Mark Katz has an interesting and important discussion of recent Russian policy toward the Islamic world and its consequences.
One of Moscow's principal foreign policy aims has been to prevent opposition to Russian intervention in Chechnya from rising up in the Middle East and the broader Muslim world....Katz notes that this policy has largely succeeded with the despotic regimes of the Middle East which have for the most part refrained from discussions of the Chechen revolt while denouncing American policy regarding Israel, Iran and Iraq. But with the jihadists it is a different matter. They are completely indifferent to Russia's attempts to deflect Islamist rage by saying "Why pick on Russians when it is the Americans, not us, who are occupying your country?"
Moscow, especially under Putin, has assiduously worked to convince the Muslim world that, unlike America, Russia is its friend. When America insisted on intervening in Iraq, Russia strenuously objected -- both at the time of the intervention and ever since. When the United States called for democratization in the Middle East, Russia indicated its willingness to work with existing authoritarian governments as they are. When the United States calls for sanctions or other strong measures in response to the Iranian nuclear program, Russia calls for restraint and even sticks up for Tehran. When the United States refused to talk to Hamas after it won the Palestinian parliamentary elections earlier this year, Russia hosted a Hamas delegation in Moscow.
Numerous other examples could be cited. Part of Moscow's aim in taking these actions seems to be to convey to Muslims that Russia supports so many causes dear to them that they should not concern themselves over what is happening in Chechnya. Moscow would prefer that Muslims actually support Russian actions there, but will be grateful if they are merely indifferent -- just as long as they do not actively support the Chechen rebels.
Read it here.
The contrast with the United States could not be greater. Reacting to atrocities in Moscow and Beslan, Russia chose the path of appeasement, currying favor with Middle Eastern tyrants an attempting to deflect the Islamists' attention toward the U.S. After 9/11 Bush went on the offense, projecting American power decisively into the heart of the Muslim world and engaging both the tyrants and the terrorists on their own turf.
To be sure, the cost of America's aggressive response has been great, but Bush has inflicted severe injury on those who would do us harm, but as the recent execution of Russian diplomats [here], and video [here] shows, appeasement is no deterrent against Islamist rage.
And in case you were thinking that withdrawing and ignoring the jihadists while tolerating a certain "nuisance" level of terrorism was an option, think again.
Wretchard over at Belmont Club notes many of the same points I do, but expands his analysis to include Tony Blair's Britain, which in the wake of the London bombings has been cautiously treading the same path as did Putin. He writes:
It is [the Jihadists'] apparent invariance to appeasement or resistance that is so dismaying. If Russia, Israel and Britain can still be regarded as hostile to Islam despite every conciliatory effort then what do they do next? Is the solution to get tough on Islam or conciliate it even further, on the theory that the past outreach has not been enough? The New York Times describes how the British political establishment has attempted to solve this problem by simultaneously toughening certain dealings with Muslim communities while becoming more conciliatory in others.And the result of such a policy? Severe restrictions on the civil rights of Englishmen! Acquiescence to Dhimmitude in the homeland of modern liberalism.
Tony Blair is willing to trade away the oldest and most cherished British freedoms in an attempt to please the Muslim community. Will he succeed? And if he doesn't what then?What then, indeed!
Read it here.
I am reminded of the scene in Goldfinger where James Bond says "Do you expect me to talk?" to which the response is, "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!"