#20 - JRL 7004
From: "Robert Bruce Ware" <...@brick.net>
Subject: "Futile Move in Chechnya" (JRL 7003)
Date: Fri, 3 Jan 2003
Having many times written to JRL to criticize American editorial accounts of the war in Chechnya, may I add a note in praise of the relatively balanced perspective that sometimes surfaces in the LA Times, and that did so again this morning (JRL 7003). The LAT rightly characterizes Moscow's closure of the OSCE office in Chechnya as futile and self-defeating. The OSCE did not help itself, or anyone else, with the lopsided, sometimes misguided, approach that it took during the early years of this conflict. But the organization's perspective has become more nuanced over time, and today there are few groups better positioned to offer the mediation that may prove useful as the conflict enters its final stages. The closure of the OSCE office can only hurt the cause of peace, and hinder Russia's objectives at a time when the West is finally beginning to understand its position.
The wintertime closure of Chechen refugee camps is equally self-defeating and even less justifiable. Russia must guarantee the rights of Chechen civilians before it claims them as citizens. Noncombatants must be protected, and any militants who may now be hiding in the camps will only find more supporters if they are forced to hide among them in the ruins.
Since American officials have begun to take a more balanced approach to the conflict they are now in a better position to remind Russian officials of their responsibilities, as partners in the present international struggle, to care for noncombatants and to promote human rights.