The freeing by the Russian special forces of a few hundred hostages held by a Group of Chechens in a Moscow theater at the cost of over a 100 hostages dead has been in the news for the past few days. The World Media are all condemning “terrorism”, and speculating about the gas used by the Russian special forces. And the Russians are stepping up their efforts in the War against the Global Terror. But why did this incident happen?
The present Russian war against Chechnya has been going on since 1999. During that war many thousands of Chechens and hundreds of Russians were killed and many Chechen houses were destroyed, but not much was heard about this in the World Media. But without knowledge of the developments in Chechnya, the Moscow Theater incident becomes meaningless. If one really wants to eliminate destruction and bloodshed, rather than posing as a “tough” ruler, one needs to see the whole picture, rather than a single snapshot.
Is it really just a bunch of religious fanatics indoctrinated by “foreign wahhabites”? Kill the bunch and “their foreign supporters and financiers” and the “liberated” Chechens will become happy members of the Russian Federation, and peace and security will reign supreme? Such thinking follows from the stance of President Putin. And, if to see nothing else but the Moscow Theater incident, one might agree with him. But before we accept President Putin's arguments lets us take a better look at the present Chechen War.
There are not many journalists covering the present war — the Caucasus is a dangerous place, and since the Global War on Terror was proclaimed by G.W. Bush, the Russians got free hand to do what they want in Chechnya without bothering about the World Public Opinion (in exchange for their support of the War on Terror).
|But one brave Russian woman journalist risked her life and braved the Public Opinion, because she believed that it was her duty as a journalist to see the truth and to tell it to the world. Her name is Anna Politkovskaya. And thanks to her we can learn some of the truth.
This is what she says about the present state of the war, which today is re‐branded by the Russians as “anti‐terror operation”, or “zachistka” “cleaning up” in Russian:
“Today ‘zachistka’ that's an act of ordinary marauding. Russian soldiers have to be payed 1000 roubles, and then a man won't be taken to a filtration point [a detention camp where Chechens are tortured by the Russians]. Price depends on the material situation of a house that's being searched. It goes up if there's furniture, kitchen dishes in it. Lately in Stariye Atagi [a Chechen village], for 300–500 roubles Russian soldiers were ready to give up rape of local women.”
And this is what she says about the “success” of that war:
“I realise that this war, which from force of habit we still call an ‘anti‐terrorist operation’ has been lost. It can't be continued solely for the momentary gratification of a group of people [the Russian militaries] who long ago has gone mad.”
And this is how she explains the reason why the present Chechen war has developed in that way:
“I know too how it has come about: our entire country has joined hands to follow the lead of our great statesmen (and not only Russia, but Europe and America too), and at the beginning of the twenty‐first century we are acquiescing without a murmur in the torture of children in a present‐day European ghetto mendaciously called a ‘zone of anti‐terrorist operations’. The children of this ghetto will never forget what we have done.”
So this is what the Chechen suicide squad who held the Russian hostages at the Moscow Theater demanded to be stopped — “the torture of children in a present‐day European ghetto mendaciously called a ‘zone of anti‐terrorist operations’”. The World Media did not tell us that, only Anna Politkovskaya did. And Anna Politkovskaya is not a “wahhabite fundamentalist”, and not even a Muslim ‐ she is a fair‐haired, blue‐eyed Russian journalist.
The present Chechen war has been going on since 1999, but the attempts by the Russians to subdue Chechnya to their rule has been going for some 500 years, and has been especially brutal for the past 200 years. In 1944 the whole nation was deported, on the order of Stalin, from their homeland to Kazakhstan. The deportation was accompanied by mass killings. The sick, the old, and pregnant women, who could not have survived the long railway deportations, taking weeks, were shot, burned, or buried alive.
The Moscow Theater incident gripped the attention of the World Media, in the same way as the incidents of the 9/11, or the one at Bali — it was spectacular, exciting, “photogenic” — like a good old American Western — the “good guys” and the “bad guys”, “us” — the Cowboys and “them” the Indians. And the answer is “obvious” — “kill 'em all”. But all these great visuals — are but minor incidents in a bigger war. And the reason this war exists is because the “leaders” of the larger nations still think in terms of “national grandeur”, “national interests”, “friends”, and “allies” and follow the principle of “might is right”. They still do not understand that government is not about power and prestige and subduing others to one's will, but about honest and competent administration of areas governance. By having unleashed a genocidal war on small nations, they are waging a war that they cannot win. And while they justify their War on Terror by the need to protect their citizens, and even the “Civilization”, they are the ones who are not only committing crimes against humanity in smaller countries, but putting the lives of their own citizens at risk.
No hostage taking operation or act of terrorism has ever resulted in a victory over an occupying force. But in the absence of workable peaceful means of resolving conflicts like the one between the Chechens and the Russians, or the Palestinians and the Israelis, acts of violence will continue to be performed by the weaker nations against the more powerful occupiers, because there is no other way in which they can resist the crimes committed against them by the more powerful nations. And these disputes will continue until they are resolved on the basis of justice.
Neither tough measures by the stronger nations, nor attempts to impose a compromise will stop the violence. And not even the global “War on Terror”, architected by Benjamin Netanyahu, implemented by George Bush, and sold to the world by Tony Blair.
Resolving conflicts on the basis of justice does not mean yielding to anybody's demands. It means establishing the issues between the parties on the basis of facts and then deciding them on the assumption that no party is superior to the other, but both are equal.
The world order based on rivalry between “sovereign” national states, which seek to enlarge their territories by conquest of weaker nations belongs to the nightmare of the past centuries. It is time to abandon wars and politics as a method of government, and terrorism will lose the causes for its existence.
The present conflicts like the ones in Palestine and Chechnya should be resolved by withdrawal of the foreign occupation forces, and supervision of the cessation of the hostilities by neutral international peace keeping forces under the auspices of the United Nations. It is obvious that neither the Russians, nor the Israelis are capable to act as peace‐keepers.
And the devastation of smaller nations by the “super‐powers”, like the ones in Afghanistan, Palestine and Chechnya should be put right, not through “humanitarian relief” or some kind of “aid” with political strings attached, but as compensation by those “super‐powers” who have wreaked this devastation. They have caused the damage, and they must pay for it. This is what justice means.
Is it not time that the United Nations started being more than an instrument of frivolous “super‐powers”? They are discussing arms inspections for Iraq, because the US Government wants to use it as a pretext for a war, but the genocidal Russian war against the Chechens is not even whispered about. Is it one law for smaller nations and another law for the “super‐powers”? And they call themselves “civilized”?
After the end of the Second World War, when the German atrocities towards the Jews became known to the world, people used to ask, “how could such civilized people like the Germans have committed such crimes?”. Now “we” know — they were, just like the rest of “us” today, believing their “media” and following their “leaders”.
“I get a lot of letters, 40% of them are against the war, in the rest of them people condemn my anti‐war views. In the Russian media there's a lack of information regarding this subject, not like during the first war from 1994—96. In this information emptiness, actions of authorities are supported by a huge propaganda machine. This machine has been able to create a picture of the enemy. This enemy living down south, they called them “blacks”. Thanks to that, for many people it's easier to put up with reality of life or break down with nostalgia for the past: to live with the enemy is much more comfortable — it's possible to devolve the responsibility for defeats, failures on it. There's no absence of verbal abuse and swear‐words in letters addressed to me. But, people read my articles because there's no information in the media. If we're going to have more of this kind of articles, maybe the Russian public opinion will change its views, on what's going on in Chechnya.”
From her articles we can learn what is really going on there.