THE WAR IN CHECHNYA by Stasys Knezys


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A detailed study aimed at military analysts and scholars rather than the general reading public. The authors (Knezys is a former military advisor to Lithuania’s president; Sedlickas is a former US Air Force major) provide only a cursory introduction to the historical background of the Chechens’ fight for independence, while the bulk of the book describes in minute detail the events of the war itself. The dry prose and clinical-sounding text is accompanied by numerous maps that provide readers with a general geographic orientation and with carefully prepared plans of battle sites. But Knezys and Sedlickas also move beyond microanalysis of the battlefield, offering opinions on broader political questions raised by the war in Chechnya. To begin with, both authors are of Lithuanian background and use Lithuania and the plight of such newly independent countries as a point of comparison with Chechnya. Asking whether Lithuanians would respond to Russian aggression as did the Chechens, the authors respond positively; they then use the example to support their theory that future wars of independence by small countries will feature military terrorism against larger aggressors. Indeed, the authors’ claims for the legitimacy and efficacy of military terrorism lies at the center of their analysis. Knezys and Sedlickas are critical of the West’s view of Russia and what they perceive as the West’s insensitivity to independence struggles in the former Soviet Union. In short, they assert that the West ought to “delve into the harsher realities” of Russian colonialism and question its own recognition of some massive atrocities (i.e., Kosovo) but not others. Finally, the authors deliberately evaluate the role and personality of Chechen leader Dzhochar Dudajev in a more favorable light than have many, stressing self-sacrifice for the national good over the oft-cited accusations of criminal activity of Dudajev and the “Chechen mafia.” Provides a thorough analysis and offers thoughtful and potentially controversial insights into how the West has responded to the fight for Chechen independence.

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 1999
ISBN: 0-89096-856-X
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Texas A&M Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1999