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Friday, April 19th 2013

23:59

Chechnya and a Flood

  • STATE OF EXISTENCE: Pretty good.

This has been a virtually impossible entry to write. Every time I've flipped over to the news pages, something new has been happening, though nothing that is inconsistent with the larger picture I'm seeing. It's also been difficult to include all the links for source material since they've changed over the hours. Once again, I've resorted to the strike-out font, which will become pretty old if I use it again real soon. The struck-out links still work, by the way.

Dzokhar and Tamerlan Tzarnaev. The two persons responsible for the Boston marathon bombings: Two losers who couldn't make anything of themselves in life--at  least not at the speed the desired--and made themselves available to some truly evil people who are gleefully watching from a safe distance.

Anzor Tsarnaev, their father back in Russia, availing himself of a father's privilege to see things differently, characterized his son as an "angel," and "a very intelligent boy." Dzokhar's record speaks against that assessment. Both Mr. Tsarnaev and their uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, who lives in Maryland, have called on Dzokhar to turn himself in, but Mr. Tarnaev added that, if the young man should be killed, "all hell" would break loose. He wanted them to give up and come home to Russia. Fat chance of that happening. It would seem to me that whether he will be killed in a shoot-out, as his brother was, is almost entirely under Dzokhar's control, who--last I heard--was possibly hiding on a boat. It's unlikely that he would be shot if he surrendered peacefully--THIS JUST IN: I just saw that the young gentleman has been captured. He did not come off the boat willingly, and he is severely injured from last night's rampage, but he was extracted without being killed.

Last night (Friday) after their pictures had been disclosed, the Tzarnaev brothers, presumably knowing that they had lost, went on a rampage in which they killed an MIT policeman, robbed a convenience store, forced a man to drive them from ATM to ATM to make withdrawals while bragging that they were the notorious bombers, and were finally stopped in a shoot-out with police in which Tamerlan was shot. Then, as Tamerlan lay seriously injured on the ground, Dzokhar, the angel, was able to make a get-away with the car, and he ran right over his helpless brother. Tamerlan did not survive.

Chechnya has, of course, been rather steadily in the news over the years. It is a small piece of territory that Russia has claimed as its own. You may have a hard time locating it on a map in a way that makes sense, so I tried to do it for you, relying on Google Earth and Wikipedia. It's relatively easy to find maps of all of Russia, but in most of them, it's hard to distinguish where precisely Chechnya is supposed to be. Maps drawn to a different scale, showing us much of Chechnya, don't frequently don't give us anything to orient ourselves further on where the area is in relation to the rest of Russia. I hope that my two slightly enhanced maps help.

ChechnyaRussia and Chechnya

 

To simplify matters somewhat, when the Soviet Union broke up around 1990/91, many of its former constituent territories declared their independence, seceded, and established their own governments. Thus, we now have the countries of Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, etc. In 1990 the Chechens (people from Chechnya) also declared their independence and established their own government, the Republic of Chechen. But there was a difference between them and, say, Latvia, because, in contrast to the other new republics, Chechnya was labeled not so much a part of the Soviet Union as a part of Russia itself, and it was the Soviet Union that was splitting up, not Mother Russia. Furthermore, Chechnya, as small as it is, retains serious economic importance to Russia. So, inevitably, it came to a brutal war, the main part of which took place from 1994 to 1996, from which Chechnya emerged retaining its independence.

Chechnya, I might just mention, is pervasively Muslim, which clearly sets it off from the majority of Russia. It also began attracting various radical Islamic groups who agitated for regions adjoining Chechnya, where there were Muslims and expatriate Chechens, to join the Chechens in their independence. Among such displaced Chechens, by the way, are the Tsarnaev family. All the standard charges of how the Russians were interfering with the Chechens' ability to live a Muslim life were brought up, and Chechnya became a headquarter for terrorist groups causing trouble in Russia. I do not believe though that I'm going out on a limb in saying that Chechens outside of Chechnya were subject to discrimination and that there were Chechens inside Chechnya who sought revenge for the suffering they incurred during the war, even if they wound up winning it.

This unstable state of affairs could only last so long. A second brutal war between Russia and Chechnya took place from 1999-2000. I said in both cases that the wars were "brutal." But the attribute of brutality definitely referred to the fighters on both sides, who engaged in horrific atrocities. The official war was over in 2000, but not the violence. That same year saw the infamous incident when in October about 50 Chechen terrorists held around 900 theater-going Russians hostage in Moscow. When the Russian government eventually resorted to diffusing a sleep-inducing gas throughout the building, they miscalculated the dosage, which turned out to be fatal for both the terrorists and their victims.

Now, this whole conflict had officially been Chechnya vs. Russia, though it had a long pre-history as "Chechnya vs. the Soviet Union." The fact that the Chechens were Muslims contributed to their self-identity, but the core issue was not "Islam in Chechnya vs. the world." On the whole, American sentiment (as well as diplomatic efforts) had been in favor of Chechnya. The Soviet and subsequently Russian cruelty had been horrendous, and, without condoning Chechen terrorism, your ingenuous bloggist remembers thinking in the 1990's that, whereas in many places of the world, Islamic groups were attempting to overpower others, in Chechnya an Islamic population was being suppressed by non-Muslims (and, there have been other, though few, variations on that theme). With this relatively benign attitude on the part of America, the question comes up why we have suddenly been subjected to a terrorist attack from two Chechens.

Uncle Ruslan Tsarni, a patriotic American citizen, insisted that the action by his nephews were purely motivated by their own inability to make decent lives for themselves. Referring specifically to the surviving Dzokhar, he said, “[The bombing] has nothing to do with Chechnya … He put a shame on our family, he put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity.” Well, Chechnya has done enough to create its own image, but, in a way, he was right. At this point in Chechnya genuine aspirations for Chechen independence is being replaced by the radical Qutbite mentality. Chechnya and its people have become a major recruiting source for al-Qaeda and similar radical organizations. There was absolutely no reason for Chechens qua Chechens to hate America, but, as would be true for all people, Chechens who have made allegiance with destructive Muslim groups, such as al-Qaeda, will hate America along with everyone else. Now that we know the identity of the two perpetrators, evidence of their association with radical Muslims is coming out. And I keep wondering about Mr. Tsarnaev's not-so-veiled threat that if Dzokhar were killed, "all hell would break lose." For that to happen, there would have to be some group affiliation, and perhaps Mr. Tsarnaev's knows that his son is not quite the angel he has been calling him.

   
Luke Bible Study      

        Bible Reading:         Luke 6:46-49

v. 48:  “ He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built." (HCSB)

It's getting fairly late, and there's not much left in my brain, and I'm taking tonight's passage out of sequence, but it just seemed to good to leave it for later.

I trust that most people reading this entry have had the pleasure as children to sing "The foolish man built his house upon the sand . . . ," and make a big huge noise at the end of that verse when it goes, "And the house on the sand went SMASH!" Or was that "CRASH!"? Or "CABOOM!"? Or all three and more? Well, nobody's house around here collapsed, as far as I know, but we've had some decent flooding, and that song just kept going through my head today. One of the simpler pleasures of life.

When I say "we," for the first time in many years I include our own house. I got up today to about seven inches of water standing in the basement. Part of that was my fault; I had left the end of the hose from the sump pump too close to the house when I moved it to cut the grass yesterday, and thus, as the pump was getting the water out, it had too much of an opportunity to seep back in. But, as much as I enjoy blaming myself for acts of nature, the real credit goes to the incredible amount of rain we've had.

This road heading West out of Alexandria is closed. As you know, I don't have my

good camera with a telephoto any longer, but I managed to use Jasc Paint Shop to

extract the road  at the end of the picture to show you that it's become impassable.

Touch the picture with your mouse cursor for long-distance viewing.

 

Let me show you a few more pictures, and then we'll let it be for tonight.

 

Pipe Creek

Property off SR9

Mud Creek

Mud Creek

 

Mud Creek

Thanks to those who prayed for our sump pump to hold out. It did.

More on this passage and its predecessors next time.

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