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September 30, 2007


(Posted by John.)

What's a wingnut to do?

The New York Times reports that, wonder of wonders, life is returning to some semblance of peace in Grozny. The NYT attributes this in no small part to the iron-fisted rule of Moscow's local bastard, Ramzan Kadyrov. But you've got to wonder how the Bush-sycophants read an article like this. On the one hand, you've got an endorsement of the "more rubble, less trouble" mania they're so fond of. On the other hand, the guy getting most of the credit is a muslim. On the other other hand, he's a Sufi muslim (are they friends for the US, or not?) On the other other other hand, he's a tool of the Kremlin and Putin -- and Vlad Putin's basically one war from being the next Hitler at this point, right?

Oh wait.  The nutters don't believe anything printed in the New York Times.  Nevermind.

In other eastern European news, the Prime Minister of Ukraine is running for parliamentary elections using Bob Dole's advisors.  Bizarrely, he seems to be poised to win.

One of the interesting elements in both these stories is the continuing ability of Russia in particular, and the FSU in general, to confound prediction. You could say it about any country over a decent time span (try predicting American politics 4 years from now!) but what shocked me is how quickly Yuschenko in Ukraine went from being saviour to Satan, and how quickly Yanukovich was put back in the PM's office.

You could also point to Turkmenistan, where the death of (crazy crazy crazy) dictator Saparmurat Niyazov seems to have given the Turkmen government the idea of trying to break Russia's monopoly on natural gas pipelines -- something I daresay Moscow didn't see coming when Niyazov died in December.

September 30, 2007 | Permalink


Ukraine has been politically divided since 2004 between the West + North (Ukrainian speaking) and East + South (Russian speaking). Results are still coming in tonight, but basically it looks that not much has changed. This stuff about Yanakovich's "big comeback" is just Western journalists who haven't been paying attention or don't really understand the political dynamics of the country. Yanakovich had the support of most of the East and South in 2004 and he still does today. He still has very little support in Western Ukraine. What really happened is that Tymoshenko and Yushchenko fell out with one another and with the third party in their coalition and this gave Yanakovich an opening to put together a coalition in parliament.

As for Chechnya, this would be a model for Iraq if Iraq were monoethnic (i.e. find some local thug to be your client and give him money in exchange for him buying off or wiping out your enemies). Unfortunately Iraq is not which makes things much more messy. The US seems to have had some success cultivating local elites in the "Sunni triangle." It is just that this approach doesn't scale up to the entire country . . .

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