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Problems Of Sovereignty The Case For Chechen Independence Politics Essay

On Monday, March 29 2010, two female suicide bombers carried out attacks on Moscow's subway system, reigniting in the process fears of terrorism at Russia's very doorstep. The blasts served as reminders to the Russian people that despite the relative peace that its centralized citizens had been enjoying in the nation's capital, the cries of a secessionist minority group of its population would be heard, even if forcefully so.

Initial suspicions of Chechen rebels being behind the terrorist acts were confirmed two days later, when former Chechen separatist turned proponent of global Jihad, Doku Umarov, stood up to take credit for the attacks. Unerring in his threats, Umarov spoke directly to Russian leadership and citizens that the violence that had been brought by the Russian military to the Caucasus region of South Eastern Russia, particularly to Chechnya, would be redirected towards the Russian people through similar acts of violence to Mondays' subway bombings. Claims to sovereignty and self-determination was a major factor in the war in Chenchnya that has been taking place on and off since the early 1990s (after the dissolution of the USSR) and speaking to the atrocities that the subsequent violence wrought, Umarov spoke of his intent to continue attacks on the Russian capital. "You Russians hear about the war on television and the radio," Mr. Umarov said on the video, apparently made hours after the subway blasts. "I promise you the war will come to your streets, and you will feel it in your own lives and on your own skin." [1] 

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When a student of international relations and global politics reads news of such attacks, several important questions are bound to arise. For one, what could possibly cause a human being to go against their natural instincts for survival and to strap explosives unto themselves to inflict harm onto civilians? Secondly, if the case of the Chechen war is based around claims to sovereignty, at what point does such a struggle for independence become violent, and can such violence be curtailed and avoided through various diplomatic means, such as through a multi-lateral approach such as through NATO or the United Nations Peace Keeping force? And not least, have there been cases in the world where ethnic groups seeking independence found ways to go about their struggle in a peaceful and effective manner?

Inspired by the recent events and the questions they have subsequently raised above, the main topic of this essay is based around ethnic claims to sovereignty and self-determination, focusing primarily on the ethnic struggles of the Chechen people and their ensuing battle for independence from the Russian Federation. It will look at the history of the Chechen case, as well as contemplate various ways in which actual violence emerging from sovereign claims to statehood could have been avoided: from the perspective of international lawyer, Jonathan Charney, who argues for institutionalized approaches to conflict avoidance through bodies of international law; Joseph Nye's Soft/Smart-Power approaches to curbing the actions of states or ethnic groups without relying on hard-power to coerce compliance; and Robert Pape's understanding of the Chechen conflict and his suggestions for encouraging peace in the region.

Russian and Chechnya - a history of violence

In understanding the source of conflict between Russia and Chechnya, one might be inclined to point to Chechen claims for self-determination in the years following the disintegration of the USSR as being sufficient explanation. However, historically speaking, the conflict goes back to the Caucasian Wars of the 18th and 19th centuries, culminating in the ongoing regional conflict between the residents of the now-known regions of Chechnya and Dagestan in South East Russia.

The region has been highly volatile in its overall history, reaching the pinnacle of its present situation where it still struggles to find its regional identity. Gail Ladipus notes,

"Both historical experiences and the impact of Soviet policy had served to consolidate and reinforce group identity and solidarity among Chechens, a solidarity in which identification with Islam played an important role. The preservation of strong clan structures and group identity, fused with Muslim religion, was partly the result of the experience of exile itself, but was facilitated by the relatively low level of industrialization of the republic and the correspondingly low level of Russian settlement." [2] 

The nature of the Chechen conflicts with Russia stem from a long and complicated history of the Soviet inability to allow the people of the region the right to claim their own ethnic based statehood. Religion, language, and a lack of proper development efforts by the Soviet Union during the industrial revolution have encouraged the strong emergence of a regional identity, and with the escalating violence in the region stemming from the growing desire for independence, it is no wonder why claims towards ethnic sovereignty are stronger than ever. [3] 

In the era that followed the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, nations have found themselves interacting within an anarchic world system under the guise of autonomous, sovereign states. Each state was given the right to both internal and external forms of sovereignty, the former of which refers to a nation's right to freely govern its own people within its borders, while the latter is in reference to a states' capacity to 'go about its business' free from the interference from external actors and other states. States can thus be seen as unique actors within an international system, which requires them to interact according to their own unilateral or multilateral interests.

Today, in dealing with claims towards independent statehood, Russia is acting within its sovereign right as a country to deny the Chechens their state. No other state outside of Russia can interfere, as Chechnya is within its domestic border and therefore it has sovereign authority over its territory. Interestingly, the very idea of sovereignty, that which allows Russia to control the regional independence of Chechnya and Dagestan, is also the source of its internal strife. The idea of sovereignty is so appealing that these regional groups are themselves using it to erode the authority (sovereignty) of Russia.

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Before we go into detail over how Russia has dealt with the threat of erosion of their authority, and the battle to control ethnic uprisings in the South East of their territory, we shall look at the concept of sovereignty in a bit more detail in order to better understand what exactly is at stake in the Russian claims of authority versus the demands of Chechnya's demand for its own independence.

State Sovereignty in a Globalized World

In an article title "The Erosion of State Sovereignty", Ava Winterbourne describes what she believes to be the recent erosion of state independence as being attributed to the increasing interconnectivity between states. According to Winterbourne, this is largely due to the phenomena of Globalization, which she describes as "the process whereby state-centric agencies and terms of reference are dissolved in favour of a structure of relations between different actors operating in a context which is truly global rather than merely inter-national." [4] In other words, with the increased ease of international travel, the interconnectivity of a technologically connected world with the free flow of information through digital means, and the growing influence of international organizations all play a role in affecting the way in which states interact with one another, as well as how they operate autonomously.

In regards to the current status of the modern state vis-à-vis the eroding effects of Globalization on its sovereignty, S. Sassen notes that in a post WWII era, the term 'sovereignty' itself refers to the legitimacy a government has over its people based upon the people's own determination. [5] A state is therefore viewed today as gaining its legitimacy through the people it serves to protect and represent, and the question of the erosion of state sovereignty should also be viewed through the lens of how Globalization affects people directly. Sassen points to another consequence of the 2nd World War, that of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as providing a new and plausible authority over states and its treatment of its citizens. Under the guise of Human Rights entitled to all human beings, the United Nations crafted a method to coerce states into respecting their peoples, and in a sense, changing the face of absolute sovereignty with the intent of avoiding crimes against humanity. [6] 

Though states are given legitimate use of military and coercive force under the Westphalian system, they were also given the responsibility of caring for their citizens in the years following the atrocities of the Second World War. Sovereignty is therefore not just about controlling one's citizens, but about being responsible for their overall welfare and protection.

Russo-Chechen Sources of Conflict

In an article published in the New York Times, University of Chicago professor Robert Pape looks at the history between Chechnya and Russia since the 1990s. Pape's goal is to try and understand why two female Chechens would turn towards suicide bombing in attacks against civilian targets in Moscow this past March. Pape begins by looking at the history behind the regions volatility, pointing to the extremely violent campaigns that the Russians have brought to Chechnya in the years following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

"In the 1990s, the rebels kicked out tens of thousands of Russian troops who had been sent to the region to prevent Chechnya, a republic within the Russian Federation, from declaring independence. In 1999, the Russians came back - this time with more than 90,000 troops - and waged a well-documented scorched-earth campaign, killing an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 civilians out of a population of about 1 million. Ordinary guerrilla tactics and hostage-taking - the keys to ousting the Russians the first time - now got the rebels nowhere. New tactics were employed and women were central from the start." [7] 

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Ladipus goes further by pointing out how the rapid unraveling of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991 presented a traumatic loss of empire, provoking "exaggerated - indeed obsessive - fears of the possible disintegration of Russia itself and contributing over time to a shift within Russian political elite from liberal democratic orientations to increasingly statist and neo-imperial ones." [8] As Moscow tried desperately to create "novel constitutional and federal institutions", it also had to fight to maintain the structure of its territories in order to not lose its territories. [9] 

Furthermore, ethnic Chechen elites carry with them the memories of the period between the First and Second World Wars, where struggles against Soviet rule was marked by uprisings in 1922, 1924, and 1925 and continued well into the 1930s. Under Stalin's harsh repressive tactics, including the forced collectivization of agriculture, the massive resettlement of kulaks, and the alleging of Nazi cooperation with the Chechen-Ingush republic (causing the abolishment of the republic in 1944, and its inhabitants - roughly half a million people - were rounded up and forcibly deported, resulting in the deaths of over one-third of its population). The collective trauma of which has remained with the survivors, serving as a strong motivator for the culmination of the Chechen national movement. [10] 

In a sense, the growth of an ethnic and national identity has been encouraged by the way in which the USSR and Russia have dealt with the desire of the Chechens to gain independence. Bloody conflict and coercive tactics by both sides have created a tradition of violence between the two regions, fueling ethnic unification on the Chechen side, allowing for further justification for the need for self-determination.

Ethnic Identity and the logic of self-determination

As mentioned above, the Chechen-Russia case is one that has a history of bloodshed and violence, whereby a former super-power saw itself kicked out of a region within its own borders, only to come back and attempt to eradicate all of the threats that sought independence. Within the Westphalian state system, though states are said to be responsible for the safety of its own citizens, interference from other states is difficult to justify when a government fails to protect its citizens, or worse yet, is the very source of violence against its people. In Richmond's words, "sovereignty offered a method of deciding the legitimacy of claims to power, and dictated that states are the highest form of political community and authority responsible for law-making, enforcement, and settlement of disputes in the context of international law, which itself is oriented towards the creation of the minimum rules of coexistence. " [11] As such, many ethnic actors (such as Chechnya, Turkish Cypriots, Armenians, and Tamils in Sri Lanka) find themselves attracted to the notion of self-determination through state-hood.

This creates a distinctive problem around the concept of sovereignty: through the very fact that sovereignty gives states a feeling of sacrosanct authority over their territory, it becomes highly appealing for ethnic groups to take this route in trying to pull away from the influence of the state they find themselves an unwilling part of. In the case of Russia and Chechnya, we see how through the concept of Sovereignty, Russia wants to control its territories, while using the same idea of self-determination and control Chechens want to separate into their own state, so that they may gain international recognition as an independent nation to set itself apart from Russian control.

As states seek to emphasize their right to control their borders, they are also expected to promote unity and produce a sense of collusion and security for their citizens. Richmond notes how the logic of pursuing internal control and peace through statehood is reproduced by ethnic groups to "gain security, welfare, and legitimacy." [12] Regional ethnic groups who feel marginalized or have been violently suppressed are inclined to seek some form of international recognition for their suffering. They believe that they can gain advances on their causes through the perceived legitimizing nature of sovereignty.

In other words, Chechen attempts for statehood can be seen as a way for the ethnic group to gain international recognition for the extreme violence they have lived through for much of their modern history. Their logic is that through the attainment of statehood, they would be able to fend off further regional conflict with Russia through international pressures placed on Russia to not meddle in their internal affairs as an independent state.

When sovereignty is both the justification for state control as well as provides a legitimizing factor for regional groups who feel oppressed, the concept of sovereignty itself becomes problematic. Richmond says that sovereign legitimacy and security have not been enough to prevent ethnic groups from perceiving their relationship with majorities and states as being zero-sum. [13] 

Though sovereignty has increasingly been viewed as flawed for these reasons, ethnic groups tend to desire sovereignty in the process. This is the 'sovereignty trap'; the fear of disorder lurking beyond the statecentric order has meant that most actors, ethnic or national, have walked knowingly or unknowingly straight into this trap. Thus, for ethnic groups sovereignty is both their enemy, their saviour-liberator, and dictator. [14] 

Ethnic groups seek stability through their separation along cultural, linguistic, or religious lines, creating divisions of oppositional groups within regions. Nowhere is this more clear than in the case of Chechnya and the Former Soviet Union, where this divisive effect has been the catalyst in forming such continued conflict.

As the international community failed to act to protect the Chechens from Russian military onslaught during the early and late 1990s, the regional ethnic rebellion has been forced to continue its fight for independence, which has unfortunately turned into desperation in the form of civilian targeted terrorist acts. "From the point of view of the international system," Richmond observes, "ethnic sovereignty is an anomaly caused by its own sovereign claims; from the point of view of the states, it is a fundamental threat to their integrity and survival, and also to their claim to a sovereign monopoly on legitimacy." [15] With the relative lack of interest from the international community concerning their struggle, it is of little wonder why the Chechen people see independence as key to their very survival; as the promises of the Westphalian sovereign state are their only recourse apart from the obviously undesired and desperate turn towards terrorism. If states receive no external recognition for their struggles, and if no one in the international community forms a coalition to help people against state terrorism, sections of the ethnic groups "may be tempted to use forms of low intensity violence such as terrorism in order to bring attention to their situation and apply pressure for change." [16] 

Rebellion turns to Terrorism - Enter the 'Black Widows'

For the past two years Chechen suicide bombers have struck nearly every month, targets ranging from Russian soldiers, to Chechen police officers, to innocent civilians. [17] Pape notes that despite Russia's attempts at garnering international acceptance through claims of fighting Islamic extremists, Chechen suicide attackers do not fit the same stereotypes of the Jihadist Muslim. [18] Rather, the Chechen militants are made up of an assortment of men and (mostly) women who have turned to terrorism as a last resort in response to Russia's constant battling near its South Eastern border. [19] 

Since 2000, there have been a recorded 42 separate events, whereby 63 people have killed themselves in the name of the Chechen rebellion, and of those 63 over 40% were women. [20] Pape points to one of the first well-known cases of Chechen suicide bombings that occurred on June 7, 2000. Two Chechen women, Khava Barayeva and Luiza Magomadova, drove a truck full of explosives into a Russian special foreces building in Alkhan-Yurt, Chechnya, killing an estimated two-dozen people. [21] 

The use of women in the attack proved successful in terms of the ease in which they were able to get around without raising suspicion. Ms. Barayeva made a martyr video before the attack, and in it she warned Russia that her attack was for Chechen independence, and at the same time sent out a message to Chechen men to make similar sacrifices for their country, to "not take the woman's role by staying at home." [22] Since her attack, Ms. Barayeva has been considered responsible for having inspired a movement of "black widows", who are "women who have lost a husband, child or close relative to the 'occupation' and killed themselves on missions to even the score." [23] These Black Widows have ranged in age between 15 and 37, and have been incredibly deadly in their attacks - the worst of which being the coordinated bombings of two passenger flights in August 2004, causing a total of 90 deaths, as well as the most recent bombing of two subway stations in March 2010. [24] 

What would cause someone to do something so drastic that they would be willing to sacrifice their own lives while murdering others to make it happen? Many of these Black Widows are victims of the Chechen war, as Pape mentions above, they have lost loved ones to the Russian 'occupation', and according to late rebel leader Abu al-Walid, "these women, particularly the wives of the mujahedeen who were martyred, are being threatened in their homes, their honor is being threatened. They do not accept being humiliated and living under occupation." [25] 

Such a woman was 17-year old Dzhanet Abdullayeva, from Dagestan, who was discovered to be one of the two suicide attackers in the most recent Subway bombings in Moscow. This young woman had been married and co-opted into the fight by a 30-year old militant leader named Umalat Magomedov, who was killed by federal forces in December 2009. [26] In what was most likely a plot for the revenge of her husband's death, Ms. Abdullayeva killed over 40 people in this most recent blast, and wounded many more. Her husband had been appointed a commander by the man who laid claim to the bombings two days later, Doku Umarov, "a former Chechen separatist who is now a proponent of global jihad." [27] 

Umarov is the same man who was responsible for the revival of Riyadus-Salikhin, or the "garden of Martyrs," which is a 'suicide formation' which took responsibility for the 2002 hostage-taking of a Moscow theater. In his claim over the recent bombings, Umarov said "the Russians think the war is distant. Blood will not only spill in our towns and villages but also it will spill in their towns… our military operations will encompass the entirety of Russia," [28] stating clearly that his violent intentions were not to spread global jihad but were for Chechen independence, "This is the land of our brothers and it is our sacred duty to liberate these lands." [29] 

With such a flurry of terrorist activity in the region, one is left questioning the usefulness of such tactics in actually affecting political change, not to mention the realistic plausibility of a long-lasting peace between the warring factions. The following section will look at potential ways in which this ethnic conflict and claim to sovereignty could have been avoided, as well as offer suggestions on how it can be repaired.

Support Mechanism through International Law, and Soft-Power

In an article titled Self-Determination: Chechnya, Kosovo, and East Timor, specialist in International Law, Jonathan Charney, compares the struggle for independence between Kosovo and Chechnya with the aim of pointing out how the former of the two gained international support for its independence, while the latter did not. This resulted in very two different outcomes for the two nations who both have had a history of violence in their regions, and who both sought independence in the post-colonial era all the way up until the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Charney shows that between the two-year period of the Soviet Union collapse and the subsequent stabilizing of the Russian government Chechens had taken their independence from the Former Soviet Union. However, he notes that

"during this period of de facto independence, the Chechen government failed to build any viable institutions of an independent state, and instead turned to criminal sources of support. During that period, Chechnya became a center of criminal activities of extraordinary proportions. In the end, it is even hard to conclude that the positions of the regime represented the popular will of the Chechen people." [30] 

The Russian response was indeed violent, as demonstrated above, and Charney notes that the only international response that was given to this event was the brutality of the Russian military towards the Chechens - to this day, he notes that there has been no serious support from the international community for self-determination today. [31] He says, "One has the sense that the international community accepted the view that Chechnya should remain a part of Russia." [32] 

While the Chechen claims to independence gained no support, the Albanian one did, and Charney seems to believe that the reasons for these may have stemmed from a misunderstanding or ignorance to international law. On one hand, the Albanian Kosovar's actions showed to the world that all possibilities for a peaceful settlement of disputes were exhausted, and also that the desire for self-determination was held by the majority of Albanian Kosovars. [33] On the other hand, the Chechen rebellion quickly turned into an armed and violent conflict whereby both sides resulted in the use of force, with the side seeking independence doing so without providing much or any proof that the forces fighting for Chechen state-hood actually represented the will of the Chechen people at large. [34] 

In order to avoid the sudden uprising of ethnic groups in all regions of the world, there is a system of international law that is used to recognize veritable pleas by ethnic groups seeking separation from the greater state within which they find themselves. The 'Doctrine of Self-Determination' is designed to aid in gaining international support for their causes, and in essentially justifying their dependence. They are as follows:

1. a bona fide exhaustion of peaceful methods of resolving the dispute between the government and the minority group claiming an unjust denial of internal self-determination, including efforts to use the good offices of other states and intergovernmental organizations;

2. a demonstration that the persons making the group's self-determination claim represent the will of the majority of that group; and

3. a resort to the use of force and a claim to independence is taken only as a means of last resort. [35] 

Put otherwise, there is a certain amount of legitimacy on behalf of the group seeking independence which represents a very real commitment on the behalf of the majority of members of the community seeking statehood, and this must be proven before the international community can provide support. Without this, any two-bit terrorist group or organization can mobilize a campaign against their government stating ethnic sovereignty as the legitimizing claims for their acts of military violence or terrorism, depending on the case. In regards to the Chechen situation as explained through the history of the independence movement all the way to the use of terrorist activity to further their cause, it is quite clear under the auspices of the above rules that the Chechen Independence movement has not fulfilled the so-called 'requirements' for garnering legitimate international support for statehood.

Without international recognition, what chance do Chechens have in finding peaceful solutions to their problems, and how can Russia avoid continued terrorist attacks from South Eastern Muslims who deny their actions are Jihadist in nature and claim a right over their lands?

Before beginning my research on this topic, it had occurred to me that a potential solution for such violent uprisings such as the case of Chechnya could come from proper diplomacy and the winning of minds within the region. I am a self-admitted optimist, even when it comes to problems of international relations, and as an aspiring diplomat in training, I find myself somewhat dismayed now that I have dug deeper into the challenging problems around sovereignty, international claims to self-determination by minority 'ethnies', and of the sever forms of state violence which was used against the Chechen people that eventually brought about terrorist acts such as the Subway bombing that happened last week.

I had begun with the idea that I would be able to use Joseph Nye's conception of Soft-Power to hopefully demonstrate how such situations could be avoided, and how through non-coercive military or economic tactics an ethnic-subgroup such as the Chechens could be pacified. However, as the complicated history of violence between the Russians and Chechens unfolded before me, I became somewhat doubtful about Nye's Soft-Power. After all, Soft-Power itself rests primarily the following three of a country's resources: "its culture (in places where it is attractive to others), its political values (when it lives up to them at home and abroad), and its foreign policies (when they are seen as legitimate and having moral authority)." [36] 

How could the government of the former Soviet Union, emerging from a Post-Cold War loss, burdened with having to remake itself entirely and take count of the territories it lost and retained, find a way to encourage the South Eastern regions of its territory to relax and stay along for the ride when they, having recently spun off into their own self-determined statehood, still faced echoes of a violent and bloody past? Russian television and culture was not enough, in fact, Chechens, Dagestans, and other tribal ethnic groups from the area have done nothing but distinguish themselves from Russian culture. Ex-Soviet political values could not be used as a way of encouraging Chechens to join the Russian Federation, as the Russians used their political power to attack and attempt to occupy the area before being ousted (for the first time in the early 1990s) by the Chechens. Finally, Russia's foreign policies were not even representing the Chechen movement as an ethnic call for independence, but rather labeled it as a war against Islamic Terrorists, as mentioned above.

What role does diplomacy and cultural attractiveness have when neither are existent in the historical equation? Is peace at all a possibility for the Chechen people, and can Russia do anything other than violence to curb the seemingly inevitable acts of terrorism against its citizens by its citizens?

Interestingly, Pape gives evidence that peace, though not guaranteed, has been made possible through various means. His research reveals a stark patter in the trajectory of Chechnya's 'suicide campaign: "27 attacks from June 2000 to November 2004, no attacks until October 2007, and 18 since," which forces us to ask ourselves 'what exactly happened between the period of 2004 and 2007? [37] 

It turns out that playing to the hearts and minds of the people can indeed have a positive effect on the outcome of a conflict. The reason for the calming of terrorist activities within this timeframe came from a loss of public support for the Rebellion in Chechnya for two reasons. The revulsion people felt after the 2004 Beslan school massacre, whereby Chechen rebels murdered hundreds of Russian children, caused the first. [38] "A bigger blow could not have been dealt on us," said one of the spokesman for the separatist movement at the time, "people around the world will think that Chechens are beasts and monsters if they could attack children." [39] 

Second, as Pape puts it "the Russians pursued a robust hearts-and-minds program to win over the war-torn population. Military operations killed significantly fewer civilians. Amnesty was granted to rebel fighters and nearly 600 Chechen separatists surrendered in 2006 alone." Taking less of a hard-lined approach, Vladimir Putin's government managed to quell the extremist approaches to violence for a few years, at least. Though I do not claim that this is evident proof that Nye's theory of Soft-Power is effective, one could draw parallels between the more peaceful approach that involves actually catering to the population that you, as a state, are in conflict with, and taking it in the other direction and conducting war against the same people expecting them to fall-in-line.

If anything, there is proof that violence only begets more violence, as the Russians did not continue to pursue their efforts to win over Chechens through non-violent means, which resulted in the resurrection of rebel violence. In 2007, Russia pressured the 'pro-Russian' Chechen government officials to eradicate the remainder of the separatist rebels in the area, which resulted in a counterterrorism offensive that used "notably harsh measures of its own." [40] According to Pape, "Suspected rebels were abducted and imprisoned, their families' houses were burned, and there were widespread accusations of forced confessions and coerced testimony in trials." [41] This was all conducted by the Chechen government itself - there were even claims brought about by The Times in February 2009 of the use of "extensive torture and executions under the Kadyrov administration," which detailed "efforts by Chechnya's government to suppress knowledge of its policies though official lies, obstruction and witness intimidation." [42] Even after the Russian government declared an end to all military operations in Chechnya in 2009, the region continued to burn with violence - the reason being that the Kadyrov government's counterterrorism activities were so harsh that some had actually begun to view Moscow as a moderating force in the region.

Though I do not want to wrongly associate Pape's work with Nye's Soft-Power, I will allow Pape to speak for himself:

Chechen suicide terrorism is strongly motivated by both direct military occupation by Russia and by indirect military occupation by pro-Russia Chechen security forces. Building on the more moderate policies of 2005 to 2007 might not end every attack, but it could well reduce violence to a level both sides can live with. [43] 

There is something to be said about diplomatic efforts and mutual agreement to end violence. So long as the age-old-adage of 'eye for an eye' continues to hold fast in the hearts of men and women who lose loved ones to war, so will there be violence and a festering desire to having the freedom to control one's destiny.


In my opinion, I believe Russia's claims to 'drag the terrorists out of the bottom of the sewers' is a very real and appropriate response to the recent bombings. However, I would like to err on the cautious side when considering military responses to these recent acts. We have seen how in the very subway bombings that occurred recently how the perpetrator was herself a victim of a husband lost in this conflict. How many more of these 'black widows' will be created if Russia continues this war against separatist rebels? How many more dead martyrs shall the Russians kill, inspiring more to fight with the death of 1? One must not respond to terrorist acts lying down - however, as has been seen through Pape's observations on how Russian policy can actually affect the number of terrorist attacks, perhaps Moscow should continue to appeal to the Chechen people, rather than wage a proxy-war against them through attacks on its hidden rebel population - poking out eye after eye, satisfied with itself only until it itself experiences another terrorist attack in retaliation, perpetuating the violent exchanges.

The Chechen conflict with Russia is evidently a complicated one. Soft-Power appeals towards individuals such as Doku Umarov and other extremists are bound to fail due to the severe ideological discrepancies between the parties, which points to the necessary use of moderated force in particular situations on behalf of the Russian government. Pape suggests that as long as the separatists view the present Chechen government as being nothing more than the Kremlin's puppets, any reasonable solution to the conflict must stem from the improvement of the legitimacy of Chechnya's core social institutions. [44] This, he suggests, would have to include free and fair elections; adopting internationally accepted standards of humane conduct among security forces; and equally distributing region's oil revenues so that Chechnya's Muslims can benefit from their own resources. [45] 

Pape does not believe that political solutions could resolve all of the issues, after all, the historical angst that lie between Russia and Chechnya is too deep with many open wounds that need tending to. However, he believes that the recent subway attacks should serve as a reminder to Russia that "quelling the rebellion with diplomacy is in its security interests," and as long as Chechens feel themselves under occupation, the cycle of violence will continue wreaking havoc across Russia." [46] 

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