SHOULDA KNOWN BETTER
Dzhokar Dudayev declared Chechnya's independence in 1991. Just like Shevardnaze did next door, in Georgia. But Moscow killed Dudayev - in April 1996, with an air-to-ground missile fixed on the bloke's satellite phone signal.
Dudayev may have been a passionate nationalist, but he was no reactionary theocrat. After all, he'd been a bomber pilot in the Soviet Air Force, and sufficiently accomplished and respected to make General at that.
By the time Moscow killed Dudayev, they'd managed to kill about five per cent of his compatriots in two years. But that was just the beginning.
When Vlad Putin gained Moscow's levers, he lost little time in showing an electorate keen to regain traumatically lost national prestige (and not without its elements of outright racism) that he was a man who would 'stay the course'. In 1999 he re-invaded Chechnya - thus dramatically exacerbating a trend Yeltzin's nonsense had started back in '91.
In short, he drove desperate Chechens into the arms of those who offered solidarity and munition. Indeed, not just solidarity and munitions, but a new way of expressing their passion for independence and their hatred for the killers of their kin-folk.
Thus did independent nationalists become jihadists, dependent upon, and duly transformed by, a mob by the name of al Qaeda.
Like you, I've just been watching but an episode of the legacy of this sad tale unfolding at a primary school in North Ossetia.
Putin knew by 1999 just how committed the Chechens fighters were, and he shoulda known committed nationalists do what they must to sustain the struggle. That's what 'committed' means. He shoulda known that enemies are always about, ready to offer friendship to your enemies … that this doesn't just strengthen your initial enemy, but transforms him, his view of the world, of what he's fighting against - even the way he fights.
And he shoulda known about al Qaeda. After all, they were established in 1988 as part of a US-concerted strategy to produce and sustain enemies against which the Soviet Union would exhaust itself in Afghanistan.
Vlad was in the KGB back then. So he shoulda known that.
We shoulda known, too.
I offer as eloquent precedent a letter received by President Harry S. Truman in February of 1946:
DEAR MR. PRESIDENT:
Our VIETNAM people, as early as 1941, stood by the Allies' side and fought against the Japanese and their associates, the French colonialists.
From 1941 to 1945 we fought bitterly, sustained by the patriotism, of our fellow-countrymen and by the promises made by the Allies at YALTA, SAN FRANCISCO and POTSDAM.
When the Japanese were defeated in August 1945, the whole Vietnam territory was united under a Provisional Republican Government, which immediately set out to work. In five months, peace and order were restored, a democratic republic was established on legal bases, and adequate help was given to the Allies in the carrying out of their disarmament mission.
But the French Colonialists, who betrayed in wartime both the Allies and the Vietnamese, have come back, and are waging on us a murderous and pitiless war in order to reestablish their domination. Their invasion has extended to South Vietnam and is menacing us in North Vietnam. It would take volumes to give even an abbreviated report of the crisis and assassinations they are committing every day in this fighting area.
This aggression is contrary to all principles of international law and the pledge made by the Allies during World War II. It is a challenge to the noble attitude shown before, during, and after the war by the United States Government and People. It violently contrasts with the firm stand you have taken in your twelve point declaration, and with the idealistic loftiness and generosity expressed by your delegates to the United Nations Assembly, MM. BYRNES, STETTINIUS, AND J.F. DULLES.
The French aggression on a peace-loving people is a direct menace to world security. It implies the complicity, or at least the connivance of the Great Democracies. The United Nations ought to keep their word. They ought to interfere to stop this unjust war, and to show that they mean to carry out in peacetime the principles for which they fought in wartime.
Our Vietnamese people, after so many years of spoliation and devastation, is just beginning its building-up work. It needs security and freedom, first to achieve internal prosperity and welfare, and later to bring its small contribution to world-reconstruction.
These security and freedom can only be guaranteed by our independence from any colonial power, and our free cooperation with all other powers. It is with this firm conviction that we request of the United Sates as guardians and champions of World Justice to take a decisive step in support of our independence.
What we ask has been graciously granted to the Philippines. Like the Philippines our goal is full independence and full cooperation with the UNITED STATES. We will do our best to make this independence and cooperation profitable to the whole world.
I am, Dear Mr. PRESIDENT,
(Signed) Ho Chi Minh
The letter was never answered and was not declassified until 1972
Ho's view of the USA, not to mention his political philosophy, might best be evinced by the opening line of a Declaration of Independence he penned for the free Vietnam of his dreams
. It went like this:
"All men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
Anyway, Harry turned Ho away, obliging him to go elsewhere for the material and ideological support the struggle would need. 60000 American boys, many of them coming into the world just as that letter was going into the archives, would die as a consequence. So, lest we forget, would three million Indo-Chinese.
And after that, it'd be the American electorate who'd feel the need to regain traumatically lost national prestige (and neither would it be without its elements of outright racism) - and so would it seek a man prepared to 'stay the course'.
It shoulda known better.
Elections don't do it for me - not like they used to, anyway. Two reasons, really:
(1) where's the future in a 'Rob's Party' when poll-pixie-par-excellance Antony Green
reveals all before you've peeled the scab off your first lolly? How fondly do I remember the days when the next three years (or some period within eighteen months of that) would hang in the balance well after you'd lost yours (not to mention a half-digested Capriciosa and 156 fl.oz. of body-temperature Cascade Draught all over your flares).
Ah, good times ...
(2) not for twenty-one years has this correspondent witnessed a Labor win moving the room to an impromptu rendition of 'The Internationale'. Nor, of sad course, should it be expected to do so - in an age where however often the monkeys are changed, the organ-grinder stands fast. Which is a pity. Lovely bit of comrade-cohering-warbling, that - and typically followed by all manner of ecstatic cuddles and stunningly inappropriate snogs, too.
It used to be such fun, being a leftie ...
Anyway, this election shall be not so much about "trust" (I know the scare-quote is naughtily pomo of me, but if pomo is all about the jettisoning of what truth and progress used to mean in favour of pastiche and empty signifiers, well, never let it be said the blogorrhoeaic is slow to discern an unfortunate trend) as it shall be about contending slanders and a matching pair of fibs about projected interest rates.
Slanders shall happen for the same reaons they're happening in America. The next half-decade promises nought but economic and strategic unpleasantness of such an order as to be beyond publicly acceptable description, never mind publicly acceptable policy, so best just to bag the other bloke about past indiscretions (whilst complaining the gutter-bound meeja's ignoring one's own daring-to-dream-yet-resolutely-practical-issues-focus, natch).
Interest rates matter because to be an Australian born since 1965 is not atypically to boast a debt/earnings ratio within about three per cent of a removalist and a visit to the Salvos. Most of all that wealth Australia's been 'creating' of late has gone into the cardies of the wrinklier A/B demographic, y'see.
Reckon the eyes through which the campaign is best to be viewed might be those of under-forties in most of NSW, SE Queensland (sans Bonner, Dickson and Moreton, Labor are gorn - and I mean Roger-Voudouris-in-brown-velour-windcheater-two-tone-bell-bottoms-with-exposed-copper-zip-and-a-Fitzroy-beanie-eating-carbs-on-a-corduroy-bean-bag-lit-by-a-lava-lamp-in-the-conversation-pit gorn - only uglier) and Townsville (Herbert).
I want Labor to win - much in the way I prefer my ageing cat's vomit to its diarrhoea - and suggest Labor be very clever in the areas of
- fibbing about interest rate projections;
- anything to do with kids;
- letting Mark get 'colourful' occasionally;
- sounding slightly the more progressive on the 'non-economic' wedge issues (eg. mentioning 'the republic' occasionally);
- getting a campaign toon that rocks just a tad;
- throwing a familiar post-GF arm around Michael Voss before The Rodent gets to him (Mark'd have to be quick, of course, but he has youth on his side) - and if the retiring Gordon Tallis gets to the GF, he'll have to be hugged, too, of course. Dangerous work - but no-one said the road to The Lodge was an easy one..