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Putin' their money where their guns are
September 14, 2004 3:57 AM   Subscribe

Vladimir Putin, wanted, alive.
Chechen Rebels responding to the 10 million dollar bounty placed by the Russian secret services on rebel leaders Basayev and Mashkadov, have upped the ante offering 20 million dollars for the detention of "the war criminal Putin"...
This is the sort of war crimes they are referring to.
posted by talos (89 comments total)

 
Chechens are so cute.
posted by shoos at 4:21 AM on September 14, 2004


especially when they take innocents hostage
posted by shadow45 at 4:21 AM on September 14, 2004


Given the logic of moral equivalence, I guess it's ok for Chetchens to blow up little children then.....
posted by darren at 4:25 AM on September 14, 2004


Can they afford 20 million?
posted by armoured-ant at 4:45 AM on September 14, 2004


armoured-ant: I bet they could scrape it up if necessary, but I doubt you'd be in too strong a bargaining position if they decided they didn't want him anymore and just reported you anonymously while you were holding him negotiating on a price :)
posted by Space Coyote at 4:47 AM on September 14, 2004


darren, just to clarify: moral equivalence means in this context as far as I'm concerned, that anybody that blows up little children is a monster. The Russian army, however, doesn't seem to suffer the sort of global condemnation that the hostage takers in Beslan, rightfully, have incurred. State terror is just as terrorist (and more powerful) than non-state terror, a point which lately seems to have escaped many people in both former cold war rivals.
posted by talos at 5:01 AM on September 14, 2004


Damn good point, talos.

It's interesting that the US was once concerned about "self-rule" and "democracy" and "human rights" and "war crimes" with regard to Chechnya but now is conspicuously silent. There is hardly any country or group—hell, even that many individuals—who are consistent in their moral evaluations of such things. It really is true that one man's "terrorists" are another man's "freedom fighters". And so it goes.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:10 AM on September 14, 2004


Gee - the first three comments here illustrate the danger of not reading the links first . From Talos' last link [ UK Guardian ] : "Blowing people up, dead or alive, she reports, is the latest tactic introduced by the federal army 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."

So.....how is this different from terrorism ?

"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."
posted by troutfishing at 5:10 AM on September 14, 2004


It is worth noting that the Russian-Chechen conflict long predates the current era, before even, Stalin's WW2 era deportation of a large segment of the Chechen population to Siberia.

The issue of Chechnya - it's struggle for autonomy and human rights abuses carried out both in the name of that struggle and against it - has long been politically contentious. Here is a slightly suspect but lengthy timeline (to go with the Wikipedia article - first link - the neutrality of which has been disputed)

Russia has invaded Chechnya at least 5 times - starting with Czar Nicholas 1st's invasion of the Caucasus region in the 1830's.

But Stalin really upped the ante, and in a manner that was - well - Stalinesque :

The Facts ?

" Stalin and the Communist leadership was worried about a Chechen uprising while the German army was invading Russia during WW2. Therefore, in Feb. 1943 the Supreme Soviet met and decided to end the Chechen problem once and for all by deporting the whole nation to Central Asia and inhabiting Chechenia by Russian and other citizens of the Soviet Union. 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..... The elders tell us that when people died in the winter time they couldn't dig the graves for them because the ground was frozen solid. They used to lay the dead in the snow and when spring came they would bury them again in the ground. In many cases members of the same family, fathers, mothers and children were separated from each other and the majority never saw each other again. This is a sample of what the Chechen people went through from 1944-1957.....What did the Chechen people do to deserve such inhuman treatment? The communist rationale was that the Chechen people collaborated with the German army against the Soviet Union and the truth of the matter is that the Chechen people didn't even have the chance to collaborate with the Germans because the German army never reached Chechenia. The reason is that the Chechen people revolted repeatedly from 1918 to 1944 demanding their freedom. "

__________

In it's most recent incarnation, this sort of massive state brutality has had dramatic consequences:

"In the system of arbitrary terror imposed by the Russian troops, the civilians suddenly found themselves aligned with the rebels. Anatol Lieven has written that, because of the Russian human rights abuses, “Chechen militants have expanded their ability to recruit volunteers even from among those who, prior to the Russian intervention, hated the militants and did not share in their goals.” The Russian military’s conflation of the militant and the civilian radicalized the latter and popularized the former.

It is not surprising then that one consequence of Russian conduct in Chechnya has been the religious radicalization of the population. Until recently, radical Islam was not common among the Chechens, who practiced a mild form of Sufism rooted in cultural and familial traditions. The growing popularity of militant Islam was a consequence of the war, not its cause. As Djokhar Dudayev, the first Chechen president, said in 1995: “It was Russia that forced us onto the path of Islam.”

[ From The Lessons of Chechnya In Iraq: A Realist Approach to Civilian Warfare by Seva Gutinskiy ]
posted by troutfishing at 5:49 AM on September 14, 2004


So to sum it up :

This most recent human rights atrocity carried out by Chechen rebels was one in a long series of a grotesque, deadly game of tit for tat - in that it roughly mirrored ongoing human rights abuses of civilians in Chechnya by the Russian army.

[ note : the China Daily story above is interesting for the fact that it completely neglects to mention Russian army human rights abuses in Chechnya, a fact I'd attribute to Chinese government sensitivity concerning struggles of various regions in China for more autonomy. ]

Here is a different take on things :

"Chechnya is an unresolved relic of czarist expansion into the Asian heartland.....The newest fashionable theory to be spawned by the growth industry of terrorism, which bestows expert status on anyone who follows events in Afghanistan or Sri Lanka, is called 'inflation of terror'.

It implies that in a hideous parody of the Olympics' Faster, Higher, Stronger motto, terrorists are constantly trying to scourge the world with ever more gruesome outrages. It might look so if one compares Stavropol where Chechen rebels seized a hospital complex in 1995 to the Moscow theatre siege two years later and, now, Beslan.

But that's just the Chechens, and the security response played things up on all three occasions. To claim inflation of terror on a worldwide basis implies a unified global command, a single purpose, submissive legions and inexhaustible resources. It ignores the multiple causes of violence.....

As for Chechnya, barely a word of history can be found in acres of tear-jerking Western reporting of the massacre. Moscow, which says 10 Arabs were among the terrorists, though none of the hostages saw them or heard Arabic spoken, must be pleased with this effusion. Yet, Chechens have been trying since the 16th century to defend their identity from Russian autocrats like Peter I, Catherine the Great and Stalin. Their resistance boasted heroes decades before Osama's appearance.
"

posted by troutfishing at 6:06 AM on September 14, 2004


The Chechyns are the new Palestinians. They're the underdog, so no matter how many atrocities they commit some people will support their actions.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:14 AM on September 14, 2004


Mayor Curley - You don't seem to be especially impressed by the Russian tactics in Chechnya.

Do you support the blowing up of civilians ? I don't think so, but one might be tempted to infer that from your comment.

But - somehow - I suspect that you and I share an inclination condemn all human rights violations regardless of who commits them, terrorist group or states.

The Russian army's terrorization of the Chechen population - in a near perfect sort of mirroring - is matched by equivalent atrocities carried out by Chechen rebels.

Is one side "more right" ?

Further, this dynamic feeds the spread of Islamic extremism through the overall Chechen population, and so Putin and his predecessors have unwittingly established a test case in Islamic radicalization, and Russia will long be suffering the results.
posted by troutfishing at 6:39 AM on September 14, 2004


They're the underdog, so no matter how many atrocities they commit some people will support their actions.

It's not really about supporting the actions. I support the Palestinians right to self determination in much the same way as I support the Chechens right to the same.

Doesn't mean i support the actions. People should remember it's not just the underdogs who commit atrocities - desperate times always call for desperate measures - IRA, PLO, ANC, Al Qaeda. One mans terrorist is anothers freedom fighter and all that.

If governments weren't repressive chances are most of the terrorism in the world would be eradicated. Look at the IRA and ANC for good examples.
posted by twistedonion at 6:40 AM on September 14, 2004


Mayor Curley is the new village idiot.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 6:45 AM on September 14, 2004


They're the underdog, so no matter how many atrocities they commit some people will support their actions.

Good analogy, Mayor Curley. And like the Israel/Palestine conflict, no matter how many anti-terrorist atrocities are performed on the underdog, they will still be seen as righteous in the eyes of the U.S.

For once we agree!

The escalation of horrendous, reviling, tit-for-tat action like this is the only conclusion either side can reach when neither side is willing to comprimise.

By the way, I'd just like to state now that this is what will happen to the U.S. if we keep our current course.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:48 AM on September 14, 2004


The Chechyns are the new Palestinians. They're the underdog, so no matter how many atrocities they commit some people will support their actions

no, it's just a bit subtler than that. some people -- desperately lib'rul by today's standards -- still think that supposedly democratic or para-democratic nations (Russia, Israel) should be held to higher standards of behavior than, say, common street thugs. if Palestinians or Chechen guerrillas kill indiscriminately civilians, it's not OK to slaughter them back indiscriminately, some of us still have the audacity to argue. because if you act that way, you become what you're fighting against. and turning back it's very, very difficult.

not to mention, if somebody bi-weekly bombed the fuck out of your neighborhood, Mayor, I bet you'd be pretty pissed off, too. and maybe, just maybe, you'd choose to stray from the path of nonviolence.
me, I'm all for Ghandi. but then, I live in a pretty nice apartment in a cool downtown neighborhood
posted by matteo at 7:11 AM on September 14, 2004


The escalation of horrendous, reviling, tit-for-tat action like this is the only conclusion either side can reach when neither side is willing to comprimise.

How can the Chechens compromise? What have they got to give apart from a willingness to live with oppression? The crux of the problem is that these colonial conflicts - Russia/Chechnya, Israel/Palestine, Britain/Ireland, Britain/India, France/Algeria, France/Vietnam etc etc etc - are not symmetrical. Only one side really has the power to do anything about it. Admitting this political fact does not make you a terrorist sympathiser. It makes you a realist.
posted by Summer at 7:18 AM on September 14, 2004


if Palestinians or Chechen guerrillas kill indiscriminately civilians, it's not OK to slaughter them back indiscriminately, some of us still have the audacity to argue. because if you act that way, you become what you're fighting against. and turning back it's very, very difficult.

Like I said, it's rooting for the underdog. Same disgusting tactics, but one side gets held to a "higher standard."

Here's a standard that EVERYONE (palestinian, israeli, chechen, russian or frigging belgian) should adhere to: don't kill people.

In a conflict where both sides are killing indiscriminately and using human lives as bargaining chips, no one is the better faction. Don't be the cultural relativists that make the left look insane-- wrong is wrong.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:29 AM on September 14, 2004


Mayor Curley is the new village idiot.

Care to back up that ad hominem attack with something substantial, Armitage Shanks? Or it is just self evident that the Chechens are the good guys given their recent work in education and aeronautics and their previous contribution to theater?

I can't, can't, CAN'T fucking believe that a faction of people here would sympathize with a group that blows up civilian aircraft and frigging elementary schools. But then again, I should be used to it because I had neighbors who gave to the IRA back when they were waging their war against their perpetual enemy, the London commuter.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:35 AM on September 14, 2004


I can't, can't, CAN'T fucking believe that a faction of people here would sympathize with a group that blows up civilian aircraft and frigging elementary schools.

It's not sympathy. It's a recognition of the fact that if you treat people like animals they will act like animals.
posted by Summer at 7:50 AM on September 14, 2004


It's not sympathy. It's a recognition of the fact that if you treat people like animals they will act like animals.

Didn't Gandhi say that? Or was it Dr. King?
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:52 AM on September 14, 2004


The point is that, on both sides, the ones doing the killing and the ones getting blown up by bombs are not neccesarilly the same ones.
Nobody is sympathising with "the group that blows up civilian aircraft and frigging elementary schools". They're sympathizing with the people who have been abused, raped, starved, etc. by the russians since before anybody can remember.
It's like sympathizing with the american people who lost loved ones in 9/11 without sympathizing with the group that blows up people from helicopters.
The lack of this kind of (not so) subtle distinctions is what makes this kind of argument degenerate into shouting matches.
posted by signal at 7:53 AM on September 14, 2004


Curley - chill dude, chill. I don't see anyone here condoning Chechen terrorist tactics.

But I, for one, don't think states ought to be targeting civilians. Are we to chuck the Geneva Accords ? Should states dispense with notions of inherent human rights and take to inflicting reprisals on entire populations ?

I can see where that sort of "tit-for-tat" logic will go, and it's not pretty : terrorist groups employ a nuclear device to blow up some Western city, and that (ex) city's national government blows up another city in turn.

Whoo hoo. Tit for tat on a vast scale, as if out of the Old Testament or the Mahabharata.

And, it never ends - the weapons only get more destructive and the tactics more abhorrent.

"The escalation of horrendous, reviling, tit-for-tat action like this is the only conclusion either side can reach when neither side is willing to compromise.

By the way, I'd just like to state now that this is what will happen to the U.S. if we keep our current course." - Damn you, civil_disobedient ! I wanted to claim that prediction.

It's grim, and grimly predictable.

Oh well. You got there first, so you're the undertaker on this one, the sepulchral voice of doom.
posted by troutfishing at 8:05 AM on September 14, 2004


Nobody is sympathising with "the group that blows up civilian aircraft and frigging elementary schools".

Oh yes, people are indeed sympathizing with the terrorists. Summer basically just said "The Russians treated the Chechens badly, so the Chechens' violent reaction isn't condemnable."

If you want to split hairs, people are claiming to merely overlook Chechens' violence while secretly sympathizing with them.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:08 AM on September 14, 2004


Care to back up that ad hominem attack with something substantial, Armitage Shanks?

It was a reply in kind to your unsubstantiated and ridiculously sweeping generalization.

I can't, can't, CAN'T fucking believe that a faction of people here would sympathize with a group that blows up civilian aircraft and frigging elementary schools

How is objecting to Russian atrocities against civilians an indication of sympathy for terrorists?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:10 AM on September 14, 2004


Mayor Curley: the fact remains that we have hundreds of victims of terrorism on the one side versus 200,000 on the other. So yes, I'd say one side is treated like the "better faction" since no one has yet declared the Russian army to be a terrorist organisation.
Might I also remind people that most of the former ministers of the ("independent") Chechen state, are comfortably living in the US and Europe, having been granted asylum... So it's not as if this is a "lefty cause"... Indeed, the twists and turns of geopolitics have it so that the "American Committee for Peace in Chechnya", is manned by such right wing nutters as Richard Pearle and other neo-con celebrities, as well as other establishment luminaries. (Richard Pearle especially must have some logical difficulty advocating for the Chechens and against the Palestinians). This group lobbied hard, and managed to have the foreign minister of the Chechen government-in-exile granted asylum in the US - a man who is considered a hardened terrorist by Moscow.
posted by talos at 8:14 AM on September 14, 2004


How is objecting to one group of terrorists condoning another group?

If it were Saddam doing to the Kurds what Putin has been doing in Chechnya, certain people would be on the polar opposite side of this question from the one they're on now.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:17 AM on September 14, 2004


Armitage Shanks - It might be if one considered all Chechens, even young children, as terrorists.

I don't.

Talos - that's a great angle, and a fine comment. Pearle, eh ? Just goes to show 'ya, almost everybody has at some redeeming qualities.

If Russia were declared a terrorist nation for it's massive abuses of human rights in Chechnya, I suppose the US would have to impose a trade embargo. But, Washington would never do that : Russia's nuclear weapons would dictate against that course. Ah, the logic of raw destructive power!
posted by troutfishing at 8:20 AM on September 14, 2004


Since the Russian Federation is a member of the International Criminal Court, accusations of "War Criminality" should be tried there. Putin, Basayev and Mashkadov should all be put on trial in Brussels, after being arrested by the European Army, I guess.
posted by kablam at 8:27 AM on September 14, 2004


The Commies are so bad! Pot... kettle!
posted by DrDoberman at 8:28 AM on September 14, 2004


Summer basically just said "The Russians treated the Chechens badly, so the Chechens' violent reaction isn't condemnable."

If you really think that there's nothing more I can say.
posted by Summer at 8:28 AM on September 14, 2004


I posted this in the other Chechen thread too, but I would like to see people's answers:

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 8:37 AM on September 14, 2004


If you really think that there's nothing more I can say.

Then what were you saying? Should we look away when the tiny faction does bad things?

Troutfishing am I remembering correctly that your family is Ukranian? I may have pulled that directly out of my ass, so forgive me if I did. And even if you are, it doesn't mean that you can't have an unbiased opinion about this conflict. But I like to get a sense of where everyone comes from and that's definitely an important piece.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:40 AM on September 14, 2004


I think people are being a little harsh on Mayor Curley here.

I do think it's important to condemn atrocities, even if they are commited in the name of causes we might agree with, maybe even especially so, if for no ther reason than to maintain some moral credibility. And to me it dosen't matter if it's a repressive government or self-styled freedom fighters committing them.

Also, we speak as if these groups are in some kind of skinner-box. Just because their actions may be inspired by the acts of their government does not relieve terrorists of moral culpability for their actions.

Also, what might get under people's skin (and I'm just theorizing here) is when someone's first reaction to an atrocity is equivocation rather than condemnation it can rub the wrong way.

Not to mention, actions like the recent one's in chechnya make it look like the so-called guerillas would be horrendous oppressors if only given the power.
posted by jonmc at 8:47 AM on September 14, 2004


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

By publicizing their conflict through non-violent means. Like the aforementioned Gandhi or MLK.

I completely loathe the modern IRA, but Bobby Sands is one of the people that I most admire. Unfortunately, his sacrifice was buried under a rash of car bombs and other reprehensible acts.

The sensible way to fix this is to publicize the very real, very awful abuses that the Russian army is committing without matching their evil penchant for killing civilians.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:50 AM on September 14, 2004


Oops... Richar Perle that is...
posted by talos at 8:50 AM on September 14, 2004


people are claiming to merely overlook Chechens' violence while secretly sympathizing with them.

See this is a completely false premise. "Chechens" != "Chechen terrorists" or even Chechen separatists. Something like 80% of Chechens doesn't even want to be separate from Russia any more. They just want the violence to end.

I completely sympathize with the Chechen people. And, intellectually, I understand why a tiny minority of them has resorted to violence. But I completely condemn the violence, and those who commit it.

And the two groups--Russian government vs Chechen terrorists--are not analogous. Did the Chechen people hold an election to pick the terrorists who would represent them? Was there a referendum on whether Beslan should happen? It only takes a couple dozen people to pull off a terrorist attack--even one as destructive as Beslan (or 9/11, for that matter). They can't be considered representative of the Chechens as a whole. Yet it is the Chechens as a whole who are being massacred by Russian troops.
posted by jpoulos at 8:50 AM on September 14, 2004


I think people are being a little harsh on Mayor Curley here.

Mayor Curley has been known to be harsh a time or two himself. I'm sure he can handle it. Not everyone around here is thin-skinned.
posted by jpoulos at 8:53 AM on September 14, 2004


I wasn't really asking for mercy on him or anything, just saying that I could see his point.
posted by jonmc at 8:56 AM on September 14, 2004


Also, what might get under people's skin (and I'm just theorizing here) is when someone's first reaction to an atrocity is equivocation rather than condemnation it can rub the wrong way.

What gets under my skin is when governments get away with atrocities over and over. And why is to necessary to prefix every criticism of those atrocities with a disclaimer that Terrorists Are Bad Too?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:56 AM on September 14, 2004


And why is to necessary to prefix every criticism of those atrocities with a disclaimer that Terrorists Are Bad Too?

Because we don't know each other all that well, so it's hard to remember if bongwater420 is for or against killing innocents. I know exactly what you mean, but you have to accept not everyone knows (or cares) what's left unsaid.
posted by yerfatma at 9:00 AM on September 14, 2004


"Troutfishing am I remembering correctly that your family is Ukranian?" - Curley, not I. My wife is an Ashkenazi Jew ( but quite American ) and I'm derived from those Celts who seem to have fled across from Siberia to settle in Wales and sing mournful songs, drink, and heave huge rocks around (for reasons somewhat unclear).

Talos - I initially type "Perle", but changed it. You had me conned.

"How *does* an opressed minority get autonomy these days? (dame)

By publicizing their conflict through non-violent means. Like the aforementioned Gandhi or MLK." (Curley) - Curley, That's desirable, but does it work ? I don't know, I'm honestly asking for recent examples, whatever. I know that a whole field of modern police technologies and tactics have evolved that might make such nonviolence more difficult but I consider this a serious, valid question - with a strong imperative.

There really needs to be another way.
posted by troutfishing at 9:02 AM on September 14, 2004


the sepulchral voice of doom

I just wish MeFi's search worked better: I made lots of other predictions before we went into Iraq that were summarily dismissed by the narrow-vision'd, stubborn Right (terrorism will increase, we'll destabalize the region, etc.).

And Curley:
Oh yes, people are indeed sympathizing with the terrorists. Summer basically just said "The Russians treated the Chechens badly, so the Chechens' violent reaction isn't condemnable."

No. He said that it's understandable. See the difference?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:02 AM on September 14, 2004


Not to mention, actions like the recent one's in chechnya make it look like the so-called guerillas would be horrendous oppressors if only given the power.

But that's not the point, jonmc. The point is to Fight the Power. Once you get the big guys to back off, the preferred course of action is to let the mess fester. Remember East Timor? Remember how Concerned Liberals were so torn up about it? Well, they got the intercession they were looking for, and now no one cares about East Timor anymore despite the fact that it's still wretched and desperately in need of aid.

The point is to be loud and indignant until things are cosmetically the way you'd like. Then you move on to the next Big Cause.

Seriously, though, jonmc. It is nice to know that I'm making sense to somebody.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:05 AM on September 14, 2004


dame, you steal or buy or build a nuclear weapon. Then you get left teh fuck alone
posted by jmgorman at 9:09 AM on September 14, 2004


Curley, That's desirable, but does it work ? I don't know, I'm honestly asking for recent examples, whatever. I know that a whole field of modern police technologies and tactics have evolved that might make such nonviolence more difficult but I consider this a serious, valid question - with a strong imperative.

Trout, I'm not sure myself. Gandhi said (naively) that Germany's jews should have practiced non-violent resistence to Nazi brutality, but very few people think that the National Socialists could have been shamed into submission. I don't know that it would work with Russian brutality, either.

That said, Russia's economy is terrible and a drop in foreign trade because of international indignation would work wonders. But that won't happen if the world keeps hearing about Chechens taking hostages in hospitals and using pregnant women as human shields, blown up airliners, horrible theater seiges and dead school kids.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:15 AM on September 14, 2004


But that's not the point, jonmc. The point is to Fight the Power.

Then once they gain power, they begin wiping out their opposition. And then maybe someone who resents that, or maybe someone they wounded somehow in their rise to power decides to seek revenge...and on and on and on.

jpoulos is dead on target about one thing though. The condemnation should be aimed squarely at the terrorists not the Chechen people as a whole. And coversley, at the Russian government, not the Russian people.

I remember a quote from John Sayles: "it doesn't matter what uniforms the men with guns are wearing. You just don't want them in your village. "
posted by jonmc at 9:16 AM on September 14, 2004


Can I get that in Euros?
posted by meehawl at 9:23 AM on September 14, 2004


jpoulos is dead on target about one thing though.

I like to think I'm dead on target about lots of things. But thanks. :-) (And point taken up above, about defending the good mayor.)
posted by jpoulos at 10:02 AM on September 14, 2004


Civil_Disobedient - I made a number of similar predictions too, some rather specific, and most of them are holding up depressingly well. I was wrong on the stock market though.

[ Metafilter 2470, I post I did on March 3, 2003 ] "A Pyrrhic victory in a catastrophic "March of Folly"? - historian Barbara Tuchman asked: why do leaders persist in pursuing catastrophic policies? Regardless of Baath regime executions of Iraqis, the Islamic world will witness mainly "American Atrocities" - and be outraged by gruesome images, on Al Jazeera and elsewhere, of every single child killed by American bombs. Iraqi tactics - of suicide bombing, ambushes, and faked surrenders - will erase the civilian/combatant distinction, leading to more and more incidents like this (to be televised to an appalled Islamic world): and all this merely a foreshadow of what may be urban warfare on a scale seldom seen in the 20th century. Grozny comes to mind. Mainstream US media asserts that the solution for the whole "miscalculation" is just more US troops.....But the war is tailor made to provoke tribalistic, Pan-Islamic fury (and corresponding, furiously tribalistic US patriotic support for war). Escalation is in the air...."
____________________________

A (mostly nonviolent) 3rd way approach for the Chechens :

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, organize a "Chechens Across the World" pop-rock-country musical extravaganza, partner with McDonald's to give away free Chechnya-related cheapo plastic toys with "Happy Meals", and commission Toby Keith to write a rousingly indignant country ballad that plays on latent American anti-Russian prejudice.

Step 3) Putin ignores it all.

____________________

Mayor_Curley - East Timor has a long history. Afghanistan, here, also is instructive. But - in general - when an entire people or region demonstrates a strong desire for autonomy, the use of massived military force to repress such desires is often contraindicated and unwise.

Foreign occupying troops almost as a rule come to be loathed, and this was true long before Napolean invaded Spain. To second jonmc's quotatrion of John Sayles, "...it doesn't matter what uniforms the men with guns are wearing. You just don't want them in your village. "
"


[ From Goya's "Disasters of War" series. ]

For Russia though, Chechnya likely serves as a lesson for other regions which otherwise might be inclined to push for more autonomy from Moscow.

posted by troutfishing at 10:12 AM on September 14, 2004


"Russia's economy is terrible and a drop in foreign trade because of international indignation would work wonders. But that won't happen if the world keeps hearing about Chechens taking hostages in hospitals and using pregnant women as human shields" - Curley, I agree. My slightly facetious "Nonviolent 3rd Way" approach might - in somewhat modified form, be the most practical approach.

Making such egregious, ongoing human rights abuses into cause celebres has worked remarkably well in the past in some cases - South Africa, for example.

But the Chechens would need to achieve some solidarity and stop the terrorism - and the Russians would almost surely try to thwart such an organized response.
posted by troutfishing at 10:18 AM on September 14, 2004


I read somewhere that when asked to spare the young daughter of one of the adult hostages in Beslan, the leader of the group said something like "I had a little girl, but the Russian army killed her".

Curley, it's not right, but I can see how this might drive people to despair and insanity. Doesn't make it defensible, but certainly understandable.
posted by Irontom at 10:25 AM on September 14, 2004


Here's a standard that EVERYONE (palestinian, israeli, chechen, russian or frigging belgian) should adhere to: don't kill people.

LOL. You really are the village idiot.
posted by delmoi at 11:04 AM on September 14, 2004


Why? Given what you chose to pull-quote, that seems a strange conclusion. Or am I missing something?
posted by yerfatma at 11:26 AM on September 14, 2004


What gets under my skin is when governments get away with atrocities over and over. And why is to necessary to prefix every criticism of those atrocities with a disclaimer that Terrorists Are Bad Too?

Because by failing to make the effort to condemn terrorism, we slowly legitimize it. A prime example is the media refusing to use the "t" word on the Beslan terrorists. The people who took over the school were separatists, rebels, and an "armed gang." What effect does that have on someone unfamiliar with the issue? What bullshit.
posted by Krrrlson at 11:35 AM on September 14, 2004


Because by failing to make the effort to condemn terrorism, we slowly legitimize it.

In that case, why don't you make it a point to condemn government atrocities in every post you make about terrorism? Are you legimitizing it by not prefixing every anti-terrorist-atrocity post with an anti-government-atrocity disclaimer?

The people who took over the school were separatists, rebels, and an "armed gang." What effect does that have on someone unfamiliar with the issue?

It tells them that the terorists in question are "separatists" with a "separatist" agenda, as opposed to, say, "religious fanatics" with a "religious fanatic" agenda. It certainly contains more information than your attempt to impose right-wing political correctness on the discussion would.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:27 PM on September 14, 2004


Once again, a serious issue is sidetracked by a pointless argument over how to correctly refer to the murderous fanatic assholes of the world.
posted by jonmc at 12:31 PM on September 14, 2004


you're talking about Putin, right?
posted by matteo at 12:36 PM on September 14, 2004


Putin, or the assholes who took over the school. They're both the same to me.

to paraphrase Michael Corleone:they are both part of the same hypocrisy.
posted by jonmc at 12:42 PM on September 14, 2004


Putin, or the assholes who took over the school. They're both the same to me.

They're not the same to everyone. They're not the same to me. But the argument over language determines how issues are framed, and that affects how they get resolved. I'd be shocked if you haven't noticed that (particularly in the last few years).
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:50 PM on September 14, 2004


Delmoi: LOL. You really are the village idiot.

Better to be the village's idiot than its guy who sniffs glue and shits himself a lot.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:09 PM on September 14, 2004


I read somewhere that when asked to spare the young daughter of one of the adult hostages in Beslan, the leader of the group said something like "I had a little girl, but the Russian army killed her".

If the Russian Army killed my little girl I'd pick up a gun and fight the Russian Army, the moment I decided the real enemy was a room full of children, I would have lost whatever it is I was fighting for.

If I was a Russian soldier and I followed my orders to rape and torture a village full of women, I would no longer be a soldier.

I suppose I'd have to stand next to The Mayor and say that reading some of the comments above has given me the impression that some people think that a child's death is somehow given legitimacy depending on who does the killing.

[on preview what jonmc says with his usual clarity "they are both the same to me"]
posted by fullerine at 1:09 PM on September 14, 2004


They're both the same to me.

jon, again: Chechen civilians are being annihilated by a huge military force. Putin pretends to be statesman on his way to democracy (even if Russian democracy is to the real thing what CheezWhiz is to good fresh cheddar). the Chechens' biggest problem, in this whole sorry mess? they had the audacity to kick Russia's ass in '96, and back then got something very close to what they wanted in their first place -- the "freeze" for 5 years on the status of self-rule, for example. the election of Mashkadov.
our alleged "Wikipedia" previous "ubercomment" notwithstanding (*snicker*), we should consider that with Aslan Maskhadov Chechens had a real chance. of course in the end not even he could control all spinoff terror groups*, and they dragged the whole country down with them. Putin was itching for a fight, they gave him an opening. hence, the "Second" Chechen war.


* footnote: the Palestinians, had they achieved something remotely similar to a viable State (ie not a Swiss cheese full of Israeli settlements or a Bantustan torn up by Israeli highways and by that funny concrete Wall), they would have probably had the same problem. I doubt a President Arafat would have been able to control the most extreme wings, with the Israeli right all too happy to have the chance to kick a little Palestinian ass.
again.
but I'm digressing



________________

A prime example is the media refusing to use the "t" word on the Beslan terrorists.

you can always read the many US right-wing news outlets that correctly calls them "pigs", "subhumans", maybe even "camel-fuckers" if you're lucky (no camels in Chechnya but let us not ruin a good thing). the Internet is full of places like that. fair and balanced in their blind hatred for Islam., unlike the infidel BBC

if one finally learns that not all Muslims who kill people do so for religious reasons, well, one is going to start question pillars of right-wing wisdom. G-d forbid one starts to consider the Palestinian problem, say, as a war for (occupied) land. I mean, before the Hamas-ization of the guerrilla in the late 80's, the Palestinians were a peculiarly secular people for Middle East standards. Americans are still pretty mad about their 3,000 dead, and one doesn't blame them. too bad other people have had to endure much, much harsher bodycounts these last few years. and they're mad too, apparently. they also don't have much to lose. being Third-World poor with no electricity, dirty water and corpses everywhere has that effect on people.
silly them
posted by matteo at 1:11 PM on September 14, 2004


matteo, I find the massacre of Chechen civilians as nauseating as you do, but that does not my mitigate my disgust at the actions perpetrated in Beslan. Quite frankly, when legitamite rebellion degenerates into wanton violence like that it only hurts the cause, since it does not make me want to see such people as would do such a thing gain power.

Americans are still pretty mad about their 3,000 dead, and one doesn't blame them.

And if I walked into a random Arab schoolhouse to avenge them, I'd be considered a murderous barbaric thug, and correctly so.

(even if Russian democracy is to the real thing what CheezWhiz is to good fresh cheddar).

Respect the cheezwhiz, paisan, I'm getting a couple of cheesesteaks with da Wiz and hot peppers at this joint right after work.
posted by jonmc at 1:26 PM on September 14, 2004


If the Russian Army killed my little girl I'd pick up a gun and fight the Russian Army, the moment I decided the real enemy was a room full of children, I would have lost whatever it is I was fighting for.

Agreed, but I don't think the guy has made the decision that the kids are his enemy. I'm more inclined to think he's decided that these kids must be as important to their parents as his little girl was to him, and thus he'll hurt them just as bad as "they" hurt him. Doesn’t make it right, but it does make a certain kind of insane sense.

If I was a Russian soldier and I followed my orders to rape and torture a village full of women, I would no longer be a soldier.

Hmmm... that doesn't track for me. Are you saying soldiers don't rape and torture? Because my reading of history says that many soldiers in many places over millennia have been doing exactly that. And that in many cases, this behavior was not only expected, but condoned by whatever command structure existed then and there.

I suppose I'd have to stand next to The Mayor and say that reading some of the comments above has given me the impression that some people think that a child's death is somehow given legitimacy depending on who does the killing.

I don't think that's the case. I think some people (me, at the very least) are saying that if you live in an insane world (the state coming along raping, torturing, dismembering and defiling the bodies of your loved ones) then sometimes, going insane and committing the same atrocities in response is an understandable, even predictable outcome. Not that it's the right one, but based on human experience through the ages, a perfectly understandable one.
posted by Irontom at 1:26 PM on September 14, 2004


Having said all of this, jonmc makes me want to state the following as clearly as possible:

The events in Beslan were a horrible tragedy, regardless of their genesis. No one should ever be murdered by another human being, and no child should be subjected to that kind of terror, and no parent should ever have to see their child's school vanish in a hail of gunfire and explosions. It's nauseating that we (as a race) haven't moved beyond this kind of barbarity to one another.

That said, it's easy (for me) to see how and why it happened.
posted by Irontom at 1:31 PM on September 14, 2004


Not that it's the right one, but based on human experience through the ages, a perfectly understandable one.

Yeah. Que sera sera.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:34 PM on September 14, 2004


Irontom, I can follow cause and effect, too. I see how and why it happened as well, but until we as citizens of the world, condemn such actions unequivocly, no matter whether their source is a government or a rogue band, the cycle of injustice and revenge will continue. And it's doubly infuriating when innocents get caught up in the fray.
posted by jonmc at 1:34 PM on September 14, 2004


I agree with ther aforementioned wisdom from the eater of deep-fried Mars bars.

Murder is murder.
posted by troutfishing at 2:08 PM on September 14, 2004


No. He said that it's understandable. See the difference?

Well I meant that it was predictable. Being a British person, I wasn't that happy about the IRA bombing campaign, especially as it was me and my kind they were targetting.

It didn't stop me understanding that theunjust, pig-headed and underhand actions of my own government were exacerbating rather then solving the problem and that there was a case to be answered. Do I still have to say that I think blowing up my countrymen is wrong?

Oh, and I'm a girl btw.
posted by Summer at 2:14 PM on September 14, 2004


It tells them that the terorists in question are "separatists" with a "separatist" agenda, as opposed to, say, "religious fanatics" with a "religious fanatic" agenda.

When these "separatists" chose to take the lives of children (and the choice was made before they shot and blew up those children), they became terrorists and murderers first and "activists" second. P.S. "Gunmen" and "militants" are not terribly informative either.


you can always read the many US right-wing news outlets that correctly calls them "pigs", "subhumans", maybe even "camel-fuckers" if you're lucky (no camels in Chechnya but let us not ruin a good thing). the Internet is full of places like that.

Thanks, I'll go read some racist nut blogs that you graciously refer to as "news outlets." The sources I mentioned are the so-called "legitimate" news media. However, I would not insult, pigs, camels or any other animals by association with the Beslan terrorists.
posted by Krrrlson at 2:45 PM on September 14, 2004


anyone seen that "unknown russian soldier" video where those chechnyans cut that guys throat out? man, thats the worse video i've even seen.
posted by bob sarabia at 2:48 PM on September 14, 2004


When these "separatists" chose to take the lives of children (and the choice was made before they shot and blew up those children), they became terrorists and murderers first and "activists" second.

So? It doesn't change the fact that they are "separatist" terrorists rather than, for instance, "religious fanatic" terrorists. Christ, it's like "homicide bomber" all over again. If you want to ignore a fact, feel free, but don't try to push your ignorance on everyone else.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:55 PM on September 14, 2004


This is typically referred to as "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic". So you'd be the guy debating the use of "life boat" v. "life raft" while everyone else gets on one.
posted by yerfatma at 3:12 PM on September 14, 2004


Oh, and I'm a girl btw.

But Summer is a boy's name!

Just kidding. Sorry 'bout that.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:59 PM on September 14, 2004


First off, empathy is not synonymous with sympathy.

Accordingly, the various attempts to understand and explain what motivates the Chechen terrorists in this thread don't necessarily imply any moral backsliding, appeasement of terrorism or support for the terrorists' actions and cause; it may simply be evidence of a desire to know what feeds the monster. Thus, it is possible to think simultaneously: "Beslan was utterly wrong" and "Russia's brutal Chechyna policy helped prompt the horror at Beslan".

The trick is to prevent either judgement dominating our thoughts and responses.
posted by pots at 4:07 PM on September 14, 2004


Thus, it is possible to think simultaneously: "Beslan was utterly wrong" and "Russia's brutal Chechyna policy helped prompt the horror at Beslan".

Of course it is, pots, but I think that in the world we live in, especially when conflicts reach the type of critical mass that produces events like Beslan, My Lai, or 9/11, it goes beyond politics into sheer carnage. It's useless to argue which side is worse when both are behaving reprehensibly.
posted by jonmc at 5:52 PM on September 14, 2004


So? It doesn't change the fact that they are "separatist" terrorists rather than, for instance, "religious fanatic" terrorists. Christ, it's like "homicide bomber" all over again. If you want to ignore a fact, feel free, but don't try to push your ignorance on everyone else.

It's hilarious how you selectively quoted me. There's a little sentence just after the one you so conveniently picked.

This is typically referred to as "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic". So you'd be the guy debating the use of "life boat" v. "life raft" while everyone else gets on one.

I'm thinking more "huge iceberg" vs. "floating thingie."
posted by Krrrlson at 6:00 PM on September 14, 2004


"And if I walked into a random Arab schoolhouse to avenge them, I'd be considered a murderous barbaric thug, and correctly so."

and if you sent people like Lynndie England and her buddies to a (not-so-random, thanks to Chalabi's "intelligence", Arab country) to beat up/torture/electrocute/rape a few car thieves and their kids, what would that make you? I'm curious.
or would a nice clean bombing from above raining on some Muslims' heads a more polite way to make a point about 9-11? what would that make you?

what so many US right-wingers are unable to grasp -- due either to racial hatred, stupidity or simply blindness -- is that it's not really about the 19 hijackers or the 15 Beslan butchers. it's about how many worldwide Muslims/Chechens live lives so fucked-up that they don't feel compelled to feel nauseous and condemn those 19 or 15 hitmen. it's about how many people watch Lower Manhattan burn on TV from some Gaza-like shithole and they just think, "well, our cities burn very often, today it happened to the Americans for a chang, tough shit".

saner individuals understand that the real achievement is to cut off popular support for the killers. like European countries did with the Red Brigades, Baader Meinhof etc. you've got to cut off political oxygen to the (they're not millions) Mohammed Attas of the Muslim world -- and to cut off their funds, just go to their Saudi employers, raise your voice and don't bend over in the name of that juicy cheap oil, for a change. but if you wage an ill-defined permanent war and thus turn a two-bit rich-kid cowardly asshole (and former happy CIA asset) like Osama into a Saladin (like Bush did, declaring all-out war on terrah for his military/industrial corporate masters joy) you play right into Osama's hands.

if the Muslim masses don't feel disenfranchised and if they do have something to lose, they won't follow the assholes who ask them to blow up shit. if you just bomb them, invade Muslim countries on trumped up evidence, torture them, you'll do wonders for recruitment. and just pray that after Osama they don't find a _real_ Saladin. with Pakistani nukes.

cut off their popular support (and funding) for real and you'll just have to arrest a few hundred thugs. the most powerful nation ever can certainly do that.
it sounds much better than to wage an unwinnable (Bush's words, not mine), useless war
posted by matteo at 7:11 PM on September 14, 2004


matteo - my hat's off to you.
posted by troutfishing at 7:29 PM on September 14, 2004


By publicizing their conflict through non-violent means. Like the aforementioned Gandhi or MLK." (Curley) - Curley, That's desirable, but does it work ? I don't know, I'm honestly asking for recent examples, whatever. I know that a whole field of modern police technologies and tactics have evolved that might make such nonviolence more difficult but I consider this a serious, valid question - with a strong imperative.


Gandhi and MLK had the luxury of working against functioning democracies (US and UK)
posted by delmoi at 8:14 PM on September 14, 2004


delmoi - Yup. Well put - a luxury indeed.
posted by troutfishing at 9:10 PM on September 14, 2004


hatt's off? hell, I give standing ovations.
thank you, matteo.
posted by mr.marx at 10:15 PM on September 14, 2004


matteo, excellent post... though I have a minor disagreement here: let's not put the Red Brigades and Baader Meinhoff on the same boat with the Beslan thugs. None of the organizations of the armed extreme left of the 70s practiced blind, indiscriminate killings of random citizens (much less children). Especially before the murder of Moro, this was an organization with a *large* supporter base, involved in what could be described as a small scale civil war... No terrorist organization of the left in Europe was ever found responsibile for a blind hit against civilians.

If we're talking about Italy, the parallel should be drawn, rather, with the blind bombing of the Bologna train station (and before that the Piazza Fontana and the Piazza della Loggia in Brescia) by neofascists, none of which were ever caught (and BTW I wouldn't be surprised if some of them are in government as reformed "meta-fascists" with Fini today). This parallel is what is disturbing - to me at least... These Chechen rebels are not targeting generals, collaborators, or soldiers, they're after defenseless civilians. That's a fascist tactic anyway you look at it...

As for the way the West German government "dealt" with Baader Meinhoff - well, let's just say that Guantanamo is only larger in scale...
posted by talos at 3:55 AM on September 15, 2004


and if you sent people like Lynndie England and her buddies to a (not-so-random, thanks to Chalabi's "intelligence", Arab country) to beat up/torture/electrocute/rape a few car thieves and their kids, what would that make you? I'm curious.

A government of thugs. And one which you know I do not support. I don't tie myself in knots trying to justify the actions of Bush & Co., I'm not sure why you feel the need to do so with the crew at Beslan.

saner individuals understand that the real achievement is to cut off popular support for the killers.

Agreed. But it's a two pronged approach. The ones who are already committing acts like this need to be taken out circulation. If I had been president during all this, I would've a)gathered as much international support from the bank of post 9/11 goodwill as we possibly could, 2)smothered the Arab peasantry with humanitarian aid & goodies 3) used some form of military irregulars like Green Berets or Navy SEAL's to take out active al-Qaeda (that's what groups like that are for, right), 4)left Iraq the hell out of it, it's a side issue.

I'm not sure what it is you want to hear from me on this matteo, but no matter how you slice this, what happened in Beslan is deserving of nothing but condemnation. Is their cause just? Probably. Does that justify the actions? No. And if anything it hurts their cause, since very few sane people want to be associated with what happened.

To reverse something someone said earlier in this thread, just because I can understand the root causes of terrorist's anger (although I believe it goes deeper than politics in a lot of ways), does not mean I cannot be disusted with their actions and voice that disgust.
posted by jonmc at 6:44 AM on September 15, 2004


I’ve only had a quick scan, but are there any links to the photos she refers to? Or any photos at all?

After all, the old lady "shows the gruesome images strewn on her table as if they were relics, or photographs from a family album. She runs her hand over the contours of an actual cracked skull." Surely Krystyna Kurczab-Redlich must have nabbed a photo or two, or taken a photo or two? Being a journalist and all.

And if a woman had been "patrolling with her camera" for almost ten whole years, wouldn’t she, like, have attracted some sort of negative attention by now?

Sounds a bit strange to me.

(Just sayin’ OK?)
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:35 AM on September 16, 2004


Actually its more than a photo or two... she has directed a whole documentary about Chechnya....
posted by talos at 6:05 AM on September 16, 2004



Cool, so this documentary would feature the old lady (face obscured, of course) and some of the photographic evidence she talks about.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:49 PM on September 16, 2004


OK. I obviously entered this thread way too late.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:22 PM on September 22, 2004


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