Dying for Independence: World Separatist Movements and Terrorism. (World in Review)

By Hanzich, Joey | Harvard International Review, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview

Dying for Independence: World Separatist Movements and Terrorism. (World in Review)


Hanzich, Joey, Harvard International Review


"I swear by God we are more keen on dying than you are keen on living," the black-clad Chechen separatist informed the Russian government on videotape. The communication came in October 2002, just days after 40 armed Chechen militants swarmed into a Moscow theater and captured 700 audience members and brought the conflict in Chechnya once more to the attention of the world community. The focus on international terrorist attacks aimed at Western powers has made local conflicts like the one in Chechnya lose their prominence in the international media.

Separatist movements from East Timor to Northern Ireland have plagued both innocent victims and culpable governments with horrific attacks. Even movements with less recent international exposure, like the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka or the Basque separatists in Spain, have brought pain and suffering to thousands. Independence movements such as these have come to characterize world military conflicts, but the nature of political-military interaction has evolved. As the United States pursues its anti-terrorist campaign, recurrent regional conflicts have lost their salience, but not their virulence.

David and Goliath

As diverse as Sri Lanka, the Russian Caucasus, and northern Spain may be geographically, politically, and ethnically, the current status of their respective separatist movements is remarkably similar. All are characterized by asymmetric warfare. The Russian, Spanish, and Sri Lankan military capabilities dwarf those of their foes, yet in all three instances, the states have yet to make significant progress in resolving or even quelling the conflicts through forceful military action.

The Russian military has been embroiled in Chechnya for decades. After Russian forces invaded in 1994, they were forced to leave--humiliatingly defeated--18 months later. Poorly motivated and facing recurrent ambushes from Chechen guerillas, the Russian troops are greatly demoralized, with 30 to 40 Russian soldiers dying per week. The conflict has displaced between 300,000 and 400,000 people and has claimed thousands of lives. Despite the numerical superiority of the Russian forces over the Chechens, Russia has yet to achieve any real progress.

The situation in Sri Lanka has resulted in similarly horrific consequences, claiming the lives of over 65,000 Sri Lankans. In the wake of recent offensive operations, a Sri Lankan army commander justified the stalemate by naively commenting, "An attacking force always sustains more casualties." The effort to capture the town of Pallai provides an instructive example. In an offensive named "Rod of Fire," the Sri Lankan military attempted to capture this town, strategically located near the important Elephant Pass. Even with the resources of a centralized government, the army suffered hundreds of casualties in comparison to only dozens by the Tamils, who eventually repulsed the attacks. Like Russian soldiers in Chechnya, the Sri Lankan military has had to fight against a well entrenched opposition in domestic territory that has nonetheless proven to be extremely hostile, unfamiliar, and foreign.

The Spanish example provides a similar scenario. Fortunately, the Spanish government has not committed to a serious military involvement in the conflict with the Basque separatists; rather, it has pursued a more covert, intelligence and investigation-based strategy. It is puzzling, however, that the Spanish government must devote even these resources to tackle a separatist movement in a province whose citizens are largely willing to accept Spanish rule. With the power of a well established central government, Spain has attempted to use the Centro Superior de Informacion de la Defense (CESID), the successor to General Franco's military intelligence service, to fight against the Eusakadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), the Basque homeland and Liberty party. What has resulted is a series of embarrassing losses, like the capture of two CESID agents and the publication of their names in national newspapers. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Dying for Independence: World Separatist Movements and Terrorism. (World in Review)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.