Monday, March 26, 2007

The Edge of theWorld

The Daily Telegraph's correspondent reports from Russia's war in Chechnya "a campaign so secret it is officially no longer being fought". And it is being fought by former Chechnyan rebels for the Kremlin.

The rebels have been stripped of much of their support base, while the president now sends in Chechen proxies to fight his war for him. Their faces wizened from over a decade in the battlefield, the Eastern Battalion fighters are a much tougher proposition for the rebels than the poorly equipped, unmotivated and corrupt Russian soldiers - who often used to sell their weapons to the enemy - that they fight alongside.

Neither side appears to have heard of the Geneva Convention on a battlefield where the best anyone seems to hope for is a relatively quick death.

"Allahu Akhbar [God is great]," shouted Magomet as his radio crackled into life. "We are coming under fire in this area all the time. There are a lot of bad guys around here - this is Wahabi Central," he said, referring to the Islamists who have long fought in the conflict and follow the puritanical Wahabi strain of Sunni Islam.

We reached a bend in the river and before us lay the first signs of success: the corpses of four rebels scattered across the river bank. Two appeared to have been finished off with a bullet to the back of the head. A third had blown himself up with his own grenade in an attempt to avoid capture.

The Yamadayevtsi, who often like to severe the heads of their dead victims, have a brutal reputation when it comes to prisoners. Human rights activists say captive rebels, as well as innocent civilians who run foul of the Eastern Battalion, are frequently sexually abused and then tortured to death. Yamadayev insists that the rebels have to be dealt with uncompromisingly.


I have often wondered how it was possible to fight a "secret war". Wasn't that a contradiction in terms? Maybe that's just a synonym for wars to which the press don't devote many column inches to. There are a number of "secret wars" raging in the world today. The Congo, Darfur, Waziristan, the Horn of Africa, to name a few.

In those unfortunate localities, the obviousness of the conflict is probably all too evident. But the real sense in which modern wars are "secret" lies in whether anyone is willing to make a political issue out of them. The real test of secrecy is "has the man on the street in London heard of it?" David Hicks, a terrorist suspect who just pleaded guilty in Guantanamo Bay, will get play because he is Australian. The two dead men in the Chechnyan river "finished off" with a bullet in the head will probably be forever nameless. Known but to God. Or Vladimir Putin.


Blogger José Joseph said...

It sounds like the muslim rebels in Chechnya have met their match. Anybody from nearby areas such as Ossetia (remember Beslan) has long memories. It's not what we would like, but Russian peoples and their friends will resort to old methods from a long time ago.

3/26/2007 08:48:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

You've got to wonder how much brutality it will take to subjugate the Chechens, given that Joseph Stalin deported the entire population to Siberia in 1944. About a third of population died, many were buried a live. Those that dropped were literally left to the dogs.

When American Leftists say "Bush equals Hitler", clearly they have no historical memory of their one time hero Joseph Stalin. That guy was beyond bad. He made anyone who was merely evil look like a wimp. Of course Walter Duranty covered up his forced starvation of the Ukranians, but even in the 1940s, some Americans were gladly willing to give Uncle Joe the Los Alamos nuclear secrets to "preserve world peace". Shows you how useful education is.

There was probably no need to cover up for Stalin's campaign on the Chechens. Nobody cared about them then, and nobody will care about them ever. Not that they are naturally loveable.

History is a terrible commentary on the human condition. But before I end this comment, I'd like to bring up Biafra, which was the original modern African ethnic cleansing, but carried out before the word became popular. What's the difference between ethnic cleansing and apartheid? Probably the spelling.

3/26/2007 09:20:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

The problem may be simple innumeracy. The Lancet Iraq Mortality study certainly suffers from it. The Liberal Arts don't cover much in the way of mathematics any more. These people simply can't comprehend how bad Hitler and Stalin were. And they have no concept of how many have been spared by our own military tactics in Iraq.

On the one hand they look at 9/11 and tell us to get over it. It's a police matter they say, not realizing that it could easily have been ten times as many. On the other hand they want us to throw up our hands in despair every time an American dies defending the nation, not realizing that the American losses have been incredibly low by historical standards. They can't put it in reasonable perspective.

3/26/2007 10:18:00 PM  
Blogger Pyrthroes said...

If reactionary leftist perceptions reflected mere innumeracy, their collectivist Statist worldview might be curable in potentiam. But professed "humanities" types ignorant of Arthur Koestler, Anne Frank, Orwell, Solzhenitzen --to name a few-- suffer affective personality disorders (APD) entailing manic-depressive delusions of grandeur based on a profound narcissistic if not solipsistic tendencies.

Cliche leftists embrace every lumpen oracle from Gore to Marx. Beyond rational discourse, wherein facts represent objective reality, they pose only attitudes. For some reason, even phenomenally successful money-makers (Bloomberg, Turner in public forums fall prey to this disease.

More and more, today's regressive Congressmen from Frum/Pelosi down resemble the Copperhead "Peace Democrats" of 1864-- willing to split the Union, accommodate Confederate chattel slavery (!), all in the name of seeking personal repose. English appeasers, Continental "popular fronts" during the 1930s are their precise analogues.

We admire GWB's stand in overseas defense, but simply do not comprehend his bizarre refusal to counter glaringly obvious sedition if not outright treason on the home front. Even Lincoln proved very circumspect... The Logan Act that explicitly deals with Kerry, Rockefeller and their ilk dates from the 1790s, when French revolutionaries percolated into urban soirees just as "multi-culti" mullahdom with its Dark Age burqas and death-cult Wahabism does today.

Against stupidity, the Gods themselves are helpless.

3/27/2007 06:54:00 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

JJ: They are not innumerate. They just don't care about anyone but themselves and their real enemy George W. Bush, who deprived them of the power and honor that are rightfully theirs. It is not affective personality disorder but rather profoundly narcissistic personalities.

3/27/2007 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen Renico said...


I recently attended a seminar on the Beslan school siege. After watching that, hearing what the Chechnyans did to those schoolchildren, and seeing video footage of what the Chechnyans do to captured Russian soldiers, I really couldn't care less what the Russians do to them.

They can level the place for all I care. It's stupid for the United States to make any issue out of it at all.

3/27/2007 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger Evanston said...

Wretchard, thank you again for an extremely relevant post about the state of the world.

3/27/2007 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

stephen renico,

They are indeed less than savages, in that savages have the excuse of ignorance of a civilized alternative.

3/27/2007 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

Oh look the Saudi Wahabist religion butchering some more people.

3/27/2007 05:31:00 PM  
Blogger Rune said...

Stephen Renico, I've done some work on the Wikipedia article on The Beslan School Terror, which used to have an ugly pro-terrorists bend. Although it's still targetted by editors which insist on white-washing it. Anyway, if your seminar gave you some material you find missing, it'd be great if you put it in.

3/28/2007 06:18:00 AM  
Blogger Don Meaker said...

For forces of nature, some hold with fire, others with ice, some with gravity, others with thermonuclear.

I will go with Inertia every time.

3/30/2007 09:03:00 PM  

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