Well, I might as well bring up a little dust-up in Blogistan regarding the Russian school massacre and the terrorist problem the Russians have in Chechnya. Yesterday, Matthew Yglesias posted as follows:
Worse, even, than the reality of the crime is the knowledge that things will get worse. The situation, clearly, can only be resolved by Russian concessions on the underlying political issue in Chechnya. At the same time, in the wake of this sort of outrage there will not only be no mood for concessions, but an amply justified fear that such concessions would only encourage further attacks and a further escalation of demands. I don't see any way out for Russian policymakers nor any particularly good options for US policymakers. Partisanship and complaints about Bush's handling of counterterrorism aside, this business is a reminder not only of the horrors out there, but also that terrorism is a genuinely difficult problem -- I think we've been doing many of the wrong things lately, but no one should claim it's obvious what the right way to proceed is.
This seems to me to be suggesting that Russia's old policy of scorched-earth, "Kill them all" military incursions into Chechnya hasn't worked worth a damn, so one might conclude that they might try making concessions -- except that this would only encourage further terrorist activity, obviously, since the terrorists would see it as evidence that they can influence policy by killing and violence. Russia, therefore, is caught in a dilemma where one alternative doesn't work and the other simply isn't possible for other reasons. This seems pretty clear to me.
But then along comes Glenn Reynolds, who seizes on Matthew's second sentence quoted above, and only that sentence, in a "Look at the dumb liberal" moment that pretty much completely misreads Matthew's point. (Read the ensuing comment thread as the Instalanche begins.) And then, after Matthew takes strongly-worded offense to this, Glenn retreats into his usual fall-back position of "Gee, I just can't understand why you'd be so mad at me", coupled with "I don't understand your position" (which somehow I was able to grasp in about the forty seconds it took me to read Matthew's entire post) and tut-tut-ing over Matthew's use of profanity. (The horror of it all! Good thing Glenn Reynolds is so gosh-darned consistent about his disapproval of profanity in political discourse.)
Matthew then goes on to clarify his original position here (as if it actually needed clarifying). I found this whole exercise rather illuminating, in light of the "Nuance? We don't need no steenking nuance here!" attitude of today's political commentary.
And here's something that's been bugging me for a long time now: what's the right thing to do if a case can actually be made that what the terrorists want actually is the right thing to do?