These two important articles on the possibility of a modern Reichstag Fire by Boris Kagarlitsky, originally published in Moscow Times are archived here at under Fair Use Provisions.

Moscow Times
September 18, 2001
Bin Laden? Better Be Sure
By Boris Kagarlitsky 

The terrorist attack on New York has already been compared to Pearl Harbor
and the loss of the Kursk submarine. Mikhail Gorbachev likened it to
Chernobyl, which is probably a very accurate analogy in terms of the shock
and ignominy experienced by the U.S. administration. In both cases, we saw
incompetence and helplessness initially, followed by desperate attempts at
official face-saving. 

There is, however, one analogy that does not seem to have occurred to
anyone: the burning of the Reichstag. The anti-Arab and anti-Moslem
hysteria that has followed around the globe in the wake of the catastrophe
simply calls out for comparison with the events of the 1930s. The U.S.
authorities immediately started the search for the guilty among Arabs,
Osama bin Laden cropped up almost immediately as prime suspect and
alternative versions have barely been entertained. 

In the minutes immediately following the explosions, it seems there was no
doubt whatsoever regarding the "Arab" source of the attacks. However, the
more evidence and arguments adduced in support of the "Arab version," the
more shaky it seems to become. In a television appearance immediately after
the explosions, the well-known pundit Vyacheslav Nikonov noted that the
guilty would undoubtedly be found, and if not, they would be "nominated,"
adding cynically: "It would be in Russia's interest if the Taliban and bin
Laden were nominated."

To give him his due, Alexander Gordon -- who spoke on two TV programs --
pointed out that it could be far-right militia groups (such as those behind
the Oklahoma City bombing) and not Islamic terrorists at all. Analysts have
emphasised how easy it would be to carry out each individual element of the
terrorist operation: smuggling knives aboard a plane, breaking into the
cockpit, etc. However to coordinate all these actions in different parts of
the country without making a single serious blunder is devilishly hard.

The crime committed on Sept. 11 must have required enormous efforts in
management, control and logistics. The strength of Islamic terrorism is in
the simplicity of organization and its unpredictability. All groups operate
autonomously. Even the destruction of command centers doesn't have a major
impact, insofar as every one of Allah's warriors is capable of acting on
his own. The attacks on New York and Washington were very carefully
coordinated, the minutest details were thoroughly thought through, and at
no stage were there serious lapses. 

It would appear that the operation was organized and carried out by people
who had free passage around the country and were considered to be above
suspicion. If they are professionals, they did not acquire their experience
in underground terrorist groups. It cannot be excluded that the attacks
were organized by forces within the United States, and this would have to
be people with considerable military experience.

Why is it that no seems even to consider a conspiracy by far-right groups
as a possibility? The masterminds could easily have covertly used people of
Arab nationality to carry out the attacks.

Whoever it is behind the Washington and New York attacks, in Russia and
Israel they have already played a role comparable to the burning of the
Reichstag. Far-right politicians -- "upholders of the values of western
civilisation" -- have already spoken out calling for revenge. Over and
over, one and the same thing is repeated: "Moslems are subhuman barbarians
and you cannot conduct negotiations with them. They are not like us, and
thus our criteria of democracy and human rights do not apply to them." "No
need to fear unpopular measures," some say. "No need to limit ourselves to
democratic conventions," others chime in.

At a minimum they are after: arrests without warrants, mass deportations
and wide-scale searches. Already reports are coming from the United States
of racist attacks against Islamic communities. It is clear that mass
repressions will lead to mass resistance. That is how you make enemies. Do
those who are trying to scare us with the Moslem threat really not
understand that? They understand it full well. They simply believe that a
final solution is possible -- if not globally, then at least on a more
limited territory. As a maximum, they are baying for ethnic cleansing and

Boris Kagarlitsky is a Moscow-based sociologist.

Copyright (c) 2001 Boris Kagarlitsky / Moscow Times

Moscow Times
October 30, 2001
A Need for Honest Answers
By Boris Kagarlitsky 

For three weeks already the bombing of Afghanistan has been going on.
Hostility toward the United States is growing, and not only in the Arab
world. The bewilderment and exasperation can be felt in Western Europe as
well, despite assurances of loyalty on the part of those countries'
leaders. It's not just the ever-growing number of victims among the
civilian population, but also the fact that London and Washington, although
commencing military operations, have yet to present the world with cogent

The famous address by British Prime Minister Tony Blair that won the
support of the British parliament, by his own admission, did not contain
sufficient evidence for a British or U.S. court. Most of it had absolutely
nothing to do with the attacks on New York and Washington on Sept. 11, but
merely described the prior and already well-known terrorist activities of
Osama bin Laden.
The official version of events leaves such a large number of unanswered
questions that even Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a loyal ally of the
United States in the Middle East, could not refrain from voicing certain
doubts. Mubarak is himself a professional pilot and does not understand how
terrorists with minimal flying skills could have steered the planes to
their targets. The Russian General Boris Agapov, a well-known specialist on
Afghanistan, cannot understand how bin Laden and the Taliban, with their
primitive organization, could have executed such a large-scale act of
terrorism; he believes that one of the more competent secret services must
have had a hand in things. The German Berliner Zeitung and the Indian
Mainstream asked how the terrorists could have implemented their plan
without a single U.S. citizen as accomplice. 

And why is the United States so interested in bin Laden's money, while
ignoring Saudi "charitable" foundations that sustain a number of extremist
organizations. The list of such questions is almost endless and one merely
has to explore U.S. Internet sites -- which today have come to resemble
Soviet samizdat of the 1970s -- to find a lot of them.

In any case, the extent to which perceptions of Sept. 11 differ inside the
United States and outside of it is striking. U.S. citizens support the war
because they hope that they can rid themselves of the nightmare that was
unleashed on Sept. 11. For the rest of the world, the war is itself a
nightmare and, moreover, one that has been imported from the United States.

The commentators of serious newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal and
The New York Times whisper in the ear of the Bush administration: Provide
more evidence. However, if we are talking about evidence that is gathered
retrospectively in order to corroborate a version of events already agreed
upon, then it will convince very few people. Such evidence will appear
convincing mainly to governments receiving handouts from the United States,
and the larger the handouts the more convincing the evidence will seem. In
demanding solidarity at all costs, the Bush administration is destabilizing
its own friends and compelling them to go against the grain of the views of
their own people.

Having appointed bin Laden as the main culprit, the Bush administration has
not only provoked doubts regarding the justification of its actions, but
also made it more likely that other criminals will go unpunished. Only a
full-scale and thorough investigation will make it possible to uncover all
the culprits. If bin Laden was not behind the Sept. 11 attacks or played
only a secondary role, then the current war against terrorism is providing
other terrorist leaders with the opportunity to cover their tracks.

A doctor who undertakes a surgical operation in spite of doubts about the
diagnosis is acting amorally at the very least. For this very reason,
politicians and doctors fear the retrospective revision of a diagnosis more
than anyone.

The fear of new terrorist acts compels the American public to accept any
course of treatment offered by the government. However, there will most
probably not be any more large-scale acts of terrorism. Not because the
administration's measures have been effective, but simply because those who
blew up the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 -- whoever they were -- have
already achieved their goal, just as those who blew up apartment blocks in
Moscow in 1999 accomplished theirs. Terrorism is a means of changing the
balance of political forces through violence. Such a change has already
taken place. And the current war against terrorism is no solution, but
rather is aggravating the problem.

Boris Kagarlitsky is a Moscow-based sociologist.

Copyright (c) 2001 Boris Kagarlitsky / Moscow Times

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