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A. Glucksmann: “Who is Terrorist, Mr. Putin?”

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A. Glucksmann: “Who is Terrorist, Mr. Putin?”

A forgotten war, a shelved case… Chechnya gradually loses its urgency. Its fate is of no concern for G-8 and its opponents in Davos, New York and Porto Alegre. One of thousands of brutal stories? And what! Today fighters for peace are concerned over different dramas, which make them move ahead, beset headquarters and shake ministerial offices. Less than 1 million residents. Disappearances, expected and realized. Hundred, three hundred thousand dead? Who knows.

Indeed. Doesn’t this silence in the whole world, and this almost unanimous lack of interest remind you of nything? Almost ten years ago the third case of genocide in the 20th century (the extermination of Tutsi in Rwanda) also enjoyed a steady, persistent, overall and voluntarily inattention. Today the world community unties the hands of the Russian army. A Chechen’s life is not worth a pin any longer. Diplomats keep silence, as well as activists who usually try not to miss a chance of organizing a demonstration and publicly declare their sympathy or hatred to imperialism (American imperialism, of course).

Nothing makes to turn away. Meanwhile, at dawn of the 21st century the worst evil thrives in totally ruined Grozny, the pre-war Chechen capital of 400,000 residents. Since Hitler punished Warsaw for disobedience, none of the European countries has had the courage to a similar demarche. The so called antiterrorist operation was carried out at a distance using bombers, helicopters, artillery. And in fact against the whole Chechen population. Although the Kremlin meant from 300 to 700 rebels (exactness – is not the strong side of their press-secretaries). In order to become famous Messrs Blair and Aznar have to learn a lot: how to bomb Belfast and rob the land of Basques.

Some doubts made Americans limit air strikes at Belgrade and Kabul. Russia is less hesitant in its actions. It is understandable, long before 9/11 the sun of antiterrorism rose in the East!

Although the military-political blockade prevents information flows, there are almost no journalists ready to run deadly risks during the night and out in the mist, it is clear: Grozny is the tenth power of Gernika. The Russian army has waged an endless war against the peaceful population, wiping it off the face of the earth and conniving at appearance of small greedy bands manipulated by their own “services” or Islamists. Rejecting any dialog with the adherents of independence, Russia plays the wrong card.

After the hostages at the Moscow theater center were freed Bush congratulated Putin with the victory, making only a casual mention of inhuman methods of the operation. However, the White House pinpointed the obvious fact that having taken hostage the defenseless spectators Barayev’s team turned into terrorists. No one seems to argue it, but we can only regret that democratic America stops its reasoning here and does not ardently condemn friend Vladimir and the 100,000-strong contingent exercising their cruel talents on the whole population of the republic taken hostage.

“To blow up dead and alive! That is the latest tactics of federal troops in Chechnya. A bright example: on July 3, 2002, in the settlement of Mesker-Yurt men and women and also children totaling 21 persons were gathered together and blown up with a grenade…” (Newsweek, October 14, 2002). Russian troops periodically do what Chechen widows failed to do at the Moscow theater with total appeasement from the side of international community.

The events in Chechnya cause decisive arguments. After 9/11 two concepts of supreme danger (i.e. two strategies) have confronted each other. The first definition by democratic states: “Terrorist is an armed person (no matter under which banner) who deliberately attacks unarmed people.” The second definition offered by the governments of Russia and China: “Terrorist is a person acting against the present authority (no matter what it is and what it is doing).” In the eyes of democrats any state or a state body professing deliberate violence against innocent people are terrorist. Whereas for Nicolas I, Stalin, Putin (three hundred years of autocracy speak out) any arguing with the state authority provokes terrorist charges and a minor disobedience causes large-scale punitive actions. In the eyes of an autocrat, the hunt after terrorists is open against all the disobedient, or those presumed. That is how we shall understand the phrase: “A good Chechen is a dead Chechen.”

This formula was invented in Russia 50 years before general Sheridan applied it to native Americans. That is why Putin does not worry when he is asked about the future fate of the civilian population of Chechnya. For the sake of the second definition he recommends curious journalists restraining their ardor.

Who is the terrorist? An enemy of state or society? If not covering each other, the two opinions are often competitive. Their inconsistency erodes the antiterrorist alliances from inside. And two significant consequences for us, Europeans, derive from here:

1. The Chechen question, is in fact not a Chechen, but the Russian question. Having resumed the three-century long war, Putin right away emphasized it is of a “demonstrative” character and shall symbolize the return to order promised to the whole Russia. The “bacchanalia of freedom” imputed to Yeltsin finished. A restoration of the “vertical of power” began. Demonstrating his tight grip without taking into consideration the disasters he causes to people, the autocrat is occupied with spiritual education of his fellow citizens. They have to contemplate the results of disobedience. A vast pedagogical enterprise: eradicating the “Chechen thistle” dear to Tolstoi at all costs, to knock the idea of freedom out of each Russian head. A total control over mass media, reestablishment of censorship and self-censorship, rehabilitation of Soviet slavery go hand in hand. Army and secret services wage a war not for oil or fear of a possible spread of separatist moods, they struggle against Russian spirituality and culture. They want to finish with the fascination – admitted by all from Pushkin to Elena Bonner – of Chechens, the nation on which the psychology of submission has no effects. (Solzhenitsyn).

2. The Russian question is not just the question of Russia, but, undoubtedly, of the entire world. A permanent member of the Security Council sets an example. If you have an A-bomb, everything is allowed to you. Can we imagine a more decisive incitement to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction? Tyrants of all the countries, make a devastating device and then make everything you want: reshape the Caucasus, kill, make people starve… One, two, three Chechnyas. One, two, three Kim Jong Ils! A total oblivion of poor Chechens shamelessly left to the military is a bad augury for the whole world.

Military expeditions befalling the Caucasus from the times of Peter the Great easily reach extremes. The Russian conquest escalates towards unlimited violence which dramatically approaches its “absolute form” defined in Clausewitz. The same guided Stalin and Beria who sent all of the Chechen to GOULAG in 1944. Unlike the absolute war, the strategy of which is incessantly under elaboration in Moscow, the Chechen resistance wages a war of survival. The great Russia demands an unconditional capitulation from tiny Chechnya. The threat of total extermination still hangs in the air. But it can only accelerate the appearance of terrorism. Unimaginable becomes imaginable.

Making Vladimir Putin a knight of the immaculate antiterrorist alliance, vouching for lies and the bloodshed he bogged down in, Europe “profanes” itself, Anna Politkovskaya regrets after 40 reports from the “hell.” The West-European community was built on a triple refusal: first, (posthumous) Hitler and racist nationalism, second, (contemporary) Stalin and his iron curtain, and third, (implicit) colonial adventures. Without a condemnation, without an initiative to block the massacre combining the methods of Stalin repression and ethnic cleansing. Europe renounces itself and swallows its birth certificate.

Half a century ago, speaking about the responsibility of the Old World which allowed Nazi to come to power, Hermann Broch voiced the grossest and the common mistake to the whole Europe: “the crime of indifference,” the possibility of abominations. Hitler and Stalin quitted the stage, there isn’t a single successor of their scope in sight, and … our indifference speaks for itself again! The “museum of Holocaust” in Washington, which can[not] be suspected of sympathies with Islamism, classes the war in Chechnya No.1 in “genocide watch.” On January 1, 2000, Putin, recently promoted, arrived in Chechnya accompanied by his wife and cameras to meet merited soldiers. In line with the New Year tradition he gave them presents – watches, hunting rifles and knives. That is how the 20th century finished. The new millenium began, marked by shots… of champagne from Paris to Rio-de-Janeiro, from the Times Square to the Red Square.

The crime of indifference, according to Ionesco, begets the societies of Rhinoceroses. Protected by a double shell from exterior and interior worlds, having neither realism nor sentiments, the European Rhinoceros is placid if not sympathetic. A desired prey for hunters and blackmailers lorgnetting its richness. And none of wild life groups, even the UN, cannot guarantee the survival of such shortsighted, egoistic species pretending to be mute.

André Glucksmann

14.04.2003

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