"Muscovites and other Russians closely followed the acts of the Washington sniper in recent weeks, identified with the fear and insecurity of area residents, and have been happy to see the apparent capture of those responsible. As Moscow's crisis unfolded, President Bush was among the first foreign leaders to call President Putin to extend his sympathy and help; he offered not only political but also practical support in resolving the hostage situation. But no less important to the Russian people is the simple demonstration of Americans' broader sympathy during this moment of great trial.
"As a Russian -- as a human being -- I am sorry that The Post cannot offer even that much.
Embassy of the Russian Federation Washington"
With Russophobes like Hiatt egging on the rightwingers in Bush's administration, the US imposed an utterly ruinous policy of flirtatious accommodation with the Chechen separatists. Ruinous because this policy was one of the key reasons why the 9/11 plot was not uncovered, and ruinous because of future unforeseen consequences not just in terms of our relations with Russia, but because, like it or not, the Chechens really are linked to international Islamic terrorism.
In other words: if anything clearly wasn't in America's interests, it's America's coy and cynical game vis-‡-vis the Chechen separatists.
This isn't easy to print publicly, even though I know several Western correspondents who, at the beginning of the second Chechen war, said much worse things off-the-record about the Chechens and what they deserved.
Chechenz with Attitudes
But the war is still going on three years later. It is savage and brutal, it no longer feels like revenge or giving the Chechens what they deserve for having fucked up their years of independence so badly. It's a slow, dull genocide. Like so many other genocides we ignore. It seems to have such a clear solution to civilized Westerners: Putin should simply negotiate peace with Maskhadov, shake hands, and be done with it. Yet when America bombed Serbia, the Hiatts and McFauls didn't patronizingly demand that Clinton negotiate a settlement with Milosevic; rather, Hiatt demanded that NATO keeping bombing "no matter how long it takes." Nor has he called for a political solution with Iraq. America refused to negotiate with Milosevic unless he met all their demands unconditionally; today, America refuses to negotiate with Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden at all, ever. Why would negotiation be "different" and clearly logical in Chechnya, which already has a record of a massively failed negotiated settlement, and whose dispute (are/aren't a part of Russia) is absolute and thus beyond compromise?
It would be equally absurd to pretend that the Chechens aren't hooked deeply into Islamic extremism. The Chechens separatists aren't cute, harmless rebels. They don't aspire to be; they are great fighters and proud of it. And, like it or not, a lot of them are world-class kidnappers, killers, and extortionists.
No Westerner will dare say this. The Hiatts of America and the West don't want to see it. They are as blind and simplistic in their jeering at Russia today as they were in cheering the reformers before the financial crisis.
This administration is supposed to be "realistic" about "America's interests."
So what is America's interest in fetishizing the Chechen cause while befriending just about every other minority-oppressing tyrant on the globe?
If you want "realism," here are some grim realities behind America's bizarre coyness toward the Chechens. First: Wahhabism, a Saudi export, is the preferred version of Islamic extremism among Chechen fighters. Turkey has been often fingered as another supporter of Chechen separatism, and it's no coincidence that the only Chechen terrorist operations outside Russia have taken place in Turkey. During last week's hostage crisis, the FSB traced the terrorists' consultation calls to Saudi Arabia and Turkey and their embassies in Moscow.