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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mad Men Make World Go Round

Truth will out. Now that both Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Dzhokhar Dudayev have said the West is responsible for engineering and bankrolling the war in Chechnya, forcing the presumably otherwise peaceable and helpless Chechen and Russian governments into war, there is no point denying it any more.


On Tuesday night, Dudayev was shown on Russian Television accusing the West of giving Russia $6 billion to pursue the war in Chechnya, and warning that "when the time comes," his soldiers would take their conflict to Western Europe.


Furthermore, Dudayev said he was bringing a criminal case against U.S. President Bill Clinton in connection with the charges. Apparently, no sooner will Clinton be finished testifying in the Whitewater affair than he will be back in court on charges of stirring a war in Chechnya. At least Hillary should be able to sit this one out.


Zhirinovsky long ago laid responsibility for the war in Chechnya at the door of the West, although he thought the West was paying the Chechens. The details, however, are unimportant. What matters is what such wild talk says about the men conducting this war. Zhirinovsky, of course, does not have much say on the Russian side, but Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and Federal Security Service chief Mikhail Barsukov do. It was Grachev who boasted he could take Grozny in a few hours, and Barsukov who publicized his considered opinion that Chechens as a people are best at killing and stealing.


But, in case it was needed, Dudayev's outburst Tuesday offered a reminder that he is more than a match for any unreasonable craziness that Moscow's barons can offer. And that is depressing indeed.


For although there is no justifying the way Moscow has handled Chechnya's bid for independence, Dudayev offers an almost impossible circle that must be squared. Without him, any peace is likely to fail. With him, no rational solution is likely.


Moscow, in its ham-fisted way, has been trying to circumvent this problem all along. First, before the war, it cultivated an opposition to Dudayev and tried to use them to topple him. That strategy failed spectacularly.


Then came an all-out invasion. That continues to fail.


Then Moscow declared a truce and cultivated other Chechen leaders, attempting to split them from Dudayev. That too has failed. Assassination allegedly has been tried. Finally, Moscow held local elections and installed its own champion in Grozny. That has so far resolved nothing.


The one thing Moscow has not tried is to negotiate with Dudayev. This, as Dudayev showed by his outburst Tuesday, is not promising -- but it is the only avenue left.