Day: March 26, 2007

Review of a review of a review

Norbert Strade has written a review of Edward Lucas’s Economist review of Tony Wood’s new book Chechnya – The Case for Independence , of which I’ve only so far read excerpts.

I think Norbert’s comments are justified with regard to the obvious tendency of Western media to apply to the Chechen conflict criteria and priorities that are simply not adequate to its nature. After all, it’s a conflict that really belongs, in a certain sense, to an earlier phase of modern history, and is more akin to events like the German invasion of Poland in 1939.

On the other hand, there may be other, additional reasons for the “resistance to information” of which Norbert writes. It’s unfortunate, for example, that the cause of Chechen independence should have been taken up by organisations in the West – mostly on the left wing (often the far left wing) of politics – whose commitment to democracy in general is shaky, to say the least. And sources like the propaganda website of Kavkaz Center, with its extreme anti-Western bias, also do little to help in this regard.

It still seems to me that the best hope lies with the non-political watchdogs and NGOs, both inside and outside Russia, which can at least record the humanitarian situation in Chechnya on a week-by-week basis, and can provide the missing information, even if it’s often ignored by the rest of the media.