On 9 Jan 2000, Christian Weisgerber wrote:
> Robert Bradbury <email@example.com> wrote:
> If you actually understand what's going on in Chechnia, I'd love
> to have it explained to me. Or rather, can anybody recommend any
> pointers on where to read up on this "conflict"?
A good source for the English news is the Moscow Times (www.moscowtimes.ru).
While this is "popular" press, they have a fairly diverse set of reporters
so there may be coverage from many "angles".
> It all started with the Russian army moving into Dagestan to quell
> some independence movement there. Then the Russians crossed the
> border into neighboring Chechnia, supposedly only to hunt down
> Dagestan rebels who had fled there. Somehow this changed into a
> mop-up of all of Chechnia, and now we have another siege of Grosny.
> Dagestan is entirely forgotten.
If I recall, because Chechnia was relatively stable the "revolutionaries"
moved from there to Dagestan. When the Russians moved in there, they
decided to move back to Checnia, hence the Russians followed.
> I don't even know *who* the Russian army is fighting. "Terrorists"?
There are large numbers of individuals from these Southern regions who
want to be "free" from Russian rule. Most of them probably want to
be free of any rule/influence from anyone but those with whom they have
strong ethnic/religious ties. The people of most of these southern regions
are "dispised" by "caucasian" Russians and there is no love lost on the
religions differences (Greek/Russian orthodox vs. Muslim) as well.
There is a very touchy economic issue involving who "owns" the oil in
regions such as Baku, the Caspian Sea basin, as well as who collects
"taxes" on the flow of oil over pipelines through their "states".
> Obviously some kind of guerillas. I mean, this is the Russian army.
> Who are those people that manage to put up what seems to amount to
> fairly effective resistance? And what keeps the Russians from
> crushing them? Lack of money? Commanders' incompetence?
The Russian "army" (excepting a few elite divisions) is a bunch of 18-20
year old conscripts with very little training, aging equipment and little
funds. The only reason the Russians can wage this campaign now is because
the high oil prices are generating enough revenue to be spending billions
of dollars on fuel and artillery (as well as making sure soldiers get their
> Political considerations? I can't believe that the Russian army is incapable
> of putting an end to this quickly.
They could, but the loss of life would be so large that it would be as
unpopular as it was 3-4 years ago. This is a double "repeat" for the
Russians (after Afganastan & the previous Chechnian war). You should
keep in mind that the major motivating force behind the war *is* political.
An administration viewed as conducting a "successful" campaign against
these "filthy terrorists" is going to be popular and get re-elected.
In my darker moments, I wonder if the "terrorist" bombings in Russia, were
not executed by rebels, but carefully arranged by an administration that
needed them to justify starting a war that would be viewed, at least
initially, as highly unpopular.
The Russians in their campaign are taking pages from the Gulf War and
NATO campaign in Kosovo.
> And where can I get information on what's going on in such situations?
> Waiting ten years and reading the history books will probably lead
> to the best quality information, but obviously this approach isn't
> always applicable.
I don't know. For the "news", papers like the Moscow Times are not
bad. Certainly the Quebec situation has had a lot written about it
though I'm unaware of any books. Were there ever any books written
about the American civil war that argued the South should have been
able to leave the U.S.?
> Grab land.
Now, this is where it gets messy, since then others have a territoriality
claim against you. It would seem to make more sense to "grow" land in
> Declare independence.
If its in international waters, you don't have to do this.
> Fight bloody war for independence.
If this can be avoided, its far better for everyone involved. The trick
is getting international recognition. I prefer the "grow your own island"
approach because (a) getting into space will be "expensive" until we have
the power output of the sun at our disposal; (b) I believe current international
treaties prevent "claiming" land in space (or at least on the Moon), so if
you attempted executing this you would be creating a reason for the U.S. &
Russia to send a space destroyer after you.
An extropic approach, instead of repeating all the examples of previous
mistakes, should try to focus on those areas where there are "loopholes"
that people didn't envision due to limited previous meme-sets.
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