Here’s A Bit More Context

by Joshua Foust on 11/24/2008 · 1 comment

Nathan Hodge is talking surges and Soviet General-Presidents.

The “limited contingent” of Soviet forces was roughly twice the current size of the NATO International Security Assistance Force, and [Ruslan] Aushev is definitely a skeptic on the surge…

Now, the Soviet experience in Afghanistan should not necessarily be a guide for action. The Red Army waged a brutal, indiscriminate campaign in which over a million civilians were killed. Likewise, the Taliban do not enjoy the kind of material support the mujahideen received from the United States, Saudi Arabia and others. But Aushev’s main recommendation squares with what the top U.S. general in Afghanistan is now saying: talk to the moderate elements of the Taliban. “You need to talk with the Taliban, come to terms,” he said. “The Taliban should be engaged by the organs of power … You should find common points with them.”

Aushev is a fascinating character. During the 1994-1996 war in Chechnya, he was able to keep the conflict from spilling over into the neighboring republic of Ingushetia (the Ingush are the ethnic cousins of the Chechens). Aushev was later replaced as president of Ingushetia by KGB veteran Murat Zyazikov; under Zyazikov’s heavy-handed rule, the small republic has been on a violent downward spiral.

A fascinating character indeed. Aushev resigned on 12/28/2001, a good fifteen months before the scheduled election in March of 2003. He claims to have resigned to “preserve stability,” or simply because he was tired, which led amid claims by exiled Chechens that he was forced out by a Moscow unhappy with his conciliatory approach to Chechnya (a less charitable view would say Aushev provided Chechen separatists a convenient rear base). It’s a stretch to say Aushev kept the Chechen war from “spilling over” into Ingushetia—it had nothing to do with the “ethnic cousinry” of the Ingush and Chechens, but rather Aushev’s loud insistence on creating a permanent space for refugees in Ingush territory and his opposition to “the use of force” (i.e. mass murder) to resolve Chechnya’s independence. Whether that played a role in keeping Chechen rebels out of Ingushetia (which is itself debatable) is quite impossible to say, though it’s a fair bet it kept him from being the target of assassination.

Then again, Moscow rather unceremoniously kicked out Zyazikov last month. In his place is Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, the latest in a long line of career soldiers given the job of crushing Ingush dissent. Aushev isn’t exactly an objective figure: he’s been silently running his own re-election campaign in Ingushetia since at least the summer, and probably before.

It’s good Hodge thinks the U.S. “should not necessarily” take advice from a man who is quite literally a monster responsible for carpet-bombing villages and ruining countless thousands of lives. It is no matter he remains a sort-of popular figure in Ingushetia; in Afghanistan his behavior was abhorrent, and it’s pretty galling Hodge doesn’t quite point that out.

Then again, Hodge thinks Rummy is talking sense about not needing more troops—forgetting, of course, that Rumsfeld’s original refusal to send more troops is at least partially responsible for the current elevated levels of violence flowing from our inability to secure contested areas.

So, what’s with all this context-less writing? You need more than a quick Google search to get this stuff right.

Previously:
Repeating the Past & Failures of NCW
On the Necessity of Security
Will We Ever Learn?
Collateral Damage? What?
Saving Afghanistan: A Response to Rory Stewart


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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 1 comment }

Oldschool Boy November 25, 2008 at 7:14 am

What a BS! Aushev’s resposible for carpet bombing?
Aushev despite he was a hero and a legend among Soviet troops in Afghanistan could never be resposible for carpet bombing, since he was merely a comander of an infantry regiment and as such could not be in charge of any bombing.
You need to know Soviet Army to understand that infantry and air force were separate entities and air force would not be commanded by an infantry oficer, especially of such a low rank as a regiment comander.
Aushev was known to receive his Golden Star of Soviet Hero, which was the highest honour in Soviet Union for having lowest losses among his troops in the whole war.
He is a highly talented military officer, who could achieve very high positions in Army who however left the service simply to be with his own people. He was realy the one who stopped his Ingush people from slipping into bloodshed. He is highly respected men in Ingushetia and in the entire Caucasus region. That is I believe a reason why he was forced out by Putin – Putin as a mediocre hates everybody strong and talented.
I would listed to what Aushev says

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