The Cable News' Instant Experts on Chechnya

Recommended reading: 10 Essential Points about the Boston Marathon bombers, Islam, and America

Chechnya is a fairly remote region. There are few people on TV with actual expertise about Chechnya. Most of these “instant experts” go to Wikipedia to get their information. Because of the 24-hour news media, we now have created a cult of instant experts who need to be able to fill the airways now about Iraq, now about Afghanistan, now about Chechnya, without necessarily having set foot on these places, knowing their languages, their history, or spoken with their peoples. Complex geo-political realities are collapsed into cliché tropes of “jihad” and “terrorism.”

....Here is one simple revelation: Read the Wikipedia page on Chechnya, and then see how many of its phrases show up in the sound bites of these instant experts.


For more accurate information on Chechnya, try this and this.

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    You see the samething in all areas... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by redwolf on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 11:10:24 AM EST
    The media generally knows less than anything about almost any subject.  They're their to entertain, not inform.

    Half of them probably think... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Dadler on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 01:13:28 PM EST
    ...it's the Czech Republic, another quarter Czechoslovakia, the last quarter are too busy buying new hairspray to listen.

    Given the two very sharp and ... (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:42:29 PM EST
    ... bloody wars between Russia and Chechnya over the course of a decade starting in 1994, which resulted in the near-total destruction of the Chechen capital city of Grozny, I would expect the media to demonstrate a wee bit more institutional memory than they've thus far shown us. Most certainly, one shouldn't simply dismiss Chechen anger over the latest rounds of Russian brutality against their people as being part of an overall context of some vaguely defined international Muslim jihadist movement.

    (Yeah, Slado and Zero, I'm talking to you. You want to see what Christians are capable of doing to Muslims, open the above link. WARNING: Some of the photos in that link, which is part of a Russian-language photo journal from the First Chechen War, are quite gruesome in nature and are definitely not for the timid and squeamish. But if one wants to truly understand the horror that the Russians visited upon the Chechen people, they're worth a view.)

    Officially, the Russian military casualties in the First Chechen War (1994-96) were 5,500 dead, although most other reliable estimates place that number as probably closer to 14,000 killed. For their part, Chechen guerillas suffered upwards of 30,000 dead, and upwards of 100,000 Chechen civilians were killed from aerial bombardment by Russian planes. Further, as many as 500,000 to 750,000 civilians were displaced by the initial Russian invasion and subsequent fighting, which resulted in a negotiated Russian withdrawal from Chechnya once their occupying army in Grozny came under seige by Chechen fighters in the surrounding mountains, and Russian forces outside the region proved unable to break the guerillas' grip and relieve their compatriots.

    The secessionist Chechen government subsequently proved to be very ineffectual in maintaining any real authority over the country outside the capital. Following Vladimir Putin's succession to power in the Kremlin, the new Russian president ordered his armed forces to re-enter Chechnya and re-assert his government's authority over what had clearly devolved into a lawless region ruled by local warlords, who in turn had freely invaded the neighboring Russian state of Dagestan.

    The Second Chechen War, which began in the summer of 1999, resulted in the additional deaths of apparoximately 11,000 Russian soldiers and 16,000 Chechen guerillas, along with another estimated 25,000 civilians died in the crossfire. Another 200,000-plus Chechen refugees fled the resumption of fighting to neighboring states. Only this time, more than 600 Russian civilians died in Russia proper when Chechen militants began carrying out terrorist reprisals in Moscow and elsewhere.

    (Those reprisals against Russian civilians, including one particularly brutal attack in September 2004 in which 186 schoolchildren and 148 adults were taken hostage and then killed in the southern Russian town of Beslan, drew near-universal condemnation from abroad and did much to dampen and alleviate what had heretofore been strong internationalist sympathy for the Chechen cause.)

    The Chechen people, like their neighbors in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, have historically suffered greatly at the hands of the Russians. Josef Stalin went so far as to deport the entire population of Chechnya in the mid-1940s to Kazakhstan and Siberia, because they took advantage of the German invasion during the Second World War to rise up against their Soviet masters. They were only allowed to return to the Caucasus region beginning in 1957, at a time when Nikita Krushchev was seeking to bolster and secure his own standing as Soviet leader by undoing much of his predecessor's reviled legacy.

    It is that brutal backdrop of carnage in Chechnya which the Tsarnaev family sought desperately to escape in the late 1990s. Unfortunately, the unyielding emotional toll from that remorseless conflict may have followed them as they tried to rebuild their lives in America. And while we're still far from certain this is the case, it's also entirely possible that the Caucasus region's freewheeling history of violence and reprisal may have reached out and consumed their two sons.


    Nice summary (none / 0) (#12)
    by Slado on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:59:05 PM EST
    but not sure why you called me out.

    These boys were seduced by militant Islam.  The question is were they true believers or used this as an excuse to justify their need to feel important.

    I would suspect that latter.


    When I really don't know, Slado, ... (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:22:12 PM EST
    ... I try to qualify my opinions and not state them with such rigid certitude. I certainly don't think I did so in this case. I singled you out here because you stated:

    "Just heard someone on MSNBC saying this was not a jihadist act because these guys where Chechn (sic) and that conflict has nothing to do with Islam. Sorry, not true. Not sure why we need to sugar coat this?"

    Honestly, how do you -- or for that matter, that particular "someone on MSNBC" -- know what's true and what isn't in this matter? I mean, we're still in the discovery phase of an unfolding investigation -- but yet, according to you, it's all pretty cut and dried, and you're "not sure why we need to sugar coat this[.]"

    Any responsible and competent investigator in a criminal case is going to let the facts of that case lead him or her to their logical conclusion, rather than jump to conclusion and then look for evidence to support it. When you approach said investigation with a preconceived notion or inherent bias -- i.e., it had to have been a Muslim because "we" all "know" how "they" are -- you run serious risk of jumping the rails and allowing the real perpetrators to get away, because you may well have allowed yourself to focus on the wrong individual(s) for the wrong reason(s).

    For my part, I can't begin to tell you what these two brothers' alleged motivations were to do what they've been alleged to have done. All I can impart here is that (a) they come from an extraordinarily troubled region of the world that's all too often fallen off our own country's radar, and (b) it's not at all inconceivable that their own particular worldview may have been adversely affected by the two recent and brutal Russian invasions of their homeland.



    Good Morning Donald (none / 0) (#38)
    by P3P3P3P3 on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 04:07:01 AM EST
    this sentence seemed odd

    > The Chechen people like their neighbors in Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan have historically suffered at the hands of the Russians. Joseph Stalin went so far....

    not that it is inaccurate, just that Joseph Stalin is Georgian

    your last sentence seems to imply there is a cultural link to certain things ie terrorist violence, which I'd agree with

    I do recall bombings done in Russia by Chechens, here is the theater one


    Donald (2.33 / 3) (#22)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:50:10 PM EST
    did you actually call the Soviet Union "Christian?"

    Why yes. Yes you did.

    That is so wrong.

    But, at the same time, it is just so "you."


    When Russia first invaded Chechnya ... (4.20 / 5) (#27)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:22:13 PM EST
    ... in 1994, the Soviet Union had already been dead and buried three year prior, and the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) under the leadership of Patriarch Alexi II had officially been resurrected as the predominant faith within the Russian Federation, a process commenced when Mikhail Gorbachev came to power and instituted the policies of Glasnost.

    Prior to that and during the Soviet era, the ROC was often politely tolerated and people attended worship services and practiced their faith, but all too often Church leadership acted as though it were little more than just another functioning Apparatchik of the Soviet State. In that regard, it's worth noting that George Trofimoff, who to this day remains the highest-ranking U.S. military officer ever to be convicted of espionage by the United States, had actually been recruited into the KGB's service by Bishop Igor Susemihl, who was the ROC Metropolitan in Vienna.

    History books are your friend, Jim. Were you and your wingbat friends to actually crack one open sometime, rather than listen to oxycontin-addled blowhards on wingbat radio, you all might be really surprised at what you'd learn.

    But more to the point, do you ALWAYS have to be so damned obtuse?

    Look, I'm more than happy to treat your opinions exactly as a child hopped up on sugar would a piñata at his birthday party. But honestly, this latest comment of yours in which you allege that I called the Soviet Union a "Christian nation" -- which I most certainly did not -- is just plain ol' incredibly stupid, even by the low standards to which I already hold you.



    Why gosh, Donald (none / 0) (#37)
    by Slayersrezo on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 02:13:35 AM EST
    So let's get this straight:
    You are basically claiming the Soviets invaded Chechnya for RELIGIOUS reasons? For Christian religious reasons?

    My goodness, and you play-act a historian so well!
    Yet you haven't supported your statements one bit.

    Here's a hint, "Perfessor": You might want to look into the levels of religion in Russian society and compare them to levels of religion in Chechnyan society.

    Then ... you can slowly open your mouth... and insert your foot.


    Geezuz (5.00 / 2) (#42)
    by cal1942 on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 09:53:14 AM EST
    Slayer, your reading comprehension score for today is zero.

    Just incredible.


    Then perhaps, "cal" pal, you can explain (none / 0) (#43)
    by Slayersrezo on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 11:32:23 AM EST
    What his point was, since he responded to a post of mine about religious theocracies with a few seemingly "so what?" things about the Orthodox Russian church.

    But of course you can't.


    And yes, I saw the 1994. (1.00 / 1) (#25)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:53:14 PM EST
    lol (none / 0) (#48)
    by jondee on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 12:42:13 PM EST
    Christian is as Christian does..

    The days of conservative snake handlers and circuit riders and Sean Hannity thinking they can just say  "I'm a Christian" and that's the end of the discussion have been over for a longtime.

    There've always been some communists who've acted more like Christians and some Christians who act more like Leninist-Stalinists.

    As far as "Christian nations" go, the Germany of the thirties and forties was a self-proclaimed Christian nation.


    wikipedia (2.00 / 1) (#10)
    by P3P3P3P3 on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:55:35 PM EST
    mentions Bill Clinton's controversial pardon for the FALN terrorists

    Does it do so... (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by unitron on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:16:52 PM EST
    ...in connection with Chechnya?

    Relevance? n/t (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by Yman on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:39:27 PM EST
    Perhaps is is Non Sequitur Day (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Anne on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:51:04 PM EST
    and someone forgot to tell us...?

    Puerto Ricans, the Viet Cong, Muslims, ... (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:47:38 PM EST
    ... what's the difference? Non-Anglo is non-Anglo, especially when we're talking about defending our American way of life here.

    Of course, the problem for some of us when it comes to defending that American way of life is that, to quote John Cleary (Jack Albertson) in the 1967 drama The Subject Was Roses, "The humping I'm getting isn't worth the humping I'm getting."



    my short comment (1.50 / 2) (#39)
    by P3P3P3P3 on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 06:58:27 AM EST
    adds to the conversation, which I did not want folks to believe that I am advocating for the Republican party, I am willing to give criticism where I consider it due, over all Bill and Barack made/make good Presidents, we generally tend to express our comments more in dis-satisfactory complaints rather than compliments when they "do the right thing", back during another era they did kill the messenger of bad news, now-a-days they just shoot the pizza delivery guy.....might sound sexist but I support equal pay for equal work, tips not included

    "Sister Sarah" Palin, as running mate for the ol' mule, brought attention to certain folks in the Democratic party "palling around with terrorists", which has quite a bit of truth in there....

    it is good to check out the problem/issues while they are simmering, it avoids swingin', when folks feel their concerns are being heard and addressed, there is less likelihood of the pressure cooker blowin' it lid, oh, and for my Jewish friends, just because I criticize Israel doesn't mean I am anti semite, I agree with many liberal Jews (Labor) against the Neo-Cons, again, depends on the issue

    "TalkLeft deals with the politics of crime", when Democratic President Bill Clinton pardons rightfully imprisoned FALN terrorists, it undercuts the criminal justice system, and all those injured, and the deceased family members, the extremes in the party tend to sympathize and lend their help in advancing those that would do harm to others and innocent bystanders, known as law breakers (aid and comfort to the enemies of civil society) into positions in Academia, Politics and Government, while the average run-of-the-mill criminal, with a conviction record loses much hope of any decent job, with credit reports and background check searches all too common even for lowliest positions  

    terrorism has different flavors, Vanilla, Chocolate, and Straw-Barry Chechnya    


    Does it, now? (5.00 / 3) (#41)
    by Yman on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 08:29:04 AM EST
    "Sister Sarah" Palin, as running mate for the ol' mule, brought attention to certain folks in the Democratic party "palling around with terrorists", which has quite a bit of truth in there....

    Wrong on so many levels.

    Apart from the ridiculous "palling around with terrorists" claim, Clinton did not pardon anyone.  He commuted the sentence of 16 members of the FALN under the condition that they renounce violence - a commutation sought by 10 Nobel Peace Prize laureates, President Jimmy Carter, the Cardinal of New York, and the Archbishop of Puerto Rico.  The people whose sentences he commuted had been convicted of several charges of conspiracy, but were never convicted of any crimes where someone was harmed or killed.


    thanks Yman (none / 0) (#44)
    by P3P3P3P3 on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 02:55:48 PM EST
    for the link, it was good, I'd agree with with it, but it doesn't change where I am at, just different word usage, from terrorist to "former terrorist" or bombing to "no one was hurt in the bombing", not a pal but having a "working, social and financial association"

    I did not consider Ayers as a mentor of Obama, there are different levels of activist, some civil and others not, they are/were on different paths, but come together under the Big Tent of the Democrat party

    Obama is doing Done strikes on "suspected" terrorists, who have not been "convicted of any crimes where someone was harmed or killed"

    I accept the term "commuted" and also "commuted" by President Bill Clinton are Susan Rosenberg and Linda Evans and those opposing it were Rudolph Giuliani, Chuck Schumer, Bernard Kerik (NYC Police Commissioner)


    Yaeh - why should facts ... (none / 0) (#45)
    by Yman on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 03:24:26 PM EST
    ... change your conclusion.

    I'm sure there was some point you were trying to make with the rest of that post, but the syntax and disjointed nature of it makes it too hard to wade through - not to mention links to Free Republic.

    BTW - As far as Rosenberg's commutation, the same facts apply as above.  She was convicted of possession of explosives and received a 58 year sentence - 16 times higher than the national average for such offenses.  


    could the expert (none / 0) (#46)
    by P3P3P3P3 on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 04:13:51 PM EST
    determine if Rosenberg's case was today, what would be the charges and sentence times?

    enemy combatant? death penalty? Dronable?


    Nope (none / 0) (#47)
    by Yman on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 04:20:23 PM EST
    But the sentences would be much more consistent under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, ...

    ... although I'm guessing that wasn't your point.


    Slayer.... if you don't toe the (1.00 / 2) (#23)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:51:46 PM EST
    line 100% you will always be subject to attack.

    Yeah! (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:27:49 PM EST
    You crackpots better toe the line, or I'll attack! You see this can of black spray paint I have in one hand, and the ball-peen hammer I'm wielding in the other ...?

    and that is the (1.00 / 1) (#40)
    by P3P3P3P3 on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 07:32:04 AM EST
    twenty first century equivalent of the Hammer and Sickle


    what passes for modern artists these days, what can you say


    More right-wing victimization fantasies (5.00 / 4) (#30)
    by shoephone on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:37:36 PM EST
    Just heard someone (none / 0) (#3)
    by Slado on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 01:48:10 PM EST
    on MSNBC saying this was not a jihadist act because these guys where Chechn and that conflict has nothing to do with Islam.

    Sorry, not true.

    Not sure why we need to sugar coat this?

    We don't need to cast a wide net around all of Islam but it is undeniable that a certain strain is causing otherwise normal people to do horrible things.   We don't need to play the moral equivalency game to put this in the proper perspective.


    Oh, just read that first piece (none / 0) (#5)
    by Slayersrezo on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:10:11 PM EST
    We are supposed to know that Islam is a "religion of Peace" despite the fact that Mohammed (Hey, I've read my military history) was one of the greatest (in terms of effectiveness NOT humanitarianism) warlords of all time.

    In fact, Islam was originally a very warlike, expansionistic religion that later got somewhat more peaceful, but even that is a bit simplistic. In fact, today there are whole strands and countries that are controlled by those strains that feel that religious war is a necessity, and there is still much hatred that has led to MODERN RELIGIOUS WARS (with guns and all that!) among Sunnis and Shiites among others.

    No, there's no comparison with any other religion in terms of violence at this historical point in time. While some Muslim countries are peaceful or have large populations of peaceful Muslims there are no other religions in the world at this point that I've ever heard of that have whole countries under their sway, sometimes actively support (or have substantial portions of their population support - see Saudi Arabia)terrorism in other countries and talk (even if they officially act) about world wide Jihad whether against other Muslims or against non-Muslims.


    The real (none / 0) (#6)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:17:39 PM EST
    problem is fundamentalism no matter what the religion. Eric Rudolph was a Christian fundamentalist. This guy apparently was drawn into Islamic fundamentalism. And I have seen interviews with Imans who state that jihad is not what some people think it is.

    The Boston Globe had a story today about the older brother getting upset at a prayer service because it was not radical enough.

    This is kind of an eternal story that happens again and again. Some kid gets drawn into some radical group be it fundamentalist Islam, the SLA, the IRA or whoever and thinks that terrorism is the answer.


    Agreed (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Slado on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:27:01 PM EST
    The only difference is for whatever reason Islam is the current flavor of the month in terms of what is causing most men around the world to do terrorist acts.

    The thing I keep in mind is Muslim men haven't been blowing themselves up for centuries around the world for purely terrorist reasons.  

    The sad fact is many parts of the world that practice the religion are involved in terrible struggles and subjected to terrible regimes and Islam is being used as an excuse by a small few to justify their terrible acts.


    New Republic (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Slado on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:34:02 PM EST
    Interesting Article

    Along the lines of what I was trying to say.  Islam was more of an excuse then a catalyst.


    ... who would argue that organized religion itself is always a ready-made excuse. And speaking as a practicing member of the Roman Catholic Church, I sometimes find it very hard to disagree with their arguments, given what some people have proven themselves capable of doing in the name of their respective religion.

    That's (none / 0) (#19)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:31:29 PM EST
    a very good article. Thanks for linking.

    Well fortunately (none / 0) (#9)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:51:59 PM EST
    it seems to be going down.

    GA, your need to (1.00 / 1) (#20)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:44:20 PM EST
    always find moral equivalency is just so sad.

    Even Bill Maher is seeing the light.



    Okay, I'll bite. (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:52:05 PM EST
    And what "light" is that, Jim -- the one from above we carry through the night in "God Bless America," whereby we stand beside her and guide her?

    You (5.00 / 3) (#26)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:19:09 PM EST
    don't think terrorism is terrorism no matter who does it? I think you don't understand exactly what terrorism is. You only think it's terrorism if one group does it.

    Your way of thinking is precisely why we are stuck in the middle east. If a Republican was in office we would be going to war in Chechnya now. That's just how stupid that way of thinking is.

    Your the one that can't see what is going on as plain as the nose on your face because you are too scared.


    What I think is that if Rudolph and McVeigh didn't (1.00 / 1) (#34)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:35:50 PM EST
    exist for you to use to excuse the dozens of terrorist attacks you'd invent them. As Maher said:

    "You know what, yeah, yeah," Maher said. "You know what -- that's liberal bullshit right there ... they're not as dangerous. I mean there's only one faith, for example, that kills you or wants to kill you if you draw a bad cartoon of the prophet. There's only one faith that kills you or wants to kill you if you renounce the faith. An ex-Muslim is a very dangerous thing. Talk to Salman Rushdie after the show about Christian versus Islam. So you know, I'm just saying let's keep it real."



    thst would imply (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 08:08:52 PM EST
    That All Muslims want to kill people which is not true. You obviosly dont underdtand terrorism. You apparently need to read the link slado linked to above. It is written by an ecpert. A more acurate description is that caucasisn males are most likely to commit terrorism.

    i googled it and he was speaking (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 08:18:16 PM EST
    Out against radical islam. Of course i should have known thar you would take it out of context

    That being said you seem to be buying into OBLs holy war prediction


    Oh, c'mon, GA! (none / 0) (#29)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:31:34 PM EST
    I kind of WISH that most of them have read (none / 0) (#4)
    by Slayersrezo on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 01:54:53 PM EST
    Wikipedia, but the fact is despite how some here diss it, the Wiki entry on Chechnya seems to know more about that region than your typical reporter.

    No, they would seem to tend to get a light "USA TODAY" style summary of the place from their producers and go from there.

    Ok, lets stop the insults (none / 0) (#31)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:44:08 PM EST
    and name-calling.