Russia’s Terrorist Attack: Sadness, tragedy, unhappily a failed policy

The tragic and brutal attack at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport only strengthens how vulnerable modern society is to determined terrorists who are willing to give their own lives to kill innocent others.

While all the facts are still not known, there are important lessons from these and similar acts which have occurred in Russia and are unhappily common in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, and are seen in the Middle East, Europe, and even America.

So far the earlier, but often brutal, crackdowns by Putin and his security forces on the Chechen region and the counterproductive discrimination and nationalist attacks on North Caucasus citizen in Moscow have only exacerbated the ethnic problems rather than solved them.

If the response by the Russian authorities is even more indiscriminate attacks on Chechens, and permitting street reprisals against what are seen as people from the Caucasus, the cycle will only continue.  

One danger from this act is an ever stronger move towards general repression, an even more authoritarian state, and the rise of nationalism.  Then, the cost of this act will be born by the Russians citizens themselves including those who are working for greater democracy.  The impact will also be on efforts to modernize the legal system and courts and the justification for giving even more power to the secret services, who already often act with impunity.

The test will be whether anything will be learned by this terrible act and a whether a wiser, more nuance and more successful approach is seen as the better long-term solution.     

Finally, the first act by President Obama was correct condemning the act and offering American assistance.  We have a common cause with Russia to fight the roots of terrorism but to not let such acts change the values of a decent society.

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