The war between Russia and the Chechen separatist forces, from December 1994 to August 1996, may be seen by future historians as a key moment in Russian and even world history. This is not because of its immediate consequences, which seem likely to be limited, but because of the light it has thrown on one of the crucial developments of our time: the end of Russia as a great military and imperial power. In terms of sheer logistical achievement, the Chechen victory - against such odds - over the Russian army is one of the epics of colonial resistance this century. As a moment in military history, it has lessons to teach on military anthropology, the nature of urban combat, national mobilization, and the limits of air power. In addition to providing a step-by-step account of the conflict on the ground, Lieven takes issue with the prevalent Western schools of thought and writing about Russia, which have exaggerated its military strengths, misconstrued its political culture, swallowed its nationalist rhetoric, and transposed imagined "ideological quests" onto the Russian psyche. Despite what most "experts" would have us believe, ordinary Russians are not primarely concerned with empire, glory and national status, but with economics, security and the daily effort to survive. Despite the scale of the Russian defeat, the mystique of its military power remains tenacious in the West. Lieven's account demolishes the conventional black-and white view, ridicules the incessant repetition of the baseless and mistaken set of alternatives for the country's future, and sets Russia's humiliation at the hands of a tiny group of badly-organized guerrillas in a framework.
About Mr. Anatol Lieven
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Published April 20, 1998
by Yale University Press.
History, War, Political & Social Sciences, Travel.