Well, that was fast. In an early-September column about the Syrian conflict and the new world order, I wrote that Russia and the West could team up against the forces of radical Islam. It looks set to happen sooner than expected, given the current wave of Islamic terrorist attacks not far from the site of the upcoming Sochi Olympic Games.
The pre-Olympic suicide bombings give Russian President Vladimir Putin a wide-open shot at leading the world in the war against radical Islamic terrorism, and the only thing that might stop him is widespread global concern for human rights -- the human rights of terrorists, attacking the Olympics. Any takers?
Thankfully, not America. "The United States stands in solidarity with the Russian people against terrorism," White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a prepared statement. "The U.S. government has offered our full support to the Russian government in security preparations for the Sochi Olympic Games, and we would welcome the opportunity for closer cooperation for the safety of the athletes, spectators and other participants."
You won't be hearing any sort of statement about how the U.S. government also hopes that Putin unilaterally wipes Islamic terrorism off the map while the Olympics are giving him the pretext to do it. Old Cold War habits die hard, on all sides. Even though Islamic terrorism is a global plague, much of the world is nonetheless concerned about what Putin might do with any kind of carte blanche. That's because we've seen how resourceful he can be when he doesn't have carte blanche.
So what should Putin do? He should go for the gold in the anti-terrorism pentathlon. The circumstances don't get much more convenient than having Olympic security as a rationale. Anyone who says otherwise risks being pegged as a terrorist supporter rather than a Russophile.
This confluence of events -- the Syrian conflict, the Sochi Olympics and ongoing Islamic terrorism -- puts Russia in position to take charge. Earlier, when U.S. President Barack Obama was wringing his hands over whether to send American troops into Syria, I had contended that his best move would be to let Russia deal with the war-torn country, particularly since the conflict zone was about 20 hours by car from both the site of the Olympic Games and Russia's Northern Caucasus, a hotbed of radical Islam.
The threat of terrorism at the Olympics is now glaringly obvious. Over the past few days, Islamic Chechen suicide bombers have killed civilians in a train station and on a trolley bus in two separate incidents in the southern city of Volgograd, about a 14-hour drive from Sochi.