militants have now turned their attention to Chechnya. Here also
gangsterism, radical Islam and U.S. support blend happily together.
This summer, Chechen armed bands led by Shamil Basayev and his
Jordanian ally, Khabib Abdel Rahman Khattab, invaded the republic
of Dagestan (which is part of Russia), proclaiming their intention
to "liberate" their fellow Muslims "from the rule
of Moscow" and help them establish an "Islamic state."
Chechnya has already proclaimed itself an Islamic state and introduced
Islamic law, the shariah. The radicalization of Islam has been
going on for some years in Dagestan thanks to foreign influence.
The young go to study at Islamic institutes in the Middle East.
Muslim clerics from abroad come to Dagestan and talk of jihad.
Earlier this year, the mufti of Dagestan, Said-Muhammad Abubakarov,
was assassinated. The reason? He had opposed the radicalization
of Islam, even though he favored the introduction of the shariah.
He just did not want to pick fights with the Russians.
years, Chechen bandits have been at the heart of some of the worst
crime syndicates in Russia. The Chechens are a lot like the Albanians.
Blood is everything. Their world is organized according to kinship.
In 1996 Chechnya broke away from Moscow. And it has failed totally
as a nation-state. The chief source of income is crime. Chechens
regularly steal oil from the pipeline connecting the Caspian and
the Black Seas. They counterfeit $100 bills. And they practice
kidnapping. Since 1996 more than 1300 Westerners and Russiansincluding
women and childrenhave been taken hostage. It averages more
than one a day. The hostages are usually treated horribly. Ransom
is extracted through the use of videos that record torture and
dismemberment. Hostages are bought and sold among the various
clans like commodities. The Chechens, like the Bosnian Muslims,
enjoy the support of Islamic militants from several countries,
including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sudan. The ubiquitous Osama
bin Laden is believed to be on hand providing money, arms and
training. Indeed, our own State Dept. admitted as much the other
United States government, of course, purports to be deeply concerned
about the terrible plight of the Chechens. Last week the hideous
harridan of Foggy Bottom announced that she intends to block a
proposed $500 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Export-Import
Bank to a Russian oil company, Tyumen Oil. The money was to be
used to buy U.S.-made oil-drilling equipment. Not for the first
or the last time, the harridans reasoning was as dishonest
as it was dim-witted. Was the problem Russian policy in Chechnya?
No, it was not. She could hardly say otherwise. By law, the Export-Import
Bank is only permitted to consider two questions: Will the loan
produce jobs for U.S. workers? And is the borrower creditworthy?
In this case, the answer to both questions was yes. Oil-drilling
equipment, moreover, is not really usable for purposes of modernizing
decision had nothing to do with strategy or Chechnya: she was
driven by money and vanity. In 1997 BP bought a 10 percent stake
in a Russian oil company called Sidanco. It went bankrupt this
year and BP Amocoas it is now calledsought to acquire
Sidancos richest oil field, Chernogorneft. However, Tyumen
snapped up the oil field at a bankruptcy auction. BP Amoco was
enraged, shrieking that it had been kept out of the auction, and
lobbied like mad in Washington to try to stop the Export-Import
loan to Tyumen. Albrights mentor is Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Brzezinski is today a consultant to BP Amoco. "The Secretary
has a broader mandate and in her judgment our national interest
does include a serious concern about the rule of law in Russia
that we believe was open to question given the nature of the bankruptcy
proceedings that had taken place before this loan came forward,"
waffled a State Dept. spokesman the other day. BP Amoco and Tyumen
have now resolved all the outstanding issues between them. Yet
the State Dept. continues to block the loan. Evidently, BP Amoco
is hoping to squeeze a few more bucks out of the Russians.
history has not prepared its people to feel kinship with the West
or to regard its institutions as relevant to them
a Russian spells anarchy," Richard Pipes raved in The
Wall Street Journal the other day. Another conservative, George
Will, declared on This Week recently: "Well, the unpleasantness
over Kosovo was an Orthodox Slav population, the Serbs, brutalizing
to an extraordinary degree, a small Muslim state of Kosovo, and
thats exactly whats happening today with Chechnya."
It does not seem to occur to either man today that terrorism,
gangsterism, xenophobia, religious intolerance and good old-fashioned
looting are being promoted by the West, chiefly the United States.
It is the Russians, trying to free Grozny from the rule of criminals
and zealots, who are defending Western civilization.