Russian troops storm school

About an hour and a half ago from the look of it.

The assault did not appear to be planned, but rather began with scattered fire that quickly erupted to a crescendo, punctuated by more blasts. Dozens of hostages — many barely dressed, their faces strained with fear and exhaustion – survived the assault, but others emerged bloodied and in shock. The fate of the majority inside — now believed to be as many as 1,000 — was not immediately known.

NY Times

Update: What Interfax is reporting is not a pretty picture. Unplanned raid, over 200 wounded, surviving terrorists hiding out in an adjacent building.

This entry was posted in A Fistful Of Euros, Terrorism and tagged by Scott Martens. Bookmark the permalink.

About Scott Martens

Scott is a US-raised Canadian living in Brussels with his American wife. His political background is well to the left of centre, even for Europe, and is very interested in immigration, cultural integration and language policy issues. He is presently working against a deadline on his doctorate in computational linguistics and is on hiatus. Wrote Pedantry, also on hiatus.

37 thoughts on “Russian troops storm school

  1. The tragedy is that the grander the recklessness and incompetence of a ‘strong-hand’ leader against an outside or minority enemy, the more people rally behind him. Many people won’t say “what a bloody mess”, they say “a strong leader made a hard decision, more power to him!” As with Putin, as with Bush.

  2. That only works for a while. The more people die, the more people will get sick of it. Already it is becoming clear to the Russian people that the more Putin clamps down in Chechnya, the more it spreads to other republics around Chechnya and to Moscow. Everyone is already cynical about the whole thing, expecially since Chechen rebels can get through roadblocks just by bribing Russian soldiers.

    The _real_ tragedy is that every day, young men in Chechnya get picked up by Russian forces or by Russian-organized Chechen gangs and are “disappeared”, either never to be found again or to be found a month later dead in a ditch. The western media pays no attention, and the European leaders (I’m looking at you, Chirac and Schroeder) meet with Putin and pretend he is a democrat, and the killing goes on. Bush is only slightly less bad in this department.

    The killing will continue, and everyone will continue to pretend that Russia is a civilized country that respects the rule of law, as opposed to the reality – Russia is an authoritarian country that regularly murders its own citizens.

  3. Hektor – part of having a “war on terrorism”, especially under Bush, is that it has become a “you’re either with us or against us” war. It is easy for Putin to turn around and do the same with the Chechen rebels. He can label them as terrorists – which is true enough in many cases – but then you have to either be with Putin or with the terrorists. I doubt that Schroeder or Chirac much care about Chechnya, but even if they did, expressing something less than total support for Russia as a victim of terrorism opens them to a charge of “soft on terrorism.” It’s even truer for Bush – he can’t have it both ways. The same sort of nonsense is underway in Xinjiang and Kashmir. The US and Europe are powerless to do anything about it because of the bind the “war on terrorism” has put them in.

  4. Hektor, what is the real tragedy for you is part and consequence of what is the real tragedy in my view, I just wasn’t explicit. The War On Terra made it worse, but the Chechnya disaster started long before it. Even if most of the atrocities wasn’t at Putin’s direct command, his insistence to just keep his fallen-apart, running-amok army there, and ordering an even more brutal clampdown in response every time some event broke even through the controlled media to show the total failure to keep order even in his terms, these things were essential to the escalation of inhumanity on the Russians’ part.

    Oh, and fuck Schr?der. He is a just as despicable NuLabist as Bliar, except for the Iraq issue and some EU issues. Medienkanzler, Genosse der Bosse[*], destroyer of his own party, boot-licker of whoever rolls out a red carpet for him or whoever domestic elites cheer him for meeting, and just plain uncomprehending of the real issues. (I won’t get upset about Chirac whom I never expected much good from.)

    No, I don’t think the WOT is his primary motivation, he’s all too cozy with Putin and all too explicit about the larger than average export growth to Russia, and yes he could condemn it had he again gathered the courage he did in the Iraq matter.

    =media chancellor, comrade of the bosses – nicknames he himself was fond of, back in the nineties.

  5. Why would you have an unplanned raid? Was there something going on that forced the government’s hand? I don’t get it. Were they not planning a raid over the last couple of days.

    I must be missing something, but I don’t know what.

  6. Sebastian, as far as I can tell, yes, it sounds like something forced the Russians’ hands. There was a blast – it’s origins are unclear. The BBC is reporting that “the situation was out of control and the Russian troops decided that they had to do something.” The Russian military guy just confirmed that account on BBC World.

    Of course, the news accounts may be false or confused too.

  7. Nice try, Scott, but I’m not buying it. Commentators have been looking the other way on Chechnya since the Russians reinvaded under Putin, way before the “war on terror” began. The hypocrisy and mendacity about Russia coming from European capitals (especially France, Germany, and Italy) has been going on a long time.

    Look, either European countries have independent foreign policies or they don’t. If they can resist going into Iraq, then they can resist kissing up to Russia. I don’t think this has anything to do with the war on terror. I think this has a lot more to do with the realpolitik of European powers. They want to pretend Putin is a democrat so that they can continue to get natural gas and oil at cheap prices and so that they don’t have to intervene to prop up Georgia or Moldova. As long as they get what they want, all the countries and nations on Russia’s periphery can go to hell. DoDo is right about this.

    Oh, and finally, no one is in a bind on anything. People with half a brain can quite easily distinguish between wars for national liberation and wars for religious conquest. The reason the US does not choose to do so is that it wants the cooperation of Russia in Central Asia. It’s not some rhetorical trap, it’s a clear policy.

  8. I think it’s also worthwhile to note how this points to a later stage in terrorist tactics.
    When terrorism starts, the goal is publicity, and the hope that through publicity people will see that you really care about your cause, and so work to allow you to have it. At this stage of the game, NO-ONE is going to involve children if they can help it.
    But if that fails, the next stage it to get the message through to people that, by supporting this cause (Russian occuptation of Chechnya or whatever) that, let’s face it, you probably don’t care much about beyond slogans, you are going to pay, and pay hard. This is obviously what an attack on kids is about — to make every parent in Russia ask why their kid (and their kid at the cute fluffy stage, not at the 18 yrs old enrolled as a soldier stage) is worth being in Chechnya.

    The point for the US is that anti-US terrorism is still at the publicity stage. If US policies don’t change, one day the terrorist policies will change.

  9. Although allegedly for the benefit of Chechynans, I don’t Chechynan
    terrorists planned this.

    See http://www.logicandsanity.com/archives/2004/09/hostages_zalina.html

    Quote:

    “9:10am I walked my son (5th grader)to school. Two minutes after we walked
    into the court yard came the terrorists. There were about 20 of them and
    also 2 females. They herded us inside the school through the corridor and
    windows. Right away they killed 12-20 men – one at a time. Then a tank
    arrived and killed one of the terrorists, so they put several hostages next
    to a window and shot them dead. They threatened to kill 10 hostages for
    their dead, but I only saw about 4.

    There were at least a thousand people in the gym. We sat on the floor. They
    threatened us and were generally very nervous – specially when it got noisy.
    They shot in the air. They put guns to some men’s temple’s and threatened
    to kill them if there’s noise. At first they gave us water and let us use
    the bathroom. Women with infants were put up separately. One of the terrorists
    was even sneaking in dry milk for a woman’s son, when his cohorts weren’t
    looking.

    Terrorists were videotaping everything. They gave the tape to a negotiator
    to show it to Putin. At night they put up the elderly in rooms were it
    wasn’t as hot and gave everybody blankets.

    [and]

    Terrorists didn’t even know what town they were in – in the beginning they
    even asked us where they were. They said that traffic cops were bribed.
    If they used more money for the bribes then the would have taken hostage
    a school in a bigger city (gazeta.ru – probably Vladikavkaz).

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  11. Hektor:

    The hypocrisy and mendacity about Russia coming from European capitals (especially France, Germany, and Italy) has been going on a long time.

    What hypocrisy and mendacity are you talking about?

    Once upon a time, the Chechen independence movement had the sympathy of the world. Now that the leading Chechen separatists are busily engaged in the mass murder of as many civilians, of whatever ethnicity, as possible, that independence movement is (rightfully) losing the support it once had.

  12. I asmit that when I first heard about the attack I thought about the cynicism of Putin: to let the soldiers go in at broad daylight. Reminding of the appaling lack of anti-dote and ambulances after at the gas-attack in the Moscow theatre.
    Even when I saw the pictures at BBC of the attack I first thought about how low the Russian had fallen for such poor performances of the troops but then I saw armed civilians and understood something had gone terribly wrong for the Russian plans.
    And so now it turns the reason for the attack was the new low of the terrorists: shooting at escaping children. So you can even get lower then kidnapping and killing journalists or random citizens from any other country. You get the impression, I really think this has its part here too, that there is a contest between the terrorist groups.

    I am afraid Maynard is right too, to some extend.

  13. On objectives,

    Military Council Majlis Al-Shura of Ingushetia, 2004-07-09:

    “Indeed, Allah created people so that He could be worshipped alone, so
    no companions are ascribed to Him, and He permitted Jihad on His Straight Way,
    so that the Religion of Allah could be above all, so that all areas of life
    could be guided by Islam, and so that the Earth could be cleansed of unbelief.”

    “Allah said, ?Make war on them until no more temptation remains…? (Anfal 39)”

    from http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/002588.php

  14. Randy, where have you seen info about “leading Chechen separatists” involved?

    As for the morally more important issue, how does the atroticies committed by elements of the armed Chechen resistance excuse the atroticies of the Russian army against Chechen civilians? Stuff like leaving around booby-trapped children’s toys, if we are talking targeting children?

    Frans, the info about shooting at escaping children seems outdated, now eyewitnesses say it was a bomb fixed to a ceiling that fell off that started it, see Antiny Jaume above.

  15. Ingushetia? Is this an indigenuous Ingushetian group, or that CHechen Jamaatist (Wahhabi) insurgent group that IIRC failed with a coup recently?

  16. Randy, where have you seen info about ?leading Chechen separatists? involved?

    I misspoke. It would be nice, though, if the most prominent Chechen separatists outside of Chechnya’s frontiers weren’t warlords, or if Kavkaz Center hadn’t abandoned morality to the point that it produces editorials saying that

    “the actions of the Chechen Forces should be viewed from the standpoint of logic and expediency, but not from the standpoint of the public opinion which may censure the Chechen Resistance. Had the public opinion been playing the key role in the issue of war and peace, the war in the Caucasus would have never happened in the first place.”

    Chechnya deserves much, much better representatives. And, at the risk of sounding obvious, this does not justify Russian war crimes or future Ossetian retaliations. Not in the least.

    As for the morally more important issue, how does the atroticies committed by elements of the armed Chechen resistance excuse the atroticies of the Russian army against Chechen civilians? Stuff like leaving around booby-trapped children?s toys, if we are talking targeting children?

    It doesn’t. Killing non-Chechen civilians in retaliatory for the suffering of Chechen civilians is just as immoral as the inverse action.

    What this does mean, though, is that a Chechnya dominated by people who favour mass murder of civilians is not a Chechnya that I favour becoming independent. Russia’s a severe problem, yes, but at the risk of sounding obvious it’s already independent and Russian crimes have to be dealt with differently.

  17. “Chechnya deserves much, much better representatives.”

    Well duh, you could substitute ‘Chechnya’ for many other countries or administrative units, it would still be right. It is beside the point.

    “What this does mean, though, is that a Chechnya dominated by people who favour mass murder of civilians is not a Chechnya that I favour becoming independent.”

    Well, Chechnya is dominated by people who favour mass murder of civilians, and these people include armed Chechen separatists as well as Russian military and politicians. You cannot posit an argument for or against Chechen independence from this. On the other hand, from the history of the conflict, you can posit that military occupation of Chechnya is a complete failure by all standards, one that didn’t improve the security of non-Chechen citizens of Russia, nor did it halt a deterioration of the State’s control and cohesion, while it managed to make the lives of ordinary Chechens much worse than even what the warlords gave them between 1996 and 1999. (Note that I am NOT arguing in favor of Chechen independence. Only in favour of a military withdrawal, which at least could be the foundation of the later emergence of a positive development. And to fight terror, you’d have to reform a police that accepts bribes from terrorists.)

    “Russian crimes have to be dealt with differently”

    Huh? Please explain. I hope I misunderstood something.

  18. ?What this does mean, though, is that a Chechnya dominated by people who favour mass murder of civilians is not a Chechnya that I favour becoming independent.?

    Well, Chechnya is dominated by people who favour mass murder of civilians, and these people include armed Chechen separatists as well as Russian military and politicians. You cannot posit an argument for or against Chechen independence from this.

    You can if it’s fairly likely that things would become worse if the radicals took over an independent Chechnya. Their preference for imposing shari’a law, for instance, is suggestive. And if there’s no difference between Russian rule in Chechnya and a separate Chechen administration, why bother to make a change at all?

    On the other hand, from the history of the conflict, you can posit that military occupation of Chechnya is a complete failure by all standards, one that didn?t improve the security of non-Chechen citizens of Russia, nor did it halt a deterioration of the State?s control and cohesion, while it managed to make the lives of ordinary Chechens much worse than even what the warlords gave them between 1996 and 1999. (Note that I am NOT arguing in favor of Chechen independence. Only in favour of a military withdrawal, which at least could be the foundation of the later emergence of a positive development. And to fight terror, you?d have to reform a police that accepts bribes from terrorists.)

    No disagreements here, actually.

    ?Russian crimes have to be dealt with differently?

    Huh? Please explain. I hope I misunderstood something.

    What I mean is that as bad as the Russian occupation of Chechnya is, it does no good to simply replace it with an equal evil. Preventing Chechen radicals from establishing an Islamic republic in Chechnya requires one set of actions; punishing Russian war criminals and establishing some kind of just rule requires another set.

  19. Randy,

    There is an elected government in Chechnya, which Putin has gone out of his way to destroy. Part of the reason for the emergence of more ideologically Islamic fighters in Chechnya is the power vacuum created by the crackdown on Maskhadov’s fighters.

    The Russian policy is a disaster, full stop. Something like 10 percent of the Chechnyan pre-war population is dead. Anything that might reduce the killing is something to be pursued. That’s why the Russians should pull out and begin negotiations. (And unexplained apartment bombings shouldn’t recur.)

    Your position seems to be that there is a _possibility_ of an Islamic government forming, and that is so terrible that we have to do everything we can to prevent it. Explain to me why an Islamic government is automatically worse than random murders on a daily basis by the state. You don’t even know what kind of an Islamic government might be created if Maskhadov can’t take control. Are you opposed to the government of Iran and believe that we should do everything to bring it down? How about Saudi Arabia, or state governments in Pakistan?

    Explain to me why an Islamic government in Chechnya is automatically worse than the current state-sanctioned murder that exists there now. Note that every Islamic government isn’t created the same.

    Note also that Russia is a _nuclear-armed_ state that favors mass murder of its own civilians, and Chechnya, if independent, is not.

  20. Randy,

    How about the hypocrisy of treating Putin like any other European leader, when he is arguably more of an authoritarian than Lukashenko, since at least Lukashenko doesn’t engage in mass murder. How about the relative silence when Putin stole the most recent election? How about the frequent visits from Schroeder and Chirac, who claim to support human rights, when something close to genocide is going on? All the statements about Russia’s development, its admission to the G8, etc?

  21. Hektor:

    Explain to me why an Islamic government is automatically worse than random murders on a daily basis by the state.

    How about because Islamic governments, like most governments run by radical ideologists, have a worrying tendency to commit “random murders on a daily basis”? That an independent Chechnya would also be a post-colonial society, at least as vulnerable as Algeria and Zimbabwe to post-independence struggles over proper cultural and political policies, is another point against it.

    Are you opposed to the government of Iran and believe that we should do everything to bring it down? How about Saudi Arabia, or state governments in Pakistan?

    I’m in favour of dealing with those governments on a case-by-case basis, at the same time pressuring them to observe basic principles of human rights. Compare Western policies in the Cold War towards the Soviet Union. A full-fledged crusade is hardly necessary.

    How about the hypocrisy of treating Putin like any other European leader, when he is arguably more of an authoritarian than Lukashenko, since at least Lukashenko doesn?t engage in mass murder.

    Well, Europe has to deal with Russia. Surely, a European crusade against Russia would be just as ill-advised as a Western crusade against Iran, no?

    As for being treated like any European leader, I’d be interested in the evidence you’ve got for this. Many of Putin’s foreign-policy initiatives–to try to gain some sort of control over the European Union’s expansion, most notably–have failed ignominiously, while flirtations with the Franco-German alliance were prompted by the alliance and never strong to begin with.

    What is your specific evidence in favour of European hypocrisy? Does Europe treat countries doing similar things to Russia differently from the way it treats Russia itself? Evidence is needed.

  22. From Randy:

    What is your specific evidence in favour of European hypocrisy? Does Europe treat countries doing similar things to Russia differently from the way it treats Russia itself? Evidence is needed.

    Compare and contrast the way Europe treats Russia with the way it treats Ukraine and Belarus. Belarus is a pariah, and Kuchma is roundly criticized for the murder of Gongadze. But many reporters have disappeared in Chechnya, and there is not nearly the level of criticism. I don’t think French or German leaders make a point of visiting Belarus or Ukraine, and they certainly don’t make a point of coordinating their foreign policy proposals with them, like Chirac and Schroeder did with Putin over Iraq. I think Putin’s foreign policy initiatives over Iraq have been somewhat successful. He’s also been successful in preventing more European involvement in Moldova and Georgia. He’s also been successful in limiting the military posture of NATO in former Warsaw and Soviet states. He’s also been successful in affecting European opinion relative to the Baltic states by shamelessly exploiting Russian minorities. I see a lot of successes from Putin’s policy. The only explanation I can see for this is one of realpolitik. That’s fine, but that means these governments are undercutting their own claim to respect and foster human rights in other countries.

    Explain to me why an Islamic government is automatically worse than random murders on a daily basis by the state.

    How about because Islamic governments, like most governments run by radical ideologists, have a worrying tendency to commit “random murders on a daily basis”? That an independent Chechnya would also be a post-colonial society, at least as vulnerable as Algeria and Zimbabwe to post-independence struggles over proper cultural and political policies, is another point against it.

    Why is it certain that an independent Chechnya would be run by radical ideologists? That seems to be a fairly strong assumption that you are making without evidence. Neither Algeria nor Zimbabwe were run by radical ideologues when they got their independence, and it is by no means certain that their eventual degradation was fore-ordained. I, in fact, don’t believe that this would be the case, especially if the international community provided significant aid to the country.

    Are you opposed to the government of Iran and believe that we should do everything to bring it down? How about Saudi Arabia, or state governments in Pakistan?

    I’m in favour of dealing with those governments on a case-by-case basis, at the same time pressuring them to observe basic principles of human rights. Compare Western policies in the Cold War towards the Soviet Union. A full-fledged crusade is hardly necessary.

    I don’t support a full-fledged crusade either, and I don’t see where you get that from. However, the point is that these are Islamic governments, run by ideologues, that you seem to fear so greatly. Interestingly, I see no evidence that any Western power is pressuring Russia to observe basic principles of human rights, and see no evidence that you would support this. Give me examples where European governments have pressured Russia to observe human rights.

  23. Hektor:

    “He’s also been successful in limiting the military posture of NATO in former Warsaw and Soviet states. He’s also been successful in affecting European opinion relative to the Baltic states by shamelessly exploiting Russian minorities.”

    While I agree with everything else you write, not with the above two. Well, in the first instance, it’s not really a disagreement (Putin might well have had a hand in limiting NATO posture), but I turned against my country’s NATO involvement (I voted for joining in the plebiscite) because the security argument now rings hollow, while the political culture of vassaldom was brought back. As for the latter, I don’t see any Putin influence here, I see the Baltian states ignoring human rights for ethnic-nationalistic reasons. (Something rather common here in the former Eastern Block.)

  24. > You can if it’s fairly likely that things would become worse if the radicals took over an independent Chechnya.

    Randy, notwithstanding your hypothetising that the radicals would take over, the Chechens already saw what it is like when the radicals take over, at least in parts of Chechnya, between 1996 and 1999. And what the Russians brought is (by all accounts) worse. And I already said this:

    …military occupation of Chechnya is a complete failure by all standards, one that didn’t improve the security of non-Chechen citizens of Russia, nor did it halt a deterioration of the State’s control and cohesion, while it managed to make the lives of ordinary Chechens much worse than even what the warlords gave them between 1996 and 1999.

    I would also like to emphasize a point Hector hinted at, that Putin used attacks by the fundamentalists to crack down on Maskhadov’s forces, that is Putin is making the fundies stronger within the resistance. And he did this from the very beginning: the 1999 war that hit the elected Maskhadov government’s forces hardest was justified with the chaos of the very warlords Maskhadov was fighting at the time.

  25. DoDo:

    I would also like to emphasize a point Hector hinted at, that Putin used attacks by the fundamentalists to crack down on Maskhadov?s forces, that is Putin is making the fundies stronger within the resistance. And he did this from the very beginning: the 1999 war that hit the elected Maskhadov government?s forces hardest was justified with the chaos of the very warlords Maskhadov was fighting at the time.

    This is a point. My thanks for bringing it to my attention, and correcting me on this. Russia’s historical record isn’t good. To put things very mildly. It shouldn’t get underestimated.

    Even so, I can’t help but wonder: If the radicals were bad in the 1996-1999 period, what would they be like now?

  26. As an introduction, I have to say Russia is not treating (some of) its minorities fairly. Because the war, Chechens are treated as animals. But the issue about Chechen independence has nothing to do to give the Chechen people its freedom.
    The Chechen rebel leaders only want to replace the Russians’ dictature with their own. Chechnya as a state will mean that there’s another lawless rogue state, like Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Kosovo. And what about installing a Taliban-like regime in Grozny? People that undertake actions like school and hospital hijackings without any remorse, are not human anymore. I have not read the Koran, but I want to say one thing. If it’s not allowed to behave like this, *all* major Islamic theologians should state clearly and publicly actions like these (as well as killing the ‘infidels’) are unacceptable. If it is, Islam is not a religion that should be tolerated, since it is not tolerating anything besides itself. Religions have to set moral and ethical borders. It’s time to show one’s colours.
    Something else people shouldn’t forget, is that most of the insane Islamic groups started out as US-supported. The Taliban were used against pro-Russian and pro-Iranian groups in Afghanistan. The Kosovars were set against the Serbs. The Chechens were supported against the Russians. The belligerent US administrations want to destabilize Russia and the Middle East, in order to promote the US arms industry (which produces more than half of all the weapons in the world) and to protect the interests of the oil tycoons. US policy has nothing to do with a safer world.

  27. Peter Dirix,

    There was no Taliban during the war against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.
    The Taliban came several years later and in fact made war against many of the
    muljeedan who had fought the Russians. The Taliban was primarily a creation
    of Pakistan with up to two thirds of its membership in Afghanistan being Pakistani.
    Saudi Arabia was the primary financer and pakistani intelligence agencies were heavily
    involved.

    I am likewise dubious of your assertion that the U.S. financed Kosovars and
    Chechans but have no detailed knowledge as I do of the Taliban.

    I note of course that you offer no evidence of any of your assertions, just as
    I have offered none about the origin and relationship between the Taliban and
    Pakistan. Although if there is real interest I can dig it all up.

  28. One constructive suggestion I’ve heard in response to the Beslan atrocity
    is to arm the teachers or allow them to arm themselves. In both Israel and
    Thailand schools have been targeted by terrorists and in both cases arming
    the teachers has been part of the response. In both cases this has greatly
    reduced the number and severity of such attacks.

    As to why it has such a big effect, I think that terrorists are looking for
    easy targets. Teachers with weapons make planning such an operation more
    difficult and make the likely outcome much more uncertain.

    It might be countered that the same thing could be accomplished by putting
    security guards in schools. This is not the same. The problem being that
    there are many, many schools and relatively few societies can afford that
    many security guards. Second there will always be more teachers than guards.
    Third schools everywhere lack money (or think they lack money) and the
    tendency would always be to shed the guards.

  29. I don’t really think that this would have made any difference. It wasn’t like the school was taken hostage by four men and a rusty gun. The school was taken over by 30+ heavy armed gunmen who had surprise on their side. To counter such an attack you need an awful lot of security personel. So many that it isn’t even a question of not enough money but of not enough men.

  30. Mark,

    I agree with you that the Taliban did not exist at the time of the Russian occupation. The then mujaheddin were supported by the US. But after the mujaheddin fell apart in several faction in the 90s, the US/Pakistan clearly supported the Taliban, that fought the pro-Russian and pro-Iranian factions. The Taliban were financed by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, I agree with that. And who supports these regimes?
    Okay, I cannot show you any documents about e.g. Chechnya. But who are the allies of the US in the Caucasus: Georgia and Azerbaijan. A little further Turkey and Saudi Arabia. All Chechen supporters.
    About the Albanians: you can be right that they are not directly financed. But I see a clear preoccupation for dismantling Slav states in favour of the Albanians, while in the rest of the world, the US defends territorial integrity.

  31. I’m not sure Turkey supported the Taliban, as I believe General Dostum–one of the nutcases of the Northern Alliance–was residing in Turkey prior to the invasion.

  32. Peter,

    I’ve always had some questions on just how it is that the Kosovo business
    started. True for years there’d been items in the newspaper about
    serbian atrocities in the former Yugoslovia. What’s also true is that
    the american consensus seemed to be that this was europe’s problem to
    solve.

    Then one day I wake up to discover that we were at war and that there
    had been absolutely, no, as in zero, discussion of the subject before
    hand. I remember reading a Washington Post article claiming that three
    people had made this decision: President Clinton, Secretary of State Albright,
    and a third person whose name eludes me, and that absolutely no one
    else knew.

    Very strange. Very bizarre. If we hadn’t had a near 100 percent blatently
    partisan, suddenly war-mongering media, I would imagine there would
    have been a big discussion of just how strange it was. But there wasn’t.

    The strangeness wasn’t just in Washington, it goes all the way across
    the atlantic. Because it wasn’t the U.S. that effectively declared war
    but NATO, twenty-four countries, any one of which could have said no, or
    at least delayed things long enough to have a discussion.

    I’m sorry but I don’t believe it. This wasn’t an american policy; this
    was a european policy. The decision had already been made. The U.S. had
    already been asked and the U.S. had already said no.

  33. Mark Amerman: “I am likewise dubious of your assertion that the U.S. financed Kosovars and
    Chechans”

    I am also highly dubious about the latter, but US support for the KLA/UCK was widely reported in respected sources (see links below). It was apparently viewed as a substitute for own ground troops (a triple error, considering the post-war situation, and Milosevic’s final backing down only when NATO ground invasion was threatened), while Rugova’s peaceful movement was dropped. The KLA got training, weapons & money, satellite phones, and gave intel & guidance for special forces units in return. (Read this Newsweek article: http://www.gsoa.ch/zivil/kosov@/kosov@_nato/199905/19990531.0.html on the training in planning stage during the war; this Sunday Times article: http://www.balkanpeace.org/hed/archive/march00/hed02.shtml on more issues, or the full transscript of the BBC2 documentary it refers to: http://ben.aubg.bg/Courses/spring2002/pos222/BBC%20transcript.htm.)

    It was also widely reported (at least in the European press, f.e. Der Spiegel) that a main post-war problem was (is) that while the UN authority’s police wanted to arrest ex-KLA drug-and-woman trafficers who also were behind political violence, US troops (who are there under their own command) prevented their arrest, because those same militia leaders were still considered valuable local allies.

  34. from the beeb:

    “We will carry out all measures to liquidate terrorist bases in any region of the world,” Gen Yuri Baluevsky was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

    “However, this does not mean that we will launch nuclear strikes.”

    Thats nice to know.

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