Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Last King of Chechnya

Russia Profile has a panel discussion on the subject of the appointment of Chechnya’s new president, Ramzan Kadyrov, and its wider significance for the future of the North Caucasus.

From Stephen Blank’s contribution:
Putin’s approach updates the classical Russian strategy of empire-building under the tsars, in that it finds elites who are willing to cooperate with Moscow, co-opts them by giving them power, and then uses them to bring the province in question to heel.

Kadyrov is a particularly brutal example of this. While there is no doubt that his Chechenization has worked better than has American strategy in Iraq (and I know of nobody who disputes this), it may be saving up problems for the future because Kadyrov’s ruthlessness and power hunger may not be able to confine itself to Chechnya. But it should be remembered that Chechnya is not Iraq. Putin did what America failed to do by insulating the theater of operations form hostile media. His army is permitted to act much more brutally than any American force ever could. If the kind of systematic brutality applied in Chechnya was available as a strategy to the United States, it would be a different nation and this would be a different world.
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