Dr. Val FarmerDr.Val
Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

War Comes To America: A Russian View Of Terrorism

October 22, 2001

Our family received this e-mail from a former foreign exchange student, Alexander Kayumov, a friend we got to know during his stay in Rapid City:

I thought you and Darlene might like learning what the general mood in Russia is concerning today's situation in the world.

It's been some time since the tragedy now. People from all over the world (maybe excluding many Egyptians, Palestinians, Iraqis, Syrians, Chinese, and many more individuals from, again, all over the world - for stupidity, baseness, black-heartedness, and cruelty know no national borders) have had time for awe, grief, anger, and analysis.

And now, in all likelihood, it is time for action. It is also time to rethink and reconsider - to change the old notions of who is the enemy of whom, of which side to support in local conflicts around the world, and of what are the most imminent threats to Western economy, Western democracy, Western way of life, and Western civilization.

In a newspaper some days ago I read about a question that a reporter asked Collin Powell during an interview and that Collin Powell did not answer. The question was: "The United States have only recently - and very tragically - come to realize the threat that Islamic extremism poses to order and security in the world, while Russia has been fighting Islamic extremists for many years already. So who should join whom in the world's new fight against terrorism?" This is the quintessence of what the majority of Russians, ordinary people and politicians alike, think about today's situation.

Russia became aware of the Islamic threat a long time ago and has since been consistently opposing, exposing, and fighting it wherever possible. We have been the main source of supplies for the anti-extremist forces in Afghanistan for a number of years. We have helped former Soviet republics in Central Asia fight their own Islamic terrorists and insurgents. We have fought two wars in Chechnya - badly planned but necessary. We have alerted the world community to the dangers of its one-sided approach to conflicts in the Balkans - the Bosnian conflict, the Kosovo conflict and the aggression against Serbia, and, most recently, the Macedonian conflict.

But you didn't listen. You didn't listen because both Americans and Europeans had ready, home-made answers to all real-life questions. Plus because for Americans it was too far from home to bother looking into the causes of things. Plus because of an absolutely conscious intention to weaken Russia and its allies in Europe. Plus because of an inertia of thinking that led you to view every poor, unshaven, shouting, intolerant, Muslim father of many as a default victim and every Christian Slav as the default aggressor and perpetrator.

You trained, financed, and turned a blind eye on the dealings of Palestinian terrorists, Taliban fighters in Afghanistan as far back as 1994, Muslim forces in Bosnia, Albanian guerillas in Serbia and Macedonia because it was your intention to use them as proxy-fighters, to make them your cat's paws, and because it occurred to nobody at that time that these very men would some day turn against you or your allies.

We think that now it is perhaps time for everybody, not least Americans, to rethink attitudes and policies of the past, to reconsider the hypocritical and double-standard approaches, and to join efforts in fighting the true enemy of us all.

Russia is no novice in this business, and, besides, you may sometimes need our help (even though you are "the most dynamic and constructive society in history" and "certainly capable of utterly destroying any human or national enemy"), as one American told me recently.

So we thought when we went into Afghanistan 20 years ago. We had over 100 thousand men in Afghanistan, many thousands perished there - and still we achieved nothing. You are, of course, capable of destroying anyone, but since you can't use one big hydrogen bomb in Afghanistan, you will be forced to begin a ground operation - and that's a very dangerous thing to do. I remember from my History lessons in Rapid City how Americans count and lament every life that their country loses in war. So it's not just the question of destroying, it's the question of how you destroy.

And lastly, in this particular issue, Russia's national interests go hand in hand with yours. Osama bin Laden has been financing Chechen terrorists and guerillas, our military intelligence says that at any given moment there are a few thousand Chechen fighters training in camps throughout Afghanistan. Because of this, a year or so ago there even was some serious talk in Russia about bombing Afghanistan - of us bombing Afghanistan, kind of like you did in 1998 after explosions in Kenya and Tanzania, only more severely.

Now the US is going to do the very same thing - so you can certainly count Russia as one of your allies in this long fight. From what we hear, Russia is already helping you - by sharing intelligence and surveillance data, by helping the Northern Alliance of anti-Taliban forces, by encouraging our Central Asian allies to help the American forces, and by blocking the Tajik-Afghan border using our border-guard forces and the 201st Airborne Division stationed in Tajikistan.

I believe there can be no doubt that the United States, Europe and Russia - everyone who believes in Western ideals - should combine efforts to make sure that the network of international terrorism is delivered a deadly blow and that it never has a chance to recover. I also firmly believe that, given enough time and with enough determination, we will win!