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September 14, 2004 1:40 AM   Subscribe

Sept. 7: Righteous indignation. Sept. 13: The million dollar question. Sept: 14: The beginning of the answer?
posted by Krrrlson (39 comments total)

 
You know, unity of the state is really the Most Important Thing. No matter how artificial its origins, no matter how divided its people, the survival of the State must hold utmost importance. No, no, forget about that whole Nation-State thing we tried once upon a time (you know, when 'nation' was determined by some obscure guess work based on skin color, linguistic groups, and what the guys with all the fucking guns and money wanted to claim as their own), and just focus on the survival of the State. Because when you get right down to it, despite our little differences, we really are all Oceanians, and hey, we really CAN win the war with Eurasia. In fact, it might just happen tomorrow... So really you shouldn't focus on these temporary developments: It's so hard trying to hold the State together, and we really just want what's best for you. It'll all work out. All you have to do is trust us.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:10 AM on September 14, 2004


my my.
posted by sklero at 2:25 AM on September 14, 2004


Russia will now no longer have to face the dreadful prospect of governors and members of parliament taking over another school.
posted by caddis at 3:35 AM on September 14, 2004


1) Terrorist acts are as anti-democratic as acts get.
2) They encourage anti-democratic reduce-freedom-to-increase-security responses from governments.
3) Democracy in Russia is very weak and ill-established.

Highly predictable outcome: terrorism good for autocracy, bad for democracy in Russia. And everywhere. Be sure to blame the governments, not the noble freedom fighters.
posted by jfuller at 3:58 AM on September 14, 2004


The question I have is if we were in the middle of the cold war where would we stand on this issue?
posted by sexymofo at 4:07 AM on September 14, 2004


when, for political gain, you declare all-out war on an abstraction ("poverty", "drugs", "terror", whatever) instead of realistically attacking certain narrow targets in order to obtain certain inevitably narrow targets, you need much more power for the State. the ideal entity to fight such (never-ending) wars is an absolute State -- comes to mind the original, Roman idea of a (temporary) "dictator" with special powers to be put in power in times of national emergency

of course it's much easier to use slaughters of civilians (WTC, Beslan) as battering ram to obtain every politician's most secret dream -- to have carte blanche.

maybe those unruly Chechens don't like to be exterminated, who knows.
but maybe it's just that they hate Russia's freedom. so an outside-of-the-box solution is to erase the modicum of freedom that Russia enjoys -- so the Chechens won't be able to hate something that doesn't exist anymore (if it ever existed in the first place)


ps at this point I am under the impression that Saddam Hussein did Beslan, too

___________

"Be sure to blame the governments, not the noble freedom fighters."

you know jfuller, we all see the amount of shit that rained on innocent Afghans and Iraqis heads because of those 3,000 dead in Lower Manhattan. Chechens could only dream that Moscow had killed only 3,000 of them. Chechens are being exterminated, Grozny razed to the ground. Imagine a whole city looking like Ground Zero. I guess if you lived there, you would be pretty mad at the Russians, too. but what do I know, I don't gather my news from Uncle Rupert's patriotic network.
but you can keep watching Fox, it'll do wonders to help you understand what happens out there, among the non-USian infidels.
sleep tight: Putin's a great guy, a staunch ally in the War on Terrah. that's all that matters for some people
posted by matteo at 4:11 AM on September 14, 2004


errata corrige: "instead of realistically attacking certain narrow targets in order to obtain certain inevitably narrow achievements"
not targets
my mistake
posted by matteo at 4:12 AM on September 14, 2004


> you can keep watching Fox, it'll do wonders to help you understand what
> happens out there, among the non-USian infidels.

As Muhammad Ali said to George Foreman, "Is that it? Was that your best shot?"

I can't watch fox, matteo, because I don't watch TV. TV is for profound retards soltanto. Instead I read Walter Laqueur in Policy Review.
posted by jfuller at 4:27 AM on September 14, 2004


"I LOOKED the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul."

Good thing The President of the United States has such a power. Eyeball looking.

Good thing that Putin is such a devout man too.

Bush tells Noonan that he said to Putin: "I think you judge a person on something other than politics. I think it's important for me and you to look for the depth of a person's soul and character... I was touched by the fact your mother gave you a cross."

Bush tells Noonan in an Oval Office interview: "Putin said to me, 'The thing I was most worried about was I lost my cross that my mother had given me. And a worker came.' He wanted to tell the worker, 'Go find the cross -- I lost my cross.' The worker came over."


Noonan explores the Bush/Putin cross conversation along with other stories of morality and faith in public life in her new book WHEN CHARACTER WAS KING, A STORY OF RONALD REAGAN, set for release November 12 by VIKING. [Ranked #1423 on AMAZON's sales list Sunday evening.]
posted by rough ashlar at 4:43 AM on September 14, 2004


Here's a very good roundup on Putin's power grab, even if it was linked by instapundit.
posted by jfuller at 5:07 AM on September 14, 2004


I'm curious, Matteo, were you outspoken against Russia oppression in Chechnya before recently? In the late nineties, if I recall correctly (and perhaps I don't), the political calculus was reversed: the US was critical of the Chechen war and put pressure on Russia about it, while most of Europe remained conspicuously silent.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:14 AM on September 14, 2004


Re: that Noonan story. Isn't it unbelievably sad and scary that the leader of the most powerful country on Earth is such a rube, such a gullible fool, that he would fall for such transparent manipulation?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:17 AM on September 14, 2004


So. Lemme see if I've got this timeline right.

Russia (then the Soviet Union) runs Chechan region for some fifty years, presumably with all the wonderful parties and games that we remember Stalin and Lenin so fondly for.

Chechans, understandably wishing to distance themselves from Russian rule, declare independence as Soviet Union collapses. New Russia wants Chechnya for itself, sends troops, and long story short, all sorts of bloody hell ensue.

Next ten years entail a series of outright invasions (often repelled) of Chechan territory with the occasional high-profile 'terrorist' counter-attack in Russian territory.

Today, Putin uses Chechan conflict as excuse for suspending Russian democracy.

Goddamn those anti-democratic terrorists! Screwing it all up for the good people of Russia and making life so hard for themselves!

***

jfuller: I think the article you linked is highly indicative of the driving bad assumptions in the 'war on terror.' When the author abortively starts talking about terror as a tool of national seperatist movements, he immediately jumps out to talking about the unappeasability of Al Queda. What's that have to do with Chechnya, I ask myself. You can't look at terrorism in itself because it is the product of different local groups with differing motivations and origins. While Al Queda may be getting a lot of steam right now among the Islamist youth, and their successes motivating others to violent action, it's extremely disingenuous to talk about 'fighting terror.' It's a way of dodging the local issues and getting out of messy political situations.

Saying terror is inherently anti-democratic is overgeneralizing on both terror and democracy. The Chechan situation is perfect for talking about this. The Chechan terrorists may or may not be anti-democratic, but you can be damn sure that Russia (or at least its government) is gung-ho anti-democratic. Putin is clearly using the conflict as an excuse for a powergrab. Actually blaming suspension of the Russian democracy on Chechan terrorists is naive at best.

I mean, look at the French Revolution. Killing a bunch of nobles probably falls under the terrorist (be-)heading, but the end result was a democracy. I'd wager that the American revolution would have involved many such terrorist acts had America been anywhere near Britain.

Does terrorism have any links whatsoever to the particular governmental philosophies of the group carrying it out? I tend to think not... Is there such a thing as justified terrorism? Probably depends on your views of Just War...
posted by kaibutsu at 5:21 AM on September 14, 2004


"Blowing people up, dead or alive, she reports, is the latest tactic introduced by _______ into the conflict. It was utilised perhaps most effectively on 3 July in the village of Meskyer Yurt, where 21 men, women and children were bound together and blown up, their remains thrown into a ditch.....Sometimes those who survive wish they were dead, as in Zernovodsk this summer, when townspeople say they were chased on to a field and made to watch women being raped. When their men tried to defend them, 68 of them were handcuffed to an armoured truck and raped too. After this episode, 45 of them joined the guerrillas in the mountains. One older man, Nurdi Dayeyev, who was nearly blind, had nails driven through his hands and feet because it was suspected that he was in contact with the fighters. When relatives later retrieved his remains, he was missing a hand. The relatives of another villager, Aldan Manayev, picked up a torso but no head. The families were forced to sign declarations that Dayeyev and Manayev had blown themselves up."

For extra points, fill in the blank. Who has been carrying out such atrocities ? [ Story recently ran in the UK Guardian ]

_____________________

"The 'disappearances' of detainees in the custody of Russian federal forces in Chechnya is a major human rights crisis that the Russian government and the international community must address."
"While combat between federal forces and Chechen rebels has for the most part ceased, the 'disappearance,' torture, and summary execution of detainees continues, marking the transition from a classical internal conflict into a 'dirty war,' where human rights violations and not the conquest or defense of territory are the hallmarks."
-- Human Rights Watch Report (PDF)
_______________

"Many have noted the strong interdependence between human rights violations and intractable conflict. Abuse of human rights often leads to conflict, and conflict typically results in human rights violations. It is not surprising, then, that human rights abuses are often at the center of wars and that protection of human rights is central to conflict resolution."

________________

Krrrlson, nice use of news story juxtaposition to reveal an underlying truth. Cynical manipulation of a "War on Terrorism" for political ends. Hmmm.......why does that sound familiar ?
posted by troutfishing at 6:18 AM on September 14, 2004


Putin's a badass. Say what you want about Stalin, he got things done.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:20 AM on September 14, 2004


I'm curious, Matteo, were you outspoken against Russia oppression in Chechnya before recently?

well, I've been text messaging old Boris quite a bit. he must have been too drunk to sms me back, I gather. then came Volodya and it was just pointless to waste time messaging him

anyway, for us photography fans, at least those nice carnages have produced an immortal book of photographs: Open Wound by (former Black Panther) Stanley Greene

while most of Europe remained conspicuously silent.
and your source for that would be...? anyway, I've ben text messaging Romano as well, still waiting for an answer. there must be something wrong with my cell phone or something
posted by matteo at 6:37 AM on September 14, 2004


"Putin's a badass. Say what you want about Stalin, he got things done." (posted by Mayor Curley at 6:20 AM PST on September 14) - Curley, he sure did get things done.

"The preparation for the deportation took a full year. Army and security forces were dispatched to every town and village in Chechenia with the pretext of conducting millitary maneuvers. On the eve of Feb.23,1944 all citizens of the CHECHEN-INGUSH Autonomous Republic were to celebrate the Red Army Day in the public squares of every town. Security forces surrounded each public square and the military commander read to the citizens of each town the Decree of the Supreme Soviet of deporting the whole Chechen people to Central Asia and were ordered to report to specific deportation centers in few hours.....

.....In some villages where transportation to the deportation depots were not available the people were herded into barns, doused with gasoline and burned alive....

.....I have talked to some survivors and they said that they had to stand up in the wagons packed like sardines with the windows of the trains boarded up and with no stops for food and hygiene. Many people suffocated and died and their bodies stayed in vertical positions until the train stopped at its predetermined intervals and then and only then were the bodies taken out and dumped on the side of the railway.....Thousands died from lack of food and medicine. Typhus spread among the deportees and many perished from this disease. Once the deportees reached their destination they were sent to forced labor camps and the Chechens were the major source of slave labor that built highways in Kazakhistan, Uzbekistan and Kirghizistan through rough mountainous terrains....."


It's amazing what an army can accomplish against a mostly unarmed civilian population.

It's amazing what one can do with forced deportation, slave labor, and the occasional liberal application of gasoline.....

Genocide !

Highways !
posted by troutfishing at 6:46 AM on September 14, 2004


As I dimly reecall, there was once a short-ish German fellow, with a bad haircut and a prominent moustache, who was very, very effective at getting things done.

Lately, However, some have questioned his priorities.
posted by troutfishing at 6:51 AM on September 14, 2004


trout, I was being facetious (which I hope that you knew). I haven't seriously romanticized Stalin since I read Doloff's Execution By Hunger in college.

But then again, causing a huge famine is more than I'll ever do...
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:38 AM on September 14, 2004


Curley - OOoooops. Wasn't that some delicious righteous indignation on my part ? I was convinced that you were coming out with a previously hidden fascistic love of oily muscle.

But hey - I'm glad for my righteous eruption. There are probably too many here who are less than fully aware of the full extent of Stalin's impressive resume, and the Chechen Genocide (ethnic cleansing?) hasn't been widely publicized.

" then again, causing a huge famine is more than I'll ever do..." - Ahh, fame!
posted by troutfishing at 7:45 AM on September 14, 2004


Take a look at the "get tough" policies described by troutfishing and see how useless they are in reducing terror acts. Rather, they probably lead to more. Then look at the situation in the US and Iraq.

I would guess that if Putin were running against Kerry many of the same people who will vote W would vote Putin. They want someone to kick some ass. They are mad and they don't really care about wimpy theories as to whether it incites further violence. They are too smug in their feeling that getting tough on [crime, drugs, terrorists, whatever] solves the problem, that our current problems stem from being too wimpy to get tough enough. Might makes right. I would guess that many Russians will be willing to support any level of violence against the Chechins in retribution for what happened at Beslan. Anger and fear are powerful tools to gain political advantage. They were the favored tools of that German (actually Austrian) with bad hair and a mustache. How will they play out in Russia; how will they play out in the United States if we are attacked again by al Qaeda?
posted by caddis at 7:46 AM on September 14, 2004


caddis - perhaps another Austrian will show us the way of strength, the power of oily muscle that makes the trains run on time.
posted by troutfishing at 8:09 AM on September 14, 2004


So I have a question: If the Chechens don't blow people up, no one pays attention to how screwed they are. If the Chechens blow people up, they are evil and must be stamped out. How *does* an opressed minority get autonomy these days?
posted by dame at 8:34 AM on September 14, 2004


This story should've received more attention here in the U.S. Or, rather, it still deserves more attention.
posted by raysmj at 9:06 AM on September 14, 2004


A (mostly nonviolent) 3rd way approach :

Step 1) Raise billions through organized crime.
Step 2) Spend those illegally gotten billions to hire a crack advertising firm to design flashy TV spots, establish nonprofit advocacy foundations, and organize a "Chechens Across the World" pop-rock-country musical extravaganza.
posted by troutfishing at 9:09 AM on September 14, 2004


" This story should've received more attention here in the U.S. Or, rather, it still deserves more attention."

somebody is trying to pay attention, actually.

According to statements by pro-Moscow Chechen officials, in the first half of 2003 an average of two people went missing every day, many of them after being detained by Russian forces. The Russian human rights group Memorial documented 294 “disappearances” between January and November 2003, including forty-seven people whose corpses were later discovered in unmarked graves or dumped by the roadside.
posted by matteo at 9:47 AM on September 14, 2004


Be sure to blame the governments, not the noble freedom fighters.

FWIW, this post was not meant to absolve the terrorists of blame. It was to point out that the ex-KGB officer (and it took a very special kind of personality to hold the rank of colonel at that organization) who is now running Russia is a power-hungry man who would make Russia a democracy in name only.

The Beslan atrocity certainly merits a crackdown on terrorism, but Putin's latest "reforms" are meant to deliver him power, not combat terrorism. The Chechens are an excuse, and without them Putin would likely find others. That said, terrorist activitity makes the work of a would-be dictator so much easier. Why, in olden days dictators would have to arrange such convenient opportunities themselves. This is, oddly enough, another reason why terrorism is a powerful political force (although not one that necessarily works to the benefit of the terrorist) and it must be stamped out. But, regardless, Putin is bad news.


If the Chechens don't blow people up, no one pays attention to how screwed they are. If the Chechens blow people up, they are evil and must be stamped out. How *does* an opressed minority get autonomy these days?

I'll tell you what it *doesn't* do - fucking blow people up. Actually, I think it develops an incredibly slick PR machine, like Arafat's. Except, without Arafat's corruption, so that it can be used to truly accomplish political goals rather than keep the current leader in power.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:09 AM on September 14, 2004


Krrlson I like your productive suggestion - maybe because it's similar to my own - and so I'll echo it again here :

: "warfare" by PR and publicity, and with political and economic sanctions. This approach is not the same as (but can be very complementary to) the traditional methods of Nonviolence and it can be very successful - as in the case of the struggle to end Apartheid in South Africa.

But your post was really about Putin's cynical political use of Chechen terrorism, I know.
posted by troutfishing at 10:29 AM on September 14, 2004


"warfare" by PR

Mind you, the Palestinians didn't "fucking blow people up" until about 20 years into their uprising. For a long time they staged rallies and protest marches and tried to attract the cameras and journalists. It worked. Well, they attracted the cameras and journalists anyway. But did the roused consciences of the world avail them anything? Popular opinion there is that working the press isn't going to get them anywhere.

I'm not suggesting that the next logical step is violence, but I sure as hell don't know what it is. These people are past appealing to the "international community" for help. They don't believe they'll get it. Why should they believe otherwise? Genocidal oppression in Rwanda, East Timor, the Sudan, Kashmir, etc. Where's the example of "appeal to the press" that has worked?

Good post, Krrrlson.
posted by scarabic at 12:22 PM on September 14, 2004


So I have a question: If the Chechens don't blow people up, no one pays attention to how screwed they are. If the Chechens blow people up, they are evil and must be stamped out. How *does* an opressed minority get autonomy these days?

Pontiacs.
posted by melissa may at 1:11 PM on September 14, 2004


Ooo! Ooo! Can we airlift Oprah to Chechnya? Pleeeease????
posted by scarabic at 1:14 PM on September 14, 2004


How *does* an opressed minority get autonomy these days?

Kill politicians.
posted by fullerine at 1:18 PM on September 14, 2004


Mind you, the Palestinians didn't "fucking blow people up" until about 20 years into their uprising. For a long time they staged rallies and protest marches and tried to attract the cameras and journalists.

Are you taking 1948 as the starting point of the uprising?


My comment regarding PR and Arafat was related to the current situation. For the past few years, the Palestinians have enjoyed truly excellent PR in European, and yes, even American media and consequently public opinion. As best as I can tell, anyway. Sadly, Arafat has proven time and again that he is not interested in resolving the conflict - and why should he, when he continues to profit so handsomely from it, whether it is pocketing UN money or making a few bucks on the side selling the Israelis concrete for the security barrier?

My opinion is that, had there existed a Palestinian leadership several years ago that was genuinely committed to the peace process, it could have been achieved, and the Israelis would have never become desperate enough to elect a hardliner like Sharon.
posted by Krrrlson at 2:19 PM on September 14, 2004


"For the past few years, the Palestinians have enjoyed truly excellent PR in European, and yes, even American media and consequently public opinion" - I'd have to take issue with that assertion.

Further, the laying of all blame on Arafat betrays, I think, a clear bias.

Israel holds the power in this equation.

Flat out.
posted by troutfishing at 7:21 PM on September 14, 2004


I'd have to take issue with that assertion. Again, as best as I can tell from looking at the media today and reading about the situation a few decades ago. I think the change is obvious, though perhaps I should have said "comparatively."

Further, the laying of all blame on Arafat betrays, I think, a clear bias. Contrary to what it may sound like, I do not lay all blame on Arafat. I do, however, contend that Arafat is interested in prolonging the conflict rather than resolving it, and that as long as he and his cronies remain in control of the Palestinian Authority, a bilateral peace process will be impossible.

Israel holds the power in this equation. Aren't you laying all blame on Israel with that assertion?
posted by Krrrlson at 9:33 PM on September 14, 2004


Coverage of the Palestinian cause in the press isn't the actual point. I agree that they get much better airtime than many other suffering, oppressed peoples around the world. The actual point is that press coverage, and the rousing of the world's conscience, hasn't availed them anything. The US continues to funnel tax dollars to Israel, and Israel continues to funnel PR dollars (I'm talking billboards here) to the US to improve its image.

The only reason I jumped in here is because someone said "These people shouldn't resort to violence. They should wage a PR war." And I just think that doesn't take history into account.

Let's not get started on whether Israel was forced to make mistakes by Arafat's excesses, or the other way around. I find those conversations really tiresome. "We only shot because you shot first," or "We'd be committed to peace if you'd commit to peace first." Even if we were able to definitively locate the BLAME, so what? The question is what to do about the crisis. Even two horribly biased folks like you and I can agree on that.
posted by scarabic at 10:33 AM on September 15, 2004


Even if we were able to definitively locate the BLAME, so what?

Well, I'll grant you that the chances of one of us changing the other's mind are less than stellar. Best not get into it, I guess.


The question is what to do about the crisis. Even two horribly biased folks like you and I can agree on that.

Well, if the Gaza pullout can be completed successfully in spite of continuing terror and the threats of fanatical settlers, I might regain some feeble hope of continued progress.
posted by Krrrlson at 1:53 PM on September 15, 2004


But I should also mention that I am a pessimist.
posted by Krrrlson at 2:20 PM on September 15, 2004


if the Gaza pullout can be completed successfully in spite of continuing terror - not to mention the Israeli opposition, then hell, I will actually give Sharon a point.
posted by scarabic at 10:20 PM on September 15, 2004


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