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Grozny-by-the-Bay

April 19th, 2013 - 10:25 am

Would you like to try and subdue that?

Post-Soviet Russia has been trying to subdue just one tiny bit of it — Chechnya — for two decades now. The capital city, Grozny, was more or less turned to rubble by Russian artillery. That’s the tactic the Russians switched to when they realized they were never, ever, going to weed out all the terrorists, irregulars, insurgents, drug gangs, and all the rest.

Officially, Chechnya has “enjoyed” a pro-Russian government since 2009. Unofficially, McEvedy might be tempted to draw a dotted line around it.

I haven’t even whispered the word “Muslim” yet, but the religious aspect can’t be ignored. It looks like these men were your typical frustrated, radicalized young Muslim males. The one thing differentiating them from, say, the 9/11 hijackers is how long they’d lived in this country, and how Americanized they’d seemed.

I can’t locate the quote, but some historian or military officer once observed that it’s easy to defeat Arab armies, but it’s impossible to conquer Arab peoples. In fact, I’d expand that observation to cover most of Islam. Nobody does insurgency better. And nowhere is that more apparent in the 21st century than in the mixed-up, muddled-up span of Islam stretching from the Caucasus and over the Caspian to Afghanistan and Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier province.

So what happened in Boston? Did a couple young men from Chechnya just suddenly decide after a decade of American life that it was time to blow some people up? Were they hired by al-Qaeda because they were “European” and under our radar? Were they pulling their own version of Columbine — shooting something up for the sake of shooting something up?

Maybe a combination of all three. Maybe a fourth or fifth or sixth option I can’t think of.

Whatever the motive, it looks like there are now small bits of Boston we should draw dotted lines around — unsubdued areas where we-don’t-know-who is plotting we-don’t-know-what. It only takes an apartment or a basement. And of course it isn’t just Boston.

As I wrote the other day, IEDs coming to America is “the nightmare scenario.” What I meant was was this: anybody can make them, anybody can deploy them, anyone can be killed by them. And any serious attempt to uproot every single suspicious foreign-type person has its own serious problems. There’s the legal problem of constitutionality, and there’s the moral problem of casting too wide a net, and finally there’s the practical problem of radicalizing even more people to terror — people right here at home. We’d be cutting off our noses to cause things to escalate to the point where we’re flattening our own cities with heavy artillery.

There’s no good solution. We’ll have to remain vigilant, and we’ll have to set a fine example of bringing ruthless justice to the terrorists.

One down, one to go.

RELATED: It’s about Islam, David Sirota.

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Top Rated Comments   
And on second thought, I think your critique (while welcome) might be a bit too pointed.

Yes, the nature of the Chechen dispute didn't begin as a religious one, but it's certainly become a part of it as the Islamists have (in your fine word) metastasized there, and then from there into Boston.

But we should also note the nature of the nationalist conflict has changed, too. The "unsubdued" were once sparse mountain peoples or steppe dwellers. Now, the populations are much more dense, and much more likely to be packed into urban areas. This evolution changes the nature of this very old conflict -- just as the influx of Islam has.

Stalin performed one of history's largest ethnic cleansings after WWII. He cleared the USSR of Poles, and then clear Poland and Czechoslovakia of Germans. There was nothing nice about it, but it did bring a measure of stability to Central Europe. The dirty, tragic truth of ethnic cleansing is that it can work. (This is an observation, NOT an endorsement.)

I bring this up because the Caucasus region might be unique in that its ethnic/religious swirl covers so many peoples and so many religions over so broad an area involving so many millions, that even Stalin's brute-force approach could probably never produce desirable results.

So, yes, I stand by my "spillover" analysis, but I thank you for adding your own, and for helping me to clarify a couple things I should have made more plain the first time around.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
>> Post-Soviet Russia has been trying to subdue just one tiny bit of it — Chechnya — for two decades now. The capital city, Grozny, was more or less turned to rubble by Russian artillery. That’s the tactic the Russians switched to when they realized they were never, ever, going to weed out all the terrorists, irregulars, insurgents, drug gangs, and all the rest. ... I haven’t even whispered the word “Muslim” yet, but the religious aspect can’t be ignored.

Steven, you aren't sufficiently clear in your expression, but you may be conflating two things. The nature of the Chechen dispute with Russia was never religious. Solzhenitsyn didn't just forget to mention Islam when characterizing the Chechens after WWII. The Russians in their hatred were never even close to being enlightened enough to see them as anything other than a class of neanderthals. The idea that Russian even considered weeding out any of them is ludicrous. The idea that Chechens were terrorists then, as opposed to fierce nationalists (based on strong clan and ethnic identifications) is also dangerously sloppy and misleading.

The Boston terrorism is about religion now in the age of global jihadist ideology, and its metasticizing in many regions of the world. But the Russian brutality that made Afghanistan and Chechnya attractive targets for their ideological poison is another matter entirely. To say Russia bears some responsibility for what happened in the last decade in both nations isn't the same thing at all as blaming Islamic radicalism on "American policies". Russian foreign policy is the most cynical in the world, and their treatment of Afghanistan and Chechnya the most brutal, barbaric, and evil. There isn't the slightest trace of similarity in American foreign policy, even at its worst compared to Russian foreign policy. Even brutal treatment doesn't spawn terrorism, but forms of mass brutality can and sometimes do sweep a nation so that evil comes and lives there and subdues or radicalizes what was good or less evil. As in Afghanistan, that is what happened in Chechnya.

So Steven, brush up on your history or clarify what you mean before drawing more historical conclusions about Chechnya. It is fundamental to what you wish to say, or should be.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Need to draw dotted lines around Detroit.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (46)
All Comments   (46)
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Is that the sries where they managed to avoid mentioning 1200 years of Jewish countires in "Palestine"?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Good show. Great maps. Hilarity will soon ensue when the champions of diversity get their on Russia, Chechnya and Central Asia. If it's not in Zinn, it didn't happen.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My congratulations Steve, very nicely stated. For multi-generational Americans, this stuff is difficult to accept. Religious tolerance is simply inbread. I became aware of the problem when a TV reporter was interviewing, I think, a Croatian during the European Serbian/Croatian incident. The interviewer asked the subject why the hated the other side so much. The response was something like...'In 1237, those pigs raped our village and killed our people.' Well, I was actually kind of shocked. Most of us in the US live in a different town than our parents, different from our grandparents, etc. The concept that you could kill someone from another town for an action seven centuries old was mind-boggling. Yet that is what was happening. It's still happening.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Don't forget that Circassian women were highly rated as concubine slaves in the days of the Caliphate...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circassian_beauties
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Here's a relevant excerpt from the book "MiG Pilot". It was published in 1980, a decade before anyone in the West had ever heard of Chechnya:

At the base [near Grozny] a KGB officer delivered an orientation lecture. After cautioning against Western spies, he spoke at length about the Chechens, one of some hundred ethnic and racial minorities that constitute the Soviet population. Native inhabitants of the eastern Caucasus, the Chechens were fiercely independent Muslims, racially akin to Iranians, who never had been satisfactorily subjugated by the czars or communists. Fearing that out of their hatred for Russians they would collaborate with the Germans, Stalin had deported them en masse to Kazakhstan. Cast into cold deserts and infertile mountains, they had suffered privation and hunger and perished in vast numbers. Khrushchev had allowed the survivors to go back to their native region around Grozny. When they returned, they found their land, homes, shops, and jobs had been appropriated by Russians. Convinced of their righteousness, they commenced to kill Russians indiscriminately and barbarically, usually with knives. A young Russian sailor coming home from five years at sea was slashed to death in the railway station before his terror-stricken mother in 1959. Russian residents thereupon formed vigilante groups armed with axes, took out after the Chechens, then stormed government offices, demanding intervention to protect them from the wild Muslims. Troops, backed by tanks and armored cars, had to be called in to restore civil order. The government warned the Chechens that if they persisted in cutting up Russians, they all would be "sent far north where the polar bears live." The wholesale butchery largely subsided, but not individual murders, and many Chechen youths still subscribed to the credo that true manhood could not be attained without the killing of at least one Russian.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Got'm!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"I can’t locate the quote, but some historian or military officer once observed that it’s easy to defeat Arab armies, but it’s impossible to conquer Arab peoples."

That has the feel of Hilaire Belloc. Here's a couple of his quotes from the 1930s:

"There is with us a complete chaos in religious doctrine.... We worship ourselves, we worship the nation; or we worship (some few of us) a particular economic arrangement believed to be the satisfaction of social justice.... Islam has not suffered this spiritual decline; and in the contrast between [our religious chaos and Islam's] religious certitudes still strong throughout the Mohammedan world lies our peril."

"That Mohammedan culture happens to have fallen back in material applications; there is no reason whatever why it should not learn its new lesson and become our equal in all those temporal things which now alone give us our superiority over it—whereas in Faith we have fallen inferior to it."

In "The Great Heresies" Belloc nails the essence of Islam and why we are probably doomed to fight it forever. I'd add that the brothers didn't have to go far for their inspiration.. just go read some stuff from Michael Moore, various actors, talking heads on TV to see how these men would see Western confusion, loss of faith and wisdom, weakness, pettiness and viciousness as opposed to the "certainty" of radical Islam and why they might have contempt for this morass.

JC

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thanks for that. I was thinking it was either Bernard Lewis, or maybe an experienced Israeli officer, but you might have nailed it with Belloc.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It could be any of those but Belloc reminds us from nearly a century ago that Islam hasn't changed.. we have.

Incidentally, he speaks powerfully of the critical importance of Syria to militant Islam..

JC
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
MTThinker, you might wish to read The Fish That Swallowed a Whale; It's about a displaced Georgian who recognized good dirt when he saw it: he planted bananas all over Costa Rica. And then, used his banana boats to supply arms to Israel.

His banana boats were converted to military ships for the USA during World War 2.

John Wayne drank his way around United Fruit plantations, when he was young, as a guest of the owner.

Good dirt sings out to experienced farmers.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Progressives couldn’t do a “connect-the-dot” if the dots were a millimeter apart. The concept that you don’t plan and take a SIX-MONTH trip to Chechnya as simply a “Hi Pop, How’s Mom?” drop-in is a bridge too far for the Mensa-volk. To the moronic question “Where were the radicalized?” should be preceded by “Why the hell did Big Brother step on that plane in the first place?”
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Circassians are a totally different people than Chechens. In 1864, the Tsarist Russians 'subdued' the Circassians with genocide and expulsion of the starving survivors, still waiting for an answer to their letter asking Queen Victoria for help. The Tsar wanted Sochi, which was the only Circassian city of any size at the time.

The Ottomans resettled the Circassians, and the result?
Today, Circassians protect the king of Jordan, are allied with Syria's Assad, and serve in Israel's IDF.
The Circassians do belong to UNPO, which requires no violence for membership. UNPO.org is certainly an organization that deserves some media notice.
Great maps here (and I collect maps), but you need to read Bullough's "Let their Fame be Great" to better understand the history of the Caucausian peoples. The Chechens were forcibly resettled to Kazahkstan by Stalin, to deny the Nazis any fifth column on the road to Baku.

But, please do not think Chechens have anything in common with Circassians except some proximity in the Caucausus before 1864.

The tragedy of the Circassians was that their main "export" were their children. The Ottomans were not totally altruistic in giving the survivors asylum. The girls were sold into harems, and the boys were sold into military service. But, at least the Ottomans resettled the survivors.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oh, I didn't mean to says Circassians and Chechen are the same people. I merely used McEvedy's observation as a jumping-off point for a general discussion of the mixed-up weirdness that is the Caucasus and all its many peoples.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That "mixed-up weirdness" also leads to confusion among the geographically challenged. After some had cursed "Czechs" for the Boston bombing, a senior official Czech official had to remind folks that Chechnya and the Czech Republic were two different countries, and they were two different peoples.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thought you might change the sub-title for this on pjm's homepage.

Circassians have suffered enough, no need to conflate them with Chechens.

Bullough's book really IS worth reading, in that you might not think of the Caucausus as 'mixed-up weirdness', but a genuine tragedy that the world overlooks.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
http://www.unpo.org/members/7869
"...After the Crimean War, Russia turned its attention to the Caucasus in earnest, starting with the peoples of Chechnya and Dagestan. In 1859, the Russians had finished defeating Imam Shamil in the eastern Caucasus, and were able to concentrate all their forces westward where the last Circassian state with Sochi as capital city was established in 1861, finally subjugating the Circassians in 1864, when over 1.5 million Circassians were murdered or deported to the Ottoman Empire. Less than 800.000 survived the tragic exodus, the descendents of whom today comprise a sizeable Circassian Diaspora in Turkey and the Middle East. ..."

PLEASE change the header here: Chechens are NOT "unsubdued Circassians"
It's like calling Koreans "unsubdued Japanese"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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