20 Years of Leading Analysis

Boston Common

Source: Getty
Op-Ed Foreign Policy
Summary
There is little Russia could have done to help the United States prevent the Boston bombings, but Washington and Moscow should restart and enhance international antiterrorist cooperation.
Related Media and Tools
 

So, there are Chechen terrorists and there are terrorists who just hail from Chechnya.

Reports indicate that the Tsarnaev brothers are Chechens who lived in both the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and the Republic of Dagestan in the Russian North Caucasus. In 2002 or 2003, they sought and obtained political asylum in the United States. On September 11 of last year, Dzhokhar, the 19-year-old who, as I write this, is still at large, became a naturalized American citizen; 26-year-old Tamerlan, who was killed last night, had applied to be a permanent legal resident.

There is no indication that the brothers stayed in Chechnya during the war that raged in the region until 2002. There is no doubt that their early lives were distorted by that conflict, but their background does not explain why they appear to have turned against Americans, whose country gave refuge to their family and gave them an opportunity to realize the American Dream.

That opportunity has become a nightmare -- the bombing in which the Tsarnaevs are suspects marred hundreds of lives, and the violence committed during the manhunt has been shocking. The investigation will establish the milestones in the process by which these young people have become alleged terrorists. At this point, one can only guess at motivations. Had the Boston bombings been simply a distant echo of the Chechen war, the perpetrators would probably have chosen different targets. As committed, the Boston Marathon bombing was directed against modern civilization itself. 

Recently, amid the condemnations of the "global war on terror," it has become fashionable to say that there is no such thing as international terrorism. Diverse groups of terrorists, their loose alliances, and their franchises operate in particular environments, fight against certain kinds of enemies, and pursue political goals. Links among those groups certainly exist, but their collaboration does not reach the level of joint planning, strategizing, and execution. Moreover, there is some disagreement even among Western nations about who should be branded a terrorist, and who should not.

This disagreement is particularly stark when it comes to Russia. Generally, Chechen terrorists have been treated in the West as a special case -- desperate and misguided souls responding to their enemy's brutal force. Usually, the numerous terrorist strikes in Russia have not been included in the short list of major terrorist acts -- America's 9/11, London's 7/7, Madrid's 3/11, and the attacks in Mumbai and Bali. Instead, Russia was placed in a different category, where, like in Israel, terrorism was deemed a response to the government's repression, rather than an attack against humanity as such. When Vladimir Putin, then in his first term as president, reached out to George W. Bush on 9/11, the United States accepted Russia as part of the global anti-terrorist coalition. The coalition, however, did not last long.

With Russia's image increasingly suffering from accusations of rising authoritarianism and the United States having developed its own strategies of dealing with terrorists and insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S.-Russian cooperation has weakened dramatically. Some U.S. allies, like the United Kingdom in the wake of the Litvinenko case, severed their links with the Russian security agencies altogether. The Russians, not to be outdone, paid in kind. The so-called anti-Magnitsky list recently passed by the State Duma contains the names of several U.S. officials responsible for the Guantanamo prison.  There have been, of course, individual examples of successful Russian-Western cooperation on fighting terror, but they have been the exception not the rule.

International cooperation can only accomplish so much. There is little Moscow could have done to help the United States prevent the Boston bombings, both suspects having left Russia more than a decade ago. Yet, some lessons can be learned from the experience of the past several years, and acted upon:

  • Get tough on terrorism without regard to the politics behind it. Whether in Gaza or Chechnya, there can be no excuse for targeting civilians to pressure governments;
  • Restart and enhance international anti-terrorist cooperation. For the sake of ordinary people who might be hit by terrorists, make it immune from other differences between the governments;
  • Pay close attention to the current terrorist scene inside Syria's civil war. There are too many indications of a new Afghanistan-in-the-making there. As al Qaeda's story has demonstrated, terrorists easily change their targets. Jabhat al-Nusrah will not be always fighting Bashar al-Assad.

What happened in Boston will not be forgotten. Whether it will push the United States and others toward closer international cooperation in the fight against terrorism remains an open question.

This article was originally published in Foreign Policy.

End of document

Comments

 
 
Source http://carnegie.ru/2013/04/19/boston-common/g0fx

In Fact

 

81%

of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.

32

million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3

Syrians

now needs urgent assistance.

370

political parties

contested India’s last national elections.

70%

of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.

58

years ago

Carnegie began an internship program. Notable alumni include Samantha Power.

70%

of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.

20%

of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.

58%

of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.

50%

of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.

20

million people killed

in Cold War conflicts.

18%

of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.

$536

billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.

$100

billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.

4700%

increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.

$11

billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.

2%

of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.

82

new airports

are set to be built in China by 2015.

78

journalists

were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.

67%

of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.

16

million Russian citizens

are considered “ethnic Muslims.”

Stay In The Know

Enter your email address to receive the latest Carnegie analysis in your inbox!

Personal Information
 
 
Carnegie Moscow Center
 
16/2 Tverskaya Moscow, 125009 Russia
Phone: +7 495 935-8904 Fax: +7 495 935-8906
Please note...

You are leaving the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy's website and entering another Carnegie global site.

请注意...

你将离开清华—卡内基中心网站,进入卡内基其他全球中心的网站。