Thursday, October 8, 2009

North Caucasus War and 'War making' in general

The above article was written by Paul Goble and entitled “North Caucasus ‘Comparable to NATO War in Afghanistan, Russian General Says.” I’ll quote from it and make some comments below.

“. . . Even though Moscow is claiming that Russian forces have killed more than 2100 militants in the North Caucasus over the last six years and captured nearly 6300 during the same period, a Russian general says fighting there even now is “comparable to the operation against the Taliban which NATO countries are conducting in Afghanistan.

“Lt. Gen. Yury Netkachev, who earlier commanded the Russian military in the Caucasus, told “Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye” last week that ‘the scope of military actions of the federal forces’ against “the bandits” and the size of the Russian forces involved are roughly comparable to those of NATO in Afghanistan. . .

“Both the Russian forces and the NATO forces number approximately 100,000, both have suffered comparable losses – 250 in the Russian case and 350 in the 350 in NATO’s – but, he continued, that means Russian forces are performing much worse because they face a much smaller enemy – 500 to 700 hard core militants as against to 20-25,000 Taliban.

“Netkachev made these suggestions as part of his argument that Moscow should not have ended the counter-terrorist regime in Chechnya last April, especially since the remaining militants have proved to be inventive in their use of ‘partisan and terrorist methods of struggle with the federal forces.’

“. . . this week, the Russian Interior Ministry (MVD) tried to put a positive spin on what Russian forces have achieved. But this MVD media blitz quickly ran into three kinds of trouble. First, other officials, including prosecutors in the Southern Federal District provided different statistics . . .”

“Second, officials, including these same prosecutors, said that crimes involving the use of guns and explosives had actually gone up more than 26 percent over the last year . . .”

“And third, and perhaps most important, the very figures the MVD has provided shows just how much anti-Moscow resistance there has been in the North Caucasus, thus undercutting Vladimir Putin’s frequent claims of victory and raising new questions in the minds of many Russians about whether it is worthwhile to continue the struggle there.”


Just this morning I received a response to one of my notes about dogs & veterinarians; which began with the disclaimer that she wouldn’t comment about my opinions on politics and war making. Apparently she had strayed beyond my notes on dogs, but she didn’t say exactly what she read. In wondering about what she had read, I decided I could use almost any article to exemplify my views on “war making,” this one included. War making is one of the chief characteristics of our species. We have done it for our entire history and anthropologists tell us we did it for all of our prehistory as well. Furthermore, all available evidence suggests that we are going to continue doing it on into the future.

In June I wrote an article on David Fromkin’s The Independence of Nations. . Fromkin, presupposing the widely accepted view that man is a war-making species, didn’t think the chances were good for our survival.

As to why my friend objected to my views on “war making,” I suspect she leans toward pacifism, but hardly anyone leans that way in any logical sense anymore. I wrote in June, “. . . pacifism doesn’t work, but probably only a few benighted souls on the fringe still believe in it. No government holds to pacifism; the views that predominated in Britain, France & the US prior to 1937. Pacifism didn’t stop World War II. It merely made it easier for Germany and Japan to start it. No one is unilaterally disarming today, certainly not Britain, France or the US.”

I could add, “and certainly not Russia,” and yet Russia doesn’t seem comfortable fighting against their clear enemy, Radical Islam. Russian politicians are playing political games with the threat. Is their army more or less effective than the army fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan? Sorry, my Russian friends, but that doesn’t strike me as highly important. Why don’t you instead concentrate on the fact that the Radical Islamic element of Islam is your implacable enemy? It is seeking to destroy you. You have “war making” ability, but it is geared toward the Czar’s army rushing on horseback against Napoleon. The Radical Islamists don’t fight that way, and neither must you. You are not a pacifistic nation and yet what you do is sometimes a “practical pacifism.” You don’t try as hard as you should against this enemy you can’t quite identify or explain. Unfortunately, this enemy has identified you and has his own working definition of your identity.

And it isn’t just you, Russia. We are the same in Europe and the US. There are some who think there is nothing to Radical Islam and that it will just peter out in a few years due to lack of interest, but our specie’s history suggests otherwise. Why should the Radical Islamists quit? Why should they lose interest? They think they are winning.

As to the ongoing interest in pacifism, while it cannot be logically defended, certain gentle souls embrace it (probably they must embrace it) for emotional reasons. Surely, they think, we must know we are embarked on a suicidal course. We must abolish war because it is suicidal. Alas, that is contrary to human nature. We think instead that we must continue to fight wars, because not to do so is suicidal. There is no evidence to support the idea that pacifism could work whether in the unilateral disarmament of an individual nation or the attempted disarmament of the world. But there is ample evidence to support the idea that a well prepared and well defended nation will survive.

Also, those who prepare for war will be far more likely to avoid it than those who do not do so. That too is human nature.

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