The Blame Russia First Crowd

Arbatskaya Metro Station, Moscow

Arbatskaya Metro Station, Moscow

Neocons don’t like Russia, going back to the Cold War, so whenever you see terrorism related to Chechnya suddenly they turn into hippie appeasers:

BENNETT: Yeah, the Russians will be tougher than most countries on this stuff, right?

KRISTOL: Yeah, they’ve been pretty brutal in Chechnya and in some ways have brought this, I’ve got to say, on themselves. But, you know, the trouble is that people use legitimate grievances and of course become — a fair number of Chechnyans went to Afghanistan to fight against us and the Chechnyans were treated just horribly, have been treated horribly by the Russians. But obviously that’s no excuse for being a suicide bomber.

BENNETT: Yeah, between, we were talking earlier, between a repressive regime and an Islamist terrorist, I guess you’ve got to side with the repressive regime.

KRISTOL: Yeah, but yeah…

BENNETT: Not easily.

KRISTOL: Against the terrorists. But I think they were, the actual Chechnyan peolple have been treated brutally by the Putin government and by the preceding government to some degree too.

I don’t think you want to say that the Russians, or anyone else, actually “brought this on themselves” since human beings always have the option of not responding to oppression by murdering innocent people. That said, this is clearly correct—Russia’s problems with Chechens trying to kill Russians is tied in with the fact that Chechens have historically been treated very poorly by Moscow, are being subjected to rule by Moscow, and have concrete, present-day grievances that inspire people to take up arms. But it’ll be a cold day in hell before you hear Kristol applying this logic to events in Gaza or wherever.