Are we supporting terrorists in Chechnya?

In the comments section of a post over on Winds of Change one of the commenters asked for commentary for Russian-readers on this article, West Unleashes Shahids on Russia. I quickly scanned the article and responded that it appeared to me that the writer was complaining about the soft treatment being given to Chechen terrorists in the Western press, particularly in the British press. This would seem to me to be fair comment.

Examples of this softness include a variety of codewords to describe Chechen terrorists including “freedom fighters”, “insurgents”, etc. in describing the terrorists. This failure of the Western press is, of course, not limited to Chechen terrorists.

Now Captain’s Quarters draws our attention to two articles here and here in which Putin takes European and American governments to task for meeting with Chechen separatists:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that mid-level officials in the U.S. government were undermining his country’s war on terrorism by supporting Chechen separatists, whom he compared to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. … But Putin said each time Russia complained to the Bush administration about meetings held between U.S. officials and Chechen separatist representatives, the U.S. response has been “we’ll get back to you” or “we reserve the right to talk with anyone we want.”

Putin blamed what he called a “Cold War mentality” on the part of some U.S. officials, but likened their demands that Russia negotiate with the Chechen separatists to the U.S. talking to al Qaeda.

These are not “freedom fighters,” Putin said. “Would you talk with Osama Bin Laden?” he asked.

That places things in a much clearer context.

The Russian press is not immune to this problem frequently using the word “attackers” to characterize the thugs that seized the school in Beslan (although they did use the word “terrorists”, too).

I have long thought and said that antagonizing Russia does not further our interests and that we would be far wiser in making common cause with her in fighting the terrorism that threatens us both. But are all Chechens terrorists? I doubt it. Are all Chechen separatists terrorists? I don’t honestly know the answer to this question.

I certainly believe that Maskhadov, president of the Chechen Republic, needs to separate himself from the clearly terrorist elements among his fellows as some of the more sensible Chechens are encouraging him to do. And I do recognize that this would be a dangerous move for him.

But with blood in the eyes of Mr. Putin and the Russians ambiguity will be far more dangerous to all Chechens.

As to the U. S. role, I need to do a little research on what we have actually been doing in Chechnya. I’ll get back to you.

UPDATE: Link to Beltway Traffic Jam

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