Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Waste Heat

Stratfor has an interesting article describing the uses to which it's post-Chechen war militias are being put. The article claims that Russia has essentially beaten the Chechen rebellion by using Chechens to fight Chechens, thus anticipating the Anbar awakening -- conceptually at least -- by several years. The problem with setting one side against another -- as Stanley Kurtz notes in his brilliant review of the history of Pakistan's frontier tribes -- is that war, not peace is a permanent condition among them. The victorious tribes must be continuously employed or made to change their ways.

America's new counter-insurgency strategy seeks to appeal to tribal interests, as a way of breaking the link between al-Qaeda's global jihad and its erstwhile Sunni allies in Iraq. So far the new strategy has helped to stabilize Anbar and other rebellious tribal regions in Iraq. The danger is that the tribal winds will shift, and our military will likely come under constant pressure to favor one tribal faction or another. If mishandled, this could drive less favored clans back into enemy hands. Tribal politics can be mastered, yet it requires a constant presence. And learning to play the tribal game is very different from establishing a genuine democracy, which would mean transcending the game itself.

But since the Kremlin has no aspiration to spreading democracy, that sort of angst can be dispensed with in Russia. Stratfor claims they've chosen to solve the problem of what to do with their new Chechen militias by turning them on Georgia, and by implication upon all the recalcitrant bits of the Old Soviet empire. The concept is to utilize the very chaos of generated by the breakup of the Soviet Union to glue it back together again.

It is entirely possible, though not certain, that Russia is now deploying its new pro-Moscow Chechen militia to other places, such as Georgia. ... But such a move would be dangerous for everyone involved, because each time Chechens get involved in other regions' disputes, no side comes out well (except occasionally the Chechens).

Unfortunately the strategy to deal with trouble by exporting troublemakers to the Kremlin's current enemies is likely to suffer from the same defect as Ponzi's original scheme. Sooner or later the pyramid bottoms out. When there are no places left to shift the Chechen militias then the Russians are back to the original problem of solving the Chechen problem from first principles, except that they will have globalized the problem.


Blogger PeterBoston said...

I can understand how the "locals" who do not have a cultural narrative other than how they live today would resist any intrusion of outside influence or control. The story has been repeated uncountable times in history, and usually with bad results for the resisters.

The Pashtun have been the exception but they risk a great deal more than the impurity of modernity by allowing their territory to be a safe haven for those who care not about the consequences.

I believe Anbar is successful in part because the Iraqis are at least aware of the benefits of modernity, and even if they only desired to pick and choose among modern trappings, they still have a different vision to work toward.

It appears unlikely that the Pashtun have any interest beyond being left alone and remaining Pashtun. Too bad they do not have the good sense to understand that the violence that flows towards the West from their territory will come back to them in spades. I think the "hospitality" meme is as much bullshit as the Afghan Winter.

Under the assumption that the next 911 will come from the Tribal Area, if I were making a policy recommendation to the powers that be I would suggest not just punishing a specific tribe that harbors AQ but annihilating that specific tribe only. Every hut, every village, every animal, every person.

I would make my intentions very clear well in advance so that the implications could be discussed among all the tribal leaders and an alternative presented if they so choose. If the choice were between annihilation or being left alone I suspect they would make the right one.

11/13/2007 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

I'm not sure the concept of "divide and conquer" is originally Russian, but I'm sure they're taking credit for us.

Reagan drove Russia out of Afghanistan by uniting the Afghans against them, a tactic Al Quada has been trying to use against the West.

Obama's biggest mistake may lie in biting off more then he could chew. If he had merely targetted the United States, Europe and Russia would have sat this one out. By attacking all of Western Civilization, he forced all of it to respond (however weakly and belatedly). A lot of Europeans are seeing the myriad flaws of liberalism and cultural relativism on display. Europeans are somewhat fat and lazy, but they're not stupid. Eventually the people come to their senses even if the elites go on with whatever their liberal ideology dictates. When appeasement is met with futher barbarism, eventually the Neville Chamberlins lose their grip on power.

I wonder if we'll ever see an Islamisist Nuremberg trial where each jihadi proclaims "Allah made me do it"

11/13/2007 02:36:00 PM  

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