Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

From Russia with Gas

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the recent Russian “liberation” of a Moscow theater besieged by Chechen separatist rebels was not that there was a significant body count at the end; that’s to be expected from the Moscow government, whether past or present. Rather, most interesting about the whole affair is the remarkable media consensus that Putin was justified in flooding the occupied building with poison gas.

In the US, it is expected that most who make a living as media personalities will espouse the Washington Consensus, which is that since Russia and Putin are US allies in the Terror War, it follows that the Russian government is justified in using all available means to quash domestic dissent. It is a position that privileges government over the governed, and it is a position with dire ramifications for the notion that we are not enslaved by our governments.

It doesn’t surprise me so much to hear a random Neo-Conservative making the case for state terror as a consensus-builder as it does to read a Leading Article in the INDEPENDENT supporting that very argument. In “Mr. Putin Was Right to End the Siege, but Let Him Be Honest About the Mistakes”, the INDEPENDENT misses an opportunity to speak out against governments using airborne toxins in police actions, opting instead to lend credibility to those same despicable acts.

The piece starts off, curiously enough, anticipating criticism. “It is unreasonable to be too critical, with the advantage of hindsight, of the decision taken by Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, to end the siege at the Moscow theatre. With the hostage-takers plainly sincere in their willingness to die, it was obvious that the prospect of the siege ending peacefully was minimal.” Doubletalk, of course, rooted in an unwillingness to choose the wrong side on this issue. To extend the argument of the “Leading Article” to its logical end, it follows that state use of poison gas is perfectly acceptable if negotiation has a “minimal” chance of success. The article leaves it to us to define what minimal means in either Putin’s mind or the mind of his apologist at the London paper.

Having established this threshold of permissibility for a leader gassing his own people, the article goes on to rehash the usual tired bromides. The Russians should be willing to discuss ending their assault on Chechnya, should be willing to discuss granting the Chechens independence from Moscow rule, but cannot countenance the actions of Chechen “terrorists”. Let’s leave it aside that this act of so-called terrorism has done more to raise world awareness of the Chechen plight than anything since the US began serious attempts to buy Russian support for the impending occupation of Iraq. The INDEPENDENT holds that “It was, therefore, not so much a question of whether to send in the special forces, but when and how. . .the question of whether using the mystery gas to knock out hostage-takers and hostages alike was the right tactic or not is therefore secondary.” A secondary question indeed, as “national leaders around the world. . . will recognise that it may be their sombre responsibility one day to deal with a similar situation . . .the next time a group of desperadoes somewhere in the world takes civilians prisoner.”

Anthony Gancarski is a regular contributor to CounterPunch. His work has recently been featured in Utne Reader’s “Web Watch”. He can be emailed at Anthony.Gancarski@attbi.com.

 

More articles by:

ANTHONY GANCARSKI is a regular CounterPunch columnist. He can be reached at Anthony.Gancarski@attbi.com

May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail