Academic journal article Military Review

The Chechen Struggle: Independence Won and Lost

Academic journal article Military Review

The Chechen Struggle: Independence Won and Lost

Article excerpt

THE CHECHEN STRUGGLE: Independence Won and Lost, Ilyas Akhmadov and Miriam Lanskoy, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2010, 270 pages, $35.00.

Since 1994, Russian military officers have published their accounts of the fighting in Chechnya and journalists have offered insights from Russian and Chechen points of view. The Chechen Struggle: Independence Won And Lost by Ilyas Akhmadov (a Chechen who fought against the Russians and later served as Chechnya's Foreign Minister) and Miriam Lanskoy (an expert in Russian affairs) provides an entirely different viewpoint of the conflict. Akhmadov was a Chechen combatant who also worked with Chechnya's top leaders. Because Chechnya's entire early rebel leadership has been eliminated, Akhmadov is the sole contributor to provide insight into the planning and intrigues of the Chechens.

The Chechen Struggle is structured around four issues: the fighting that occurred during the first and second wars between Russia and Chechnya; the internal squabbles among the Chechen groups that prevented them from arriving at a consolidated position; the efforts of some Chechens, Russians, and the international community to end the fighting; and first-hand portraits of Chechnya's leaders (in particular, former presidents Dzhokhar Dudayev and Aslan Maskhadov and the renowned fighter Shamil Basayev).

Akhmadov discovered that war has its own rules and algorithms--its own cause and effect. That war is a "thing in itself" might be its most frightening characteristic. It is a process where each fact brings to life a new one. Further, war can change one's code of conduct in unexpected ways, often leading to horrific results.

Internal squabbles among groups occupy much of the text. Maskhadov's quandary, Akhmadov writes, was trying to do something constructive within the government while simultaneously trying to appease armed units, several of whom would eventually unite against him. …

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