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Chechnya



     Margaret MacKenzie has sent a long lament for Chechnya, of which here is part. She is the wife of David Hoosen, the U.C. Berkeley geographer who has spent most of his life studying the Soviet Union/Russia, and who now expresses his disillusionment. Margaret says:
     "There are émigré Russians here who have spoken of the Chechens as vermin who ought to be exterminated, persisting even when they as Jews are reminded that this is similar to the way Hitler spoke of them. But there are also émigré Russian academics who are Jews who disagree strongly with the targeting of the Chechens.
     Berkeley emeritus historian Martin Malia (the anonymous author of the extremely influential article on the disasters of the Soviet State several years ago) [denounced the Chechens as terrorists against whom Russia was right to use force]. Dmitri Symes said much the same in an interview on the Lehrer Newshour. Columbia University historian Cohen disagreed with him vehemently and made the case on behalf of the Chechens.
     This morning Martin Malia invoked as an extra compelling justification against the Chechens that they were responsible for the recent troubles in Dagestan, and that they could not be permitted to cause such destabilization."


     My comment: Was the American Civil War justified? If in a few decades California is overwhelmingly Mexican and wants to secede. what will, what should the American response be? The same problem may arise in Mexico, where Yucatán tried to secede and may do again. In Latin America and in Africa the maintenance of questionable boundaries was justified on the grounds that it was the only way to avoid continental warfare. It is the doctrine of "uti possedetis."
     As for the Chechens and the Jews, we must take an impartial look at the evidence. We should not idealize any people just because we feel they are persecuted. That led to the description of the Afghans as freedom fighters against the empire of evil.

Ronald Hilton - 1/4/00


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