The nation is an essential building block of international society. A nation is a group of people who are more or less united around a common language, culture, religion, race, ethnicity or some other identifying factor. It is almost entirely subjective, and the only way to determine whether a nation exists is to interview its members--other methods will probably fail. Nationalism is a political movement wherein members of a nation seek to express their identity by forming a separate political unit--a state. Chauvinism and xeno-phobia are the dark sides of nationalism--a feeling that one's nation is not only unique and special, but inherently superior to others, with the implica-tion that other nations are either irrelevant or threatening. Self-determination is the legal concept that allows all nations the right to establish a state of their own--at least in principle.
As we consider the troubles in Chechnya territory within the Russian Federation--it is useful to imagine a hypothetical. Suppose the United States was made up of only 75 percent white English speakers. Suppose further that each of the various Native American tribes that inhabited the present terri-tory of the United States back when the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth rock still retained their original powers, along with territory, representatives in the Congress, and so forth. Imagine that they also retained their old rivalries and mutual suspicions, such that periodic wars broke out in various seg-ments of the country. Imagine the slaves that were liberated by the Civil war had all migrated to, say, the Rocky Mountains and now represented a power-ful faction in the Congress. Also imagine that each of these actors retained their own languages, cultures, social structures and so forth. Finally, imagine that the central government in Washington was being pressed to grant each of these groups full autonomy within a loose confederation and that federal troops were being attacked all around the country.
This bizarre-sounding scenario is not too far from the reality of Russian politics today. As a result of hundreds of years of conquest and dismember-ment, the Russian Federation is a nation in name only. Even after the break up of the Soviet Union which spawned fifteen new states, the question of governing a multiethnic state remains. In Russia, there are at least forty-eight distinct ethnic groups, most of which have their own language, cul-ture, religious traditions, social structures and historical identities that make them as distinct from (and sometimes hostile to) each other as they are from the Russian majority. Note that our ignorance of their ethnic identity in no way diminishes its importance to those who possess it.
"CIVILIZATION" AS AN INTERNATIONAL
With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Cold War came to an end. This prompted a number of interna-tional relations scholars to ask whether some new overarching conflict would replace the cold War as the defining struggle of our time. Samuel Huntington provided an interesting answer in the concept of a "clash of civ-ilizations.'' (Huntington 1996) To Huntington, a civilization is more than a nation--it encompasses many nations and usually spans a continent. It refers to a grouping of people around core beliefs about how the world works and how mankind relates to it. It usually involves attitudes about the nature of God, man's capacity for independent action, the basic place of man in society, and so forth. It touches on questions of individualism vs. commu-nitarianism, the scientific method vs. faith-based knowledge, freedom vs. structure, and so forth. Huntington identified seven such "civilizations": Western, Latin, African, Confucian, Hindu, Slavic and Islamic.
These civilizations are by their nature in competition and conflict with each other, and the differences are irreconcilable. Whereas distance and lack of technology prevented these groups from interacting, they are now in almost constant contact. Where two civilizations abut each other, Huntington predicts the conflicts will be particularly intractable. This is apparent in Pales-tine, Bosnia, Kashmir, Afghanistan and other areas. The concept has also been used to explain Islamic terrorism in the West. It is clear that Osama Bin Ladin sees his role as a vanguard in the struggle between Islam and the West. He has used such terminology in explaining the September llth attacks (CFR 2004).
While it may seem that the Islamic civilization has "bloody borders" (as once put by Huntington, 1999), it is also clear that the concept of "civiliza-tion'' raises as many questions as it answers. Why, for example, have most wars involved members of the same civilization? And why did so few of these types of conflict manifest themselves during the Cold War? Why can countries from different civilizations have long-standing warm relations? Those who challenge the "civilization" concept point out that Western cul-ture has shown remarkable "portability" in the sense that the principles of the Enlightenment have been embraced by almost society in the world. Francis Fukuyama has argued that Western culture is destined to expand globally by virtue of its vitality and inherent appeal (Fukuyama 1992). Bruce Russett and those who emphasize globalization as a means toward international cooperation point out that democracy, that most Western of institutions, has appeared in every region of the world (although it has admittedly had better success in some areas than others--Russett 1993). Still others stress the difficulties in spelling out exactly what is meant by "cul-ture'' and then applying that definition to the real world. The fact is that most societies embody several competing cultures--note that even in the United States there are "culture wars" that pit secularism against traditional religion. And once you've found a civilization, there is no guarantee it will stay put---culture is dynamic and ever-changing.
This said, the case of Chechnya seems to become more clear once we fac-tor in cultural elements. Huntington himself has argued that Chechnya is an archetypal case of a clash of civilizations since we find a Slavic society trying to control a Muslim one. He therefore predicts that there is unlikely to be a negotiated settlement of this dispute any time soon.
A THUMBNAIl. SKETCH OF THE CHECHEN PEOPLE
The roughly one million Chechens (a name assigned by Russian invaders--they call themselves Nokhchii--Dunlop 1998, x) have their roots in the Cau-casus Mountains since the Stone Age (see Map 13.1). For centuries they lived here in relative isolation, organized in clans (teips) somewhat like the Scots. They nurtured a warrior culture dominated by men who encouraged family loyalty, although they also organized quasi-democratic structures similar to the Iroquois Nation encountered by American colonists 300 years ago. Each teip enjoyed equal status and no single leader dominated--except during military crises. Their military tactics involved small raiding bands and care-ful use of the topography of the region--which they naturally knew far bet-ter than any invaders (Dunlop 1998, 20).
It was not until the Middle Ages that the Chechen people became subject to a more powerful external actor: Islam. The religion spread to the Cauca-sus beginning around 600 A.D., but affected each national community differ-ently. Those in Dagestan to the east developed a more orthodox and militant form of Islam, while the Chechens embraced a more mystical and magical
THE RUSSIA-CHECHNYA CONFLICT
Aslambek Aslakhanov Chechen member of the Russian Duma and rival to Kadurov. Offered a senior job by Putin to take him out of the running.
Shamil Basayev Chechen rebel leader, described as a threat to the U.S. by Dept. of State. Not to be confused with the 19th century militant of the same name.
Gen. Dzhokar Dudayev Elected President of Chechnya by the National Congress of Chechen Peoples in 1991. Declared the independence of the oblast.
Yegor Gaidar Opposition leader in mid-1990s, leader of Russia's Choice party.
Pavel Grachev Minister of Defense
Akhmad Kadyrov Administrator of Chechnya prior to elections in 2003. A moder-ate Muslim legal expert, he opposed Russian occupation during the first Chechen War, but became a favorite ofVladimir Putin when he condemned Shamil Basayev's efforts at creating an Islamic state. He governed the area after the second Russian invasion, was elected President in 2003 and assassinated in 2004.
Khattab Chechen rebel who tried to form alliances with al Qaeda.
Asian Maskhadov Chechen rebel leader, successor to Gen. Dudayev in 1996.
Vladimir Putin Russian President, 1999-.
Salman Raduyev Chechen rebel leader.
Sergei Shakhrai Deputy RM. and a Cossack (ethnic rival of the Chechens) assigned to head up negotiations on Chechnya's future status.
Boris Yeltsin President of the Russian Federation, 1991-1999.
NATIONALISM AN D
THE RUSSIA-CHECHNYA CONFLICT
Peter the Great annexes Chechnya.
Sheik Mansur is defeated after holding out against Russian troops for six years.
1 81 7-1864
The Chechen War. Russians consolidate control over the region.
USSR moves to consolidate control in Chechnya and the Caucasus.
Soviet leaders in Moscow empty the region of Chechens, evacuating 400,000 to Central Asia.
Chechens are gradually permitted to return to Chechnya.
Chechens appeal for union republic status. They are denied.
Gen. Dzhokar Dudayev elected President of Chechnya by the National Congress of Chechen Peoples as the group declares the region's independence. Boris Yeltsin becomes President of the new Russian Federation after the dismemberment of the Soviet Union. Chechnya is not granted its independence, unlike the fifteen former Soviet Republics.
Yeltsin assigns Sergei Shakhrai, the Deputy P.M. and a Cossack (ethnic rival of the Chechens) to head up negotiations on Chechnya's future status.
Shakhrai forms the government of Umar Avturkhanov to replace that of Dudayev. Russia provides the new regime with weapons.
Moscow-Grozny talks break down.
November Yeltsin and the Security Council order an outright invasion of Chech-nya by Russian troops. Russian Air Force begins attacks on Grozny. Roughly 100,000 would die during the first Chechen war. Russian troops storm Grozny.
April Gen. Dudavey is killed by Russian troops and is replaced by Asian Maskhadov, who retakes the capital Grozny.
August Alexander Lebed is dispatched by Yeltsin to negotiate a peace, leading to a postponement of a decision on Chechnya's final status until 2001.
February Asian Maskhadov is elected president of Chechnya. What follows is a period of lawlessness dominated by a struggle between the warlords, organized in the Majlis-ul Shura (People's Council) and dominated by Shamil Basayez, and Maskhadov's government.
September Shamil Basayev launches attacks on apartment buildings in Moscow and elsewhere.
October Russia invades Chechnya a second time.
December Premier Vladimir Putin is elevated to the presidency by Yeltsin upon the latter's resignation. He is elected to the position in March.
February Russian forces control all of Chechnya. Akhmad Kadyrov is installed as interim leader.
June First suicide bombing by Chechen rebels in Grozny kills two Russian special police.
July Multiple suicide attacks kills scores of Russians in coordinated, syn-chronized attacks.
October Moscow theater attack involving "black widows"--Chechen suicide bombers who are survivors (widows, daughters, sisters) of Chechen terrorists who have been killed by Russian forces. Many carry slogans written in Arabic. The assault by Russian security forces includes a gas attack that kills all the hostage takers and 129 of the 800 hostages.
December Suicide bomber kills 70 in Chechnya.
July "Black widow" kills herself and 15 others in a suicide bombing at a rock concert in Moscow. A total of 200 were killed in twenty suicide bombings across Russia in 2003.
March 23 Referendum in on Russian-drawn constitution for Chechnya--widely criticized as premature and manipulative. About 25,000 "perma- nently based" troops joined in the voting. Turnout was high and the proposals were approved by 96 percent.
September Kadyrov forces seize opposition media prior to the presidential elections.
October 5 Presidential elections held in Chechnya. Akhmad Kadyrov, an Islamic law expert and Putin protege, wins in tainted vote.
August Two Russian civilian aircraft are downed by Chechen rebels, resulting in ninety deaths.
May 9 Akhmad Kadyrov is assassinated in a bombing that took more than a dozen lives.
June Maskhadov leads a raid into Ingushetia, killing dozens of policemen.
August Presidential elections held in Chechnya. Alu Alkhanov wins elec-tion in which his principal rival was removed from the ballot on a "technicality."
September Chechen rebels seize a large elementary school in Beslan in southern Russia and take 1,000 students and teachers hostage. As rescue work-ers retrieved twenty bodies, an explosion erupted, causing children to run away in a panic. As the hostage-takers proceeded to gun down the fleeing children, Russian security forces opened fire. Twenty of the hostage-takers were killed (although perhaps that many escaped) and over two hundred hostages died.
HISTORY OF CHECHNYA'S CONFLICT WITH RUSSIA TO 1990
Russia was an unwelcome intruder to the Caucasus in the sixteenth century when Ivan the Terrible first launched probing attacks in the hope of easily expanding his empire. It was Peter the Great, however, who invaded in the early 1700s and established Russian dominance for good. The region was annexed in 1722, although it would take Catherine the Great's efforts to sub-due the region in the 1760s (Dunlop 1998, x).
Russia's intervention prompted a violent backlash by the Chechens who rallied behind Sheik Mansur. I-Ie led on the basis of religion and proved more successful as a preacher than a military commander. After holding off the Russians for six years, he was defeated in 1791. The new Russian ruler, Viceroy Aleksei Yermolov ruled with an iron fist, deporting killing and ter-rorizing opponents. In spite of this, the Chechen resistance persisted. The period 1817-1864 has been described as the Chechen War. Sheik Shamil, himself from Dagestan, obtained the support of the Chechens in his struggle against Russian imperialism. As a religious figure, he was able to appeal to Islam to mobilize large numbers of Chechens who were able to defeat the Russians in a number of pitched battles. His legacy has been mythologized and serves as a potent symbol of Chechen independence even today (Lieven 1998, 304). His life ended violently, however, as Russians hunted him down and, after killing him, expelled roughly 100,000 Chechens from the area. As many as 75,000 of these refugees later died in disease-infested camps. It has been estimated that Russians killed roughly half of the Chechen population over a period of one hundred years (Dunlop 1998, 20).
Chechens gradually migrated back to their homeland beginning in the 1860s and proved to be a useful ally to the Boshevik revolutionaries in 1917. It did not take long before Chechen demands for autonomy ended the alliance, however. By 1925, the Communsits in Moscow had launched a pacification program reminiscent of czarist tactics. Once their power was established, the Russians attempted to remove key elements of Chechen cul-ture, including the language (as well as Arabic script) and the religion. The army was called in once again to quell a rebellion in 1929 (Dunlop 1998, 59).
Rebellions occurred in 1939 and 1942. Frustrated by the distraction this caused to the war effort, Russians acted in 1944 with what can best be described as genocide. Roughly 400,000 Chechens were forcibly removed and relocated to central Asia. Many died in transit and as many as 150,000 died in the camps (Fleming 1998). Meanwhile, Ukrainians and Russians were brought in to take over the homes and farms of those who had been expelled. They proceeded to change the place-names, local histories and everything that connected the Chechens to the area. After two hundred years, the Russians had finally subdued the Chechens. Or so it seemed.
With Stalin's death in 1954, the Chechens were permitted to gradually return to the region. They were not, however, permitted to occupy their homes and farms but instead had to settle for apartments in the cities where they were often a minority. Mikhail Gorbache,~, however, was the first Soviet leader to show the Chechens the respect they craved. After his ascension in 1985, he received delegates from the region who requested greater autonomy. While they were granted additional rights and status, they were denied the thing they most sought: status as a union republic. As a mere autonomous republic, Chechnya had only limited autonomy from Moscow. More impor-tant is the fact that, once the Soviet Union collapsed, it was only the union republics that were granted full independence. Chechnya was not so lucky.
THE FIRST CHECHEN WAR: 1990-1996
Chechen leaders, beginning in November 1990, began to assert their own independence from Moscow. Duko Zavgayev, the Russian-appointed ethnic Chechen who presided over the area's Communist Party hierarchy, approved the formation of the National Congress of the Chechen People (OKChN) in hopes of appeasing nationalist elements. General Dzhokar Dudayev, a Russian general, was elected its chairman. For the next nine months, Chechen leaders jockeyed for position in the fast-moving political environment. By August 1991, demonstrators demanded the removal of Communist Party leadership in favor of the OKChN committee. They pre-vailed on September 6, when Zavgayev resigned and turned power over to the committee under the leadership of Hussein Akhmadov and General Dudayev. On September 15, the party structure dissolved itself and was replaced with a pro-Moscow Provisional Supreme Council (VVS). Dudayev's forces announced the dissolution of the council three weeks later and went on to win parliamentary elections on October 27th. On November 2, 1991, the National Congress formally declared independence from Russia.
Boris Yeltsin, the new President of the Russian Federation, responded to the declaration by imposing martial law on the region (although this deci-sion was reversed by the Russian Parliament). The military attempted to impose order by disarming Chechen fighters, but more often than not it was Russian soldiers who surrendered their weapons to the Chechens. Some estimate that Chechens collected almost 25,000 automatic rifles during 1992 (Lieven 1998, 64). The Russian troops were eventually withdrawn in June.
While Chechnya positions itself against Moscow, it did little to secure the support of its neighbors. Ingushetia to the west, with which it shared many cultural traits, was disappointed in Grozny's lack of support for its territorial claims on neighboring Ossetia. This led the Ingush to side with Russia in the coming conflict. The regime in Grozny also alienated would-be allies in Georgia to the south by providing asylum to rebels who were fight-ing the regime in Tblisi. Some support flowed from Chechen expatriates liv-Lng overseas, but to a large extent the Chechens were isolated against Russia (Lieven 1998, 97).
Throughout the 1992-1994 period, Dudayev fought off numerous con-tenders, relying increasingly on nationalist appeals and a confrontational foreign policy to secure public support. He also became increasingly depen-dent on the mafia and other gangster elements as his capacity to impose order throughout the region ebbed. Would-be challengers were as often as not divided against each other, which meant Dudayev could maintain control over the central government for the time being (Lieven 1998, 68). Ruslan Khasbutalov, for example, emerged in mid-1994 in the hope of overthrow-ing the regime, but when promised Russia failed to materialize, he was defeated. Still other militant factions followed military leaders Asian Maskhadov and Shamil Basayev.
As conditions in Chechnya deteriorated and guerrilla groups organized increasingly successful raids into Russian territory, the Yeltsin government made preparations to launch an all-out attack on Grozny--the first of sev-eral ill-fated military ventures. Yeltsin attempted to coordinate offensive operations with Dudayev's rivals, only to have repeated assaults go awry. On one occasion, opposition forces took their cue from Moscow and launched an assault on Dudayev's forces, only to pull back when Russian air support failed to come (Siren & Fowkes 1998, 110). Having failed to work closely with local militants, Yeltsin decided to launch a full assault using mecha-nized Russian divisions. Quick and easy victory was expected.
Beginning in early December 1994, Yeltsin attempted to coordinate a leaflet-drop on Chechnya to warn all parties to lay down their weapons. On December 11, Russians began bombing selected targets in the hope of stir-ring up a rebellion against Dudayev. The combination of these two actions has the reverse effect. All Chechen grouips drew closer together, which prompted the spontaneous mobilization of hundreds of fighters in the mountains and left Russia facing a united, armed Chechen population for the first time since the 1940s. On December 18, 1994, Russian troops moved into northern Chechenya and on into Grozny with roughly 100,000 troops and 200 tanks.
The tanks met with determined resistance the first of many instances when Chechen fighters would take advantage of their mobility, familiarity with Grozny streets, and canny tactics. The roughly 6,000 Chechen fighters in Grozny (of which only 3,000 were active at any one time) had only a few hundred well-trained fighters, but they had considerable supplies of weapons, often taken from Russian soldiers. Their weapon of choice was the antitank grenade launcher. Marksmen positioned themselves in the upper stories of apartment buildings and waited for the Russian tank columns to proceed single-file down narrow streets. A single shot at the first and last tanks in the column would immobilize the entire unit. The rest could be destroyed by less proficient fighters (Knezys & Sedlickas 1999, 19). In December, the Chechens were able to turn back the Russian army within two days. The Russians withdrew to the northern sections of Chechnya in January 1995. Conditions in Grozny continued to deteriorate, however, as refugees streamed out of the city, leaving behind the sick and elderly in squalor and fear. Russians reoccupied Grozny in late January after a period of sustained bombardment. The Chechens regained control of key build-ings in June. Once it was clear that the fighting was stalemated, a cease-fire was agreed to in October. When fighting resumed in 1996, the Chechens were mostly on the defensive. In April, Dudayev was killed in a Russian rocket attack.
Under the direction of Shamil Basayev, Chechen fighters launched a counter-offensive in August 1996. Russians were targeted and pinned down in remarkably effective strikes. Eventually, the Russians were relieved, but not before it was made clear to Boris Yeltsin that a military victory was impossible. By the end of 1996, the Russian army had fully withdrawn from Chechnya.
IHE SECOND CHECHEN WAR: 1997-2000
For nearly two years, Chechnya and Russia had an uneasy and often violent peace. With Russian troops gone, Chechnya held presidential elections that were won by one of the heroes of the war--former chief of staff Aslan Mah-skadov. He attemped to carve out a more productive relationship with Moscow while pressing for independence at every opportunity. He and Yeltsin signed a formal peace agreement on May 13, 1997, described at the time with great optimism as the end of centuries of conflict.
From 1997 to 1999, order broke down in Chechnya. Militants carried a string of terrorist attacks in Russia and Dagestan, culminating in the assassi-nation of Russian General Gennadi Shipgun and the bombing of a Russian apartment building. Leaders in Russia were under pressure to put an end to the attacks and by the fall of 1999 were making plans to reinsert the military into northern Chechnya (Gordon 2000). Vladimir Putin (newly-appointed Prime Minister and soon-to-be President) brought his reputation as a hard- liner on the line.
On August 8, 1999, Russian helicopter gun ships attacked Chechen mili-tants who had infiltrated into Dagestan. As the fighting intensified, Russians attacked other areas in Chechnya and quickly occupied the northern half of the country. On October 3, Russians bombed Grozny in preparation for a land assault involving 100,000 troops. By November, Grozny had fallen into Russian hands and organized resistance had come to an end.
THE HISTORY SINCE 2000
Putin installed moderate Islamic legal scholar Akhmad Kadyrov to govern the province until elections could be held. Other Chechen leaders such as Asian Maskhadov and Shamil Basayev were driven underground and began to adopt a more extremist philosophy. The influence of foreign Islamic terror networks increased once the Russian dominance was consolidated (Bowers, Derrick & Olimov 2004).
The hopelessness of the situation for some Chechen separatists con-tributed to their adoption of suicide bombing as a weapon (Hilsum 2004). As early as mid-2000, just a few months after the Russian invasion, suicide bombers struck Russian troops in and around Grozny. The number and audacity of the attacks increased gradually until roughly fifty Chechen rebels, including a dozen women (so called "black widows" sworn to avenge the deaths of their husbands and brothers killed by Russian troops), seized a crowded Moscow theater in October 2002. Russian forces, frus-trated by an extended stand-off, used a nerve agent to paralyze the attackers and their hostages (roughly eight hundred theater-goers and theater person-nel). The dosage was incorrectly measured, however, and in addition to killing the hostage-takers, 129 of the hostages were also killed.
Vladimir Putin is determined to end Chechen resistance and has rejected any calls for a negotiated settlement. He described the Chechen rebels as lawless Islamic terrorists and his war in Chechnya as a front line in the battle against al Qaeda. What is perhaps ironic about his characterization is that while probably not true in 1999 when the war broke out, it seems to be increasingly accurate. Foreign governments questioned the validity of this portrayal, but generally muted in their criticisms of what have been widely described as draconian measures (Baev 2004, 343). President George Bush applauded Russian support in the war against al Qaeda following the September llth attacks, while Europeans applauded Putin's opposition to Bush's war in Iraq in 2003. The result was considerable room for maneuver in his antirebel policy.
Putin sought to give legitimacy to the counterinsurgency measures by holding a series of elections in 2003 and again in 2004. In early 2003, the gov-ernrnent in Moscow and the appointees in Grozny collaborated to draw up a new constitution. The result, however, was criticized by human rights activists as regressive in that it granted the region less autonomy than other parts of the Federation and required the use of the Russian language in offi-cial business (CRS 2004, 202). Tens of thousands of Russian troops were allowed to participate in the vote on the grounds that they were on perma-nent deployment. The elections themselves were only loosely monitored because of the precarious security situation (one of the reasons for interna-tional skepticism about their fairness) and the outcome was not widely respected. The reports of 96 percent approval for the constitution was too high to command respect (CRS 2004, 202). In October, Akhmad Kadyrov was elected with 81 percent of the vote, although important opposition can-didates were either disqualified or induced to withdraw.
The measures did not, however, stem the violence. Chechen militants became increasingly violent against each other, the Russian military and the Kadyrov regime. Kadyrov himself stopped counting the number of assassi-nation attempts against him. In August 2003, two Russian commercial air-craft were downed within hours of each other, resulting in ninety deaths. Then in May 2004, Kadyrov himself was felled in a bombing that took a dozen of his staff and other bystanders. Finally, in September 2004, Chechens took hostage one thousand children, parents and teachers in a school in Beslan in southern Russia. After three days, as ambulance workers came to extract the bodies of twenty victims of early violence, a melee ensued. Children and others ran for their lives as the hostage-takers opened fire. Russian forces returned fire, killing most of the rebels. The final death toll was well over two hundred, many of them children.
Given the violence on both sides, the prospects for a peaceful solution are remote. The Russian occupation seems to be coinciding with an increased role for Islamic militants in the region--something one author calls "Palestinization" (Khatchadourian 2003). Moderates are either killed or marginalized while extremists are locked in a battle of ideology, religion and revenge. An estimated 100,000 Chechens and 25,000 Russians have died since 1994, while more than 250,000 Chechens are refugees. At least three thousand have been buried in fifty mass graves around the region. Thus far, no one has demonstrated the capacity to exercise authority in the area with any approximating civil rights or rule of law. As put by Nabi Abdullaev, "the Chechen conflict is not so much about who will govern Chechnya. It is about whether Chechnya will be governed at all." (2004, 333). Memorial, the Russian human rights group, has called for a negotiated settlement leading to Chechen independence. Although this may be the only solution to the on-going terrorism, it is doubtful that it will give the Chechen people peace and justice.
Should Chechnya be independent?
Arguments in favor of independence typically refer to the following: (1) the principle of self-determination requires that each nation that wants to govern itself should be permitted to do so. (2) Governing Chechnya has proven nearly impossible for Russia, and so it would save itself a great deal of expense and grief by letting it go. (3) It will be impossible for Russia to control Chechnya without committing numerous human rights violations in the future.
Those opposed point out: (1) Chechnya has demonstrated that it is incapable of governing itself, and so allowing it to become independent would only result in massive human rights violations. (2) Many who live in Chechnya do not want the country to be independent, and so it is not entirely clear what "self-determination" would lead to. (3) Allowing Chechnya to become independent will threaten the integrity of the Russian state and promote violence across the continent.
——Questions to Consider——
1. Are Chechens genuinely an extension of the Islamic world, given the many differences with other Muslim societies--Dagestan, in particular?
2. Which factors take precedence: Religion? Ethnicity? Historical griev-ances? Competition between elites?
3. How does Russia's policy in Chechnya compare with other cases of great power actions overseas, such as the Vietnam War, Iraq War, or other cases of major power intervention?
4. Is the rebellion in Chechnya primarily a nationalist movement or an extension of global Islamic terrorism?
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