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Web Letter

I have been following this North and South Cacausus thing for over twenty years as a poli-sci expert and news and features editor--a lot longer than any intern--and I have written about the nature of the problem also. But I must warn the West: the overthrow of Putin/Medvedev would lead to a much, much worse despotic-type regime. It would elevate to power a former Yeltsin-era CPSU member with notions of Russian "Manifest Destiny" or a current Communist-elite like Gennady Andreyevich Zyuganov, the first secretary now running the show. It would not stop terror, only increase the move to the left, harden the hidden post-Soviet ambitions of the CPSU and technically re-create the Soviet Union. The Russian Empire is 1,000 years old (Tsarist or Soviet) and is a land of dozens of countries, peoples and languages, and they don't need to add the Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltics back to turn back the clocks twenty years. They will do what they need to do; who are we to lecture anyone on us of force versus terrorism? We advocated the break-up of the Soviet Union in a somewhat violent manner, and now you have what the West did not anticipate: a revanchist Russian Empire that will lash out defensively as they did in August 2008!

John Osborne

Glens Falls, NY

Apr 1 2010 - 3:44pm

Web Letter

Thank you for this passionate, clear and intelligent report on the bombings in Moscow. While the conflict with the northern parts of the former Soviet Union has gone on for centuries, it is important to note the geographic significance of this region to the Black Sea and its strategic locale for transporting oil from the region to other parts of the world. If these regions had no resources or such access to the Black Sea, that would quell much of the turmoil. Their potential independence is a significant threat to the economic well-being of the former USSR. When human resources are given equal value to oil sales, perhaps a more humane approach will be possible.

margaret rinaldi

Seattle, WA

Mar 30 2010 - 6:14pm

Web Letter

Pierre Trudeau, a former prime minister of Canada, once remarked that living next to the United States was like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly the elephant, you feel its presence every time it turns over. Despite our rather ponderous presence, the US will have a good relationship with Canada, as long they get the Gold Medal for ice hockey in the Olympics.

As the author of this excellent article has noted, the Northern Caucasus has been a problem for centuries. We should add Russia has also been a ponderous presence in Europe and Asia for centuries. There are many countries and regions where the tide of Russian conquests have rolled over them and then retreated, leaving problems in their wake. Neither Russia or these disputed states have disappeared. Will these centuries-old conflicts be resolved or be a recurring nightmare over more centuries?

Prime Minister Putin's anger over the subway attacks is understandable, but, for the long term, conflict resolution must replace the use of force. The use of force may provide temporary tactical successes, but conflict resolution is the strategy where both parties win.

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

Mar 30 2010 - 4:35pm