generic cialis canadian best viagra alternative cialis kaufen viagra online without a prescription cialis tablets us cialis break 25 mg viagra cialis usa

Streetwise Professor

January 24, 2011

The Dodomedovo Bombing

Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 9:51 pm

My condolences to all those who lost their lives in today’s terrorist atrocity in Domodedovo Airport in Moscow. My condolences as well to their families and friends, and to Russians generally who have to live under greater threat of terror attack than to I do in the US.

As to the attacks themselves and their likely perpetrators I have little to add beyond what is in the press reports. But one thing struck me as very weird (h/t R).

Specifically, almost immediately after the blast, there were news reports linking the bombing to an accidental explosion on December 31. This led authorities to the husband of a woman killed in the blast. This man, apparently associated with a Chechen separatist group, fingered another woman who disclosed a bomb plot and named three men who supposedly trained the Domodedovo bomber.

How this could be stated so definitively in minute detail so soon after the attack is something of a mystery.  In the US and Europe, the first reports in the aftermath of any event like this are usually confused, contradictory, and maddeningly imprecise.  And if the initial report is true, it casts the competence of the security forces in a very poor light. If they had the names of suspects in the cell weeks ago and couldn’t stop the attack, it doesn’t look good.

And maybe that’s the point: maybe this story was planted to make some elements of the security forces look bad–and most likely planted by a rival security force. For minutes after the first story, The Moscow Main Directorate of Internal Affairs denied having any foreknowledge and called into question the veracity of the earlier reports.

This suggests: (a) some element in the security forces (e.g., FSB, as a wild guess) wants to make another element look bad in order to enhance its own power, (b) there is a lot of CYA going on, or (c) both.  I’m guessing “both.”

There was also confusion over whether the airport shut down after the bombing.  Given that trains on the Metro ran in the immediate aftermath of the Moscow subway bombing, it wouldn’t surprise me if the airport did continue to operate.

The attack illustrates that you can’t defend everywhere; every place where large numbers of people congregate is a tempting target, and it is impossible to defend them all.  Instead, stopping terrorist attacks requires intelligence and aggressive efforts to identify, find, disrupt and disable would be perpetrators.  That obviously didn’t happen here.  If the disabling didn’t occur even though the terrorists had been identified weeks ago, that’s a real problem.

A primary source of Putin’s popularity, and a major justification for his strangulation of political and civic freedoms in Russia, has been his alleged success in combating Chechen terrorism.  Given the regularity of major attacks in the heart of Russia, it’s rather difficult to fathom just what the basis for Putin’s reputation as the vanquisher of terrorists might be.  Yeah, he talks a good game, complete with prison slang about killing terrorists in outhouses, but even with a pervasive security apparatus operating with little constraint, the performance hasn’t matched the words.  (And, pathetically, to keep up with Putin the elfin Medvedev feels compelled to talk tough, e.g., his expressed desire of ripping the heads off the attackers of the reporter Oleg Kashin.  Embarrassing.)

The coming days are a time for mourning in Russia.  But after Russians mourn their dead, I hope they question more aggressively and critically the yawning gap between gangster bravado and less than bravura performance.  I hope they start asking whether Putin and the government are holding up their end of the security-for-liberties bargain.  If they do, the victims of Domodedovo will not have died completely in vain, and Russia will have a chance to become a more humane place—and, ironically, a safer one.

Print Friendly

9 Comments »

  1. > Given the regularity of major attacks in the heart of Russia, it’s rather difficult to fathom just what the basis for Putin’s reputation as the vanquisher of terrorists might be

    Some analysts even hypothesize that the riots on Manezhnaya and this attack are part of a campaign by some Kremlin faction to get rid of “the national leader”, as they fear he is becoming too paranoid and vindictive for any one of them to feel safe. In that sense, Russia surely is a land of possibilities.

    Comment by Ivan — January 25, 2011 @ 1:19 am

  2. No.

    I think better security, and/or better intelligence, and/or better response will have little effect on (cough) ‘terrorism’.

    What will really deter terrorism is the reduction of powerful countries stealing the resources of less powerful countries.

    I.E., the Chechen oil pipelines, the middle east oil fields that the US has been circling for the last 30 years….haven’t all the conflicts of 50 or 60 years (or even all of human history) been about controlling resources? Oil, water, food, spices, gold, salt, timber, land–the important resource du jour has changed from time to time, but the inevitable struggle for who controls the resource is usually determined more by brute force than by diplomacy and mutual agreement.

    Better security procedures will not keep us *safe*. As long as desirable resources are unevenly distributed amongst people and places, conflict will ensue. Wars will be waged. People will die.

    The history of humanity has a very poor track record when it comes to the equitable sharing or trading of wealth and resources. Current events are more of the same old same old. To blame various factions of radical minorities for upsetting the status quo, or to blame law enforcement for failing to implement better security procedures, is to ignore the imbalance of resources and the battles to control them. Any given side wins for only a short period of time before scales tilt the other way again and the fight cranks up again.

    It has always been so and maybe always will be.

    Comment by gardener1 — January 25, 2011 @ 2:24 am

  3. “Nothing “alleged” about it. In September 1999, Chechen terrorists were capable of mounting assaults of ~2,000 heavily armed men on areas of Russia adjacent to Chechnya. Now Chechen terrorists are reduced to suicide bombing, which horrible as it is, reflects an enormous decline in their capability to wage war on Russia.

    Comment by rkka — January 25, 2011 @ 4:50 am

  4. @gardener1-

    “What will really deter terrorism is the reduction of powerful countries stealing the resources of less powerful countries.
    I.E., the Chechen oil pipelines, the middle east oil fields that the US has been circling for the last 30 years….”

    We need to blame that pesky old united States coveting the resources of less powerful countries for the ills of the world. Totalitarian governments bear no responsibility. Brute force of American domination is the root of all evil in the world. Just look at how the U.S. has fomented violence in Canada, their neighbor and largest source of imported natural resources. An obvious example of brute force! Wise and crafty, even when they were self sufficient in oil, those damned Americans introduced widespread pandemic corruption into Mexican politics 80 years ago (when Mexico nationalized its oil industry) because the Great American Satan coveted the resources of a less powerful neighbor. How can we ignore the American domination of Brazil? By brute force America is dominating Brazil! The fact that Australians speak the same language as Americans is only because the brute force of American domination of Australia! We need to ignore that there has never been a war between two democratic nations and that the efforts of the United States might be to spread democracy around the world. Obviously, the Great American Satan is coveting resources of less powerful countries!!!

    The history of humanity may have a very poor track record when it comes to the equitable sharing or trading of wealth and resources, but the history of humanity also shows that democratic nations have a very good track record of forming trading partnerships to provide opportunity for the citizens of democratic nations. When Russia sheds its totalitarian government and adopts democracy, its people will be more secure and enjoy greater wealth.

    Comment by Charles — January 25, 2011 @ 7:38 am

  5. “Nothing “alleged” about it. In September 1999, Chechen terrorists were capable of mounting assaults of ~2,000 heavily armed men on areas of Russia adjacent to Chechnya. Now Chechen terrorists are reduced to suicide bombing, which horrible as it is, reflects an enormous decline in their capability to wage war on Russia.

    Comment by peter — January 25, 2011 @ 10:24 pm

  6. Uhm, Peter, that sounds kind of familiar. Are you channeling rkka? Are you rkka?

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 25, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

  7. [...] Streetwise Professor wonders how authorities managed to link the Domodedovo bombing to a failed bombing attempt from 31st Decemb…. [...]

    Pingback by Official Russia | Weekly Russia Blog Roundup, 25 January 2011 — January 26, 2011 @ 12:03 am

  8. Actually RKKA, the insurgency has spread from Chechnya all over the north Caucasus.

    And the insurgents still make some pretty big attacks, such as the torching of a large part of the Russian appointed Kadyrovs home town etc.

    But as SWP says, the attitude of people like RKKA is blind denial.

    Comment by Andrew — January 26, 2011 @ 1:41 am

  9. It’s perfectly clear that this event is the direct result of Russia being the most corrupt major nation on this planet, and proud of it:

    http://larussophobe.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/editorial-domodeadova/

    Russians have made their bed of poisoned nails. Now, they will lie in it.

    Comment by La Russophobe — January 28, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress