BLOG: We don’t know how much we don’t know



If you have been following the bombing at the Boston Marathon and find yourself asking, “Where in the heck is Chechnya?” you’re not alone.


Terrorism is God’s way of teaching Americans geography, to paraphrase the famous author and historian Ambrose Bierce.


I consider myself fairly well informed on the things of the world, having spent most of my adult life as a journalist.


The first time I heard of Chechnya was in September 2004. I was attending a trade show in Germany for my company and the television news was dominated by the Beslan school hostage crisis in that country. Around 300 hostages were killed as a result of the crisis, including 186 children with a significant number of people injured and reported missing.


I remember asking my wife if she had seen it on the news back home in Minnesota. She hadn’t. Neither had anyone else I was in contact with in the states at the time.


Americans are generally woefully uninformed about world events. Most prefer the latest on the Kardashians to the latest on Chechnya.


And then something like the bombing in Boston occurs and suddenly everyone becomes interested.


And by the way, it is the Republic of Chechnya we are referencing here, not the Czech Republic. Millions of people are apparently getting them confused.


There are any number of websites that will provide you with history and background on the country if you care to Google it. Suffice to say it’s the kind of country that naturally spawns radicalized Islamists and some believe for good reason.


Chechnya has been brutally abused by Russia for decades and when the United States has spoken up, they point to our Civil War to defend their position. Chechnya’s splitting off from the Mother Country would be like the Confederacy demanding to split off from the United States. It cannot be allowed to happen.


Essentially, the Russian government is uninterested in finding solutions to the issues at hand and simply maintains a hard line. And in so doing, folks who have murderous intentions in their hearts for Americans are bred. It’s a tad more complicated than that, of course, but the end result is the same for us.


How much do you know about Pakistan? It’s another hot-bed for anti-American sentiment that has the potential to spill over and manifest itself on our soil.


Egypt is far from settled. Our ambassador and others have been killed at the hands of Libyans. Radical Islamists are a force in the Philippines and Indonesia and a dozen or so other places that you probably don’t know much about either.


For the United States, there are two simple choices when it comes to foreign-bred extremists.


First, we take a page out of the Libertarian handbook and ignore every other country on the planet completely while arming individual American with assault weapons in an “each man for himself” defense policy.


Second, we can take an active role in the developing world by doing what America does best – providing aid, education and assistance so that these backward countries have a better image of the United States.


Foreign aid costs money, but so does terrorism. Terrorism also wears on the American psyche, and there really isn’t a way to put a price tag on that.


About the only option not open to us is doing nothing. So far that seems to be the direction both the U.S. Congress and the President are most comfortable with.


Given that, as destructive and sad as the Boston bombings are, you can expect more of the same. Are there any leaders remaining in the United States? If so, would you stand and be recognized.