Chechnya and Kosovo: Alliances with

Michael Pollak mpollak at
Tue Jan 4 17:39:29 PST 2000

Nathan Newman said:

> The Taliban has few friends in the Islamic world, so Afganistan is a
> special case. The rising Islamic movement of the Caucasus is a far
> different phenomenon with allies throughout the Islamic world.

On the contrary, Afghanistan is key to understanding the entire region. The Russians became the bad guys in the eyes of the region's Islamists 20 years ago when they invaded Afghanistan, which is why there is no substance to your idea that they have good will to fritter away. The opposition to this invasion was supported by US money and personnel recruited from throughout the Islamic world, but especially Saudi Arabia. The US supported these groups because anything that discomfited Russia was fine by us. Countries like Saudi Arabia encouraged their radicals to join up both because they could reap the credit as defenders of Islam and because they thought it was an escape value that turned the energies of such people away from their own regime. The result has been a cadre trained in both fanaticism and weapons use. With the end of the war, they have exported these skills throughout the region with bad effects for the people that live there, and bad effects for the local sort-of superpowers, Russian, China and India.

By your reasoning, the US support for the Mujahadeen was a good for national interests and was something the left should have supported. I think you are wrong on both counts. And the same goes for supporting their direct descendants throughout the region today.

If the US would like a policy that would make world Islam hate us less, we should stop starving children in Iraq. That's a policy that could be accomplished in a penstroke. It would save 10's of thousands of lives almost immediately. And that's something the left should support. Not overlooking the faults of mercenary fanatics.

> Unfortunately, much of the global left seems to be on the anti-Islam
> side in Kosovo (especially with the amount of racist propaganda that
> circulated against the Kosovars) and is not particularly vocal on the
> Chechnya issue - a positioning that matters to me far more that of
> Russia. There was an implicit enemy (Serbia-Russia) of my enemy (US)
> is my friend argument going on in these conflicts

This seems to be exactly the strategy you are proposing, Nathan. Because a few dumbheads went beyond legitimate criticism of the KLA to demonize Albanians, you think the left should support the KLA. What is that if not an enemy of my enemy is my friend strategy?

To this you seem to be adding the even less interesting strategy of smearing your opponents by treating their least loveable minority as a representative view. The vast majority of the small number of American leftists that opposed NATO's war in Kosovo did it not because they were demonizing the Albanians but because they were against the demonization of the Serbs. If you are against demonization, it seems to me you are on the wrong side in this struggle. You are throwing your weight in with the dominant demonization -- dominant in the US, dominant in the world, and dominant on the left.


__________________________________________________________________________ Michael Pollak................New York City..............mpollak at

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