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Streetwise Professor

January 25, 2011

Won’t Get Fooled Again?

Filed under: Military,Politics — The Professor @ 8:27 pm

After laying low the day of the Domodedovo bombings, Putin made an appearance:

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed revenge Tuesday for the suicide bombing that killed 35 people at a Moscow airport — a familiar tough-on-terrorism stance that has underpinned his power but also led to a rising number of deadly attacks in Russia.

Revenge.  Wow.  Who ever thought of that before?

Like it’s worked so great so far.

That Putin has nothing better to offer than more retribution is a confession of intellectual bankruptcy.

Medvedev isn’t much better:

Medvedev on Tuesday gave a tough speech to officials at the Federal Security Service, the main KGB successor. He suggested that some of them could have been at fault and told them to do everything possible to find those responsible.

“The nest of these bandits, however they are called, should be eliminated,” he said.

Medvedev also blamed the transport police, ordering the interior minister to identify officials who should be dismissed or face other sanctions. Airport officials also did not escape blame.

“What happened shows that obviously there were violations in guaranteeing security. And it should be answered for by those who make decisions there and by the management of the airport,” he said.

Medvedev demanded robust checks of passengers and baggage at all major transportation hubs. “This will make it longer for passengers, but it’s the only way,” he said.

Beyond the fact that Medvedev is self-satirizing as a tough guy, his solution (“robust checks”) suggests that he’s channeling the TSA, which is another confession of intellectual bankruptcy.  Protecting the last target.  Not like there aren’t thousands more across Russia every single day of the week.  Every market, every big store, every train station, every Metro stop, every bar, every restaurant, every sporting event–every one a target.  So you make an airport–or even all airports–impenetrable.  So what.  The terrorists will just work their way down the target list, probably figuring that variety is the spice of life–or death, in the event–anyways.

The Israelis and Americans (in Iraq, especially) found through painful experience that fighting asymmetric threats is first and foremost an intelligence campaign.  You don’t defend, you attack–precisely, based on information painstakingly collected and analyzed.  You need to get highly granular information, especially on the leadership of the terrorists and on the engineers–the bombmakers, communications experts, moneymen.  And on the people they interact with, and on their families and contacts.  You constantly add to that information and exploit it to target the leadership and the engineers.  You kill or capture those you can, but if you don’t, at least relentlessly harry them to disrupt their planning and operations.  You need to get inside their OODA loop.  Where this has happened, in the West Bank and central Iraq and Anbar, for instance, terrorist activity has been reduced sharply.  Where it hasn’t–Pakistan, most notably–the problem is still chronic.

And it is chronic in Russia–so draw your own conclusions.  Despite the fact that they can operate with an impunity that the Americans and Israelis cannot and do not, Russia’s vaunted security services have not been able to do this.   Revenge and retribution will accomplish little.

A new meme is that the airport attack was targeted at Russia’s palpably desperate attempts to attract new investment (h/t R).  This may be an effect of the blast, but I seriously doubt that was the bombers’ calculation.  This meme reveals more about Russia’s economic anxiety than it does about the designs of the Chechens.  It is telling indeed that from the very first–mere minutes after the attack–a good deal of commentary about the bombing focused on the implications of the attacks for Russia’s investment prospects.  This tells me that this concern is foremost in the minds of the Russian elite, which in turn tells me that there is deep unease about the economic situation.

This reminds me of a story–somewhat off-color, so warning to those easily offended–that famous combat cartoonist Bill Mauldin tells in his book.*  He described how he observed in Italy that when under shellfire men put their hands over the body parts that they valued most.  Older men shielded their eyes.  The 18 year olds shielded their jewels.  We see now what the Russian elite really worries about losing.

The yawning gap between words and deeds that I mentioned in yesterday’s post is drawing considerable attention in some Russian commentary.  Time–miracles never cease–does a pretty good job of reporting this:

Taken together, these failures form a lengthening indictment of the ruling duo’s approach to the Caucasus dilemma.

. . . .

Russia’s leaders are left with few options when it comes to the Caucasus. They may no longer even have words. “The macho line can’t work this time, not even for Putin,” says Stanislav Belkovsky, a political analyst in Moscow. “You can’t pound your chest for the 150th time when the past 149 times have failed to bring any results. The Russian people can’t be fooled by this anymore.”

So as Monday’s airport bombing pushes the issue of security back to the center of the national debate, Putin and Medvedev are likely to find their usual methods dulled. They could look for scapegoats among their deputies, or they could again promise to annihilate the terrorists in the most colorful way they can think of. But neither of these maneuvers will do much to convince the Russian public that the terrorist threat is under control. The bombings are already convincing them of the opposite.

Truth be told, I really don’t think the Russian people have been fooled.  I think the real question is whether they are going to do anything about it.  Will they finally start singing “Won’t Get Fooled Again?”

Specifically, are they going to demand accountability, and not just of the poor schmuck who is head of security at Domodedovo–but all the way to the top of the vertical?  Are they going to question the perverse priorities, with the security forces going non-linear on rag-tag groups of peaceful protesters, jailing and harassing opposition leaders, while real threats to public safety can strike at the heart of the country (not just the airport, but the Nevsky Express–twice–the Moscow metro, Nord Ost Theater in Moscow, etc.)?

A friend tells me that there’s a Russian proverb that you get the priest that you deserve.  Well, quite often you get the government you deserve too.  Apathy, fatalistic shoulder shrugging at the inability of the authorities to deliver on their basic responsibilities, indifference to the one-way accountability in government, all just ensure that things will go on as before.  If Russia is going to change, that change is not going to come from the top.  It will have to come from a populace that demands something other than doing the same thing over and over with no good result.  Which means that if history is any guide, alas, change is not likely to come.

There is an international dimension to this enabling as well.

International organizations–most notably international sport organizations–have put tremendous amount of trust in Putin’s ability to secure the safety of events like the World Cup and the 2014 Winter Olympics.  The latter is particularly problematic, since Sochi is right in the terrorists’ neighborhood (though as events have shown they can strike far from the Caucasus).  Nonetheless, the IOC says it has “no doubt” that Russia will be able to ensure the Olympics are safe and secure.

How can such trust possibly be warranted?   Russians should ask: if Putin can indeed protect visitors at the World Cup and the Olympics, as he must have promised to the International Olympic Committee and FIFA, why can’t he protect us?  And the IOC and FIFA should ask given the routine failures of the Russian government in its efforts to combat terrorism, are Putin’s promises any good?  Or are the bribes just too big to pass up to raise such awkward questions?

So look to see what happens in the coming weeks.  If it is just more talk of retribution from the top and world-weary apolitical apathy from the rest, you’ll know that Russia will remain on the hamster wheel from hell for the foreseeable future.

* I think it was in The Brass Ring, but it might have been Up Front.  I read both years ago, and the story stuck with me.  Go figure.

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42 Comments »

  1. They’re politicians, not wonder workers. It’s their job to talk tough on people killing Russian citizens. There’s only so much anyone in Russia can do to prevent further attacks, and everyone should know that. There are way too many possible targets across Russia to protect all of them (or most), and it’s not practical to have everyone go through a security gate to enter a mall.

    Unless you really have a better solution to Russia’s Chechen problem (let us hear it?), jeering at the leader’s attempts (mostly successful) to handle them seems just… stupid. As it is, terrorists strike across the world, but Russia’s the only major state with terrorists operating within its borders, so it’s more difficult to defend against them. I assure you, if it were on an island far away from the middle east, Russia’d have no problem.

    Comment by Andrew #2 — January 25, 2011 @ 9:07 pm

  2. Thank you Andrew #2 for providing such a pitch perfect illustration of the very apathy and bigotry of low expectations that I discuss in my post.

    Re “too many possible targets.” Well, gee, that sounds familiar–because that’s exactly what I wrote in my post. I guess you just skipped over that part, plus the discussion of intelligence-driven counter-terrorism. Either that, or you just don’t get it.

    Re Chechnya. I wrote a post about it and Dagestan some time ago. Basic point: the fact that Russia holds onto these hell-holes with such Gollum-like intensity (“my precious”) is a manifestation of its obsession with energy, most notably energy as a geopolitical weapon, and its dreams of an imperial past. For all the talk about blood for oil in relation to US policy, there’s been very little discussion of the issue wrt Chechnya even though that’s really what it’s about. It’s what it was about when Stalin deported virtually the entire nation. It’s what it was about when Yeltsin got involved in the 90s. It’s what it’s about now.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 25, 2011 @ 9:54 pm

  3. And re terrorists operating within its borders. Even overlooking the rationality of keeping Chechnya within its borders, Israel has problems on its borders–Gaza and the West Bank and Lebanon–and its population centers are far closer to the sources of the terrorist threat than Moscow is to Chechnya–or for that matter Beslan is to Ingushetia. But the Israelis, using the intelligence-driven methods I described, have drastically reduced the number of attacks. As has the US in Iraq–where the terrorists were operating throughout the country. As did Peru with Shining Path. And on and on. So cut the bull about Russia being the only state with terrorists inside its borders. Your excuse making just proves my basic point.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 25, 2011 @ 10:04 pm

  4. I still can’t let go of the likely reality that Chechnya would never go beyond a failed state if given independence. I haven’t seen any evidence that they could handle nationhood responsibly. When they gained some level of autonomy in the 90′s, they attacked Dagestan. I don’t see how freeing a bunch of nuts is much better than Russia blundering with it as they do now. SWP, do you have a vision of what an independent Chechnya would look like? In my mind, they’d just be another Gaza, but without the Israeli babysitting. Of course, I’d never be so bold as to provide my own solution!

    Comment by Howard Roark — January 26, 2011 @ 12:52 am

  5. HR,

    Well, Russia attacked Georgia, therefore Russia is a failed state?

    Besides, well before Kazyrov’s attack to Dagestan, Chechnya had been bombed to the Stone Age for the first time during the first Chechen war 1994-96. So when thinking the causality issue the order of the events cannot be passed just like that. That is, being bombed to the Stone Age for the first time in 1994-96, it would have taken more than a few years for any nation nation to show it being able to build an independent state… And of course that would have required a major international aid campaign plus Russia stopping infiltrating/interfering the country. Both of these options failed to be realised.

    Well, what was the “cure” Russia offered for Chechnya by 1999 for preventing it becoming a failed stated?

    1. The second bombing of Chechnya to the Stone Age starting in 1999
    plus
    2. turning Chechnya to the black hole of human rights under Kadyrov.

    And still Russia has been totally unable to prevent – not only Chechnya – but actually the whole area of Northern Caucasus district from slipping to a one huge hutching house of terrorist acts that go on and on…

    So one can only wonder which is the country that DID fail… and not only once but again and again.

    Comment by Dixi — January 26, 2011 @ 6:05 am

  6. Revenge. Wow. Who ever thought of that before?

    Who? I don’t know who first came up with the idea of taking revenge on terrorists (maybe ancient Greeks or Romans?), but it is certainly the everyday terminology in Israel and here in USA. E.g.,:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1340330/Bush-vows-revenge-on-terrorists.html

    Bush vows revenge on terrorists

    Like it’s worked so great so far. That Putin has nothing better to offer than more retribution is a confession of intellectual bankruptcy.

    So, Bush was intellectually bankrupt back in 2001? Or are Americans entitled to revenge terrorism but Russians aren’t?

    Beyond the fact that Medvedev is self-satirizing as a tough guy, his solution (“robust checks”) suggests that he’s channeling the TSA, which is another confession of intellectual bankruptcy.

    Are you saying that it’s somehow wrong to borrow terrorism-fighting techniques developed in other countries? Or have you been too enthusiastically frisked by the TSA lately?

    Not like there aren’t thousands more across Russia every single day of the week. Every market, every big store, every train station, every Metro stop, every bar, every restaurant, every sporting event–every one a target. So you make an airport–or even all airports–impenetrable. So what. The terrorists will just work their way down the target list, probably figuring that variety is the spice of life–or death, in the event–anyways.

    If you find the American terrorism-fighting policies idiotic, why don’t you start by criticizing them, instead of Russians? You are an American, not a Russian, right?

    The Israelis and Americans (in Iraq, especially) found through painful experience that fighting asymmetric threats is first and foremost an intelligence campaign.

    I am not a big expert on the Israeli terrorism-fighting, although their last incursion into Lebanon couldn’t have been handled any more badly as it was. However, I do know from the latest PBS documentary on the “security-industrial complex” that the main achievement of the $tens of billions of dollars spent on “homeland security” was the tapping of phones of all Americans and the harassment of pacifists and of Catholic groups dedicated to abolishing the death penalty.

    The “underwear bomber” had a rap list longer than the equator, but the airport security didn’t stop him because his name was slightly misspelled in these files and the Homeland Security, after $tens of billions spent/wasted, hadn’t heard of the existence spellcheckers. The “underwear bomber” was stopped by his fellow passengers.

    The NY bomber too was discovered by civilians, not by the authorities.

    Where this has happened, in the West Bank and central Iraq and Anbar, for instance, terrorist activity has been reduced sharply. Where it hasn’t–Pakistan, most notably–the problem is still chronic.

    Actually, there were no terrorists in Saddam’s Iraq at all. Terrorism came to Iraq only on the shoulders of the US occupation, which brought chaos and lawlessness to Iraq.

    Where it hasn’t–Pakistan, most notably–the problem is still chronic.

    1. How badly have terrorists hurt Pakistan? Except for the murder of Benazir Bhutto, I don’t recall hearing much about terrorism inside Pakistan. Most of the victims of Paki terorists have been in India.

    2. The Taliban is the project of the Pakistanian authorities, who in turn are America’s “best friends”. And the terrorism in that region was nurtured by the CIA back in the 1980s as an anti-Russian project. So was Bin Laden.

    And the IOC and FIFA should ask given the routine failures of the Russian government in its efforts to combat terrorism, are Putin’s promises any good?

    Didn’t the Salt Lake City Olympics take place just a few months after terrorists had killed 2,000+ people in the World Trade Center and even flew their plane into the Pentagon itself (!!!) without any US air defense resistance whatsoever?

    If the IOC saw no problem in trusting that the US authorities could prevent terrorism at the 2002 Winter Olympics, why would they worry about Russia in 2014 and 2018?

    Why look for idiotic pretexes to take the Olympics away from Russia once again? Why reward terrorists and encourage more terrorist acts all over the world? Is the instinct of russophobia stronger than that of self-preservation?

    Comment by Ostap Bender — January 26, 2011 @ 6:54 am

  7. “Kazyrov’s attack to Dagestan”

    Meant Basayev’s attack (of course). A Freudian slip (?), considering that even Ramzan Kadyrov once DID kill Russian occupants for the cause of an independent Chechnya. Which (talking about failed states) did not hinder the Kremlin making (after Kadyrov having defected to the Moscow side) him a leader of a de facto independent vassal state…

    Comment by Dixi — January 26, 2011 @ 7:13 am

  8. Ostap–Wow. Even for you, that was pretty amazing. As in amazingly bad. You know how to use google, so you found that Bush used the word revenge. Clever boy. (If you are a boy.) The difference is that American policy has never been first and foremost about revenge. It has been full-spectrum, intelligence-driven, and by comparison with Russia, notably successful. In contrast, Russia has been all about revenge, and Putin in particular has been Johnny One Note on that score.

    American failures–such as the junk bomber–have too often been the result of political correctness and the abject failure to use the information available.

    Re Pakistan. Are you serious? If you follow the news even slightly you would know that terrorist incidents are epidemic there, esp. in the Territories but also in Karachi and Baluchistan. Please.

    Moreover, my reference to Pakistan was more aimed at the implications for Afghanistan, particularly the challenges it presents for applying the kinds of intelligence-driven methods that have worked in Israel and Iraq.

    Only a moron believes that anybody believes that Pakistan is America’s “best friend.” A diplomatic lie, at best. Ever heard of Wikileaks?

    I’m glad you are so blase about the safety of Sochi and the World Cup. Bought your tickets yet? Insurance?

    If you can’t tell the difference of the US even in 2002 and Russia today, it’s beyond my abilities to help you. And, uhm, have you ever even been to Utah? Are you even suggesting that there is the slightest comparison between the risk in Utah and the risk in Sochi.

    Here’s one difference. Yes, the US failed miserably on 9-11. It immediately upped its game as the experience of the last 10 years has shown. In contrast, Russia failed miserably in ’99 (apartment bombings–and that’s giving the benefit of the doubt that these were not an FSB operation), ’02 (Nord Ost), ’04 (Beslan), the Black Widow bombings (2004), the Nevsky Express (’07 and ’09), Moscow Metro (’10). Not to mention the ongoing mayhem in Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Dagestan (all within hailing distance of Sochi, BTW). (Note per Russian security sources, a four-fold increase in terrorist activity in the North Caucasus region in 2010.)

    Can you see the difference? If not, you’re beyond help.

    @Andrew #2. Another example of terrorists “inside the borders” being largely defeated–Columbia. Another–Spain (ETA). And if you want to go back further, Red Brigades (Italy) and Red Army Faction (Germany). Even the Philippines have done better than Russia with their indigenous (Muslim and Communist) terrorism problems. Ditto Thailand.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 26, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

  9. “Apathy of bigotry of low expectations..”
    I wouldn’t call my expectations low; I’d call them reasonable. I’d call yours unreasonable/too high.

    As for Chechnya, I believe it has been already dealt with, and the problem is now elsewhere. And don’t I recall hearing something about Chechnya invading Russia?

    As for the Israel comparison, there are several differences – first of all, Israel has much a smaller a border to cover. Second of all, it doesn’t have the terrorists on its own land, it borders them. Third of all, it’s richer than Russia.

    Comment by Andrew #2 — January 26, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

  10. My expectations are rooted in empirical experience, inc. all of the examples I cited. EG, why should Russia fail where Israel has succeeded despite facing more daunting obstacles? Your analysis of Israel is superficial, at best. A border is just a line on a map. Russia has historically treated many internal borders as effectively international. But actually an international border makes the problem more difficult in many ways because it limits the ability of the intelligence and security forces to operate with impunity where the terrorists do; international borders can often create safe-havens. That’s exactly the problem in Pakistan, but Israel has found ways to finesse that problem in Gaza and the West Bank. In contrast, there is no legal constraint on Russian security and intelligence forces operating in the Caucasian republics.

    The issue is how can terrorists from the Caucasus wreak havoc in Moscow. The fact that Chechnya or Ingushetia or Dagestan are formally part of Russia whereas Gaza is not formally a part of Israel is a secondary issue, or if anything cuts opposite the way you claim it does.

    And moreover, my examples of Iraq, Columbia, Spain, etc. still hold.

    Yes. Dagestan is now the biggest problem, but it’s not as if Chechnya has been “dealt with.”

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 26, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

  11. Don’t sell Putin short.
    He is working on the solutions, and I’m afraid he will be successful.
    Reading Russian forums it look like Putin has the following objectives.

    1. By pulling on a sheep’s cloth Russian bear will be able to get a free movement agreement with EU, i.e. travel without visas.

    2. Putin will start economic strangulation of the Kavkaz region.
    Now the official unemployment there is from 20 to 30%. It will get worse.
    People will move to Germany and France as soon as travel without visas is reality.

    3. Once in Germany, Muslims will claim they are Jews and demand a refugee status.
    Germany will have no choice but to give a refugee status to millions of Russian “Jews”,
    because their penises are circumcised in a standard manner.

    Later the circumcised penises will switch religion from Jewish to Muslim.
    There is freedom of religion in EU.

    Putin is a smart SOB.
    He will get an excellent cause to blame Germany for discrimination of Russian “Jews”.

    What Russians are really salivating about – it’s to join the EU and to move the Central Bank of EU to Moscow during the next economic downturn.
    They can’t wait when they will be able to print money and to buy Europe – and the whole world – with that money.
    Inflation?
    No problem. They have a device.
    When there are too many paper dollars, they will just exchange 100 euros for 1 new euro.
    After that they will continue printing the paper, making loans to Russian banks and they, in turn, making loans to Russian mafia to buy the world.

    Russians are smarter than majority of us believe.
    I’m afraid that very soon what I’ve described will become a reality.
    If O’Bum stays in the office – in a few years Putin will be well on his way.

    Comment by Michael Vilkin — January 26, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

  12. Despite the fact that they can operate with an impunity that the Americans and Israelis cannot and do not, Russia’s vaunted security services have not been able to do this.

    This is hilarious. Hundreds of Muslim terrorists, both real and imagined, have been imprisoned without trial or accountability by the US. Dozens of them were in fact murdered outright. And if Israeli commandos have little compunctions about shooting up protesters on a boat, their security services will have none when it comes to getting rid off inconvenients under custody.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — January 26, 2011 @ 4:32 pm

  13. Sub (or SOB),

    Don’t you know that Russians were executing thousands of Chechens without trial?

    Comment by Michael Vilkin — January 26, 2011 @ 8:31 pm

  14. Andrew wrote:

    “Unless you really have a better solution to Russia’s Chechen problem (let us hear it?)”

    Here is one.

    Stop occupation of Kavkaz and give those people independence.

    Here is a better one.

    Continue the war with Kavkaz people until Russian Empire falls apart because of ethnic wars.

    Comment by Michael Vilkin — January 26, 2011 @ 11:39 pm

  15. This is hilarious. Hundreds of Muslim terrorists, both real and imagined, have been imprisoned without trial or accountability by the US. Dozens of them were in fact murdered outright. And if Israeli commandos have little compunctions about shooting up protesters on a boat, their security services will have none when it comes to getting rid off inconvenients under custody.

    All true. But that does not make SWP’s comment inaccurate: even notwithstanding the above, the Russians can operate with impunity compared to the Americans and Israelis.

    Comment by Tim Newman — January 26, 2011 @ 11:39 pm

  16. How the British state dealt with the IRA is possibly instructive: persistent and patient counter-terrorism measures based on intelligence, combined with the carrot of political participation. It’s not perfect now, but at least we don’t have bombing campaigns any more.

    Comment by Gaw — January 27, 2011 @ 4:45 am

  17. Well SOB (thanks Mr. Vikin, and excellent moniker for that particular idiot), funnily enough the Russian citizens “imprisoned without trial” in Guantanamo desperately wanted to stay there. The alternative was to be deported back to the Russian federation where the Russian government tortures, rapes, murders, and even destroys the bodies with explosives, of tens of thousands of innocent Caucasian men, women, and children.

    Russian mothers plead for sons to stay in Guantanamo

    “In Guantanamo they treat him humanely and the conditions are fine,” Amina Khasanova, the mother of Andrei Bakhitov, told the newspaper Gazeta. “I am terribly scared for my son in a Russian prison or court system.”

    She said her son wrote to her that conditions were so good in Camp Delta in Cuba that “there is no health resort in Russia that can compare”.

    Camp Delta has been criticised by human rights groups for the “torturous” conditions under which inmates are held awaiting trial by a special military tribunal.

    Russian jails, where inmates may be held 20 to a cell, tuberculosis is rampant and hygiene minimal, have been condemned as “deadly”.

    Although the death penalty has been abolished in Russia, Muslim prisoners held on “terrorism” charges may be persecuted by fellow prisoners and prison staff angered by the terrorist attacks on civilians by Chechen rebels.

    Allegations of torture and beating in remand custody are commonplace. By contrast, Mr Bakhitov told his mother that in Guantanamo “everything is fine with me”.

    “They give me books here and I am held in a clean place. The food is tasty. I want for nothing but freedom. Good people are sat around me.”

    Mrs Khasanova said her son was an innocent victim of circumstances. He was arrested after he went to Chechnya in 1999, “to visit a renowned Islamic institute”. He fled from Russia to Tajikistan, and from there to Afghanistan, where he was arrested by the Taliban as a suspected KGB agent.

    “The [Russian authorities] have failed to prove he participated in any military actions [in Chechnya]. He ran from Russia because he spent two and a half months in jail.”

    Ms Khasanova is not the first mother of a Russian in Guantanamo to plead with Washington not to extradite her son to face Russian justice.

    Earlier this year Nina Odizheva, the mother of Ruslan, 29, from Kabardino-Balkaria, wrote several times to the US ambassador, Alexander Vershbow, begging Washington to resist Moscow’s calls for extradition. She said she had not heard from her son for 18 months when the Russian prosecutor contacted her to say he was suspected of being a member of the Taliban.

    Ruslan wrote to his mother that at Camp Delta “what we see around us is a complete miracle”.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/aug/09/guantanamo.russia

    Comment by Andrew — January 27, 2011 @ 6:39 am

  18. I wouldn’t want my tax dollars spent on making terrorists more comfortable…

    Comment by Andrew #2 — January 27, 2011 @ 7:16 am

  19. On each and every Russian forum Russians are bitching about America printing dollars, which is the world’s main reserve currency, and buying wealth of the world in exchange of worthless paper which is not backed by anything.

    I ask them what the ruble is backed with. No answer.
    Anyway, they want to move the EU Central Bank from Germany to Moscow.

    Comment by Michael Vilkin — January 27, 2011 @ 11:02 am

  20. The West will have a lot of trouble with SKOLKOVO, the new high-tech center in Russia.
    Scientists from all over the world are being lured to Skolkovo with all kind of baits.
    New technologies will be patented in Russia, even though most of the work might have been done in the US or other countries.

    It’s like patenting a radio or a telephone 100 years ago, and preventing everyone from using it unless everyone pays a pretty penny.
    I predict a huge mess for the West, and a home run for Putin.
    With O’Bum in the office, Putin can do anything and everything.

    Comment by Michael Vilkin — January 27, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

  21. “Andrew wrote:

    “Unless you really have a better solution to Russia’s Chechen problem (let us hear it?)”

    Here is one.

    Stop occupation of Kavkaz and give those people independence.”

    The Russian government did, in 1996.

    As a result, Chechnya devolved into a wretched hive of scum and villiany, which they then decided to export into neighboring regions of Russia.

    The newly-minted prime Miniser of Russia took a very dim view of this.

    Since 1999, when Chechen terrorists could stage multi-battalion attacks on Russia, Chechen terrorist capabilities have greatly declined, to the point that they are now capable of very small-scale operations.

    There’s probably less violence in a year in the North Caucasus than there is in Helmand in a week.

    Comment by rkka — January 27, 2011 @ 5:36 pm

  22. I don’t know how anyone calling himself a professor can argue on the topic of Chechnya and simply not know that, rkka. It baffles me. But it’s either that, or he thinks its better for Russia to have a hostile Islamic state staging incursions into Russia’s territory on its border.

    Comment by Andrew #2 — January 27, 2011 @ 5:48 pm

  23. Well, Andrew#2 (the sane one), SWP seems not to have a sense of proportion. I noted this during the 2008 elections, when he was very critical of candidate Obama’s policy on Afghanistan, having never before breathed a single word of criticism of Dubya’s decisions *that were visibly losing the Afghan war*.

    Since then, he was expressed more criticism of Barack for failing to retreive the losing position in the Afghan war Barack inherited from Dubya than he ever expressed of Dubya for getting it in that losing position in the first place.

    I have concluded from this that SWP simply has no sense of proportion on some topics.

    Dubya/Barack/Afghanistan is one of them.

    I suspect Russia is another.

    Comment by rkka — January 27, 2011 @ 7:12 pm

  24. Intelligence, shmintelligence. Russian security forces are just as proactive as the American and Israeli ones. They too recruit informants and regularly assassinate terrorists higher up in the hierarchy. The problem is corruption and apathy in general. Which makes me wonder why the terrorists even bother. Russians aren’t scared of anything. The only thing the terrorists can accomplish, is to embarrass the authorities. Perhaps that’s their real goal. While this may, however unlikely, result in a different set of people being in charge, it won’t change the policy. And they are probably used to being embarrassed by now anyway. The real problem, however, is finance. Without money there can be no terrorism, period. If Saudi Arabia were bulldozed tomorrow, most Sunni terrorism would cease to exist.
    P.S.
    The proverb is actually “As is the priest, so is the parish”. The converse is also true.

    Comment by So? — January 27, 2011 @ 8:17 pm

  25. I wrote:

    “Stop occupation of Kavkaz and give those people independence.”

    rkka wrote:

    “The Russian government did, in 1996.

    As a result, Chechnya devolved into a wretched hive of scum and villiany, which they then decided to export into neighboring regions of Russia.”

    No, Russian government has not granted independence to Chechnya.
    Instead, Putin has strangulated Chechnya economically, and that is why
    “Chechnya devolved into a wretched hive of scum and villiany, which they then decided to export into neighboring regions of Russia.”

    rkka, tell me this.
    Was Chechnya allowed to have it’s own Central Bank and print it’s own money?
    If not, what kind of independence is that?

    In comparison with Russian propaganda Nazi propaganda was innocent.

    Comment by Michael Vilkin — January 27, 2011 @ 8:35 pm

  26. Chechnya could do whatever it wanted (and did so) within its own borders between 1996 and 1999. Money is just an IOU note. If they did not print their own money, it wasn’t because Moscow forbade them. Anyway, what should Russia have done?

    Comment by So? — January 27, 2011 @ 9:07 pm

  27. So,

    If money is just an IOU note, then you are a complete idiot.

    Then Russia should eliminate her Central Bank and adopt a dollar or euro.
    Ruble is just an IOU note, right?
    Get an introductory text in economics, you moron.

    So, are you a liberal?
    If so, don’t bother to answer this post.
    Liberalism is a mental disorder.

    More likely, you are a Russian agent, blowing hot air Russian propaganda on this forum.

    Comment by Michael Vilkin — January 28, 2011 @ 3:38 am

  28. Lying scum vilkin,

    “No, Russian government has not granted independence to Chechnya.”

    Russian forces left Chechnya in 1996. The Chechens did what they wanted. They imposed Sharia law. They attacked Russia.

    “Instead, Putin has strangulated Chechnya economically, and that is why
    Chechnya devolved into a wretched hive of scum and villiany, which they then decided to export into neighboring regions of Russia.”

    Ah, so you are ignorant lying scum. Putin was a nobody in 1996 when Russian forces left Chechnya.

    “rkka, tell me this.
    Was Chechnya allowed to have it’s own Central Bank and print it’s own money?”

    If they wanted to. There were no Russian forces in Chechnya between 1996 and 1999 to stop them. Instead, they ran open-air slave markets in downtown Grozny, where hostages they took while raiding into Russia could be sold.

    “If not, what kind of independence is that?”

    The kind the Chechens wanted. The independence to do hostage-taking raids into regions bordering Chechnya. The freedom to run slave markets where the people taken in those raids could be sold into slavery.

    “In comparison with Russian propaganda Nazi propaganda was innocent.”

    Ignorant lying scum vilkin has no understanding what he is babbling about.

    Comment by rkka — January 28, 2011 @ 4:11 am

  29. Rkka,

    Take a look:

    http://www.closecombatseries.net/CCS/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&p=25828 .

    It’s not a picture from the moon landscape. It’s a “Russian made” Grozny after the first Chechen war. That was the “independence” or “chance” (or what ever you may call it) Russia was ready to “give” to the Chechens. No Russian aid and Russia blocking effectively international aid…

    Instead, the Russian “cure” consisted of:

    first bombing the country to the Stone Age and only after that kind of wishing “good luck” for the Chechen nation’s nation/state building efforts.

    And, the nation/state building mission “still” not being accomplished in less than three years (Chic!)… the bombing to the Stone Age revisited…

    Comment by Dixi — January 28, 2011 @ 5:33 am

  30. If money is not an IOU, what is it then?

    Comment by So? — January 28, 2011 @ 5:44 am

  31. Grozny was built by Russians. Most of the population of Grozny was not Chechen. So it’s not like the Chechens lost anything. Now they have a rebuilt city, 100% Russian free.

    Comment by So? — January 28, 2011 @ 5:53 am

  32. “It’s not a picture from the moon landscape. It’s a “Russian made” Grozny after the first Chechen war. That was the “independence” or “chance” (or what ever you may call it) Russia was ready to “give” to the Chechens. No Russian aid and Russia blocking effectively international aid…”

    It wasn’t just that. Chechen practices, such as massacreing Red Cross workers in their beds, or siezing Brits/New Zealanders working for a telecommunications company and holding them for ransom, then beheading them anyway after the multi-megabuck ransom was paid, and implementing Sharia law, complete with flogging/amputations/beheadings, caused the headlong flight of Western NGOs and Western companies.

    But independent Chechnya did acquuire international recognition of their independence. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, then governed by the Taliban, recognized the government their Chechen soul-mates.

    Comment by rkka — January 28, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

  33. And Dixi, perhaps the Russian government was reluctant to give aid to a government that had the practice of failing to ensure the safety of Russian government personnel sent to independent Chechnya on official business, to discuss matters with Chechen President Mashadov, under Mashadov’s guarantee of their safety, such as General Gennadii Shpigun, of the Russian Interior Ministry. General Shpigun was taken hostage while his aircraft back to Moscow was still on the ground in Grozniy, and he was never seen alive again. His body was found in 2000.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gennady_Shpigun

    Comment by rkka — January 28, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

  34. RKKA, you are lying example of the Sovok genus, as part of the ceasefire agreement Russian troops remained station in Chechnya from 1996-1999 a force of 2 brigades.

    Of course the scumbag RKKA also fails to mention the deliberate Russian attempts at destabilisation of Chechnya, such as the arming and supply of pro-moscow groups, the multiple attempts to assassinate senior members of the Chechen administration. Russian troops were captured during several of the post war attempts by Russia to assist opposition groups to overthrow the pro independence leaders of Chechnya, and Russian aircraft and AFV’s were also destroyed in these attempts.

    Rkka, idiot & liar that he is, also forgets to mention the fact that the Russians leveled Grozny, plus pretty much every other population center and piece of infrastructure in Chechnya during the first Chechen war, and refused to pay reparations or assist with reconstruction of Chechnya, hence the total destruction of the formal economy in Chechnya.

    At So?, another lying piece of Russian filth, Grozny had a large minority of Russians, a little under half (nearly 200,000) of the city’s population (just over 400,000), most of whom were raped, beaten or murdered by the Red Army bastards who bombed and shelled the city back to the stone age.

    Russia also attempted to overthrow governments in Georgia (where they installed Shevardnadze), Azerbaijan, and Armenia.

    Comment by Andrew — January 30, 2011 @ 3:13 am

  35. Oh, and RKKA, evidence has recently come to light that it was Russians that massacred the Red Cross staff in Chechnya.

    Russian secret squad killed Red Cross staff in Chechnya

    Roger Boyes

    A Russian secret service unit was responsible for the murder of six Western nurses in a Chechen hospital, a defecting agent of the Federal Security Service has told The Times at a secret rendezvous in Germany.

    The killing of the medical workers — a Spaniard, two Norwegians, a Canadian, a New Zealander and a Dutchman — ranks as one of the worst disasters in the 150-year history of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Although it took place 14 years ago, in December 1996, the crime has still not been solved and the general assumption has always been that it was the work of bloodthirsty Chechen insurgents.

    According to Major Aleksi Potyomkin, however, the Westerners were the victims of a Federal Security Service (FSB) special forces “search-and-destroy” unit that was breaking the terms of a newly negotiated truce ending the two-year war between Russia and the separatist region. Masked and heavily armed, they had engaged in a firefight with a group of Chechens before being ordered to enter the Red Cross hospital set up in an old school compound in Novye Atagi, south of Grozny.

    How does Major Potyomkin know? Because he was there; a lieutenant at the time, in charge of protecting the rear of the column as it stalked through the snow. Now he is in hiding, with his wife and three small children, in a small town in Germany, trying to arrange his defection to one of two Western intelligence services.

    The truth about the Novye Atagi killings is just one of the intelligence gifts that he has brought with him, backed up by a stolen FSB transcript of the radio traffic on that night. It is plainly intended as merely a taster: for the past seven years, Major Potyomkin has been part of a Russian undercover operation in Western Europe.

    For him, and for the FSB — the successor to the Soviet KGB — the attack on the hospital was a blunder, a case of mistaken identity. Small beer in a dirty war.

    “There was no inquiry about the operation, of course not,” said Major Potyomkin. “Why should the generals worry about a few dead foreigners when we had taken thousands upon thousands of casualties?”

    A big man with a blond wisp of a beard, Major Potyomkin paused, perhaps to consider whether his words sounded callous to a foreigner. “Ultimately it was too expensive to punish us. They had invested a lot in our training, so everything was just buried.”

    It could, however, be expensive now. If further investigation shows that this was a Russian atrocity, the families of the dead nurses would be within their rights to take legal action against Moscow.

    Certainly, the relatives have been desperate for closure. The mystery surrounding the attack has dogged the Geneva-based Red Cross for years.

    Following the organisation’s principles of neutrality, its hospital guards were unarmed and the nurses, shot in their beds, had not so much as locked their room doors. “The murders were deeply shocking and traumatic,” said the Red Cross in a statement to The Times yesterday. “It has had a lasting impact.” The organisation maintains its operations in the North Caucasus, including Chechnya, and, it says, “is regularly seeking to clarify the circumstances behind the attack”.

    The first assumption — that the attack was linked to an Arab warlord fighting on the Chechen side — proved to be a red herring. The commander, known as Khattab, had insisted that the Red Cross paint over their crosses, because they were associated with the Christian crusades — otherwise, he said, he would shell the hospital, even though it was already providing healthcare for hundreds of Chechens. The crosses were duly painted over, leaving no obvious culprit for the killings.

    Major Potyomkin’s unit had been flown to Chechnya from Moscow shortly before the operation. “This is something that we could have left to military intelligence, except that we knew that they usually blew even the simplest of tasks,” he said, showing a flash of loyalty to the outfit that he is now deserting. “So we did it — and blew it, too, in our own special way.”

    As he tells it, the mission was to destroy fighters, nicknamed borodatiye, or “beardies”. The unit split in two, with 14 men in the advance group under a Captain A. N. Sevastyanov (codename Trofim). Lieutenant Potyomkin (codename Blue Eye) was supposed to proceed about 700 metres behind, with two men, to cover their rear. He was 23 at the time, and not long out of FSB academy, and was using night-vision equipment. “I saw about twenty Chechen fighters coming across the fields, just ahead of us. It looked like they were carrying a ‘300’ towards the hospital.” (Ever since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, military slang for a wounded soldier has been “300”; for a corpse it is “200”. That was what used to be scrawled on crates carrying the tin coffins of Soviet soldiers back home.)

    A firefight ensued. About a dozen of the Chechens were killed and the rest fled. The captain received the order to check the hospital. Lieutenant Potyomkin mounted the hill of a nearby cemetery — “graves are always good cover” — to give protecting fire as the other Russians stormed in. The commanders wanted the unit to smoke out any Chechen fighters hiding in the compound. If they made contact, the unit was told, they were to “sort it out on the spot, in the usual way”.

    Then, according to Major Potyomkin, everything went wrong. Captain Sevastyanov radioed out a desperate message to his commanders; the gist of which was that the targets they had encountered within were not “ghosts” after all — the slang term for Chechen fighters. “No beardies — only foreigners!” he cried.

    When the shooting stopped the unit scattered captured Chechen IDs around the compound to make it look like a Chechen attack. The FSB men withdrew, flying straight back to Moscow — and leaving mayhem behind them.

    For the Red Cross, it was a terrible violation and prompted soul searching about whether they should arrange armed guards in certain combat zones. It was the moment when international organisations across Chechnya pulled out, fearing for their staff. The war, technically over, was still being fought — but without rules.

    Not everything adds up in the defector’s account, it must be said. The rapid progress of the FSB men through the corridors of the hospital; shooting the nurses at point-blank range; the convenient availability of the Chechen IDs — as even Major Potyomkin admits, it smacks of a planned attack.

    “Maybe the advance unit had been separately briefed, I don’t know. All I do know is that it has always a been central principle in FSB special units: if someone sees you, eliminate them. No witnesses.”

    Whatever the motives, it seems clear: Russia has a case to answer.

    As of last night, the FSB had not responded to the allegations.

    From the transcript: how the attack unfolded

    “Centre, Centre! Screw it! Blue Eye — provide cover! We’ve got problems, we’re coming out. We’ve got a 300”
    It is Trofim speaking, trying to get new orders. A “300” is slang for a wounded soldier

    “Centre! Shit, they aren’t ghosts at all in the school!”
    Ghosts is slang for Chechen fighters

    “We’ve got a f***ing 300. Centre, what kind of balls-up is this? They weren’t Russian at all in there! Who was that? No beardies, only foreigners. They have 200s [dead], three of them for sure . . . did you understand me?”

    The commander replies: “Have you stopped being able to distinguish Chechens from people? Have you got the Chekhs’ documents with you? Chuck some of them out. In the settlement — did you understand me?”

    Trofim answers: “I get it, Centre. We’ll do it”

    © Times Newspapers Ltd 2010 Registered in England

    http://freedomsyndicate.com/fair0000/times0046.html

    Comment by Andrew — January 30, 2011 @ 3:16 am

  36. Gentlemen,

    For a great laugh go to the La Russophobe blog. This organisation, which claims that its editors have spent a total of many dozens of years in Moscow and know Russia well, got this idea that the famous Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow is some woman named Domodedova:

    http://larussophobe.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/editorial-domodeadova/

    EDITORIAL: DomoDEADova

    http://larussophobe.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/domodedova-exposes-the-stark-incompetence-of-medvedev-and-putin/

    Domodedova Exposes the Stark Incompetence of Medvedev and Putin

    /////////////////

    Hurry up before they read this and correct their mistakes. Also notice the brilliant and graceful pun “DomoDEADova”. How tasteful! I wonder if she plans to fly to the funeral of the DomoDEADovo victims for a good time and to have a great laugh.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — January 30, 2011 @ 6:27 am

  37. Update: LR has heeded my advice and changed Domodedova to Domodedovo. However, various sites pointing to her blog still have “Domodedova” everywhere. This weird woman is becoming famous. I am talking about Domodedova, of course.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — January 31, 2011 @ 1:31 am

  38. Russian police arrest young men for standing with blank pieces of paper and demanding nothing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfMtvRuId4g . Terrorists can blow up anything they like, as long as they don’t look like opposition activists.

    Comment by Ivan — February 1, 2011 @ 1:06 am

  39. Dixi;

    Comment by Mark — February 1, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

  40. Dixi;

    Take a look.

    http://www.countercurrents.org/falluja_during.jpg

    It’s not a picture from the moon landscape. It’s an “American made” Fallujah after four Blackwater contractors were ambushed and killed there, and their bodies hung from a bridge.

    How’s that nation-building coming along?

    Comment by Mark — February 1, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

  41. Mark, Mark, so typical of the Russophile retard, considering that the pic in question was taken during a major combat operation.

    For an overview of reconstruction see here:

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2010-03-22-iraqcosts_N.htm

    Sure, its slower and more expansive than originally expected (thanks in large part to the Russian & Iranian supply of weapons to insurgents), but it is sure a hell of a lot more effective than the papering over the cracks of Russian “reconstruction” in Chechnya, where the Russians build housing complexes which look “ok” from outside, but contain no gas lines, electrical lines, or potable water or sewerage systems.

    And if you want to see the real “surface of the moon” look at this
    http://www.publicanthropology.org/images/Photogallery/T-ruin1.jpg
    http://img.timeinc.net/time/europe/photoessays/grozny/content/images/grozny1.jpg
    http://www.artofficial-intelligence.com/images/grozny-blackwhite.jpg
    http://www.mostdangerouscities.org/files/2010/08/grozny.jpg
    http://inspirationinformation.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/eb-grozny11.jpg
    http://www.artofficial-intelligence.com/images/grozny-city.bmp

    Comment by Andrew — February 2, 2011 @ 12:01 am

  42. @Mark–I would welcome you to make a detailed comparison of US operations in Fallujah–either time, April ’04 (Vigilant Resolve) or November ’04 (Phantom Fury)–to Russian operations in Grozny–either time. On all dimensions, including military performance or civilian casualties. Re the former, in Operation Phantom Fury, the US Marines and Army units lost 95 men in attacking an entrenched enemy in a city, and succeeded in taking it—this is virtually unprecedented, and presents a stark contrast to Russian operations in Grozny. In Vigilant Resolve, US forces suffered less than 30 fatalities. V-R was aborted due to concern about civilian casualties and collateral damage. Prior to P-F, virtually the entire population of the city fled. In V-R it is estimated that civilian casualties were on the order of 300 people.

    And given how badly broken the country was, the nation building is going pretty well.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 2, 2011 @ 11:56 am

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