By the same token, the BBC and other media sources are putting it about that Russian TV played down the Beslan crisis, while only western channels reported live, the implication being that Putin’s Russia remains a highly controlled police state. But this view of the Russian media is precisely the opposite of the impression I gained while watching both CNN and Russian TV over the past week: the Russian channels had far better information and images from Beslan than their western competitors. This harshness towards Putin is perhaps explained by the fact that, in the US, the leading group which pleads the Chechen cause is the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya (ACPC). The list of the self-styled “distinguished Americans” who are its members is a rollcall of the most prominent neoconservatives who so enthusastically support the “war on terror”.

They include Richard Perle, the notorious Pentagon adviser; Elliott Abrams of Iran-Contra fame; Kenneth Adelman, the former US ambassador to the UN who egged on the invasion of Iraq by predicting it would be “a cakewalk”; Midge Decter, biographer of Donald Rumsfeld and a director of the rightwing Heritage Foundation; Frank Gaffney of the militarist Centre for Security Policy; Bruce Jackson, former US military intelligence officer and one-time vice-president of Lockheed Martin, now president of the US Committee on Nato; Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute, a former admirer of Italian fascism and now a leading proponent of regime change in Iran; and R James Woolsey, the former CIA director who is one of the leading cheerleaders behind George Bush’s plans to re-model the Muslim world along pro-US lines.

Allegations are even being made in Russia that the west itself is somehow behind the Chechen rebellion, and that the purpose of such support is to weaken Russia, and to drive her out of the Caucasus. The fact that the Chechens are believed to use as a base the Pankisi gorge in neighbouring Georgia - a country which aspires to join Nato, has an extremely pro-American government, and where the US already has a significant military presence - only encourages such speculation. Putin himself even seemed to lend credence to the idea in his interview with foreign journalists on Monday.

Proof of any such western involvement would be difficult to obtain, but is it any wonder Russians are asking themselves such questions when the same people in Washington who demand the deployment of overwhelming military force against the US’s so-called terrorist enemies also insist that Russia capitulate to hers?~ John Laughland, The Guardian

The hatred of Russia, and indeed the apparent hatred of all Western and Christian societies engaged in struggles with Muslim extremists, is one constant factor in neoconservatism. I submit that neoconservatives only desire American hegemony to the extent that they can also effectively purge America of her Christian and European heritage.

Every major foreign policy prescription in Europe or central Asia that neoconservatives have advocated has been aimed in part or in full at encircling, weakening and gradually destroying Russia, at least as a major power. The recent double-standard on Chechen-Islamic terrorism is just the latest in a long line of anti-Russian policies, including the bombing of Yugoslavia, the coddling of Chechen warlords, permanent central Asian military bases, the expansion of NATO and, of course, the unequivocal support for Georgian dictator Saakashvili. This obsession with weakening the Russians also suggests that these people are more mired in the Cold War than anyone, and that they are the most unfit and unqualified to advise our country in a time when entirely different strategies and ideas are required.

From the perspective of American interests, the persistent Russophobia of the neoconservatives is more than dangerous–it is insane. A stable, united and peaceful Russia is the interests of all Europeans and Asians, and whether or not America remains deeply enmeshed in the Old World it is our vital interest that nothing contribute to the instability or disintegration of Russia, which could someday provoke continent-wide outbreaks of violence and an unacceptably high risk to Russians’ retaining control over their own nuclear arsenal. Our foreign policy wonks once played a very dangerous game in Afghanistan using Muslim fanatics against the Russians, and it came back to haunt us in the worst way. No one should allow these neoconservative hacks to dictate American policy on Chechnya, which would only run the same risks as before without any good reason. Their hatred of Russia must be challenged, especially now when the similarities between our fight and the Russian fight are so unmistakably close.