Friday, September 03, 2004

September 16, 2003 Washington, DC - Hearing before the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe on the Current Situation and Future of Chechnya.

Lord Judd of the House of Lords testifying, almost exactly one year ago:
Could I just say on that, having been a foreign office minister, what I often remark upon is that, yes, people can come back and say, of course we raised this matter with the Russians. But there is a world of difference between raising the matter with the Russians and over coffee, as it were, at the end of a visit, sort of rattling the teaspoons. I am speaking metaphorically and saying, oh, and by the way before I go back, there is just this issue, because there are a lot of human rights freaks around, and so on, who do not see the importance of our battle against terrorism, and it would be helpful.

You know what I am saying. I think one really has to set out to make this a major issue. I hope you will forgive me, just because I am repeating myself, which is unforgivable in political circles, but I just feel so, the expression I used several times in Washington in the last few days is that I have never in my political experience felt so stumped. This is an English expression taken from cricket. It means so perplexed. I just cannot see the logic of a total preoccupation with a fight on global terrorism, and then as it were almost indirectly aiding and abetting a process which is recruiting for extremist terrorists. To me, I just cannot understand where this is coming from, because to me I can see no logic for this position whatsoever.

I did not post this to take a partisan swipe at Bush for not pushing Putin harder to do something about the atrocities in Chechnya, though he should have. It's not a swipe at Clinton for not pushing Yeltsin harder, though he should have. It's not even an excuse to post some jolly British foppishness (well, maybe a little).

It's to say: this human rights stuff. It all seems so fuzzy and do-gooder-ish and tangential to the realpolitik of great powers. But this is what happens when we treat it that way. The Chechen separatists have been making unsavory friends that bring gifts of guns and nightmarish plans. The Chechens have been stewing and steaming while their relatives are shoveled into mass graves ringing Grozny, and Russia stays the course, and the international community doesn't want to ruffle feathers, and we all have other things to deal with, and a bunch of fucking children get burned alive on their first day of school. It's the monsters in masks who bear the blame, but we could have done more. Somebody should have done more.

I think that's the last from me on this. I wanted to post something cheerful for the long weekend, and this is what came out. Next week, we'll turn to back to elections and my funny friends and stupid bumper stickers. I just needed to get this out of my system for now, so thanks for bearing with me.


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