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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: March 29, 2010 @ 9:14 pm

    Moscow’s Innocent Victims

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    There was a Fenian back in the 19th Century who said, “Terrorism is the legitimate weapon of the weak against the strong” but this really won’t wash. The Moscow Metro bombing is the latest atrocity in which innocent civilians have been killed.

    Having spent some time reporting for this newspaper from Moscow in the mid-1990s, I was a regular user of the city’s remarkable Metro system, the biggest in the world, which moves huge numbers of people around the city day by day.

    Whatever perceived injustices motivated the women who allegedly set off those bombs in the Russian capital surely cannot justify this appalling misdeed. The same applies to suicide bombings elsewhere – regardless of what may have been done to the Palestinians, Tamils or whoever.

    I am not unconscious of the fact that mighty states have over the years carried out horrific air raids on cities and towns in which many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, have been horribly incinerated.

    That includes Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the London Blitz, the fire-bombing of Dresden. I have heard it suggested that the great task of this century should be to End All War. The ultimate aim would be to abolish war the same way legalised slavery was abolished in the past.

    Not a bad idea at all.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Did you ever go to Grozy Deaglan or make the effort to read about it or talk to refugees from there? What the Russian do there makes what the Serbs did look like Butlins and the injustices are more than ‘perceived’ – talk about being mealy mouthed.

      I hope you don’t catch cold up there in your ivory tower!

      It seems the Russians are determined to link this attack to Chechyna (and the Russians have form on falsely blaming them on things and launching an attack in revenge) and as a result will now inflict even more rapes, murder, violent, mafia style abuses, people slavery and sexual violence and horrific lawlessness on the region as the only thing it seems Russian society understands is violence and violence begets violence.

      There are so many conflicts all over the world were those inflicting the violence can be so easily condemned as utterly utterly wrong such as the IRA, ETA, the Palestinians, Muslim extremists etc and then there are some issues where you find it a bit harder to muster the same sort condemnation.

      How can Russian people not care what was done in their name in Chechyna. Do they not know what is done there every day – the sheer scale of murder and violence is mind boggling.

      There must be complete rot in Russian society that the people overwhelmingly support the likes of Putin, who will now unleash a fresh orgy of physical violence and sexual violence and repression on Chechnya, and those few who are brave enough to make a stand are themselves murdered or silenced.

      If the Russians continue to behave in that region the way it has then it must expect a response. It can’t be acceptable to condemn the attack on the metro and divorce it from why people are pushed to such limits. So Deaglán you might also share some of the sympathy for the people of places like Grozy.

    • Liam says:

      sometimes you need a comedy moment


    • Deaglán says:

      Good old Desmond! I presume you mean “Grozny”. When you don’t even read what you write yourself it is too much to expect that you might read what I write. It is clear from my Post that I condemn all terrorist actions whether by individuals or states. Naturally, any atrocities committed in Chechnya are equally abhorrent but they don’t justify the bombs on the Metro. I assume you agree with me on that.

    • John says:

      I’m afraid I agree with Desmond Fitzgerald that you seem to suffer from a bad case of a journalist whose views on world events have become too aligned and shaped by an establishment view.

      What happened in Russia was shocking, brutal and wrong but Desmond is right in suggesting that you do not seem capable of mustering an equal and balanced condemnation. Your claim that is it clear you condemn atrocities by states and individuals equally is disingenuous. Otherwise you would have identified the bombers of Hiroshima, Dresden et al as you did the Palestinians and Tamils. And they would not have been such historical events either, they would also have been equally shocking, brutal and wrong events that have been suffered at the hands of supposedly civil states in the last ten years. It’s not like we’re short of such examples.

      Your post leaves the distinct impression that the West have had a blemished past but these days it’s barbaric groups that attack civilizations and frankly it smacks of an imperialistic and arrogant view that in part contributes to the continued perpetuation of conflicts.

    • Paul says:

      Hi Deaglán,

      I couldn’t agree with you more, peaceful resistance needs to be championed and violence condemned but I’d just like to add something in terms of how states should tackle terrorism.

      Female Suicide bombers blowing up people on a packed subway during rush hour seems just about as inhumane an act as you can imagine, the people who organize such attacks should be brought to justice no question.

      However, it’s a bit of a cliché but the only way to stop such terrorist acts long term is to tackle the underlying legitimate grievances of a population that these groups claim to represent.

      Men and women who order or carry out these acts are criminals and they should be treated as such but the only way to do this without creating a hundred more is to get “buy in” from the local community. This allows the local population to help in the the type of intelligence gathering and policing required to defeat the extermists. I think the evidence from our own troubles would support this.

      Putin said yesterday that the perpetrators of the attacks will be “destroyed”, the type of collective punishment hinted at by such language is very worrying and would lead one to speculate that Moscow is doomed to endure further abominable acts such as this in the future.


    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      You said ‘perceived’ injustices – they are not perceived they are factual and real. You wouldn’t say the ethnic cleaning in Yugoslavia was ‘perceived’ and yet the Russians have unleashed violence on a scale far worse than even the Serbs. So I don’t see how any comment on these attacks can be made without also explaining the actions of Russians in that region because otherwise it gives the impressive that the Chechnya’s are attacking Russians for no reason. Whether the ‘reason’ warrants such attacks is open for debate and I’m wondering why I feel ambivalent about this issue of Russian civilians being killed when I feel so clear cut that in so many other areas such attacks are wrong and unjustifiable.

      What the Russians are doing in Chechyna is on a scale far worse than any of conflcit in anywhere else except some places in Africa – is that why I find it hard to feel much sympathy for innocent Russian civilians – because they support the likes of Putin in such numbers that they can’t pretend they have no role in how Russia acts. If the Russian public held Putin to account (as it is Putin who calls the shots) then maybe people like him would think twice before their campaign of ethnic cleansing in that region. I’m not sure Russian actions ‘justify’ the metro bombings but Russia can’t be allowed to use it as an excuse to unleash even more violence (which is not just army violence but includes massive sexual violence against local women) without having to explain to the Russian people what the Russian army is doing in that region to push people to such extremes.

    • Deaglán says:

      This is a good debate but . . . since when is Russia part of the West? You obviously weren’t around in the Cold War era!

      There is also an element of wilful misunderstanding which seems to be part of the DNA of many people who comment on Blog Posts. Or is is a lack of charity?

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      A bit off topic for a moment; it’s been interesting in the various events that shook Ireland over the last few years how to date not one single person has been held to account or admitted they had any role in creating the mess. Specific actual politicians made specific actual decisions, on receipt of money from specific actual developers, who gave that money in return for specific actual changes to law or regulations etc. Yet there seems to be some sort of collusion between all involved to avoid ever demanding specific actual people be held to account.
      The media have yet to acknowledge their role in colluding to allow politicians and business people and those in the professions to walk away and now come back to line their pockets again through the NAMA scam. The same people woh ramped up the property market and gutted financial regulation are now bleeding the taxpayer dry through the fees they charge NAMA to tell us what we already know and were told for years by other people such as Richard Bruton and Joan Burton and George Lee and McWilliams and Hobbs etc.

      You’re part of that problem Deaglan – and show me if I’m wrong and when you published articles highlighting the bad decisions or supporting those who were calling for a stop to the madness or when did you or your colleagues in the media ever publish articles educating people on the link between their vote for FF and the mess the country is in.

      I bet you think it’s a good thing that you can wander around Leinster House and be on first name terms with the people you are meant to hold to account impartially – how can you be impartial about your chums from the same school, same locality, golf club etc (and that’s not aimed at you personally as it implies to a lot of journalists).

      Back on topic … I’m sure the Russian civilian deaths are horrible but you can’t make a legitimate condemnation of those attacks while not commenting on the reason those women were driven to do what they did and also being specific about what Russia is doing in that region.

    • Deaglán says:

      It’s legitimate to question the role of the media and we should have been keeping a better eye on those who were supposed to be keeping an eye on the banks. As regards the links between FF and the business community, I think that has been covered quite substantially over the years but there could have been even more. Ask any FF-er if he/she thinks the media have given them a soft ride! Your notion that if FF were gotten rid of, there would be no problem is a tad naive. The problem is societal and not confined to one organisation, however large and widespread.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Deaglán, there is a reason why there were no robust laws or regulations to prevent this mess happening.

      Sure Fine Gael are far from perfect and would have made mistakes but not to this sclae. No way. And this ‘they’re all the same’ is just a way to avoid taking responsibility.

      Here we are 30 years later and again AIB is being bailed out by the taxpayer and the people like Cowen, Lenihan, Coughlan and Hanafin Snr who were all at the dark heart of the GUBU government – well their children have now ruined the country with the latest FF crony government. 30 years later and the same people. Well something has to give.

      I am astounded there wasn’t a single protest at the Dail: where were the pensioners, the students, the unemployed, the business people? It seems the argument about the most lazy and useless of Irish people are the ones who are too stupid to leave. Seems about right. As long as the 60% of muppets who are honest keep paying for the 40% of wasters why would anything change.

      The problem is societal in part but the media have failed as dismally in their own way to educate people to make good political choices and to hold those in positions of power to account – not one single government official or banker or builder or developer or estate agent or valuer has been sacked, lost their home, their pension, been disbarred from holding any board position or management role etc etc.

      And we have the nerve to sneer at African banana republics!

    • dealga says:

      There’s an unfortunate tendency in Ireland to think that the history of our own conflict, and its supposed resolution, applies to all trouble zones, and that we, somehow, are experts on conflict resolution.

      There’s also an unfortunate tendency to always take the side of the ‘little guy’ against the ‘big guy’ and to then excuse all the actions of the little guy as being an inevitable consequence of the actions of the nasty big guy.

      The fact of the matter is that our own conflict was born out of sectarian discrimination and then hijacked by extremists. Yet despite the obvious reality that institutionalised sectarianism is a thing of the past there remains a rump of extremists for whom nothing less than the total achievement of their aims is acceptable, for whom criminality and self-enrichment are grubby little side benefits of their actions, and for whom any atrocity is justifiable.

      These people cannot be negotiated with and have earned status and publicity far beyond their numbers simply because of their ready use of violence. They need to be defeated and, yes, destroyed.

      Many of the regions of Asia that have insurrections may have justifiable grievances against their rulers, but their conflicts have been hijacked by Islamic fundamentalists and there just is no negotiating with groups whose end goal is a new Caliphate and the imposition of Shari’a.

      It’s probable that Russian actions in Chechnya have driven more people into the arms of the Islamists and the warlords. But to pretend that the rebellions only exist because of Russian misrule is fanciful.

      As a result of our post-9/11 world too many people who would identify themselves as ‘Left’ or Liberals have somehow managed to end up being morally indulgent of Islamic fundamentalists. These are people who treat women not even as second class citizens, execute homosexuals and all the rest of it.

      Eventually we have to decide whether small groups of fundamentalists can be allowed to dominate whole regions by force of arms or whether we are mature enough to put aside our immature loathing of the US, the ‘West’ (and, evidently, Russia) and have the balls to stand up and say that yes the culture of Liberal democracy, equal rights and individual freedom is superior and yes if terror is to be used to impose religious (or ultra nationalist) beliefs then it’s only right that we stand up out of our comfort zone for what we believe in. Russia may not have reached a place we would like it to be. But it’s not Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.

      The tedious response at this point would be to point out all the faults with America, Israel, Putin’s Russia and so on. So what? None of that even comes close to justifying the counter culture rising in Central Asia where girls are stoned to death for the crime of being raped, where women are beaten for daring to be educated, where cartoonists are threatened with death for implying that Islamists have a habit of threatening people with death and where young men and women are brainwashed by superstitious nonsense into blowing themselves apart on subway trains.

    • Liam says:

      Deaglán is correct. FG and Labour would have brought us to the same point. As long as we have an interventionist state to the scale Ireland has there will not be any real change. This country has always been run for the benefit of producers, be they farmers , bankers or developers.
      Its a bit of a strawman argument to suggest that the media has an overt “watch dog” role in our economy and that they somehow failed.

    • Noel says:

      There is not a chance that a FG and Labour led government would have brought us to this point. Both of these parties are more conservative than FF and PD. They may have brought us three quarters or two thirds of the way there but not to the same point. Some of the members of FG and Labour would have tried to get us to the same point but the parties and the leaders would have held back, they would have been too afraid to take a chance. Not like FF who would roll the dice every chance they get with the attitude it will be alright in the end.

    • Michael says:

      If we all look at the politics or the morality of the last act of violence whoever it may be perpetrated by – then we are doomed to repeat it over and over again. “Whataboutery” becomes a self defeating debate. Imperial states are by their very nature prone to violence. Their leaders carry titles associated with and reflecting that nature – Emperor, Commander in Chief, President, Fuhrer, El Caudillo etc. They support industrial military organisation who could not give a fig for humanity – who are labelled “collateral damage” or “casualties of war”. How many villages and towns have been burnt and bombed to bits to “save” them from falling into the hands of the enemy ? To focus on Moscow, Oklahoma, New York, Fallujah, Bagram, Abu Ghraib, Dresden, Omagh or Tokyo individually misses the core issue of our political leaders and society who rely on physical violence to achieve social and political objectives. When non-state groups descend to the same levels as states – should we be surprised ?

    • Joanna Tuffy says:

      As for who brought us here, the Irish Times editorial today doesn’t seem to be aware that Dessie O’Malley’s party was in Government from 1997 to 2009. Convenient to blame the”ward-heelers” rather than the neo-liberal policies of the PDs (combined with the very interventionist, but on the side of the rich, policies of Fianna Fail, as Liam has pointed out before in this blog).

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Joanna, you don’t really expect Madam in the guise of Deaglán to admit her beloved PDs had anything to do with creating the mess we are in – that would then lead her to have to call for Harney to go and for the PD TDs & Senators to give up their seats as they have no mandate and that in turn would mean Madam having to admit she too played a role in unleashing the neoliberal monster that has rought such ruin on us and if there’s one thing the Irish do not do – it is taking responsibility for anything.

      Things still have a way to go before people finally start to face up to their own roles in creating this mess. The Irish people elected the politicians, the politicians did the bidding of business and the professions, the business and professions paid the politicians to do their bidding and the people reelected the politicians because the media failed to point out there was an alternative and that the politicians in power were making the wrong decisions and round and round the circle goes.

    • Liam says:

      Joanna, of course it’s easy to argue either side of this one. But I believe Labour supported tax breaks for hotels for instance when it was last in power? of course when they did it, it was sensible economic planning; when FF did it, it was dodgy tax sheltering?

      I think you are underestimating the effect that a bubble has on politicians and regulators. While the Irish economy was generally going in the right direction up until interest rates were locked into the Eurozone, I honestly don’t believe that another coalition would have put the brakes on the economy or would have “killed the goose” as it would have appeared at the time. The advice coming from all sides would have been: “new paradigm”; “Ireland is different”.

      I happened to catch something about Gordon Brown last night and it was funny to see the hubris of his speeches in 2005/6 with the “boom and bust cycles have been abolished”. Meanwhile their Treasury had “forgotten” about how or why recessions happen.

      I assume most governments depend on their civil servants for advice so to be honest I don’t buy the line that “we would have done it different”

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Liam, it’s the politicans who make the decisions based on the advice they want to listen to. Do you really think Ahern or Cowen are the type to listen to people who don’t tell them what they want to hear.

      Richard Bruton is a trained economist and Joan Burton is a qualified accountant. They wouldn’t have appointed cronies to the various warning posts and they would have listened to the warning bells, and competitiveness wouldn’t have been allowed disappear either. There would have been no decentralisation, benchmarking or SSIA and Ireland would have money in the bank for this recession.

      So while Ireland would have had a recession like everyone else it could have been contained to a quarter or two of no growth or 1% or 2% contraction and then back to growth and, without the need to borrow 80 billion to bail out the friends of Fianna Fáil, the country could easily have afforded to borrow a few billion for a stimulus.

      The blame lies 100% with Fianna Fáil and those who voted for them. Every bad decision leads back to Fianna Fáil.

    • Liam says:

      DesFitz, I’m torn, I’d like to believe that competent politicians would have avoided the worst aspects of this. But look at the Fed in the US, they have 100′s of the most talented economists in the US to inform policy but they got it 100% wrong. It’s hindsight thinking to assume that there were political watchdogs out there that would have pulled things back (btw, I wont be using that argument when FF come to my door next year ;-) )

      Seriously it’s a structural problem. That FF may have added to the hell is for sure but Labour would have had to indulge the unions with their “route to the loot” and to be fair McCreevy’s pension reserve does go some way to covering his sins in relation to Decentalisation. I was living in the UK at the time but I gather Labour here were against the pension reserve? (open to correction there)

    • robespierre says:

      Getting back to the point. Personally, I am sceptical that Chechens were involved in this, even if they claimed it.

      Those of us that monitor and watch international affairs know the region’s importance in Putin’s rise to power. He is half way through his term as PM and will be eligible for another 8 years as President in two years’ time.

      It was the brutal war he launched in “response” to gas bombings in the Moscow metro in the late 90′s that propelled him from PM to President.

      Any student of Russian history knows that those who wield power there think nothing of minor sacrifice to achieve their aims. Think of Peter the Great killing his own son, the provision of one gun per seven soldiers in WW1 (you picked up the rifle of the fallen troop and kept moving forward)…

    • Joanna Tuffy says:


      What Labour said in 2002 about the Pension Reserve Fund was that we would continue to put money in it but we would reduce the amount and use the money saved for capital investment in the Health System. Fianna Fail accused us at the time of wanting to raid peoples’ pensions! I got that accusations at the doors a lot in 2002.

      It’s good to have that money there in retrospect but I wonder if Fianna Fail had said then that the money will be needed for when the banks and developers go caput would the voters have been so hard on Labour in that particular election?

    • Paul says:

      Hi Deaglán

      Yes let’s keep to the point …how did we get talking about the economy :-)

      Some quotes taken from your last post
      “There’s an unfortunate tendency in Ireland to think that the history of our own conflict, and its supposed resolution, applies to all trouble zones, and that we, somehow, are experts on conflict resolution…..
      The fact of the matter is that our own conflict was born out of sectarian discrimination and then hijacked by extremists…..Many of the regions of Asia that have insurrections may have justifiable grievances against their rulers, but their conflicts have been hijacked by Islamic fundamentalists”

      Of course our conflict is different from others but there are lessons that are applicable as you yourself show! If a state/ruler doesn’t tackle justifiable grievances it allows conflicts to be hijacked by extremists. Since the GFAgreement it’s the nationalist community itself that has been the greatest weapon for the security forces in tackling the extremists such as the Real IRA. It ain’t rocket science, even the head of the US Army in Afghanistan recognizes that winning the hearts and minds of the population is the way to defeat the Taliban.

      If you think that the peoples of the war torn regions in central Asia wouldn’t be receptive to such an approach Deaglán you are going down the rocky road of believing these Muslim cultures/wider communities are just wired differently from us and that somehow Demo/liberalism is not right for them or that they just don’t get it. I think this ultimately undermines those liberal values.

      I have zero time for any kind of fundamentalism and I accept that on occasion military force is necessary. Closer to home liberal values are at times under threat and not defended very well by liberals – the cartoon controversy was a great example.

      Regarding this specific terrorist atrocity I would say that the Russians should pursue these criminals relentlessly but that pursuit will be ultimately useless unless they tackle the justifiable grievances that these wacko’s claim to represent. The other crazy things that they want such as a new Caliphate and the imposition of Shari’a – well I think there will be plenty of muslims living in that community who would be very much against that…after all you don’t have Sharia law in Iraq or Iran for example do you – just some crazy conservative groups that don’t have much of a political base – I don’t think that is too controversial is it?

      BTW – I really enjoy this blog and it’s great that you are replying to comments, but how come it takes so long for comments that are posted to appear?

    • Sean says:

      You can never just “end” war. It is written in Human Nature to fight each other. The want for the end of war is precisely the feeling that existed at the beginning of the last century – just before WWI. There will be war as long as there are humans and there will usually be those who, because of their experience of peace and prosperity, are too naive to admit Humans hate each other and want to kill each other. If you need any convincing of this fact, open a history book. In terms of what can and can’t be done in war, nothing is too extreme, to some groups, for victory. And as long as one group is determined to have victory by any means they shall have it. So all groups, whether they like it or not must accept all is fair in war and there is no substitute for victory. This is the reason for the atrocities commited by all sides.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      @19, yes but the money spent by the US or UK is relative to what they can afford and even when they cut back to pay off the debts they incurred propping up parts of the economy it’s due to good housekeeping not that they are skint the way Ireland is.

      How much of the ‘boom’ was wasted – where are the new schools and hospitals and mental health services or special needs care or roads and railways and canals and green energy – if you were to do a report now to provide all that it would cost about 50 billion and yet Fianna Fáil/PDs squandered over 200 billion on SSIAs and benchmarking. So if FF/PDs had not been in power a large chunk of that 200 billion plus the money wasted on bailing out the banks and developers would be available to help all areas of society get through a year or two of recession – a recession that wouldn’t have been anything like as bad as it turned out to be due to Ahern/McCreevy/Cowen and Harney’s sheer stupidity and incompetence.

      No doubt a second or third Rainbow term wouldn’t have met all our expectations but it would have been far far better than what we got and the way things are now that doesn’t seem so bad at all.

      No matter what their faults there is no way in hell that Fine Gael or Labour are even remotely as close to golden circles as their opponents.

      So if Bruton or Burton had been ministers since 97 there’d have been no benchmarking, no SSIAs, no decentralisation and they would have appointed watchdogs over the financial system who would have been able to sound an alarm and be listened to.

      Of course Ireland would have been affected by the credit crunch but it would have been nothing remotely as bad as it has been. All the bad decisions come back to the door of Fianna Fáil and PD politicians who, even if there were advisers and civil servants to warn them, wouldn’t have listened to the warnings anyway. FF/PD ministers didn’t appoint people who would tell them the hard truth precisely because they are not the sort of people who want the truth – can you imagine the treatment someone in the dept of finance telling McCreevy he was heading down the road of doom would have received or someone telling Harney how wrong she is to have forced back door privatisation of the health service.

      Can you imagine! But then again in Ireland the public can’t even get off their fat backsides to mount a protest so maybe things are not nearly as bad as people claim them to be. I mean students can’t even organise protests via Facebook against education cuts, never mind other people protesting against social welfare cuts or health cuts. Despite the evidence of what happened when elderly people did get off their backsides and make their voice heard. Those sponging off benefits can’t even get dressed properly these days and funny how they all manage to have the latest Ugg boots and flat screen TVs – so they’re coping pretty well it seems.

      It can be hard to have much sympathy when the system is filled with cronies elected time and time again by the very people now moaning about how hard life is – I bet Willie O’Dea and O’Donoghue and all the other wasters are re-elected with even more votes in the next election.

      When I see people marching on the Dáil and people in Fagans or Kennedy’s pouring a pint over Bertie Ahern’s head and having him barred or people refusing to hand over cash to the Catholic church at collections, maybe then there’ll be some hope for the country.

      Until then Irish people reap what they sow.

      I don’t know are Irish people so deep in denial that it’s taking them longer than it would take a normal nation to come to its senses, or do people just not actually care about the country enough to get angry at those who caused this mess. Still if Japan and Mexico can both break the link with one party dominance in a democracy after 70 years then there’s hope Ireland can as well.

      In Russia, it’s funny that it was Russians themselves who destroyed any chance that the transfer from communism to democracy and a market economy could have lifted the living standards of everyone fairly and because a few Russians robbed the country blind, even a Fianna Fáiler would blush at what Russian politicians did, and turned that transfer into such a horror, that Russians blame the outcome of that change on why they have reverted to supporting such vile types as Putin. The ability of people to avoid responsibility for the mess they are in seems to be the most powerful human emotion – denial.

      Putin will now use the attacks as an excuse to unleash an orgy of violence on that region and the Russian public will wilfully ignore the fact their own troops will have gone on a campaign of rape and violence on a scale that is effectively ethnic cleansing. In return for being a ‘strong’ leader Putin will be elected President again in 2 years.

      Humanity will never change.

    • Kynos says:

      Russian guy I know says most people he knows are convinced Putin bombed those apartments in Moscow to gen up a casus belli. He could do that, he could do this. Nothing is as it seems. Could as easily be the Chechens come to think of it they’ve reason enough to in their justifications. The morality of this in context of the present times will be determined by the history books 200 years hence if such exists and also those to read and write them. Admirable sentiments expressed by the author of this piece. We’ll always have war while flesh is vulnerable to harder objects. That’s my guess. Thereafter it’ll be something different. That’s the then version of flesh.

    • Kynos says:

      Don’t know either about there being any such thing as innocent civilians in the sense that we arrogate to States the exclusive right to wage war, and as citizens and residents of said highly organised (theoretically anyway) social structures we are the muscle sinew blood and brain so what States do and while we are happy to tolerate what ours do we are de facto guilty of whatever they do in our name. It being an established principle of international jurisprudence that states don’t commit war crimes, individuals do. Mutatis mutandis we are all guilty of at least passive conspiracy in the war crimes of the States whose governments or guiding genius we continue to support and tolerate. All sorts of war crimes but all being crimes against the peace the author of this blog would agree is the great task of this century. Peace there’ll be but perhaps only when we can fight no more either because we no longer can or there’s some greater common enemy of Mankind that presents a greater clear and present danger than each other to ourselves do.

    • Deaglán says:

      Thanks Paul, we try to moderate comments at least once a day. If you read some of the originals, you would understand why they need to be moderated/edited!

    • robespierre says:

      @24 – not quite. There were two schools of thought in 1989 following the demise of the eastern bloc. One, shock therapy, was advanced by that liberal lion amongst development economists – Jeffrey Sachs. It was tried with traumatic effects in Poland (the Balcerowicz plan), Russia (the Yeltsin initiative), Albania, FYR’s and the Czech Republic. Countries like Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria adopted what has been called a gradualist approach to market reform.

      Growing pains were severe in both groups of countries but there was a tectonic shift in those countries that experienced shock therapy. Others to experiment with it with terrible consequences were Mongolia, Brazil and Mexico. China and Vietnam have wisely, based on these precedents, adopted gradualist reform.

      The problems with gradualism is that some reforms such as the market reforms accelerate ahead of institutional reform and freedom of the press, human rights, civil liberties and judicial independence. To this day for instance, Romania and Bulgaria experience issues with their judicial independence. Under shock therapy, everything happens very quickly and it tends to result in relatively strong structural reform but a very mixed bag of market liberalisation. The benefit of shock therapy is starting to be seen in places like Poland where a strong entrepreneurial culture is developing among the children of the people affected by 1989.

      In thirty years’ time, we will be best placed to judge which system is best. You must remember that Russians have rarely chosen their fate in any sense other than a nominal strong figurehead and that Putin has rolled back many of the benefits of the shock therapy experiment to assert a more familiar and less democratic state on the Russian people. Elections in Russia are rarely seen as free and fair due to media restrictions.

    • Liam says:

      Joanna, thanks for the clarification. There will always be a tension over “jam today versus jam tomorrow” regardless of one’s political perspective. I’m very conservative when it comes to making sure that my personal finances are in order before I start “living it up” so I’m free to judge an economy or individuals by the same yardstick. Every party has failed in this respect , Labour would prioritise redistribution first so for instance free university fees for everyone rated higher than increasing the number of medical places (might have helped the Health system too) and I assume all that middle class money that was freed up went straight into property. The other centrist parties will always steer vast amounts of money towards the vested interests. The only choice I see is to steer society towards more self-reliance or we’ll see Hayek’s Road to Serfdom play out. And I am beginning to see myself as a Serf these days!

    • Patrick says:

      Hi Deaglán, how are you?
      I am just wondering, other than Russia, have you spent time in any of the other countries you speak of? Any of the places where the terrorists and fundamentalists you talk of originate?

    • Deaglán says:

      I have reported fairly extensively from the Middle East in the last two decades, pourquoi?

    • kynos says:

      ” If you read some of the originals, you would understand why they need to be moderated/edited!” – indeed comment is free; facts are sacred. You get what you pay for.

    • Deaglán says:

      I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean, Kynos. I am talking about potentially defamatory comments for the most part. Your own comments, though rather rambling and poorly-thought-out at times if I may say so, are normally published in full.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Was the ‘accident’ that killed the Polish President another ‘event’ organised by Putin to make him look strong – when the Poles find out it was yet another crappy badly made Russian rust bucket that killed so many Poles they’ll cut off borders or something and Russia will use as an excuse to invade and make Putin look all powerful again.

      I find it more sad that the former President in exile was killed also than the actual President although that is sad too especially for his twin brother – how weird will that be to see an exact copy of the person being buried at the state funeral attending the funeral?

    • kynos says:

      It is well to be frank; even better to be fair CP Scott said also. Deaglán not a word of a lie in what you say. I was agreeing with you. These comment pages are the only part of the site not written by professional journalists. I was going to say the Letters page also but on reflection perhaps not. Much appreciate being published btw. Regard it as a bit of an honour to be so often. Will try to tighten up on the rambling in future and leave the keyboard alone when not in a condition to think. Never ever drink and type.

    • Deaglán says:

      Gosh Kynos, you took that well! I wish there were more like you.

    • kynos says:

      Nice of you to say that. Why wouldn’t I take it well though it’s constructive criticism. I’ve had more of an education from this site than my entire (shortlived) scholastic career. Or more accurately: careen.

    • kynos says:

      I too would love to see this Century bringing the End of War. Seems to me tho’ that for as long as we remain capable of such spiritual and cognitive dissonance as when we claim to believe in a God or gods whose constituent goods are justice love and mercy on the one hand, and we claim the right to inflict death and suffering in that God or gods’ name(s) on the other, we will only see war without end.

    • Kynos says:

      Of course it took a war to abolish legalised slavery. Will it take one to abolish war? Not so long as there’s a single piece of flint on this earth capable of being sharpened and hefted in a hand.

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