Thursday, September 09, 2004

The Neo-Cons & Chechnya


Yesterday's Guardian brought us the claim that the Neo-Cons advocate against Russia in the Chechnya conflict, and turn a very blind eye toward Chechen terrorism:
This harshness towards Putin is perhaps explained by the fact that, in the US, the leading group which pleads the Chechen cause is the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya (ACPC). The list of the self-styled "distinguished Americans" who are its members is a rollcall of the most prominent neoconservatives who so enthusastically support the "war on terror".

* * *

The ACPC heavily promotes the idea that the Chechen rebellion shows the undemocratic nature of Putin's Russia, and cultivates support for the Chechen cause by emphasising the seriousness of human rights violations in the tiny Caucasian republic. It compares the Chechen crisis to those other fashionable "Muslim" causes, Bosnia and Kosovo - implying that only international intervention in the Caucasus can stabilise the situation there.

* * *

Although the White House issued a condemnation of the Beslan hostage-takers, its official view remains that the Chechen conflict must be solved politically. According to ACPC member Charles Fairbanks of Johns Hopkins University, US pressure will now increase on Moscow to achieve a political, rather than military, solution - in other words to negotiate with terrorists, a policy the US resolutely rejects elsewhere.
Some people will take any opportunity to bash the "neo-cons", or exaggerate their position, so I viewed the piece with a jaundiced eye.

But today, leading neo-con Daniel Pipes shared his views in the Times:
The terrorist attack in Beslan in Russia's North Caucasus was not only bloody but viciously sadistic: the children taken hostage by pro-Chechen terrorists were denied food and drink and even forbidden to go to the bathroom, then massacred when the siege was broken. It is proper for the civilized world to express outrage and feel solidarity with the Russian people. But to say this is not necessarily to agree with those - including President Bush and President Vladimir Putin of Russia - who would equate the massacre with the 9/11 attacks and Islamic terrorism in general.
Um... excuse me? (Note his use of the infamous "but" clause, used habitually by the defenders of terrorism - "This incident is indefensible, but....") Perhaps he'll explain that....
Terrorism is a means to an end: it can be employed for limited ends as well as for unlimited destructiveness. The terrorists who blew up the train station in Madrid just before the Spanish election this year had a specific goal in mind: to compel the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq. The Chechen case is, in some respects, analogous. A small group of Muslim people, the Chechens have been battling their Russian conquerors for centuries.
An - so Chechen terrorism, involving massacre of children, is understandable and excusable because... in the mind of Pipes it's like Israel-Palestine? How do people like Pipes not choke on their own words when they advance such wildly hypocritical, internally inconsistent positions - and stand as apologists for one of history's worst terrorist attacks on a civilian target?

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