In 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, Chechnya declared independence, hoping to enjoy the same new-found freedom that the former Warsaw Pact countries, the Baltic States, the Ukraine and other central Asian republics had won. But unlike those other countries, Moscow responded to Chechnya’s desire for freedom with violence. This resulted in the two Chechen Wars, followed by the brutal occupation of Chechnya in 2000 and the election of Vladimir Putin (thanks to a conveniently timed campaign of apartment house bombings).
It is important to note that Chechnya was not always a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism. In the early 90’s, this ideological poison was virtually unknown there. For instance, the original leader of the Chechnya independence movement, Dzhokhar Dudayev, was a secular nationalist. He was a Soviet Air Force major general who commanded all their nuclear forces in my homeland of Estonia in the 1980’s. He patterned the Chechnyan independence movement from the Estonian independence movement he witnessed firsthand, and if you know anything about the Baltic States, you know that it is about as far away from Islamic fundamentalism as you can get on this planet. Dudayev greatly sympathised with the Estonian anti-Soviet struggle. He learned to speak Estonian while he was stationed there, and when the order came down from Moscow to crush the Estonian independence movement in 1990, he declined to pass the order along.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Dudayev went back home and led the Chechnyan independence movement all the way through the First Chechen War, when he was killed by an anti-radiation missile that homed in on his satellite phone. It is rumoured that this technology was given to Yeltsin’s Russia by the naive Clinton administration.
In any event, by the time Putin had won the Second Chechen War in 2000, all reasonable, Western-leaning Chechens like Dudayev had been exterminated. Into this Kremlin-created vacuum stepped vicious Islamic fundamentalists who have committed all manner of atrocities in the name of Chechnya.
This terrible situation was created by the Putin administration. But now, if Putin wants to crush Chechnya some more (the Chechens don’t give up easily) by committing further human rights violations there, all he has to do to get his get-out-of-jail-free card from the US is to remind Americans of the Boston Marathon bombing.
There is a new documentary out about the lives of the direct descendants of prominent National Socialists and how they are addled with guilt about the sins committed by their parents and grandparents. I found these tidbits interesting:
“Rainer Hoess is not his grandfather, Rudolf Hoess, the commandant of Auschwitz. And yet, at the same time, Bettina's children would carry on Herman's genes--which is why, she explains, she and her brother both sterilized themselves.”
“The person in the film who seems to have made the most sustained effort to grapple with his Nazi heritage is, unsurprisingly, one with a very direct connection to that past. Niklas Frank, son of the Nazi Governor-General of Poland, Hans Frank, has spent much of his life researching and denouncing his father's crimes…. But he is spurned on by his loathing of his parents and of what they did …. As for his father, he says, through all his research, he kept hoping to find something, anything, good that he had ever done; some evidence that he tried to save at least one person, one time. But there was no such evidence.”
It seems that victory over National Socialism is now so complete that the children of prominent Nazis – who extolled eugenics and breeding a master race –voluntarily sterilize themselves so that their father’s genes would not propagate forward.
Were this also true for communism. Where are Mao and Pol Pot and Lenin and Stalin’s children? Where is the movie describing their guilt and self-sterilization? After all, while National Socialism killed 20 million, communism has killed 100 million world-wide. In Cambodia, Pol Pot killed 1/3 of all the people in his country in less than 5 years.
Instead we have proto-Stalin, Vladimir Putin, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad by temporarily changing the name of Volgograd back to Stalingrad and painting Stalin’s visage on the side of municipal buses.
We need to be working for the day when Vladimir Putin’s children are so wracked with guilt that they neuter themselves so that the hated Putin gene is not propagated any further in the human gene pool.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal:
“A raging fire at Venezuela's largest oil refinery spread to a third storage tank Monday as the death toll from the initial explosion rose to 48.”
“Oil Minister Rafael Ramírez, who earlier in the day had said the fire was contained to two large tanks holding crude oil, confirmed later that the roof of a third unit had caught fire. …
He also rejected claims of underinvestment into upkeep, saying state oil monopoly Petróleos de Venezuela, or PdVSA, has invested $4.8 billion into Amuay in the last six years.The number of people killed in the explosion that rocked the refinery early Saturday rose to 48.”
Good thing that oil refinery is owned by the Venezuelan government, headed by that champion of the poor, Hugo Chavez, rather than one of those rich millionaires and billionaires that keep President Obama up at night.
Yesterday’s post about the Russian-Georgian conflict got me thinking about something that has bugged me for a while: the line circulated in pro-Putin circles, the appeasing western left and even some right-wing bloggers of the isolationist bent, that Georgia attacked Russia!
Anybody with even the tiniest amount of military knowledge recognizes the absurdity of this claim. Even though the invasion was executed incompetently, the military action that transpired require many months of planning and preparation. It is militarily impossible to do something like that on the spur of the moment. In addition, that it started on the opening day of the Beijing Olympics – a huge event guaranteed to use up the media oxygen – raises, or should raise, extreme suspicion.
As usual, my expert on Georgian affairs, Tom M, put it best:
“First off, Russia was never attacked. But Russian Forces in Georgia were fired upon by Georgian forces. What amazes me is that anyone could think Russia was attacked, when everything happened well within Georgia... not even a "cross-border" incident.
As far as I know, nobody has articulated things this way... i.e. that Georgian forces never were even close to the Georgia-Russia border... not a single shot was fired into Russian territory.”
He also offered this analogy (that I don’t think is weak):
“I've been thinking about what kind of analogy to present to Canadian friends about the 2008 Russo-Georgian war...
An obviously weak one would go as follows:
1) Canada and Quebec start hostilities
2) The US grants all in Quebec US citizenship (i.e. issues them US Passports)
3) A skirmish erupts on the Ont-Que border
4) The US then sends massive numbers of troops into Que to protect their newly minted US Citizens from Canada and bombs Ottawa
5) Open war breaks out... Canada loses.”
Looks like Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is running into some complications in his efforts to control the South Ossetia territory that he seized with military force back in 2008. According to this Moscow Times story:
“While the Russian authorities are, for the time being, using kid gloves to deal with the opposition at home, they have not shown the same constraint in South Ossetia.
Opposition leader Alla Dzhioyeva suffered a minor stroke after her home was raided by the authorities and her election headquarters was destroyed. South Ossetia's short experiment with democracy came to an abrupt end when Dzhioyeva won 57 percent of the vote in the presidential election versus the 40 percent received by Anatoly Bibilov, the Kremlin protege of outgoing South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity.”
Here is some background information for this story from my friend, Tom M, who is extremely knowledgeable about Georgian affairs:
“As background to this story, Alla Dzhoiyeva won the South Ossetian presidential "election" late in 2011, but she was not the Kremlin's candidate. Consequently, her win by a wide margin was contested in South Ossetia's "courts" where the results were annulled and she was forbidden from running at the runnoff "elections" in March of this year.
She insisted she had won the elections "fair and square" and would not back down. Last week or so, her political offices were raided by the South Ossetian KGB (yes, in South Ossetia the federal police still go by the KGB moniker). She was arrested and struck with a rifle butt in the head, resulting in a stroke and a stay in the hospital where she is in a coma.”
An even more disturbing quote from the same Moscow Times story:
“So why would the Kremlin and Federal Security Service be so upset about the victory of one pro-Russian candidate over another?...
The second reason is even more unpleasant. The world is rapidly moving toward a military conflict in the Middle East. If civil war in Syria is followed by an Israeli strike against Iran, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is likely to seize the opportunity to stage his long-awaited attack on Georgia. There are clear signs of contingency planning for this attack. The 58th Army is under new command, and almost all of its weaponry has been modernized. What's more, waging a war directly after the March 4 presidential election is the best way to stir up a patriotic frenzy and destroy Russia's "radical opposition" at the same time.”
“This reminds me of those who argue that Poland attacked Nazi Germany in 1939, not the other way around.”
Have you noticed how the left only gets upset about atrocities when it happens to them?
The overthrow of Salvador Allende of Chile, the coup organized by the CIA in 1953 against Mohammed Mosaddegh in Iran and Franco winning the Spanish Civil War: if you listened to the left, you would think that these were among the biggest atrocities of the blood soaked 20th century. Communists killed 100 million people in that same time period but they choose to stress relatively trivial incidents.
Take Franco. Yes there was a bloodbath after he won the Civil War. But to judge Franco properly, it must be remembered that much of his killing was primarily confined to communists and anarchists (i.e. the people who were actively fighting against him – when they were not killing each other). After these people were suppressed, Franco left the Spanish people pretty much alone and, as a result, Spain began to enjoy a genuine peace and tranquility that has lasted until this day. It is, or should be, a testament to his leadership that Spain was able to make a smooth transition to liberal democracy in only a few years since his death. And also that he steadfastly rebuffed Hitler’s entreaties to join him in World War II. Considering the anarchy that Spain was gripped with in the mid-1930’s and the awful choices that it faced, it seems to me the Spanish Civil War had about the best possible outcome that it realistically could have had. But no, we instead remember Franco as a bloody butcher, and conveniently ignore what happens every single time the communists take over a country.
Even with the one indisputable monster popularly known to be a right-winger, Adolph Hitler, limousine liberals don’t like to acknowledge that his party was called the National Socialist Party, or more precisely, the National Socialist German Workers Party. Cripes, when you say it like that it sounds like the Nazis were a Teutonic version of the NDP! The name is indicative of the fact that Hitler explicitly created National Socialism (which, by the way, was how he referred to his movement) as a Hegelian synthesis of the right (nationalism, militarism, anti-Semitism) and the left (central planning, concentration camps, the continuous and systematic mass murder of opponents and eugenics). The left remembers the first part of Hitler’s equation but not the last part.
Getting back to the overthrow of Salvador Allende in 1973 - which to academic hipsters is an act of pure evil on the part of the CIA - a recent Forbes magazine article counters with some inconvenient truths:
“Elected with just 36% of the vote in a split election, he believed he had a mandate to ram through a hard-core Marxist program of expropriation and indoctrination like that of his mentor, Cuba's Fidel Castro.
In the process Allende left Chile's economy in ruins and trampled the rule of law so badly he brought his country to the brink of civil war. He was stopped only when the legislature charged him with 22 constitutional violations and ordered Chile's military to oust him.
As Chilean jets strafed La Moneda presidential palace Sept. 11, 1973, Allende shot himself with a gold-plated submachine gun given him by Castro.
At the request of Allende's family, an official investigation in May exhumed the dead man's body, conducted forensic tests and on Tuesday found that, yes, Allende took his own life. It was what his family always believed, consistent with the tone of his final speech and a family history of suicides.”
"’Within weeks of Allende's overthrow,’ wrote Henry Kissinger in his Years of Upheaval, ‘his incompetence, corruption and violation of democratic procedures — all widely acknowledged while he was alive — disappeared from public comment.’
No one had a bigger stake in making a claim that communism doesn't lead to disaster than Castro himself ... That's why Castro was the first to spread the Big Lie that Allende was killed by a sinister CIA-Pinochet cabal.
Castro sycophants in the media and Hollywood followed and succeeded for years in making Allende their martyr.”
Getting only 36% of the vote, an unpopular political agenda, wrecking the economy, violating the constitution and the rule of law, a power struggle with the democratically elected parliament and an ignominious suicide with a gold-plated, commemorative subgun: not part of the official narrative. Not part of it at all.
This article in Forbes echoes I have been saying all along about the Greek crisis: don’t keep throwing good money after bad. The important thing for the EU is not to save Greece – it is all but lost – but to teach the other PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain) a lesson. The EU can do without Greece. It produces very little. But if the other PIIGS fail, the EU is toast.
“Once in a great while an opportunity comes along to deliver justice to a people, giving them what they truly deserve. Greece’s time has come.
It must be dawning on all but the most obtuse member of the banking elite that they can’t possibly steal enough money from German taxpayers to save the Greek government from default. Put it off, maybe, but collapse is inevitable.”
“Why not go all the way and give the country what many of its people have been violently demanding for almost a century?
Let them have Communism.”
“If you don’t want the real contagion to spread, that is the disease of believing you can perpetually consume more than you produce, leave Greece to the Greeks and let the bankers take their lumps.”
I think too many people forget what a horror communism is (cf Van Jones). Perhaps a real live example in a European nation might serve to remind them.
As I discussed several years back on these pages, authoritarian dictatorships look better from a distance than they really are. Cheerleaders of authoritarianism, like Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, seem oblivious to this fact.
"Dictatorships look better on the surface than democracies do because authoritarian governments can paper over problems a lot easier, but the flip side is that they are also more brittle. When the problems finally do surface, it is usually when they are too big to ignore (and fix)."
While my original article targeted Putin’s Russia, I also commented on labour unrest in China. Since I wrote that piece, labour conflict there has been on the rise, to the point of becoming a serious threat to the Communists:
“The worker unrest in Guangdong is occurring at a time of protests across Chinese cities and a series of bombings directed against government offices. There has been a noticeable increase in social discontent, which seems to have been aggravated by the hardline policies of Hu Jintao, the country’s current leader.
According to one report, there were 280,000 protests in China last year. And although it is not possible to verify the number of “mass incidents,” today there are clearly many more of them than in the middle of last decade, when analysts believe there were only 80,000 to 90,000 demonstrations a year.”
“Across both the province and China as a whole, the disaffected are lashing out. “There is a growing sense of a country in danger of pulling itself apart at the seams,” as Hong Kong journalist Will Clem put it yesterday. Poor migrants in Guangdong have yet to start a full-scale insurrection and it’s too early to speak of “blood laptops” and “conflict handbags,” but these days they are in the mood to fight.”
280,000 protests a year!
This means that the average Chinese citizen now feels economically secure enough to begin making demands on the system. The status quo is going to start changing soon over there.
This according to Stratfor:
“At a Thursday meeting, the defense ministers of the Visegrad Four (V4) - a loose regional grouping of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - decided to create a battle group. The decision is significant but expected. It's significant because it shows that the V4 states are willing to upgrade their loose alliance to the security and military level. It's expected because STRATFOR has long forecast that they would be forced to take security matters into their own hands by NATO's lack of focus on the singular issue that concerns them: Russian resurgence in the post-Soviet sphere.”
This echoes some advice I gave for Eastern Europe last February on these pages:
“What the Eastern European countries need to do is to develop a rapid reaction force –within the context of NATO – for the express purpose of repelling a Russian invasion. Don’t involve the Obama-led US or the effete Western Europeans in this. They are too vacillating. To cut Russian bullying off at the pass, the real purpose of this force should be stated explicitly right away and large-scale joint maneuvers held as soon as possible afterwards. In this way they will tell the Russians by words and actions that they will hang together. The Russians will scream provocation and hurl gigantic threats at them, but let them. The Russians always try to get their way with the West by bluff and bluster.
Could such a force hold off the Russian army? I don’t know if they could win, but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that by fighting together as a unified force they would turn any Putinist invasion into a big Charlie Foxtrot.
How do I know this? Simple. Examine the performance of the Russian Army in South Ossettia in the summer of 2008. The invasion of this small, postage stamp sized plot of land containing a mere 50,000 souls, with a pro-Russian puppet government already installed, had a tragicomic air about it reminiscent of Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia. Shortly afterwards Georgian TV interviewed a Russian soldier who deserted because he hadn’t eaten in 5 days. The interview was conducted at a MacDonald’s. Russian logistics are that bad. Additionally, every single volunteer unit in the Russian Army was required to achieve what little they did. Keep in mind that these are the only units in the Russian Army competent enough to execute complicated maneuvers such as an invasion. The bulk of the Russian Army is conscripted. These troops are almost completely ineffective.”
It’s nice to see events prove me right. Of course, I am not saying these things are happening because of anything I wrote, but rather, the Eastern European governments simply came to the same conclusion that I did: that the Good Lord only helps those who help themselves. It’s best not to rely entirely on the goodwill of the US, as Obama’s election has amply demonstrated.
The DIY spirit in the East also shows that the pundits who denounce NATO as a worn-out organization with no mission are completely off the mark. They make the same mistake many columnists do when comment on events in Europe. They underestimate the increasing importance of Eastern Europe in Europe. Whether they are predicting the dawn of Eurabia, as Mark Steyn does regularly, or just issuing generic criticisms of Euro-weenie-ism, commentators usually fail to draw a distinction between Eastern and Western Europe. Much disapprobation that is valid for Western Europe is completely off the mark for the East. In Eastern Europe, the economies are far more open and dynamic, the local population more self-reliant, political correctness dismissed as Soviet propaganda-lite and the fin de siecle decadence of the EU ruling class is as widely scorned there as it is in a Mark Steyn column.
Eastern Europe is currently discounted because they are still the junior partners in Europe. But as their position relative to the decadent West changes, so will the world’s appraisal of them.
P.S. To confirm the point I made last year about the decrepit state of Russian army logistics, here is a recent news item about how Russian soldiers are fed dog food.