Dirty War

Letter to the Editor of the Financial Times

by Milo Clark

September 3, 2001


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Dear Editor.

Andrew Jack (Financial Times, 16th August 2001) writes soberly in review of Anna Politkovskaya's essays on Chechen conflagrations, A Dirty War.

Historian John Lukacs indicates that much of contemporary written history is both unhistorical and ahistorical. He also submits that we may be re-entering history after an extended ahistorical/unhistorical passage.

History, as Lukacs suggests, is redolent, replete, overrun and overwhelmed by barbarity, savagery and untold perhaps untellable horrors. Barbarity is both norm and normative, therefore, rather than exception. To ignore barbarity is to ignore history.

Author Daniel Quinn suggests that the easiest secret to keep is one no one wants to hear. Barbarity as soul of human history may be one of those easy secrets.

To the extent we ignore or downplay this base beat of humankind, to the extent we declare ourselves above barbarity and point accusing fingers at those deemed "barbarians," we indulge in illusion more than actuality.

There is little difference to victims whether hacked by machete or made dust by explosives rained in from 30,000 feet. It takes guts to use the machete, training and technology to carry and to drop bombs. Death is constant either way.

Peter the Great of Russia (1672-1725) turned the world upside down, quite literally, by ordering maps printed with south at top and north at bottom. Try it. Turn your world, penetrate a great conditioning, call forth an unexamined assumption.

The great crescent from Aegean to Bering Seas caps Russia. Whether Imperial or Soviet or Commonwealth partner, Russia has been consistent and successful in dominating that crescent. Within that constancy, Putin makes great sense.

The famous Great Game played out with Imperial Britain which centered on Afghanistan, is also played out everywhere along that crescent. Russia pushes a bit here and gives a bit there, takes a few kilometers and gives a few. Russia hangs in.

To name Chechnya a "breakaway republic" betrays a shallow understanding of regional history as well as misnaming governance there. The assorted aggregations of peoples along Russia's southern borders have been engaged in see-saw mutual decimations long before scribes starting setting down histories.

Taking no prisoners there is certainly as old as Old Testament genocide by a God in His most wrathful aspects. The object is to conquer land not peoples. Even more true now that those lands rest on top vast reservoirs of oil, etc. Who needs people alive?

While looking at your upside-down now right-side-up map, south at top, north at bottom; glance at the landmasses held, one, by USA and, two, by PRChina. That glance may be among the more instructive available to strategists.

Russia, however humbled, however weakened, still has access to more raw materials, more resources and much, much more land -- with relatively few people. Russia's resources are barely tapped, while the USA is much depleted. And PRChina is overwhelmed by people replicating people.

Recent conflicts of note, from Southeast Asia across to Afghanistan and into the near and middle east up into the Balkans, down into Africa show barbarity enhanced by technology co-existing with barbarity at most intense and direct person-to-person levels.

Future is as likely to be decided by AK47s and machetes as stealth bombers. "Peace Processes" cloak pauses at best. Very patient peoples are very patiently waiting to strike yet again -- and to take no prisoners.

History tells us to be concerned, to be watchful whenever whoever may be Russia signs a treaty with whomever may be China -- such as now. Barbarity is sure to be rampant on that escutcheon.

Milo Clark
Pahoa, HI
August 19, 2001



       Milo Clark, a founding member of Swans, had it all: Harvard MBA, big house, three-car garage, top management... Yet, once he had seemingly achieved the famed American dream he felt something was missing somewhere. As any good executive he decided to investigate. Since then, he has become a curmudgeon and, after living in Berkeley, California, where he was growing bamboos, making water gardens, listening to muses, writing, cogitating and pondering, he has moved on to the Big Island in Hawaii where he creates thought forms about sunshine. Milo can be reached at Swans.

       Please, DO NOT steal, scavenge or repost this work without the expressed written authorization of Swans, which will seek permission from the author. This material is copyrighted, © Milo G. Clark 2001. All rights reserved.

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Some of Milo Clark's Commentaries on Swans

Two Epiphanies - 08/20/01

Please Be Patient (a five-part series) - 06/25/01

Events - 05/28/01

Perspective and Perspectives - 05/14/01

Project Re-Think Thinking: Serendipity and Sparks of Genius - 04/30/01

Croatan - 04/2/01

Barbaric Silence - 03/5/01

The Resource Base - 02/5/01

Addendum to ...Dream - 01/8/01

...Dream - 01/8/01


Published September 3, 2001
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