Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

May 14, 2013

Reflections on Chechnya

Filed under: Chechnya — louisproyect @ 6:57 pm

Grozny

Aleppo

You say that there are some who say we should have been more openly critical. I think it depends upon your first premise; do you believe that Chechnya is a part of Russia or not? I would remind you that we once had a Civil War in our country in which we lost on a per capita basis far more people than we lost in any of the wars of the 20th century over the proposition that Abraham Lincoln gave his life for, that no State had a right to withdraw from our Union.

President Clinton news conference, April 21, 1996

* * * *

Washington and other western powers are playing an active part in supporting the Chechen separatists. The imperialists have stepped in to grant asylum to many of the leaders in the separatist and exile government, which has declared Chechnya, “The Republic of Ichkeria.” It is headed by Aslan Maskhadov, the provisional president. The U.S. gave asylum to Ilyas Akhmadov, the foreign minister of Maskhadov’s opposition grouping.

Party of Socialism and Liberation, December 1, 2004

They say that Saddam Hussein had an entire library devoted to Stalin. Perhaps if Vladimir Putin was as much of a scribbler as Stalin, we might expect fellow Baathist Bashar al-Assad to do him the same kind of honor since the war in Syria seems to be lifted out of the Chechnya playbook. You unleash a scorched earth policy against a civilian population and then justify it as a defensive measure against Jihadist terror.

If the left had little reason to align itself with the first Chechen war that was prosecuted by neoliberalizing bogeyman Boris Yeltsin, there was clear evidence that Putin’s war that began in 1999 would be given the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps the cue they needed could be found Anatol Lieven’s journalism. No matter that Lieven had written powerfully against Yeltsin’s intervention. By 1999 Putin had become a lesser evil in his eyes, just as al-Assad appears to a broad swath of the “anti-imperialist” left. In testimony before the Helsinki Security Commission on the question of Chechnya after 9/11, Lieven sounded like Christopher Hitchens or Paul Berman:

This must also involve a recognition that it is emphatically not in the interests of the USA, the West, or the Caucasus that the Russians should simply withdraw and Chechnya return to its condition of 1996-99. The banditry which flourished in those years was a threat to the region and to western visitors to it. The establishment of a new base for international Muslim radicalism (and perhaps terrorism) posed a threat not just to the region, but to Western interests across the world, and to US allies in the Middle East. This is a point which was fully recognized by the Israeli government long before September 11th, but which for a long time was not fully understood by the US foreign policy elite – to the genuine bewilderment and frustration of Russian officials. Before September 11th at least, few in the USA stopped to think what the US reaction would be to the establishment of a powerful group of heavily armed international Muslim radicals on America’s borders – and yet the answer is not difficult to find.

If you are looking for left scholarship that took a different tack on Chechnya, there was little to go on other than articles that appeared occasionally in New Left Review by Georgi M. Derlugian and Tony Wood. Except for these two, the general consensus on the left is that although Putin was wrong to invade Chechnya, those who fought against him were Jihadists inimical to secular and progressive values—in other words, the same tropes applied to Syria today.

In the provocatively titled “Che Guevaras in Turbans” (New Left Review I/237, September-October 1999), Derlugian made the case for the Islamist guerrillas and Shamil Basayev in particular. Basayev, who was killed by a Russian car bomb in 2006, was responsible for some of the most sensational terrorist attacks that persuaded many liberals and radicals to adopt a plague on both your houses position with respect to the Second Chechen War. While Derlugian was no apologist for terror, he provided some background on Basayev that never found their way into the customary reportage in the left press:

During his brief period as a student in Moscow, aside from the fateful Professor Borovoy, Basayev met Cubans and learned from them about Ernesto Che Guevara. The young Chechen commander carried a picture of Che in his breast pocket through the Abkhazia war of 1992–93, where he was rescuing the fellow Abkhazian mountaineers from the marauding Georgian warlords—and where he was apparently trained, supplied, and supported by the Russian military who saw their interests as lying in the subversion of Georgia’s independence.

In 1999 Basayev led an incursion to Daghestan with the intention of creating a new Islamic state that would in turn form the basis for a broader union of the North Caucasus Muslim polities. At the time his bid was seen as driven by nothing except a typically Jihadist agenda based on religious fanaticism. In his 2007 book “Chechnya: the case for Independence”, Tony Wood hones in on the socio-economic realities that made Daghestan open to Islamist intervention:

The republic is so riddled with corruption that in 2005, Mukhu Alley, then chairman of the People’s Assembly of Dagestan, but appointed its president in February 2006, admitted that ‘there is not a single post to which one could be appointed without a bribe'; a low-level police position reportedly cost $3,000 to $5,000, that of a district administration chief $150,000, while one could become a minister in the republic’s government for $450,000 — $500,000. In post-Soviet conditions of economic collapse and de-industrialization, unemployment skyrocketed, reaching 30 per cent in 1999, though the true figure is undoubtedly higher. Poverty levels were astronomical: in 1995, 71 per cent of Dagestan’s population had an income below the official subsistence level, compared to 25 per cent across the Russian Federation; by 1998, it remained at 58 per cent, compared to 21 per cent nationwide. Those on the inside of Dagestan’s neo-patrimonial order strove to reinforce it; the tens of thousands on the outside grew increasingly dissatisfied with their lot. Islamist groups were an outlet for criticism of official corruption and misrule, as well as of the complicity of the official clergy. The Islamists’ calls for equality and social justice, gesturing beyond ethnic particularities to a shared Muslim identity, inevitably acquired greater and greater resonance. Moreover, as discussed with regard to Chechnya, Salafism joined the flow of deeper social dynamics, being described by one expert as a ‘mechanism for the democratization of Dagestani society through cleansing its Islamic life of mysticism, superstition and patriarchal elements’. In sum, the roots of Dagestani Salafism are to be found in ‘the socio-economic realities of the republic, in the unbearably onerous burden of pseudo-traditional customs, and in disillusionment with the spiritual authorities’.

While Russia was primed for the reconquest of Chechnya and the eviction of Chechen rebels from neighboring Daghestan, there was some evidence that military action was made more palatable by an awful series of terrorist bombings in Russian apartment buildings in September 1999. Eventually a commission of inquiry under the direction of attorney Mikhail Trepashkin was established to identify the perpetrators. The investigation revealed that Russian secret police officer Vladimir Romanovich, who was identified by eyewitnesses, had rented an apartment in a basement of one of the buildings prior to the bombings. But Trepashkin was unable to present this evidence because the Russian secret police arrested him in October 2003 for “disclosing state secrets”. A closed court sentenced him to four years, while Romanovich was killed in a hit-and-run incident on Cyprus.

This is typical police business under Putin and the sort of thing that makes him a perfect partner for the Obama administration that is using the Bill of Rights as toilet paper to wipe its collective ass.

Putin made sure not to go easy on the Chechens, as Yeltsin had. He assembled a massive expeditionary force that was the perfect analog to Bush’s invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. As soul mates in the great Muslim-bashing game, they were made for each other as Bush once observed: “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul. He’s a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country and I appreciate very much the frank dialogue and that’s the beginning of a very constructive relationship.” Besides looking into Putin’s eyes, it helped Bush’s successor in the White House maintain this bromance on a more practical basis. In 2011 Putin signed a $367.5-million deal with the Pentagon to supply 21 Mi-17V5 transport/attack helicopters for the Afghan military. After all, what are friends for?

Once the war began, Putin demonstrated the kind of brazen disregard for human life and world opinion that is currently on display in Syria. On October 22nd 1999, Russian Scud missile attacks on Grozny’s open-air market resulted in massive casualties. At first the Russians denied any responsibility but Putin eventually was forced to admit in the face of overwhelming evidence that his forces were responsible. But he had an excuse.  “I can confirm that actually some explosion has taken place in Grozny’s market. But I want to draw attention of the press to, that we mean not just a market in the conventional sense, rather it refers to the arms market – that is how this place is called in Grozny. This is the base of weapons, an armory. And this place is one of the headquarters of the gangs. We do not exclude that the explosion that occurred there, is the result of clashes between warring factions”.

So you can see where Bashar al-Assad developed his PR techniques, from a past master of homicide and the unabashed big lie.

10 Comments »

  1. “If you are looking for left scholarship that took a different tack on Chechnya, there was little to go on other than articles that appeared occasionally in New Left Review by Georgi M. Derlugian and Tony Wood.”

    Derlugian’s book, “Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in the Caucasus”, has some brilliant insights as to how the conflicts in that region erupted post-USSR, particularly in regard to competition between establishment and anti-establishment intellectuals that emerged out of the Leninist cultural policies of the USSR. During an interview, I simplistically characterized them as a failure, and he politely chided me with the response that they worked for over 70 years. Both Derlugian and Wood properly emphasize how Yeltsin and Putin manipulated violence in the region to increase their power when the populace was restive over the implementation of neoliberal economic policies. They were able to preserve the powers of the police, the military and intelligence services because of the purported Chechen threat. In this, they foreshadowed the US response to 9/11, just as Gaddafi, Mubarak and Ben-Ali did in North Africa.

    Comment by Richard Estes — May 14, 2013 @ 8:22 pm

  2. I noticed no mention of film actor Vanessa Redgrave’s involvement in Chechnya in this article? I believe she was very active around this conflict.

    Comment by John O'Brien — May 14, 2013 @ 11:33 pm

  3. Thank you for this insightful article.

    Comment by Darwin26 — May 15, 2013 @ 4:41 am

  4. Let’s get the historical record straight re: so called “Leninist cultural policies.” To call them “simplistically” a “failure” is a mistake that should rightfully be “chided” because they actually did hold 100 languages together under socialist construction for 70 years. The problem was Stalin’s deviations from Lenin’s policies and his resorts to Great Russian Chauvinism that caused the major acrimony, among other things that Trotsky first brought to light.

    Socialist construction was always key. When the Balkans War was prosecuted by Clinton all the commercial press pundrity was aghast as the ethnic strife they claimed was around for time immemorial but they never mentioned how stable it was under Tito — nor why?

    It wasn’t for nothing Lenin once called czarist Russia a “prisonhouse of nations.” After counterrevolution was virtually complete in the USSR and the Czarist flag was waving again over Yeltsin’s Kremlin the Chechen’s declared independence, seemingly a good thing in the eyes of the Pentagon insofar as it would hasten the demise of the USSR, but Yeltsin deployed Russian troops against a small band of Chechen rebels in an attempt revive that infamous old Czarist legacy. The Russian troops slaughtered an estimated 30k people, mostly civilians, while destroying Grozny, the Chechen capitol.

    For whatever their other faults the first left organization that I know of to call Int’l War Crimes against Yeltsin re” Chechnya was the WWP. Would they have been for Pentagon military intervention to stop the slaughter in Grozny? I don’t know but that’s a pretty damned good question since they’d have done just about anything to stop those objectively Neo-Czarist troops from slaughtering such innocence. (On 2nd thought the answer would likely be no because aside from any other political principles it would’ve been grounds for the launch of WW3.)

    But here’s the rub. Under Clinton the Generals over the White House OK’d — wholehartedly green lighted — this Grozny massacre by Yeltsin’s troops against the Chechen’s, the majority civilians, virtually entirely Muslims, who naturally, like any wronged peoples, vowed revenge. (Just read Glen Greenwald’s blog for the real sources of Muslim violence today.)

    Fact is the real link between the Chechnya war was oil as this 1999 article by an historically keen class conscious author (who admittedly drives LP crazy) documents:

    http://www.workers.org/ww/1999/ussr1202.php

    By Brian Becker

    This coming March will mark nine years since the peoples of the 15 republics of the Soviet Union went to the polls to vote for the last time. The issue could not have been more vital. A simple question was put before them: Should the Soviet Union dissolve itself, so Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Khazakhstan, Tadjikistan and the other republics would become independent countries?

    Boris Yeltsin was the champion of the breakup of the USSR. The Bush [1 Sr.] administration fully supported his position on the referendum.

    For over a year prior to the vote, U.S. government officials traveled frequently to Russia to meet with Yeltsin and other dissident leaders. These diplomatic maneuvers were meant to show the Soviet peoples that if they voted to break up the socialist federation, they would receive the friendship of the United States, the end of economic sanctions by the West, and relief from the danger of a new war.

    How did they vote? On March 17, 1991, some 75 percent of the Soviet people went to the polls. To the shock of Yeltsin and his backers in Washington, the people of the Soviet Union voted overwhelmingly to retain the USSR.

    Within nine months, however, the Soviet Union was dissolved anyway, as Yeltsin and the pro-capitalist elements took power.

    Great historic developments are never decided at the ballot box. That’s a fantasy promoted by the capitalist ruling class only when it serves their interests. If an election goes against them, they ignore the outcome and use other means to accomplish their predatory objectives.

    Independent in form but dependent on imperialism

    Eight years after they became formally independent, the former republics of the USSR are economically and militarily dependent on the United States and the major capitalist countries in Western Europe.

    Concretely, governments that function as puppets of Washington and Wall Street now rule the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Kazakhstan. A tiny stratum of the population have become super-rich proxies for Western corporations while the workers and peasants have become very poor, suffering from high unemployment and the loss of rights once guaranteed under the Soviet system.

    These three republics all border the Caspian Sea. The Caspian is a landlocked body of water with no access to any ocean. It contains huge oil and natural gas deposits.

    Before 1991, the Caspian was bordered by the Soviet Union on the east, west and north. On the south was Iran. Because it was landlocked, the key to Caspian oil was its transport through an underground pipeline that traveled through Chechnya and other areas of Russia to the Black Sea.

    A new U.S. sphere of influence

    Washington has now engineered an agreement to build a new oil pipeline that will carry the Caspian oil directly through Turkey to U.S. oil tankers in the Mediterranean Sea. It is designed to bypass Russia.

    The U.S. hopes to make the Caspian Sea another Persian Gulf–that is, under total U.S. domination. A consortium of 11 Western oil monopolies, including BP-Amoco and Exxon, now controls more than 50 percent of all oil investments in the Caspian. It has agreed to finance the pipeline, which is likely to cost more than $2 billion by the time it is completed in 2004.

    The U.S. government insisted that the new conduit be built so as to bypass existing oil pipelines that travel through Chechnya, an autonomous region of Russia, and other Russian territory. A New York Times headline of Nov. 20 made the objectives explicit: “U.S. Seeks to End Russian Domination of the Caspian.”

    The headline would have been even more accurate if it had read: “U.S. Seeks to Dominate Caspian Oil.”

    While it existed, the Soviet Union was the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world. Much of its oil and natural gas fields were located in and around the Caspian Sea. The production from these fields was even greater than that of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United States.

    Soviet oil flowing from the Caspian Sea area became a major factor in the stupendous climb of the USSR, including Russia and the other 14 republics, from impoverished semi-vassal states in 1917 to the world’s second-largest economy in 60 years.

    Oil and gas production in the USSR was primarily used to meet the needs of Soviet society and industry. It was a state-owned industry. It differed from Exxon-Mobil, Texaco and BP-Amoco in that it was not used for the enrichment of a class of billionaire investors and owners. Nor was it used only for domestic consumption. Soviet oil and natural gas were sold on the world market and became a major source of hard currency earnings to buy foodstuffs and technology.

    Politics is concentrated economics

    While the U.S. government championed the cause of “self-determination and independence” for the various republics and nationalities inside the USSR, it did so with the political goal of destroying the largest socialist government. Politics is not an ideological or philosophical abstraction; it’s an expression of concentrated economics. The “economics” of imperialism meant turning over the land, labor and natural resources of the former USSR to profit-making Wall Street corporations.

    The U.S. capitalist establishment was a vigorous supporter of Boris Yeltsin and his faction in their struggle to destroy the old socialist planned economy and the Soviet state.

    U.S. billionaires did not do this as a favor to the nascent capitalist class in Russia, but for their own reasons. They didn’t want a strong and prosperous capitalist Russia. They wanted to exploit Russia the way they do Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. This is the ABCs of a Marxist understanding of U.S. foreign policy.

    A new partition of global markets

    Did Yeltsin and his anti-communist followers really think that the assistance they got from the U.S. government and Wall Street was motivated by a yearning for “individual freedom”? Or was the new Russian bourgeoisie too busy lining its pockets with the sale of privatized socialist property to care about the larger U.S. geopolitical designs to permanently weaken Russia after the Soviet Union was dissolved? If so, they can’t help but notice now.

    Yeltsin’s Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev complained at a Nov. 12 press conference that “The U.S. strategy toward Russia is aimed at weakening its international position and ousting it from strategically important regions of the world, above all the Caspian region, the Trans Caucasus and Central Asia.”

    He was defending Russia’s use of military force in its fight against pro-Western separatist forces in Chechnya and Dagestan. Both are strategic regions in Russia located close to the Caspian Sea.

    Yeltsin and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin justify their massive military attacks against the separatist forces in Chechnya on the grounds that those fighting for an independent Chechnya are “bandits and terrorists.”

    In early August 1999, a force of more than 1,000 fighters from Chechnya under the leadership of Shamil Basayev entered the neighboring region of Dagestan. The timing of the invasion is noteworthy. The Russian crude-oil pipeline monopoly Transneft had lost control of the main crude-oil pipeline running across Chechnya from Baku, in Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea, to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk. The Russians closed that pipeline and were attempting to move the oil by rail through Dagestan at the time of the Chechen invasion in early August.

    Was the Chechnyan invasion of Dagestan part of a larger conspiracy by the United States to detach the countries surrounding the Caspian Sea from Russia? This is certainly what the Russian government now fears is happening. The U.S. government would like a “permanent smoldering of a manageable armed conflict [resulting] in a weakened Russia that will help the U.S. obtain full control over the Northern Caucasus,” stated Russian Defense Minister Sergeyev at his press conference

    The U.S. is attempting to do to Russia now precisely what they have done in the past decade to Yugoslavia. In Yugoslavia, the U.S. used the loan and credit practices of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to foster the break-up of a multinational socialist state. Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia could receive credit and investment only to the extent that they broke away from federal Yugoslavia.

    At the same time the CIA and other covert operations stimulated national and ethnic rivalries by arming nationalist and separatist groupings in each ethnic community.

    Yeltsin and his advisers saw the U.S. seize Kosovo in Yugoslavia, making that province into a virtual protectorate. They certainly feared that the U.S. and NATO could do the same in the Caucasus. In fact, Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev recently invited NATO to intervene in its dispute with Armenia. Azerbaijan’s capital city of Baku is the center of oil production in the Caspian Sea.

    Socialist construction was
    the answer

    The U.S. media portrays the ethnic struggles raging in Yugoslavia and the former USSR as the incurable condition of human nature.

    But the former territories of the USSR are not simply a collection of nationalities. Classes exist in these areas, just as in the United States, Britain, Germany and Japan.

    In the Caucasus, the most multinational part of Russia, millions of workers and peasants enjoyed unity under the USSR. They sought internationalism and working-class unity against the parasitic elite groupings who promoted a reactionary nationalism so that they could help imperialism exploit the home market.

    It was precisely in the Caucasus in 1996 that the Communist vote in the last parliamentary election was greater than in any other part of Russia: 66 percent in Dagestan, 63 percent in North Ossetia, and 57 percent in Karachoy Cherkessia.

    The workers and peasants of the Caucasus and the south Asian republics of the USSR voted in the 1991 referendum to maintain the Soviet Union as a unitary state because they had a long and bitter experience of what imperialist-sponsored “independence” meant. The last time they were “independent,” in 1918-1920, British, Turkish and German troops moved in their armies and put communist workers before the firing squad.

    Yeltsin wants to prevent the U.S. takeover of the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus, but he is unable to reach these workers with a message of genuine anti-imperialist solidarity. Yeltsin represents the Russian bourgeoisie that wants to exploit the Caucasus. He represents a throwback to the days of czarist oppression when Russia served as an instrument of national oppression.

    Yeltsin can offer only bombs and tanks. But this will fail. National oppression and division cannot be overcome through force. Only the reforging of socialist solidarity, including the militant defense of the right of self-determination, can overcome imperialist manipulation.

    Lenin and the early Bolshevik Party offered proletarian internationalism in place of bourgeois nationalism and the divide-and-conquer imperialist manipulation of ethnic rivalries. In their famous appeal at the Baku Conference of 1918, the Bolsheviks electrified the poor and attracted a mass following from all nationalities in the region with this unique message:

    “Muslims in Russia, Tartars of the Volga and the Crimea, Kirgiz, Kazakhs, and Sarts of Siberia and Turkestan, Turks and Tartars of Transcaucasia, Chechens and Mountaineers of the Caucasus, and all you whose mosques and oratories have been destroyed, whose beliefs and customs have been trampled under foot by the Czars and the oppressors of Russia: Your beliefs and customs, your national and cultural institutions are henceforth free and inviolable. Organize your life in complete freedom. You have the right. Know that your rights, like all the peoples of Russia, are under the powerful safeguard of the revolution and of its organs, the Soviets of workers, soldiers, and peasants. Lend your support to this revolution and to its government.”

    The revolutionary struggle to revive socialism in the lands of the former Soviet Union, while directed first and foremost at imperialism and its lackeys, must make Lenin’s pledge a reality by rejecting Russian chauvinism and respecting the national rights of all peoples.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — May 20, 2013 @ 3:23 am

  5. A wonderful article. Thank you for posting that Karl.

    Comment by Pandora — May 20, 2013 @ 4:20 am

  6. Karl, please calm down. I didn’t disagree with Derlugian. Interestingly, he spent time in Mozambique during the 1980s where he observed the brutality of ethnic violence in an eerie foreshadowing of what subsequently transpired in the Caucasus.

    Comment by Richard Estes — May 20, 2013 @ 9:47 pm

  7. That’s about as calm as I get when somebody tries to simplistically characterize Lenin’s cultural policies a failure.

    As far as Mozambique I confess I’m largely ignorant of that history but do know that, as Breaker Morant famously said: “That’s what comes from empire building.”

    Call me old school but I still hold the view that just like Stalinism, virtually every case of atrocity committed in the name of Marxism-Leninism can be forensically traced back to imperiialist turpitude.

    Even the late liberal Spalding Gray summed up why Pol Pot & his crew in Cambodia were so blood thirsty: they were driven mad into eating lizards & tree bark from a relentless US bombing campaign.

    For those who haven’t watched “Swimming to Cambodia” you need to Netflix it ASAP.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — May 20, 2013 @ 10:52 pm

  8. “That’s about as calm as I get when somebody tries to simplistically characterize Lenin’s cultural policies a failure.”

    The context for the question was that Derlugian had just spent about 20 minutes explaining about how competing cultural elites within the Caucacus, elites elevated and funded by the USSR pursuant to its nationalities policy, played a prominent role in fueling ethnic violence in the region. So, the question was a reasonable one, as was his answer. I suspect that a lot of people listening to the interview were already thinking about it before I asked it, so I gave Derlugian an opportunity to elaborate upon something that was probably in the minds of the listeners.

    I second your recommendation on “Swimming to Cambodia”, it is a great film, beyond the political content, it is a marvelous exposure of political tourism, a cautionary note about the transformation of historic events into entertainment. Gray’s contrast of the lavish meals and accomodations provided to the staff and cast of the film, the joys of frolicking upon Southeast Asian beaches with the violence and starvation associated with the Pol Pot regime is provocative, especially because of his willingness to display is own complicity in it. I saw it on cable about a year and a half ago. It stands the test of time.

    Comment by Richard Estes — May 21, 2013 @ 5:57 pm

  9. I just see it as much simpler than the 20 minute academic lecture.

    Privileged elites who were forced under the remnants of the Bolshevik Constitution to pay 10% of their wages for rent while greasy factory workers only had to pay 5% longed to undo socialist construction in favor of bourgeois restoration a la Perestroika and viola! — you get ethnic strife.

    Same thing in the Balkans, and to a certain extent, same thing in Africa, albeit the material foundations for socialist construction there were always far more precarious, being a Cold War proxy & thoroughly ensqualored by imperialist turpitude & therefore vastly more complicated.

    ["Ensqualored" is a word I just coined FWIW by combining enslaved with squalor and I think it's apropos for how the white man's bungled up Africa -- for as the old adage goes: when the White's first came to Africa they had all the bibles and the Blacks had all the land. Now it's the other way around.]

    [One last note about proxies in general and the cold war in particular: it's an irrefraggable historical fact that the only real aggressor in the so-called "Cold War" (which really started in October 1917 and not 1948 as bourgeois mythology has it) -- was Uncle Sam.]

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — May 21, 2013 @ 10:38 pm

  10. “I just see it as much simpler than the 20 minute academic lecture.”

    It wasn’t a lecture. It was question and answer with someone who comes from the Caucasus, someone who spent a lot of time there with the people directly involved in the conflict.

    Comment by Richard Estes — May 22, 2013 @ 3:42 am


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