Thursday, December 16, 2004

The case for Chechnya

/ imperialism / russian /
The Chechen war as an anti-colonial struggle; a very interesting, learned and serious analysis of Chechnya, it's history, the war and western attitudes:

The scale of destruction wrought in Chechnya in the course of the last decade, the scores of thousands of deaths, the continuing savagery of the occupation, all form a standing rebuke to the complacency of Western governments and citizens alike. But the most shameful aspect of both Russian and Western reactions to Chechnya—a mixture of eager complicity and mute acquiescence—is the consistent refusal to countenance the Chechens’ legitimate aspirations to independence. We should have no truck with such evasions. The Chechens are engaged in an anti-colonial struggle comparable to those waged by Europe’s other colonies in Africa or Asia in the last century. They have never accepted foreign dominion—‘no legitimate Chechen authority has ever signed any formal treaty accepting Russian or Soviet authority’—and have repeatedly given democratic approval to the idea of sovereign statehood. The starting point for any discussion should be the fact that they are as entitled to their independence as any other nation.

1 comment:

talos said...

old comments


They accepted the Ottoman Empire. Unfortunately for these Islamic fanatics Russia is not an Islamic Empire.

2004-12-16 13:36

Read the article. Chechnya is mainly about nationalism - not religion.

2004-12-16 14:28
Dimitar Vesselinov:

The Chechen Economic Assault on Russia

"Chechen global guerrillas are escalating their attacks on vulnerable Russian infrastructure. This insurgency is quickly going global." http://globalguer…

2004-12-16 21:37
Doug Muir:

Not all anti-colonial conflicts end in victory for the colonized.

The Chechens have a couple of big problems. It has become impossible for any plausible Russian leadership to recognize them, most obviously. Also, there are few enough of them that ethnic cleansing is a real possibility. Stalin did it in a couple of months. Depending on whose numbers you believe, between 5% and 20% of the original ethnic Chechen population has been killed, while another 10% to 50% (!) has been turned into refugees.

An ethnically, um, reorganized Chechnya strikes me as less implausible than independence. A clear majority of Russians would support it.


2004-12-18 14:52

I've refrained from actually endorsing the author's conclusions because, really although persuasive on a certain level, they fail the test of feasibility. Or common sense - I really don't know how a state with less than a million people, in Northern Caucasus nonetheless, can be "independent" in this day and age. Yet after the atrocity exhibition of the Russian army's "presence" in Chechnya, one is hard pressed to grant Russia any moral right on the area - not that this means anything…

Doug: ethnically reorganized? What do you mean?

2004-12-18 22:11
Doug Muir:

Enough of the Chechens killed off or relocated that Chechnya isn't really Chechen anymore. "Let us make a desolation, and call it peace".

The Russians have made a good start on this already. The only problem is, where to put the Chechens? They'd be just as much trouble in the nearby countries as they are in Chechnya. Stalin moved them to Siberia, but that didn't work.

Slow-motion genocide seems somewhat more likely — both direct massacre and indirect population reduction through intense and widespread immiseration. Famine, disease, total absence of medical care, the effect of Caucasian winters on families lacking shelter or fuel, etc. etc.

Note that I don't consider this the most probable outcome; nor (do I have to say?) do I think it's a desirable one. But I think it's a lot more likely than independence.

Historical reference point: the original conquest of Chechnya, back in the 19th century, took nearly 40 years. It was marked on the Russian side by stubbornness, brutality, and a relentless willingess to spend gold and blood to grind the Chechens down; on the Chechen side, it was all about fanaticism, tenacity, guile, and a willingness to keep guerrilla warfare going on and on and on. It's not clear how many Chechens died during that conflict, but it was certainly quite a lot; Chechen and Circassian refugees ended up all over the Ottoman Empire from Bulgaria to Jordan.

Doug M.

2004-12-19 11:31