April 20, 2013

War Nerd on Chechens

Here's a War Nerd (John Dolan) article from 2002 on the Chechens:
The Russians were expanding south all through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, of course. That’s what led to all the Russo-Turkish wars, and the European entanglements, like the Crimean. But the Chechens were apparently one of the last peoples to accept the Russians. The Chechens, and this does seem to be one consistently clear thing about the war, were the real warriors, the stone crazies, of the region. I’ve come across some amazing stories about them in trying to research this column. The neighbors, the Daghestanis for example, are terrified of them. And the Chechens apparently used to rule the Moscow crime world in the early Yeltsin era even though there were only about a thousand Chechens in Moscow. There’s a great story about the Chechens going to a meeting with the slow old Russian crime bosses. The Russians were eating and drinking, feeling safe, when the Chechens just grabbed the steak knives and started stabbing. Half the Russian bosses were dead before they had time to finish the first course. 
They seem like one of those tribes that are either going to rule the world or go extinct but nothing in between. They messed with Stalin. I mean, that’s serious stuff. ... So they got themselves officially labeled a “Criminal nationality” and shipped off in cattle cars to somewhere in the steppes. It was like training camp for them. All the old and weak and peaceful types just died. The ones that were left — I read this in a Chechen guy’s account of growing up on in the steppes — the kids that survived used to pass the time by fighting. That’s all they did. All day, every day. One kid would go to another kid’s tent and call his name. The kid would come out swinging and they’d fight till it was time to go in and have their gruel or whatever. Broken bones, damaged organs — all part of the fun. You weren’t even supposed to mention them or you weren’t a real man. 
After that, war or crime must’ve seemed easy. So when the Russians finally let the Chechens go home, they were ready for some action. ... 
Everybody else got to leave, but not the Chechens: there were pipelines at stake, and states get REAL serious when oil pipelines are involved. Just ask the caribou up in Alaska. Anyway, the Chechens waited till Yeltsin was in power and the Red Army was turning to rust. Then they made their move, declared independence, waited for the pain. 
The Russians…it was like the whole state was drunk on whatever Yeltsin was having. They came in like drunken cowboys. I mean literally: the method was to send lightly-armored APCs, BMPs, charging into central Grozny. We’re talking a Soviet-style city, which means endless blocks of 9-story apartments. And these are the Chechens — born killers. OK, so Russian generals, Tsarist or Soviet, are not exactly known for worrying over casualties or coddling their men…but even for them, it was pretty damn stupid. Once again, it was the good old RPG-7 that did the job: Chechens let the huge armored convoy come right into the crowded center of town, sitting up there on the highrise roofs with a perfect view. Then they blasted the first and last vehicles in classic ambush strategy and took their time killing all the ones jammed up in the instant armored traffic jam. By all accounts it was a massacre. Once you’ve seen what happens to an APC when an RPG round hits it, you don’t want to stay inside…but the Russian troops had been trained to stay in there, and they obeyed, as Russian troops do. So they were firing out of the ports, totally uselessly, blasting the windows of the groundfloor shops, while waiting to be targeted by the rooftop RPGs. It must’ve been the easiest mass kill of armored vehicles since our ex-drug czar, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, decided to get himself another star by ordering the obliteration of a retreating Iraqi armored column at the end of the Gulf War. 
The Russian brass watched from a safe distance and took notes on the position of the RPG positions, then blasted the city. Really blasted it, by the accounts I read: 4000 detonations per hour at one point in the bombardment. Nobody ever denied the effectiveness of Russian artillery, not since the Wehrmacht learned it the hard way; and the tubes were glowing by the time they were finished dosing Grozny. ( I hear “Grozny” means something like “Terrible.” I kind of like that. Seems like a good name for the place.) They weren’t doing any of this pinpoint/smartbomb crap; they were going to kill every RPG gunner by the simple method of killing EVERYBODY in town, on the theory that the gunners would be included in the tally…and the rest were probably sympathizers, so too bad for them. The Air Force was in on it too, and Russian air has always seen close air support as its primary mission, so you can bet those Sukhois were screaming in close, lighting up everything that moved. 
But one of the things the last century taught us is that it’s real hard to kill everybody in a city. Berlin in ’45 looked unlivable for anything bigger than a rat. ... And people were still living in Grozny. I saw some of the interviews they gave, back when the Western press was trying to be interested. It was very much like Berlin, the streetscenes: ghost walls, a few trashpiles still burning, and old ladies appearing from nowhere to moan to the news crews about their missing grandkids and how hard it was to get decent coffee. It was…I don’t know how to say this…it was kind of nostalgic, you know? It was a very 20th c. style of war. I guess you have to admit that the Russian Army is a very 20th c. Army. You can tell it’s not really designed for the new sort of war. So it was kind of nice to get all this footage of them having one last fling. 
And the Chechens could take it. ... The Russians and the Chechens fought one of those slow, bloody street-by-street wars for the rest of the winter. The Russians finally “liberated” Grozny a block at a time — only by the time they’d finished, there weren’t any blocks. Just brickpiles. The Chechens did what any idiot could’ve predicted they’d do: they fled to the countryside and started ambushing convoys. 

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

It kills me. One positive side of these tragedies is we get to learn more about the world.

I mean if not for the Vietnam War, most Americans never would have heard of the place.

And if not for US support of Mujahadeen and later 9/11, who would have cared about Afghanistan?

And Korean cinema(Old Boy) got some spotlight because of V-tech nut.

Now, we are becoming experts of Chechnya cuz of the nut brother duo.

If some Nepalese in America wants to make his nation famous, he should bomb something.

Anonymous said...

Jihad + Mafia = Chechen.

Anonymous said...

I must say the younger brother has a kind of angelic innocent face.... like Bambi. Maybe he should be called
Bombi.

David said...

These are the people we need in America, taking over shopping malls and schools and sports events and runs for the cure.

Diversity is our strength!
Diversity is our strength!

Keep repeating until dead.

(Note that the second shooter - the boat boy - kept at bay umpteen Boston cops in a firefight for an hour. 19 and wounded, too. "An angel," his father called him.)

But we need to keep our borders looser than any country in the world, because of Adolf Hitler (d. 1945)...American citizens' lives be damned.

Have you telephoned your congresscritters' staffers and made their day miserable yet?

Anonymous said...

Here's the New York Times with a reference to the Chechens in Tora Bora. (I think there were maybe as many as 200--400 Chechens and they may have been charged with perimeter security for the complex, as they were considered the best mountain fighters.) This was a big deal, the big battle to capture Osama:

"A NATION CHALLENGED: MILITARY; TORA BORA ATTACK ADVANCES SLOWLY IN TOUGH FIGHTING" By MICHAEL R. GORDON, NYT, Published: December 16, 2001.

" ...the goal is ... to capture or kill up to 1,000 hardened fighters in one of the country's most rugged regions. ... apprehend or kill ...Mr. bin Laden and his top Al Qaeda lieutenants. ...

... For the first time, Al Qaeda fighters have been taken prisoner...

...Khan Muhammad, a local Afghan commander, drove down the hill and was besieged by the press. The Arab fighters, he insisted, were prepared to surrender, but the Chechens were determined to fight on."

War Dork sux said...

John Keegan this guy ain't. Every bit of his prose you cite over the years (once per year is too often) is mere lurid fanboy slavering a la "whoa! look at this badass guy! he called his shot against this other badass! whoa! whoa!"--can't find that in any other Internet chatroom. Data-entry professional in Fresno? He sure types like it.

Anonymous said...

It's not just the Chechens; the entire Caucasus region seems to breed an especially vicious, devious, ruthless kind of people(as do mountain zones in general). The entire history of the region seems to confirm this. Look at Joe (Dzhugashvili) Stalin and his Caucasian clique that lorded over the Soviet Union for many decades and murdered tens of millions. Their cunning gave them a huge advantage over the Slavic majority of the USSR. How else could a Georgian rule over a mostly Russian/Slavic political entity?

Besides this, the most blood-thirsty white criminals in southern California are often Armenian. Their blood feuds and mafia wars are the stuff of legend.

A few centuries ago, Middle Eastern rulers often recruited or kidnapped young boys from the Caucasus to serve as slave-soldiers. They had a reputation for being strong and fearless. These slave-soldiers were known as the Mamelukes. They were such effective soldiers they eventually overthrew the monarchs who recruited them, only to get overthrown by another Mameluke warrior(it wasn't uncommon for a Mameluke ruler to be in power for less than a year). This pattern would repeat itself to the point that some areas of the Middle East were plunged into a state of anarchy for many decades.

Before I upgraded my PC, I kept a linguistic map of the Caucasus on my desktop, knowing some kind of trouble was going to start or come from over there sooner or later.

Beagle Juice said...

#1 Am I the only one that saw G. Gordon Liddy's finger prints all over the "War Nerd?"

#2 Chechen boys wouldn't be so rambunctious if you dosed them with ritalin from the time they turn 9 years old.

Anonymous said...

"They messed with Stalin. I mean, that’s serious stuff. ... So they got themselves officially labeled a “Criminal nationality” and shipped off in cattle cars to somewhere in the steppes."

This requires an explanation: they saw WWII as an opportunity to win independence. As the Soviet Union was reeling from the German onslaught, they fought it in their mountains. And they were getting help from Germans. Though of course, if the Germans had won the war, the Chechens would have fought them too. Their goal was independence, plus the fun to be had in fighting. In other words, they actually did what FDR feared Japanese-Americans might have done if he didn't intern them.

Quite understandably, Stalin was not amused. When the war was winding down, he expelled Chechens to Kazakhstan. They were only allowed to return to Chechnya in 1957, after his death.

Stalin was half Ossetian and half Georgian. The Caucasus ethnicities generally hate each other. They're only "Caucasians", a barely differentiated mass, to Russians. Internally there is no "Caucasian" identity in the Caucasus. So Stalin wouldn't have conceived of this as a reprisal against his own.

In his youth Stalin was a Georgian nationalist. It seems that he joined the Communists mostly because they were so obviously anti-Russian. Also because they were at least fighting someone and he was young and hot-headed. For whatever reason, in middle age Stalin gradually accepted Russian nationalism as his own. This process was complete by the start of WWII. There is a parallel: Napoleon started as a Corsican nationalist, and actually fought the French in Corsica in his youth, but in later years internalized French nationalism as his own.

"We’re talking a Soviet-style city, which means endless blocks of 9-story apartments."

"...blasting the windows of the groundfloor shops..."


This is an inaccuracy. Standard-issue Soviet housing did not have any shops on the ground floors. Stores were located in low-rise, stand-alone buildings.

I hear “Grozny” means something like “Terrible.”

Not really. A groza is a thunderstorm. An ugroza, a term which obviously derives from groza, is a threat. So grozny literally means "thundering" and less literally "threatening". Czar Ivan IV was called grozny both in his lifetime and afterwards. For unknown to me reasons his nickname was translated into Western European languages as "terrible". That's where the confusion comes from. Both Ivan IV and the Chechen capital are actually called "thunderous" or "threatening" in Russian.

Why does the Chechen capital have a Russian name? Because it was founded by Russians. Chechens lived in mountain villages and had no use for cities until they met Russians.


Luke Lea said...

Is War Nerd John Dolan or Gary Brecher?ofoCmm 466

Anonymous said...

Check out this video of the execution of russian soldiers near Komsomolskoye in april 1996.
WARNING GRAPHIC!!!

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=315_1313176550

Anonymous said...

To develop the Stalin/Napoleon comparison further:

The differences between Georgia and Russia are greater than the differences between Corsica and France, but they tend in the same direction. Georgians are swarthier, more hot-headed, more emotional than Russians. Georgia is tiny, Russia is huge. Russia ruled over Georgia when Stalin was born. All the same things can be said about Corsica and France.

I once saw a guy who wrote a biography of Napoleon asked "what was his main significance?" The answer was "he stopped the Revolution." I think the same is true of Stalin. He stopped the chaos and the craziness of the Russian Revolution. He presided over a return to stability and empire, even though in his youth he hated that empire from its outskirts. Just like Napoleon.

Anonymous said...

War Nerd is Gary Brecher? Just asking. TIA

Anonymous said...

That bit about the Chechens and the Russian Crime Bosses reminded me of Myles Standish and the Wessagusset Massacre. Just sayin'.

Neil Templeton

Whiskey said...

The War Nerd over-romanticizes the tribal fighting and underestimates lowlanders who can fight in a sustained and organized fashion. The late Soviet era and Yeltsin era Soviet military was not very good. Being "fierce" did not work out well for the Highlanders, or Balkans peoples, or the Druze.

Modern warfare includes nukes, which require not tribal fighting in a tent but boring guys with pocket protectors, who are far more deadly. J. Robert Oppenheimer with his slide rule killed more people than the fiercest tribal warrior ever could. Just because nukes were not used in the Cold War doesn't mean they won't be absent US hegemony.

Modern warfare encompasses cyber war, space, air, sea, and armored as well as infantry, with artillery and small arms and everything else.

The problem with the War Nerd is he saw say, 1992-2002 and figured that was the future. Not just an anomalous period similar to say, 1890-1913. He didn't think we'd ever see widespread war again but could not say why, as the US withdrew from the world and second rate powers grew, that would happen.

Kaz said...

" All the old and weak and peaceful types just died. The ones that were left — I read this in a Chechen guy’s account of growing up on in the steppes — the kids that survived used to pass the time by fighting."

That is true for a lot of Eastern European states and Russia in general. I wonder if they'll ever be able to pull through if they keep scaring the few decent people away into other countries.

I guess this also describes Afghanistan as well. Nearly all of the good ones left during the Soviet invasion for Pakistan and then America.

Anonymous said...

Bomb brothers as refugees...

Classic case of biting the hands that feed you.

This is why parents tell kids, "don't bring wild animals into the house".
Wild animals are used to paranoia and hostility and fighting in nature. They don't know humans mean well and/or see good intentions as weakness or vulnerability to attack or take advantage of.

Chechens have been living in a political/social culture of non-stop fighting for 100s of yrs. Even in a world of peace, the fight is still in them. They need to keep fighting.

Even when the situation changes, the heart beats the same.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__FscKd9nIQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEAGxQqC6hI

It's like Jews. Even when they find a home, their minds/hearts are still acting like the wandering tribe, which is why Jews see America and EU less as their home than merely stations/depots in their wandering empire building.

It's like the kid in CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is addicted to the globe-trotting congamemanship even though he no longer has to 'run' to find his place in the world.

Even when the legs can finally rest, the heart keeps beating.

This is both the blessing and curse of Chechens and Jews. They can never rest(and this is the source of their great energy), but they can be a huge headache for those who wanna put down their roots and put up their roofs.

DR said...

Dolan though suspected of being the War Nerd's identity has never been conclusively linked to him.

JI said...

love this one, Steve.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Hannibal Lecter would have made of Chechens.

rob said...

Look at Tammy Tsarnaev. What did he wanna do with his life before he decided to take kids' legs off?

Boxing. The best possible outcome was him punching people instead of shooting them. He couldn't even manage to spite game about human-like aspirations. He liked hitting people, and put years into learning to hit them gooder. Living the dream. The bright uncle said he thought that thing was loser trash.

Anonymous said...

The night of 4/20 is almost over and still no comments approved yet. Hmm...

iSteve never struck me as the type but I should have known. The signs were so clear. The classic punk rock references, the encyclopedic knowledge of cinematic minutia, the Natty Ice... how could I be so blind?

-The Judean People's Front

Anonymous said...

Just as I hit publish the comments came through. I feel stupid now.

-The Judean People's Front

Anonymous said...

Well, they can dance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaIbGIjQzeo

Kaz said...

@Whiskey

That kind of war would require serious contenders on both side. Something similar to America vs. Russia, brawling it out. Both Russia and America have long realized that it's insanity..

We will never see another war like it short of China blowing a fuse.

We will see these long overstayed excursions like in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, maybe soon Syria, who knows. And nothing good will come of it..

We can't use any of those big weapons because our current 'wars' are not wars of pummeling an aggressive enemy into submission. Just scattered ideologues blowing themselves up and planting the seed of hatred in children..

War-Nerd doesn't romanticize tribal fighting as much as he realizes (at least in the few articles of his I've read) that America isn't willing to completely glass a country.

Anonymous said...

rob said: What did he wanna do with his life before he decided to take kids' legs off?
Boxing. The best possible outcome was him punching people instead of shooting them. He couldn't even manage to spite game about human-like aspirations. He liked hitting people, and put years into learning to hit them gooder. Living the dream. The bright uncle said he thought that thing was loser trash.

As a profession, boxing is much more honest, productive, and "human-like" than many of the respectable scams we now call work. Other than that quibble, good post.

-The Judean People's Front

Anonymous said...

Bad News Badgers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbGGLGQ9XY0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxaB85-qAnY

Anonymous said...

Chechens vs Russians

Finns vs Soviets

How they stack up?

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fM4dIpulP8

Anonymous said...

People forget that it was that fat, useless, brain-dead, drunken, retarded prick Boris Yeltsin who formented all the trouble in Chechnya in the first place, with his dumb, cack-handed handling of the situation.

THis was mainly because Yeltisn was the 'west's man' in Russia and really was little more than a demented puppet acting out American and neo-con interests.

Caused no end of trouble for 'The Economist' magazine. They backed Yeltsin to the hilt whilst he was raping Russia, but he spoiled his copy-book with them when he cack-handedly started throwing bombs all over the place. Not something a tame eunuch is supposed to do.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

It's not just the Chechens; the entire Caucasus region seems to breed an especially vicious, devious, ruthless kind of people(as do mountain zones in general)."

I don't believe that. Tough, certainly, but not necessarily "vicious, devious, ruthless". The Swiss have never been so described. Neither have the Tibetans.

Mr. Anon said...

"Whiskey said...

J. Robert Oppenheimer with his slide rule killed more people than the fiercest tribal warrior ever could."

Oppenheimer was a theorist - a pure paper and pencil man. I'm sure he never used anything so grubby as a slide-rule. And when it came to the Manhattan project, he was primarily an administrator and impresario, not an actual technical guy - he was very much like Wernher Von Braun in that respect.

Anonymous said...

Is Debka files (web site) plain BS or is it somehow connected to Israeli intelligence? because they had an entry on the bomb brothers, the story was that the elder brother was a kind of CIA/Saudi asset sent to keep eye on Al Qaida fighting Russians - it's like the same old same old story. The Russians warned US authorities when Timur Lenk relocated in USA, but he had obviously a clearance from CIA, and as a reward the little brother was getting some affirmative action.

So the question is: was Tamerlan just spying or partly aiding, like OBL?

From outside of USA, it looks like this has been going on since the 80s - Saudis helped USA 1)as a swing producer of oil to collapse Soviet Union economically and 2) financing or supporting Wahhabi based JIhadis - out off that mess, it was the time when Rambo was fighting the Russians with the heroic, freedom loving proto-Talibans
grew Al Qaida when OBL turned in to religious nut.

Isn't there like a pattern? Steve, you said you are good at recognizing patterns?


Same as in Libya, Al Qaida was an ally and they thanked for the weapons by killing off the Ambassador.


Then you sent the Al Qaida guys via Turkey to Syria.


There seems to be zero difference between BUsh and Obama like they are/were both puppets committed to the long term foreign policy.


One difference comes to mind. IIRC, GWB was introduced to the concept of drone warfare, his response: what? we shoot a five dollar tent with a five million rocket and hit the camel's as? not enough bang for the buck, let's do it the old school way, let the boys fight boots on the ground!


instead, slacker Obama who enjoyed reading MArvel comics in his stoner days (happy 4.20) is entertained by this shiny hitech approach.

Baloo said...

"The differences between Georgia and Russia are greater than the differences between Corsica and France, but they tend in the same direction. Georgians are swarthier, more hot-headed, more emotional than Russians."

And Kenyans are swarthier than Americans....

Anonymous said...

"And the Chechens apparently used to rule the Moscow crime world in the early Yeltsin era even though there were only about a thousand Chechens in Moscow."

HBD will be a near instant cliche when the blank slate nonsense finally collapses.

"Clannish mountaineers dominated organised crime."

Duh.

Anonymous said...

"The Swiss have never been so described."

Why does the Pope have a Swiss guard?

Anonymous said...

Stalin as Napoleon? Not really - Tukhachevsky would have been a better analogy. Stalin preemptively killed the Russian Marshal.

Stalin was militarily incompetent, screwing up the Soviet offensive vs. Poland during the Russian Civil War and being responsible for the dramatic German performance against the USSR in World War II. His "stabilization" of the USSR involved the destruction of private farming and deaths of 6 million or so peasants. Rather than a savior, he was a very accomplished Caucasian gangster who was more than a match for the Old Bolshevik revolutionaries whom he outmaneuvered and destroyed. The Old Bolsheviks deserved what Stalin did to them; Russia did not.

周樹人 said...

RE: Tibetans - don't know about the Swiss, but the Tibetans WERE ruthless. See:

http://exiledonline.com/war-nerd-tibet-five-to-one-against/all/1/

Anonymous said...

To those who think that War Nerd romanticizes Chechen boys' fighting. Speaking from my personal experience, he does not. What stood my two Chechen classmates from the rest of us: They were not afraid to die. Literally. And, they were often dirty, not respecting "the code". E.g., the typical honor fight (I am talking 9-14 years old boys) would involve no weapons and last until first blood. With Chechen, however, you were not guaranteed to not be hit with a nearby cobblestone if he felt that he was losing.

hbd chick said...

the chechens remind me of the albanians. or is it the other way around?

ElemenoPee said...

War nerd is fun, but with two caveats:

1. He's very childish;

2. He's anti-American. He writes for a Russian website, and they hate Americans. They should talk: Russia is a shithole.

Example: "the USAF was hosing it down like cropdusters over a tobacco field every day, and the RAF — and those fuckers were the real thing, meaner than the USAF any day"

This is bullshit.

But if you can see through these two flaws, he's educational.

Steve Sailer said...

As an Irish-American, War Nerd is anti-English.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

""The Swiss have never been so described.""

Why does the Pope have a Swiss guard?"

Because they are capable and loyal, a very different thing than being devious and ruthless.

Anonymous said...

The Swiss Gaurds performance against Charles V's looting army suggests that the Swiss are anthing but devious. Consider that more than a 100 Swiss guards, who at the time were mercenaries unlike today, gave their lives to allow the Pope time to escape. About the most selfless act in war is fighting a rear gaurd action with no chance of withdrawing.

LMNOP perfectly nails War Nerd. I honestly don't understand how a Russian sympathizer could criticize America for anthing except maybe being better at establishing and defending a national Church. I mean it just seems so stupid to think that the Russians or Chinese are going to humiliate the US so badly that the prevailing regime will be discredited. It's possible China conquerors America (not Russia it's gonna be nothing but caucus mountain people in 40 years) but I assure Frankfort School is twenty times better than Beijing boot.
You think getting chicks is hard now just wait until you have to compete with occupying Chinese soldiers.

Anonymous said...

"Consider that more than a 100 Swiss guards, who at the time were mercenaries unlike today, gave their lives to allow the Pope time to escape. About the most selfless act in war is fighting a rear gaurd action with no chance of withdrawing."

Like the Chechens at Tora Bora?

However you're probably right about the "vicious, devious, ruthless" part. The toughness comes from the mountains the rest comes from the clannishness so i guess non-clannish mountaineers like the Swiss make for good reliable mercenaries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_mercenaries