Release Date: October 12, 1999
Eric Margolis, c/o Editorial Department, The Toronto Sun
333 King St. East, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5A 3X5
Fax: (416) 960-4803 -- Press Contact: Eric Margolis

U.S. Aids Russia's Crimes In The Caucasus

by Eric Margolis

NEW YORK -- The Clinton Administration has had many low moments, but this week it plumbed new depths as the White House gave Moscow a green light to launch Russia's second war -and possible final solution - against the tiny Caucasus mountain republic of Chechnya.

Once again, unbeknownst to most Americans, their government was supporting one of the worst human rights violations of this decade.

In Moscow, standing next to her beaming Russians hosts, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright proclaimed `we are opposed to ``terrorism'' - meaning Islamic rebels in the Caucasus fighting Russian rule. She said nothing about Russia's blatant violation of its 1996 treaty that granted Chechnya de facto independence. She made no protest over Moscow's egregious violation of the 1990 CFE Treaty, the most important east-west arms reduction pact, by moving large new forces into the Caucasus.

Meanwhile, as Russian shells shredded civilians, the US-run International Monetary Fund provided more cash for the bankrupt, gangster-ridden regime in Moscow. Russia is bankrupt because all of its money and billions in aid were stolen and stashed abroad, while the White House turned a blind eye.

Clinton ordered the Pentagon to rush Moscow state of the art night-vision and communications equipment for Russian helicopters being used against insurgents in the Caucasus. In 1996, Clinton reportedly ordered CIA to supply Moscow top-secret electronic targeting devices that allowed the Russians to assassinate Chechen president, Dzhokar Dudayev, while he was conducting peace negotiations with Moscow on his cell phone.

Last week, with Clinton's military, diplomatic, and financial blessings, Moscow invaded Chechnya with 50,000 mechanized troops, backed by massive artillery and air power. Moscow claimed its latest assault against the republic of 1.5 million was triggered by a Chechen `invasion' of neighboring Dagestan, and supposed Chechen involvement in a wave of mysterious apartment bombings across Russia that killed 300 people. In reality, the uprising in Dagestan was a spontaneous revolt against Russian rule, backed by a handful of Chechen fighters. The bombings were more likely carried out by Russian political provocateurs as a pretext for Moscow hardliners to invade Chechnya and intimidate freedom movements in other parts of the Caucasus.

As in the 1994-1996 war, Russia used mass artillery, rocket barrages, and air strikes, to smash Chechen villages and towns. As of this writing, 140,000 Chechen had been made refugees and hundreds killed by indiscriminate Russian firepower. Lightly-armed Chechen fighters harassed the invading enemy, managing to down three Russian warplanes and kill 400 Russian troops.

Why was the Clinton Administration, which had just ordered Indonesia to get out of East Timor and give it independence, busy helping the Kremlin to crush the Chechen, the survivors of an entire nation sent to Stalin's death camps? Two reasons, both bad.

First, the Clinton-Gore Administration has backed the crooks and robber barons currently running Russia that the White House has to keep supporting them lest the current regime collapse. This would expose the Democrats to a tirade of Republican accusations in an election year, and spark Congressional investigations of financial chicanery between Washington and Moscow that would make Clinton's hanky-panky with Chinese bribsters seem mere chop suey.

Second, the Russians have been cleverly playing the Islamic bogeyman card by branding the Caucasian rebels as dangerous Islamic terrorists financed by mysterious Mideast fanatics, including Washington's current bete noire, Osama Bin Laden. These charges are lies cooked up by the KGB's skilled disinformers, but Washington has reacted with perfect Pavlovian response, salivating with fear and concern at mention of the Islamic Green Peril .

Right-wing friends of Israel in the US and Britain have joined the fray by amplifying Russian fabrications about the Chechen and Dagestani insurgents, though in Israel, where there are a number of leading experts on the Caucasus, such alarms are scornfully dismissed. Al Gore, self- proclaimed inventor of the Internet, vows he will be tougher than tough against Islamic fundamentalism, even if it means helping his friends in the Kremlin shred innocent civilians with 220mm rockets carrying cluster munitions warheads. .

During the 1994 Russian invasion of Chechnya, Clinton lent Yeltsin $11 billion to finance the operation. Clinton even went to Moscow, lauded Yeltsin, likened Russia's savage repression of tiny Chechnya to America's civil war, and had the effrontery to call Yeltsin `Russia's Abraham Lincoln. In that conflict, Russian forces slaughtered 80,000-100,000 civilians (according to Russian sources), conducted wide scale torture, and razed most of Chechnya to the ground.

Now, Clinton and Gore are at it again, bringing the deepest dishonor on America by supporting Russia's barbarism in the Caucasus and actually funding Moscow's crimes against humanity with American's tax dollars.

Well, comes the response, nuclear-armed Russia is not feeble Indonesia and can't be ordered about. Why not? Without weekly delivery of planeloads of US $100 bills, the Yeltsin regime would collapse. Without life-support from the US Treasury and IMF, the world would foreclose on Russia. Today's Russians do care somewhat about world opinion.

If the spineless Bill Clinton won't tell Yeltsin, `we won't finance your criminal war against the Chechen any more, ' then it's time for the American people to shout this out loud and clear.

[Eric Margolis is a syndicated foreign affairs columnist and broadcaster based in Toronto, Canada.]

Copyright © 1999 Eric Margolis - All Rights Reserved
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