Monday, September 06, 2004

World War 2 reflection

American Digest has an interesting post on how the Beslan tragedy could have a significant effect in Russia. After listing some quotes from Putin's speech he says:

Putin's list is chilling, the tone grave, and the measures he announces graver still. But beneath his words and within his tone we hear a word unspoken. We hear history begin to echo as Russia is stirred and what we hear is the call "Rodina" -- "Motherland."


"Rodina" -- the massing of Russians behind the nearly holy cause of protecting and defending "the motherland," is not a term any Russian politician would use today. It carries too many memories of Stalin and the Soviets. But the emotion behind it remains.


The enemy and those that harbor and support him would do well to look carefully at what is coming for them. The careful and caring Wilsonian policies of America are one thing. Russia is never quite so delicate or patient.

I agree basically with all of this. Russia aroused is one of the most fearsome forces the human race collectively can unleash. I think it is too early to tell whether Beslan wakened the bear, but I don't doubt its ability to do so. American Digest goes on however, and he says something that so far most people are ignoring:

At the present moment, the West still cares, and cares deeply, about the innocents in which the Terrorists conceal themselves, but this will not and can not last.

In World War 2, at least as regards to that portion of it fought between the Western Allies and Germany/Italy a slow descent in brutality can be traced. The Blitz campaign is a good example of the process. For the first part of the Blitz campaign - indeed technically before "the Blitz" itself - the Luftwaffe concentrated its bombing on airfields. Then on the night of the 24th August 1940 two lost German bombers accidentally dropped their payloads on London. The next night, 25th August, in retaliation, the RAF bombed Berlin. Until that time they had mostly been dropping propaganda leaflets. It took Hitler a little while to get over the shock, and then on the 7th September 300 German bombers began "the Blitz" - the widespread bombing of UK cities that was to continue into Spring 1941. Then in 1942 and 1943 you have the raids on Hamburg and Cologne, and in return the Baedecker raids - I read the later used a tourist book to aid in target selection as a guide to cultural landmarks to be wiped out. In turn this lead to the V-1 and V-2 bomber campaigns, and to final atrocities like the infamous Dresden raid. By 1945 what had - in the West - been a war in which civilians were simply caught in the crossfire quickly became a war where the civilian was him and herself a target, for the simple logic of revenge. And all because of a navigational error.

Those people who think this is a war unlike any other are entirely correct. I doubt there has been any war fought with so small a fraction of the resources of one of the principal sides. But one day that will change, and perhaps one day we will cross a terrible threshold.

The Romans knew how to keep control an Empire. When Julius Agricola arrived in Britannia province a restless tribe in what is now northern Wales, the Ordovici, ambushsed a destroyed a company of Roman cavalry. Immediately Agricola organised his army, and annhilated the Ordovici for ever. I think it could probably count as one of the most efficient genocides on record, and took less than a year. There were no more revolts after that. How fortunate we are we have moral qualms the Romans do not. Let us hope we never lose them.

EDIT: I just had to correct a date in my talking on the Blitz. I misread something. And added on particular comment.

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