I am surprised to read Rob's arguments that Russia is not going to win.
This war is well-supplied logistically and they are already digging in and
are prepared to surround Grozny and shell it throughout a long winter. They
persist in ruling out negotiations. 

The one thing that can be said for them is unlike in Kosovo and East Timor,
the local population has not been terrorised by para-military fascists. 

On the main theoretical difference between Dave and Bob, I am alarmed to
find myself agreeing with both of them. Rather than argue however between
Russia as a developing imperialist state or as a colony, I would like to
suggest a formula I heard at a seminar on the world economy in London 8
days ago. It was from someone from a Trotskyist background. It was that
there are such things as sub-imperialisms. The definition would be where
the entity keeps some share of surplus value for itself.

I think despite our many other differences all of us can see that the West
has been particularly soft on Yeltsin for entirely discreditable reasons.
It is essentially allowing him to play the idea of becoming a
sub-imperialism. They calculate that he will have to compromise and accept
a subordinate position within a global capitalism dominated by the US. 

BTW I note contributors denouncing the possibility of a western
"humanitarian intervention" into Chechnya. What you are not distinguishing
is between a military attack and financial pressure, of the sort that got
the Indonesian troops to withdraw from East Timor. It is quite clear that
the west could have imposed the latter, and for *imperialist* reasons
decided not to. They would rather do business with a corrupt Yeltsin/Putin
regime that oppresses subject nationalities, than a lefter Primakov type

Perhaps Dave or Bob will not buy it, but what about "sub-imperialism" as a
relevant half-way concept for what Russia under Yeltsin is trying to achieve?

Chris Burford


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