L. Neil Smith's

Number 13, September 1, 1996

Backing the Wrong Army

By Vin Suprynowicz

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

         How many billions did we spend "defending" Western Europe for 45 years against the fearsome Red Army? How much do we spend to keep NATO forces there, right now?
         Modern field armies are only as strong as the industrial economies that back them, of course. Yet it now appears the CIA overestimated the Soviet Union's economic capabilities in the period 1960-1990 by a factor of 10. Is anyone starting to feel like the victim of a fraud, yet?
         When 1,500 Chechen freedom fighters attacked the large Russian garrison in the captured Chechen capital of Grozny on Aug. 6 -- the Russians have 30,000 troops stationed in the tiny breakaway Moslem republic -- "The defeat (of the Red Army) at first seemed impossible to comprehend," The New York Times reported Aug. 18. "But as Alexander I. Lebed, the national security adviser now in charge of the Russian war effort, pointed out at two news conferences this week, the leaders of the Russian forces in Chechnya are corrupt, the soldiers are poorly trained, rarely paid and badly equipped, and consequently they have no will to win."
         For weeks beforehand, reports Michael Specter of the Times, rebels told the elderly residents of Grozny to stockpile food and water in their cellars and wait for an attack on the 6th. The only people caught by surprise were the lice-ridden Red Army recruits, who had been busily selling their weapons to the rebels for enough money to buy food.
         The photos of the smoking Russian corpses in the streets, and the dancing freedom fighters, were astonishing. Independence leader Shamil Basayev got to the point in the final week of the offensive -- Aug. 10-16 -- where he ordered his fighters to stop burning Russian armored vehicles -- they found that if they just shot out the tires the Russians would surrender, leaving a usable vehicle for the Chechens.
         As of Aug. 16, "the only Russian soldiers left in the center of Grozny are corpses and prisoners," Mr. Specter reports. Three thousand Russian soldiers were surrounded in their barracks by an army of amateur teenagers, trapped with "almost no water, little food, and no avenue of escape."
         The fearsome Red Army.
         Any freedom-loving American should be ringing the church bells to celebrate this blow against tyranny. But the news has not been so well received at Bill Clinton's White House.
         Columnist Eric Margolis of the Toronto Sun wrote on Aug. 8 that once Boris Yeltsin's re-election was won, the Kremlin, which had promised to make peace with the tiny Caucasian nation of 1.3 million, "immediately resumed its savage war of extermination against the Chechen people, in which, say Moscow sources, Russian forces have killed 60,000. Yet Bill Clinton shamelessly compared the conflict to America's own civil war, and rushed Yeltsin $10.2 billion in IMF loans, half of which went to financing the Chechen war.
         "This aid came on top of almost certain, secret assistance from U.S. government in the assassination of the elected Chechen leader, Dzhokar Dudayev. The KGB had tried many times to murder the charismatic, elusive Dudayev. This column has been told that a U.S. eavesdropping satellite, and radio-locating gear provided by Washington, allowed a special KGB hit team to pinpoint Dudayev's portable phone, then saturate the Chechen president's position with rocket barrages.
         As this supposedly fatal blow to the resistance was followed up with a scorched earth resumption of saturation bombing, strafing and artillery barrages, "The west sat back," columnist Margolis reports, "impassively watching this crime unfold. No one wanted to rain on tomorrow's (Aug. 9) inauguration ceremonies of President Yeltsin. ...
         "It is sickening to watch Russia, a highly civilized, cultured nation, and supposed democracy, act with Mongol ferocity in Chechnya. It is infuriating to watch the U.S., Canada, and Europe hypocritically close their eyes to -- and even abet -- this monstrous crime. ...
         "Who are we to fulminate against terrorism, when we, too, have the blood of the Chechen people on our hands?" Mr. Margolis concludes.
         The next time Americans are tempted to wonder "What do these crazy Islamic types have against the United States?" they might want to remember the 60,000 people killed by the Russians in Chechnya in the past several years -- 4.6 percent of the population, the equivalent of 13.8 million Americans.
         If nothing else, given the way Mr. Clinton's ATF blackshirts used borrowed National Guard helicopters to fire down through the roof with machine guns, murdering women and children at Waco, freedom-loving Americans might want to make note of Mr. Margolis' report that "Remarkably, Chechen independence fighters shot down eight Russian helicopter gunships" in early August.
         Maybe they'd show us how.

Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The web site for the Suprynowicz column is at http://www.nguworld.com/vindex/. The column is syndicated in the United States and Canada via Mountain Media Syndications, P.O. Box 4422, Las Vegas Nev. 89127.

Pallas, the new sci-fi adventure novel by L. Neil Smith is out in paperback from Tor. Is there room for a socialist utopia on an individualist asteroid?
Now available at good bookstores everywhere!

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