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Why the Russian Military Failed in Chechnya

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Special study

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Nations usually resort to using military force when lesser means of persuasion have proven inadequate. Conflict results when one country or people has been unsuccessful in forcing another country or people to submit to its will. As Clauswitz remarked, War is merely an extension of politics by other means. In the modern understanding, the decision to employ force often rests upon the assumption that lesser means of persuasion have failed. Many maintain that using the military instrument of power prior to exhausting the more civilized methods of resolving conflict reflects aggression, imperialism, or at least, impatience. Modern, democratic behavior rests upon the assumption that military force should be used only as a last resort. In this era of peacekeeping, an equally valid argument, however, can be made for the early and preventative use of force. Applying firm and decisive military force prior to the onset of hostilities can often serve to deter the potential aggressor. Crudely expressed, spilling a little blood today may preclude spilling a lot tomorrow. When dealing with those who dont share the same liberal beliefs toward conflict resolution, exhaustive diplomatic manuverings, sanctions and warnings are interpreted as weakness and lack the persuasive power of a resolute, though limited, use of force. In the recent Russian military involvement in Chechnya October 1994-September 1996, a sloppy mixture of these two approaches is evident. Russian tanks crossed into Chechnya in December 1994 to establish constitutional order in Chechnya and to preserve the territorial integrity of Russia. This drastic step was the last in a series of increasingly forceful and largely unsuccessful attempts to remove Chechen President Dzhokar Dudayev from power, crush the Chechen claims of independence and impose the Russian Federations political and economic control of this region.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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