just one of the terrorists had set off their explosives we would have 750 dead hostages and the Russian's would be criticized for NOT acting.

What did the terrorists hope to accomplish? Could they have expected the Russian government to stop the war? NO. Why would the Russian's stop a war that they started to end terrorist attacks on Moscow because yet another terrorist attack was under way? They wouldn't, and couldn't. If Russia pulled out of Chechnya is there a reasonable expectation that the terrorist attacks against Russian Civilians would cease? No, they tried  that and it just made the attacks worse, which is why they renewed the war.

Responding in this way to terror attacks is probably the best response. Personally, I'd side with taking direction action as quickly as possible, regardless of the cost. Yes, in the end the terrorists will opt for direct action, but when they do that the blame for the deaths is clear and unambiguous.
-- It may be that your sole purpose is to server as a warning to others . . . at least I have one!

Commercial anesthetic & Emerg. Med. service (5.00 / 1) (#140)
by Shovas on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 01:29:19 PM EST

Actually, not they didn't and no they still haven't. That's the entire point of the story. Even now, from stories on Oct. 29, 2002, the Russian government still refuses to say exactly what the gas was. They neither provided immediate treatment or provided an antidote after the raid:
It has been suspected that the gas could be a nerve agent, but Russian doctors told US embassy workers they tried atropine - an antidote to many nerve agents - and that did not work. However, a drug that reverses the effects of opiates, Narcan, did appear to help.

Russia's killer gas is named by the US
The question still remains: Have some people died in hospital, while doctors tried to treat them with potentially useful remedies without knowing exactly what to do, in order for the Russian government and military to keep the secret of their gas?
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[ Parent ]
The real issue here (4.00 / 3) (#160)
by felixrayman on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:20:09 PM EST

For me there is no doubt that the Russian's did the hard thing, but the right thing. Was there any doubt at all that the Terrorists had every intention of killing ALL the hostages? Not an ounce in my mind

So, you argue, if the use of chemical weapons is the cheapest path to victory for your side while ensuring the enemy suffers maximum casualties it is perfectly acceptable. Now why were we angry with Saddam Hussein over his treatment of Kurds again?

Most of the posts in this thread argue that the only real issue here is whether the Russian officials should have made public the exact weapon that was used in this attack in order to help treat the survivors. I find this to be ridiculous - the issue here is whether the use of chemical weapons is acceptable in any circumstances whatsoever. If you deem the answer to be 'yes' then please post below the following sentence along with your signature: 'I agree that Saddam Hussein was justified in gassing the Kurds if he believed that it would lead to the maximum number of Kurdish dead along with the minimum number of fatalities to his military forces, all at a low, low price'.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
From what I have gathered, (none / 0) (#161)
by Shovas on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:46:25 PM EST

And from what factual information I have found til now, I find it acceptable given the point that the Chechen guerrillas were about to starting killing hostages within minutes. The use of gas which _may_ have the potential to kill hostages at the scene was acceptable because there was hardly any other choice(from what I hear). The Russians are to be commended for acting decisively when required.

Where a problem begins is after the raid was complete and when freed hostages immediately began to need medical treatment. No antidote, no gas information and no treatment were given by the government or military. This is unethical. It is as straightforward as can be: They protected a state secret at the expense of human lives.
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[ Parent ]
dont avoid the point (3.50 / 2) (#162)
by felixrayman on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:49:58 PM EST

So, you argue, if Saddam deemed that the way to accomplish his military objectives with the least loss of life on his side was to use chemical weapons, he should be heartily applauded for that decision, is this correct?

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
Wasn't avoiding, only clarifying (none / 0) (#166)
by Shovas on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 12:04:15 AM EST

All the same, I think you're comparing apples and oranges. The use of gas to "minimize" deaths in a forced situation under the stresses involved is certainly reasonable in the case of the Chechen hostage taking. The least loss of life in this event was directed at both sides. The gas used was not inherently poisonous, but it was known there was potential. Again, given the situation I will say wholeheartedly, with what knowledge I have, it was the only option available that would save the situation in the best method possible(potential for the least deaths on the hostages side).

Regarding Saddam's gassing of the Kurds: This was intentionally a war effort and not a hostage situation rescue effort. They are quite different and I can't see how you expect us to see the Russian's use of a non-toxic gas as harmful in the same vein as Saddam's toxic gas. Saddam went out to kill with his gas. The Russians went out to prevent killings on any side.

And that's the issue. Deaths occurred naturally because the gas used was also known to be potentially dangerous to those in lower states of heatlh already. Had everyone been in perfect health in the theatre, none most likely would have died.

The real ethical sticking point is the situation afterwards in hospitals were freed hostages were in critical condition and Russian government and military would not(and still will not) release information about the gas used. They valued a military secret over human lives. That is unethical.
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[ Parent ]
Non-toxic? (5.00 / 1) (#167)
by felixrayman on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 12:17:40 AM EST

Saddam went out to kill with his gas. The Russians went out to prevent killings on any side.

Bullshit. They shot the unconscious hostage takers at point-blank range. The Russians used chemical weapons for the exact same reasons Saddam did - to achieve maximum lethality against the enemy with minimum effect on their own forces.

I can't see how you expect us to see the Russian's use of a non-toxic gas as harmful in the same vein as Saddam's toxic gas.

You must have been reading different news accounts than I if you refer to the weapon the Russians used as 'non-toxic'.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
The sources say (none / 0) (#178)
by Shovas on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 08:55:04 AM EST

That the gas used in the theatre building was an anesthetic(opium-based gas) which at most reasonable concentrations _does_ have the potential to affect those that are not entirely healthy or strong. It is not inherently toxic, itself, however. The gas which Hussein used was specifically made to be toxic at all levels of concentration.

To be reasonable, the Russians were in a stressful, minute-by-minute event and the ability to pump gas in and then storm the building within minutes is to be commended. It is to be commended because rarely, in a like situation, would anyone be able to get the concentrations absolutely perfect for 100% of the patients(this is not a laborator nor is it an operating room table with a mask on the patient).

The on-sight shooting of the guerrillas is a touchy point, true but, as far as I can see, having knocked-out guerrillas with bombs strapped to them isn't entirely safe: They could through any number of means comes to consciousness and set off their bombs. It's not standard protocol in any hostage-taking situation, but in this case and from what we know, it may have been reasonable. I mean, what if the special forces tried to inject the guerrillas with something powerful to ensure they would be incapacitated? One might wake up and somehow setup their bombs? Or, taking so much time doing that, the effects of the gas might wear off an Chechens start coming-to and start setting off their bombs. It was a delicate situation. It was not handled cleanly, but I'm hard pressed to criticise anything right now except the authority's refusal to give information to their own doctor's on the gas used in the raid. Protecting a secret at the expense of human lives is unethical.
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[ Parent ]
I find chemical weapons acceptable (4.00 / 1) (#169)
by Polverone on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 03:20:53 AM EST

Why are chemical weapons so reviled? Yes, they generally kill/incapacitate in a hideous fashion. But so do bullets, high explosives, bayonets, and car crashes. I don't even think it's entirely fair to call them weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear weapons cannot (or have not) been scaled down far enough that it's possible to use them without causing mass destruction - destruction at least equivalent to several hundred tons of high explosives. Biological weapons are inherently unpredictable and self-replicating, so they earn the WMD distinction also. But chemical weapons can be scaled down to fit any situation, from rendering an entire town uninhabitable to incapicating the occupants of one building or assassinating a single dissident. They're not inherently agents of mass destruction. Not all of them are very lethal, even.

Don't think I'm some sort of deviant with a chemical weapons fetish. It's just that war is hideous and brutal, and I don't think that chemical weapons actually make it that much worse. So, no, I don't universally object to the use of chemical weapons in warfare.

That still doesn't mean I'm going to buy into your argument. I support the right of people to own sportscars, but not the racing of sportscars down residential streets at night. Likewise, I'm not going to jump on the "Saddam was Right to Gas Kurds" bandwagon just because I don't have a problem in general with chemical weapons. I honestly don't have enough enough information to make an informed judgment about Iraq's policies and implementations of policy regarding the Kurds.

Regarding this Russian hostage situation and the alleged use of some sort of weaponized fentanyl, let me say that "the dose makes the poison." There are many, many pharmaceutical and industrial compounds that could be aerially dispersed to cause harm in a confined space such as a building. Most of those compounds would be essentially useless on a battlefield or too expensive compared to alternatives, though. So the chemical weapons convention doesn't individually name them. Interestingly, fentanyl (and related compounds) are actually more dangerous, gram for gram, than a number of chemical weapons that have actually seen use. They aren't properly called "nerve gases," even though they depress the central nervous system, because that term is generally reserved for cholinesterase inhibitors.

--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
[ Parent ]

Go enlist quickly (none / 0) (#226)
by mami on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 08:08:02 PM EST

to prove your words of wisdom worth more than a pile of shit.

[ Parent ]
thanks for laying out a strawman for me (5.00 / 1) (#190)
by Shren on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 12:41:36 PM EST

So, you argue, if the use of chemical weapons is the cheapest path to victory for your side while ensuring the enemy suffers maximum casualties it is perfectly acceptable. Now why were we angry with Saddam Hussein over his treatment of Kurds again?

The Russians used chemical weapons in a tactical situation where thier citizens were being killed. Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against his own citizens to ethnically clense the northern part of Iraq. If you don't see a difference you're an idiot or a monster.

[ Parent ]

The Iran-Iraq war was not a tactical situation? (5.00 / 1) (#205)
by felixrayman on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 08:20:35 PM EST

If you don't see a difference you're an idiot or a monster.

Thanks for laying out an ad hominem attack combined with a non-sequitur for me.

The Russians used chemical weapons in a tactical situation where thier (sic) citizens were being killed. Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against his own citizens to ethnically clense (sic) the northern part of Iraq

The alleged chemical weapon attack by Saddam Hussein occurred in a tactical situation in the midst of a war with Iran in which many civilians were being killed. More relevantly to the comparison, there were several groups of rebel Kurds operating in the area fighting for the precise thing the Chechen rebels are seeking. So if the allegations of chemical weapons use by Saddam are true, he used them, as I stated, for the precise reason the Russians did - to achieve maximum tactical effect with minimum cost in an armed struggle against a guerilla army fighting for self-determination.

And, if I may borrow a page from your logic book, your failure to comprehend this proves you are an idiot or a monster.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
The Real Issue (none / 0) (#200)
by WebBug on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 02:39:33 PM EST

So, you argue, if the use of chemical weapons is the cheapest path to victory for your side while ensuring the enemy suffers maximum casualties it is perfectly acceptable. Now why were we angry with Saddam Hussein over his treatment of Kurds again?

I actually didn't say why I thought it was the right thing to do. And, in this case, I don't think it was right because it cost less lives. As far as I'm concerned, the terrorists had already written off the lives of all those in the theatre. That any hostages at all survived is purely a bonus. You have to actaully read what I said and try to understand it. I didn't argue to expedience.

In this case I think they did the right thing because now they have sent a clear message to terrorists who would attack Russian Civilians.

As to the "gas" itself. From what has been public so far, it would appear that the Russian soldiers did give the emt's an agent to inject in the worst affected hostages being recovered from the theatre. They did not tell anyone what the gas was, either before or after. How do I feel about that?

I think the press is terribly irresponsible in general and the Russians denied them critical information because they obviously had plans to use the gas in similar situations in the future. Unfortunately, telling the doctors ahead of time probably would have led to the terrorists being warned of the danger and of its symptoms. Not a good thing. Not telling the doctors after the fact was perhaps a touch paranoid, but I wasn't there. I'm pretty neutral on this one at the moment. Wait and see.

Someone else mentioned that the Chechnyans are not terrorists because they are trying to free their country from foriegn occupation.

The ends can never just the means. If the means are not just and moral, the ends are neither. If you commit acts of terror against a civilian population, you are a terrorist, no matter what your goals or motivation.

The Chechnyans may or may not be legitimately trying to free their country from foriegn occupation.
1) What level of support from the general population of a region would be considered sufficient to warrant a call for separation?
2) What legitimate, or legal means exist to pursue these goals?
3) What do you do when you have a general election that is deemed by independent outside observers to be fair and just and you lose?
so many questions.

it is too easy to sit back here in my comfy chair and judge others. In the case of Chechnya, I'm not sufficiently up on the BIG picture to make a proper judgement.

In summary:
I think the Russian storming of the theatre was called for
I think that keeping the agent used secret was certainly called for before the attack and for some time afterward, how long I'm not prepared to say
I think that commiting acts of terror against civilian populations is abhorant behaviour and should be punished as swiftly and finally as possible.
I think that the means justify the end.

-- It may be that your sole purpose is to server as a warning to others . . . at least I have one!
[ Parent ]

Friendly reminder from your Al-Qaeda mates! (none / 0) (#235)
by Luminion on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 03:03:05 PM EST

We think that as long as the terrorism is an acceptable measure, chemical weapons of course are too!

Thanks!


---------
<spanisman> you are really a dork and I'm going to complaint against you in the undernet society for you to get lost the op status
[ Parent ]

Difference of Opinion (3.50 / 2) (#186)
by Kintanon on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 11:44:04 AM EST

In my mind, the Chechnyans (sp?) aren't terrorists. They are actually trying to free their country from outside rule. An admirable goal. The Hostage takers in this situation had the opportunity to set off all of the explosives when the gas began to filter in and they DIDN'T. That kind of restraint is not the action of a terrorist. It's the action of a group which doesn't wish to cause any more loss of life than is absolutely necessary to accomplish the goal. Suicidal radical muslim fundamentalists would have blow the theatre to oblivion. These guys didn't. I say they aren't Terrorists.

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

Self Correction (none / 0) (#203)
by Kintanon on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 04:43:40 PM EST

Since I posted the above I've been given knew information. I believe that the chechen "rebels" actually are terrorists now and that they don't represent the views of the common people of Chechnya.
I still believe that the Russian authorities could have handled the situation better though.

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

Balancing the Tradeoffs (4.33 / 3) (#146)
by Al Macintyre on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 02:57:29 PM EST

The Chechnya's have been screwed by bin Laden.  Had bin Laden not caused 9/11, the USA would still be politically on the side of freedom fighters arguing in the UN and elsewhere that Russia should grant independence to Chechnya, but their alliance with bin Laden, and other Freedom Fighters turned terrorist, has sealed their fate.  They are now on the wrong side in a war that will go badly for them.

If I was the dictator of events, I would have protocols for using the gas that include a list of military doctors who are trained in treatment of innocent victims of it, so that they can be on standby at civilian hospitals to help treat patients in which the other doctors working on those patients are willing to sign some nation secrets act with respect to not giving out any information about the gas.

The medical profession have had a tradition of patient confidentiality in a spectrum of scenarios, and military doctors have additional responsibilities to honor secrets about substances that can be used by the military that can be harmful to people's health.

I did not see enough of the right kind of news coverage to know if there were sufficient ambulances, paramedics, and so forth just out of sight of the theatre to process the numbers of victims.

If I was dictator of events with perfect hindsight, I would set up some kind of a MASH unit, perhaps several, just on other side of buildings from the theatre (after all we not know what kind of explosives the rebels had), so that the hostages would get extremely rapid professional medical care before transport to hospitals.

Make no mistake, there is a war here, and this is but one incident in that war.   The Russians would have been criticised no matter what the outcome.  How did they let the rebels get to the theatre with all that armament in the first place?  If many of the hostages died because the rebels still in charge, Russia's military would have been severely criticized.  If they went public on what gas they used, and how it was used, and then a bit later a new bunch of rebels try something again, and succeed in spoofing the gas, Russia would be criticized for revealing the info this time.  The best solution to the mess is to keep silent such that it has a chilling effect on future incidents, that might not be tried, because the perpetrators not know how to defend against the gas.

I am sure that most all military of all governments conduct war games to test what will be the effects of what they have in their arsenals in a variety of scenarios.  What I not know is whether they learn from the tests, if the tests are conducted honestly or with political interests conflicting with the laboratory results, if future generations benefit from prior staff investigations, and what impact the economy can have on ability to sustain testing.

However, it is not unusual for beaurocrats to make decisions without knowing all the facts, or having a coherent plan completed, especially in the midst of a crisis.
- Al's weblog: http://radio.weblogs.com/0107846/ donate your unused PC resources (only when you not using them) to cure cancer http://members.ud.com/about/

I don't think this was the plan (none / 0) (#168)
by Spork on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 02:33:41 AM EST

If I was the dictator of events, I would have protocols for using the gas that include a list of military doctors who are trained in treatment of innocent victims of it, so that they can be on standby at civilian hospitals to help treat patients in which the other doctors working on those patients are willing to sign some nation secrets act with respect to not giving out any information about the gas.

I think this is a good point. Surely, somewhere near Moscow, there is a modern military hospital that would be able to provide adequate treatment in perfect secrecy, if secrecy is really so damn necessary. I mean, it's not like this happened somewhere in Siberia--the theater was right in the middle of Moscow.

I suspect this didn't happen because something went terribly wrong with the dosage of the gas. I expect that the dose was not supposed to be lethal. It would shock me that a country with a military as sophisticated as Russia's wouldn't have some emegency medical evacuation helicopters waiting, and some hospital beds prepped before the storming began. Also, rescue personel should be able to administer some treatment right at the site.

One explanation for why none of this happened is that Russia doesn't care about a few lives. I don't buy that. I think much more likely is that the gas thing was botched, and somebody miscalculated the airflows in the building, leaving the gas much more concentrated than was intended. Now they're trying to act like they meant to do it all along, because after all, they got the terrorists. I don't buy it.

[ Parent ]

Timing Antidotes and What Next? (none / 0) (#202)
by Al Macintyre on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 03:04:41 PM EST

Russia does not have a tradition of free press like in the USA, and US media is getting to be overly dependent on being spoon fed by the government then speculating on what information they are given, so what we get to see is media speculation of scanty information.

I have watched several former US medical military people on TV speculating about what the media provided combined with their knowledge of similar substances in US arsenals.

If it was this that or the other kind of substance, delivered to a large open theatre, then there will be pockets of different density of the gas, and some people will be oxygen deprived so that their brains will shut down.

Now what gives us brain death is not that we go without oxygen in the blood for such a short time, the problem is that the blood vessels clog up so that when the oxygenated blood returns, it cannot get to the brain.  But there are chemicals that can be injected into the body to fix that.  However, the doctors have to know that those chemicals are needed, in time to save the body whose brain has been oxygen deprived.

If it was this that or the other kind of derivative, then there are antidotes.  This stuff is breathed in, and is in the body tissues for several days.  The patient needs to be given the antidote as soon as possible, like by the paramedics on the scene, then fed to the patient intravenously for a couple days after they get to the hospital, then they should be Ok.

Is there a risk that the USA would use this in a similar scenario and are our hospitals prepared?

Oh yes, every hospital emergency room has the antidote in stock, all they need to be told by the military is which antidote is the right one for the current scenario.  They do not have to know what the military used.  But they do need to be told that antidote is needed.

With all this media fuss over the large number of hostages who died for lack of proper information supplied to the doctors, we are not seeing anything much on how such a large body of well armed rebels were able to make it into the heart of the capital of Russia.

We just had an episode with the DC sniper, whose success was largely thanks to a camaflaged interior weapons arrangement with the auto trunk, and a lack of police data base integration search tools.  Could something like this happen in the USA, or any other nation in the west targeted by bin Laden?  Damn right it could.

There are a broad range of risks, and homeland security seems to be overly focused on risks that come up in counter intelligence ... nuclear power plants threatened ... so do something about that, first physical security because that is the easiest to defend, then internal security, and finally cyber security, in which it takes several years from discovery of risk to closing the barn door.  But places where there are risks that have not yet come up in the intelligence community, there is no effort to protect against.

Thus the terrorists seek out new kinds of targets different than those they have struck before.  Are we learning from this non-pattern?  I don't think so.
- Al's weblog: http://radio.weblogs.com/0107846/ donate your unused PC resources (only when you not using them) to cure cancer http://members.ud.com/about/
[ Parent ]

A prediction (3.75 / 4) (#153)
by epepke on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 05:29:27 PM EST

I have no evidence for this, but I'm posting it here so that it can be compared against reality after the hoohah has settled down.

I predict that it will be revealed that the reason the Russians refused to release the details of the gas was not because it is some special military gas but because it wasn't. Specifically, that it was some gas that every first-year medical student has known about for at least a decade and you can buy just about anywhere, but the Russians are embarrassed by the fact and don't want to admit it.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


Probably (5.00 / 1) (#158)
by the on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 10:40:57 PM EST

but the Russians are embarrassed by the fact and don't want to admit it.
And probably every medical student and their dog knows you expect to kill that many people if you use it indiscriminately. That's why they're embarassed.

--
The Definite Article
[ Parent ]
evil evil, these Russians (4.00 / 4) (#184)
by fhotg on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 10:57:01 AM EST

All the comments here basically accept the raid of the theater as the right choice, and only the means or the 'how' could have done better. I challenge this.

It is not clear, that the kidnappers actually were decided to kill all. A hostage reports that a kidnapper told her that they didn't intent to kill them. They kept repeating: "Keep quiet, we won't kill you, and we aren't here to die either."Another one reports, the kidnappers would have had ample time to push the blowup buttons, but didn't. One reports that a kidnapper woman told her, when the gas came in: "Get out of here, girl, quick, they are gassing us". A high ranking Chechen politician (arrestent in Danemark now) claimed there was no intention to kill the hostages. A Russian journalist was talking to the kidnappers and got a toned down offer: They only requested the pull-out of one batallion (as a sign of course to end the war), but usually the strategy in hostage cases is to gain time, make weak and tired the gangsters, to be able to raid more successfully. The Russians were not interested in negotiations, the raid at the earliest time possible was decided right away.

Add the shameless maipulation of the media. Bottles of brandy were placed near the hands of the executed kidnappers, to show 'look these alcoholic Islamists'. Bad lie, bottles still sealed and dusty. All hostages, except one, were at the beginning shielded from the jpurnalists by the secret service. What they later reported about the kidnappers ("good" treatment) was in stark contrast to what that one interview giving guy told the press when the story was hot: Bad torture and degradation.

I believe, Putin, in cold blood, decided to do what's good for his position of power: Killing the kidnappers quick, no matter how and for what price and control the spin: Hey they're terrorists now (WTF, that's still kidnapping in my book), just like those evil Al-Queida guys, and so are all Chechens, now, world shut up already, when we continue and reinforce murder, rape and ethnocide down there.

Btw. I dont think Russians are particularly evil folks, this comes with position of power, not with nationality or race.
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

nice sunglasses-of-selective-coloration (4.00 / 1) (#189)
by Shren on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 12:26:28 PM EST

It is not clear, that the kidnappers actually were decided to kill all.

It wasn't clear to you.

A hostage reports that a kidnapper told her that they didn't intent to kill them. They kept repeating: "Keep quiet, we won't kill you, and we aren't here to die either."

Of course, the terrorists would say this no matter what. If you tell the hostages that they are going to die no matter what happens, then they try pesky escape attempts that force you to kill them early.

Another one reports, the kidnappers would have had ample time to push the blowup buttons, but didn't.

You try making the right decision in a split second when the toxic gas comes spilling in the ceiling.

One reports that a kidnapper woman told her, when the gas came in: "Get out of here, girl, quick, they are gassing us".

I'm suprised this seems strange to you. You kidnap a bunch of people to achieve a goal, and then you're routed by gas. There are probably a few terrorists who would like to kill everyone, but not all of them. Terrorists arn't cut from a mold, you know.

A high ranking Chechen politician (arrestent in Danemark now) claimed there was no intention to kill the hostages.

I'm sure he's unbiased, and that he wouldn't, oh, use Russia's mistakes to make them look as bad as possible. Of course not. We all know politicians are the fairest minded people on the planet.

A Russian journalist was talking to the kidnappers and got a toned down offer: They only requested the pull-out of one batallion (as a sign of course to end the war), but usually the strategy in hostage cases is to gain time, make weak and tired the gangsters, to be able to raid more successfully. The Russians were not interested in negotiations, the raid at the earliest time possible was decided right away.

Yes, because giving in to terrorists only encourages them. If you remove one batallion when they take over an opera house, then next month they'll be holding the kremlin hostage for the removal of all of the batallions. They'll have the manpower to take the kremlin because the daring success at the opera house makes wonderful recruiting drive material.

You're taking sides. There arn't any good sides. The rebels took hostages and started killing them. The government killed a bunch of people in trying to save everyone. Both sides are trying to spin the situation as heavily as possible to reap some kind of PR victory. You've picked one side's spin and chosen to believe it. It's that simple. Even if you are on one side or the other, you shouldn't let the media spin distort your perception of what actually happened.

[ Parent ]

youre overinterpreting me (none / 0) (#198)
by fhotg on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 01:51:50 PM EST

I don't take sides. I just reiterate facts which counter the spin the Russians like to give the events.
Yes, because giving in to terrorists only encourages them. If you remove one batallion when they take over an opera house, then ..
I didn't advocate giving in to the blackmailing. I tried to make you think why the Russians departed from all standard behaviour when dealing with hostage taking: Keep taking to the people as long as they are willing to talk. Not in order to cut a deal, but because the time is on your side if you wanna raid them. They still wanted to negotiate - the Russians were not interested. And now for the spindoctoring. Look at my comments to your quotes and tell me they are wrong. Or do they just sound different. Are they as justifiable as your statements ?
The rebels took hostages and started killing them
The gansters killed one or two who tried to escape. They didn't touch anybody else. The rest was killed by the Russians.
The government killed a bunch of people in trying to save everyone.
The government killed at least 169 people in a premature and ill-planned strike, because a bloody outcome profits most the governing clique.
Both sides are trying to spin the situation as heavily as possible to reap some kind of PR victory.
The Chechens can't spindoctor, as they have nearly zero access to the media. Maybe I'm wrong, give me please the pro-Chechnian news-outlet then.
Even if you are on one side or the other, you shouldn't let the media spin distort your perception of what actually happened.
It appears to me that you very much reiterated the common interpretation of the mainstream (is there any else anyways) media. I'm just giving an alternative meaning to what we both believe to be fact. An interpretation in that direction also gains some credibility from looking at the motivations of the parties involved:

Assume smart people on both sides. Look at the so predictable outcome. Cui bono, who profits ?


~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

[ Parent ]

You've completely (4.00 / 1) (#206)
by findelmundo on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 09:48:50 PM EST

left out the deadline...which was on everyone's mind (terrorists, hostages, and gov't).

The deadline fed any and all thoughts of dying, negotiating, rioting, panic, anger, etc. As the deadline approached all parties became nervous...mayhem began soon after that...an opiate gas administered in an incorrect dosage, a bullet through the wrong body, a woman shot attempting to ENTER the theatre....none of these outshines the other...the gas and it's "secrecy" doesn't seem to me to be important or surprising when compared to motive and/or reaction.

Why are there no Gandhis or Martin Luther Kings in the Muslim world? Is there no one brave enough? Or is it just built in to the faith? If Chechnyans and Palestinians want sympathy and attention, resulting in action...the way MLK helped get it for Montgomery, AL and the rest of the south...why don't they emulate people such as these? I can see Muslims wanting nothing to do with a famous Hindu...but come on already...taking hostages, blowing up buses...the cause is summarily ignored after this. Where are the heroes who actually sacrifice themselves? (It must be nice to avoid all the bloodshed that will come down on your family and friends after you've instantly incinerated yourself.) Does the Muslim faith prohibit self-starvation, or passive resistance? If extremists in Palestine were just sitting around singing and planting daisies while being mowed over, they'd get much more attention. Words like "extremist" would never be used.

MLK's own home was bombed before the boycott in Montgomery was over. And when a court ruling made segregation on buses illegal, angry citizens continued shooting, beating, and killing blacks. Thank god for MLK, who continued preaching for peace and pointing out that those who live by the sword, die by the sword. Yes, there is still plenty of racism and prejudice in the U.S. But we don't have a race war going on...where blacks take people hostage for rights they never received, or blow themselves up along with a bus full of people.

Malcom X's "fuck you" contribution to civil rights was important to hear, but it accomplished nothing in comparison. (And, of course, soon after changing his attitude he was murdered)

Is there really no hope for those that stand up and speak out? Show me the benefits of hiding and destroying. Who has gained from this strategy?

[ Parent ]

I don't know (none / 0) (#212)
by fhotg on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 10:51:22 AM EST

deadlines are negotiable, always, tell me a hostage taking were there was no extention, don't you even watch TV ?

Gas dosage was correct. Up to 400 dead were in the planning.

"Bullet through wrong body" ? I don't know what you mean. It wasn't, by any civilized standards, correct to execute the unconcious kidnappers, and it was also pretty dumb, intelligence-gathering wise. But you don't talk about this, right ?

what the fuck you're talking about. You left the topic, ok. But what has MLK or the black's struggle against racism in the US to do with the desperated attempts of some war-socialized youths from a region subject to the random atrocities of an unchecked occupation army, to draw world attention to their fate ? Nothing, if you only look a little bit into the details. I believe the world is much more complex than you ever imagined.

This is not about sitting in some bus, and law and constitution. This is about not beeing randomly murdered and raped. This is not a murderous white majority, this is a murderous government, with all army stuff and men-material a government comes with. Self sacrifice ?? From what planet are you from ? Thousands are sacrificed, they just can't be heroes, because they have no choice in the matter.

The only parallel involved is some sort of racism, or better 'religionism' if you will. That predominantly Muslims use dramatic ways to make a point (and don't mind to kill and being killed in the process) has more to do with the fact that their faith gives them some balls, than supposedly overproportional leaning of the Islam towards violence, something you, and by now the western-world media unisono repeat parrot like, be it implicitly or explicitly.
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

[ Parent ]

right here (none / 0) (#227)
by findelmundo on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 12:16:01 AM EST

You're right. Blacks were never randomly murdered and raped. It was all simply about riding a bus. I don't watch enough TV. I'm sure its been illustrated there, somewhere. Muslims have big balls, given to them by their faith. Again, that might have been on an episode of ER that I missed. Sorry. I'm from a planet where things are black and white and very small. Or was that some TV show? I can't remember. In fact, I don't know the difference.

Oh, and if something ever happens to my son, I will make sure someone, ANYONE pays. It doesn't matter who. Because I will be much desperated.

[ Parent ]

Excuse me. (none / 0) (#234)
by Luminion on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 02:56:06 PM EST

They didn't want to kill the hostages?

And what exactly, pray tell, does that mean? No, really, what the fuck does it matter? Bombs are not intended to kill you say? Kidnapping almost thousand people is not an act of terror now? Is it, er, a protest?

Is it some new kind of legitimate protesting that "opressed people" are supposed to practice lately? Let me trace your thought. There were no drunken terrorists, just terrorists, and they weren't really terrorists because you think someone wanted to make them look like ones. They just were concerned citizens, whom we, the world, rape, murder and "ethnocide" down there. As concerned citizens, they weren't likely to have bombs and weapons. So in fact, according to you, there were no terrorists.

Look at what you're saying. You are apologizing for terrorists. I can understand and share the grief for the hostages that were killed during the tactical, but terrorists?. You want to seek a legitimacy in what they did?

Great, that's exactly what the terrorism strives to achieve, and you are helping it.
---------
<spanisman> you are really a dork and I'm going to complaint against you in the undernet society for you to get lost the op status
[ Parent ]

And it was .... Halothan. (4.00 / 1) (#185)
by fhotg on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 11:41:02 AM EST

Docs in Munich identified the well known anaestheticum from blood- and urin samples of one of the victims. That stuff is beeing more and more replaced from normal medicine, b/c it's undesired side-effects. The docs further state that it was a stupid choice, as "an insane dosage" must have been necessary to achieve the desired effect. They also suspect that it might have been mixed with some unknown agent.

Even though there is no 'antidote' for this, the docs claim that keeping secret the identity could have cost lifes, because admistering randomly guessed antidotes could have led to synergetic and deadly effects with halothan.
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

Do you have a source on that? (none / 0) (#218)
by Lord of the Wasteland on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 07:18:48 PM EST

I ask because the New York Times is stating the Russians have identified the agent as Fentanyl, with the antidote Naloxene.

[ Parent ]
yepp (5.00 / 1) (#229)
by fhotg on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 01:24:39 PM EST

Now it looks like either a mix of the two, as also usus in traditional anesthetics, was used, or a fentanyl-drivate alone, and the halothane got into the system of the victims through contaminated breathing masks or something at the russian hospital. Here is the best article I found about it.
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

[ Parent ]
Alternative Theory (2.80 / 5) (#191)
by Eight Star on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 12:43:55 PM EST

I'm not saying this is right, but it's a thought, and it explains a few things.

The russian special forces did not use the gas, the terrorists did. The bombs everyone thought were to blow up the building were actually to release the gas. I think that the special forces decided it was time to do a raid, and the hostage takers set off the gas. The special forces would have been wearing gas masks, so they incurred no casualties. The hostage takers were not as well trained as the special forces, so they incurred heavy (total) casualties, and their gas did not kill as many as they had wanted.

So when gas victims started coming into the hospital, the Russian government didn't say what they gas was because they didn't know, and they didn't want to explain this because they viewed itas a significant failure.
The gas was a standard anasthetic because that's what they could get their hands on. (or if it was not, all the more reason for the government to not want it public)

Damn good cover story! (none / 0) (#207)
by jimblob on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 10:58:51 PM EST

Had you ever considered a job in public relations.....?

[ Parent ]
Anti-Russian hypocrisy? n/t (2.50 / 2) (#204)
by opendna on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 06:53:57 PM EST



Two Words: Waco, Texas [n/t] (1.00 / 1) (#225)
by icastel on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 06:54:36 PM EST




-- I like my land flat --
Ethics and Practice | 245 comments (198 topical, 47 editorial, 1 hidden)
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