[Marxism] Fwd: Putin’s model of success - The Washington Post

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Oct 14 07:23:47 MDT 2015

Western officials who pronounce themselves puzzled about Vladi­mir 
Putin’s intentions in Syria are missing some big clues. There is a clear 
model for the campaign Russia is pursuing on behalf of Syrian dictator 
Bashar al-Assad, a legacy that is Putin’s pride: Chechnya.

The Muslim republic in the North Caucasus and the decade-long war that 
Putin launched there in September 1999 have mostly been forgotten by the 
outside world since the dictator installed there by Putin, Ramzan 
Kadyrov, consolidated control in the late 2000s. But the Kremlin regards 
it as a “good, unique example in history of [the] combat of terrorism,” 
as Dmitry Medvedev, Putin’s prime minister, put it. Chechnya, Medvedev 
said last year, is “one of the business cards of Russia.”

What are the components of this winning formula? First, define all 
opposition to the prevailing regime as terrorist, indistinguishable from 
the most extreme jihadists. That enables a fundamental political aim: to 
eliminate alternatives. In Syria today, moderate and secular opposition 
forces arguably are getting harder to find. That wasn’t the case in 
Chechnya in 1999. The country’s nationalist president, Aslan Maskhadov, 
had won a democratic election, defeating an Islamist opponent by 59 to 
23 percent. His predecessor, Dzhokhar Dudayev, was so secularized that 
he was unaware how many times a day Muslims pray.

Russia killed them both, along with every other moderate Chechen leader 
it could find, both at home and abroad. One was murdered in Vienna; 
another in Dubai. When Western leaders pressed Putin to negotiate with 
Maskhadov and other secular moderates, he invariably responded angrily. 
“Would you invite Osama bin Laden to the White House . . . and let him 
dictate what he wants?” he demanded of one group of Western visitors.


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