Sept. 11 and Beslan: a battle for civilization

Victor Erofeyev sounds alot like John Waters in the Irish Times last week, and Mark Steyn in the Spectator last Thursday.

Where does Basayev end and Al Qaeda begin? A separatist and a fundamentalist are two very different things. The first demands political separation; the second declares holy war against us. But the separatist Basayev no longer exists. A massacre of children worthy of Herod is not a coded invitation to peace negotiations. Basayev’s message can no longer be reduced to vengeance, an idea that presumes we call it quits when all the scores have been settled.

The military dispute over Chechen sovereignty, morally impossible for Russia to win from the very beginning, has mutated, leaving none of the old certainties in place. Like Osama bin Laden’s attack on the United States, Basayev’s attack on the school signifies the start here of the Third World War of which the whole of Western civilization is so rightly afraid, which it tries with all its might to postpone, which it even tries to ignore.