re: Jackson Diehl on Extremists; from: John Evans

File Photo of Boston Bombings Aftermath with Ambulance and Security Personnel

Subject: Jackson Diehl on Extremists
From: John Evans <evansinusa@aol.com>
Date: Thu, 2 May 2013

Jackson Diehl’s attempt to conflate the Chechen rebels with the Syrian rebels (“Extremists of Putin’s Own Making,” Washington Post op-ed, April 29, JRL #80) and then blame it all on the Russian President risks misleading readers into imagining that Russia, not Islamist extremism, is our current problem.  Have we Americans not learned the lessons of the monster we created by arming the mujaheddin to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, only to have them turn on us on 9/11?  Much of the fighting in the two Chechen wars of the 1990s was financed by the same Persian Gulf allies of the United States who largely paid for the Afghan war and are now financing the Syrian rebels — where Chechen fighters have now turned up.  I remember seeing the heads of Norwegians and New Zealanders in the snow, cut off by Chechens.  I also recall seeing film of a Chechen fundamentalist sawing off the head of another Chechen in a bid to enforce sharia law (admittedly, these clips were on Russian television, but where did such hatred come from?).  Now our marathoners have been bombed in Boston and a campus policeman was cruelly assassinated.  I also, while serving as U.S. Consul General in St. Petersburg (1994-97) was targeted by Chechens — and this was before Mr. Putin ever dreamed of being Russian Prime Minister, much less President.  From my acquaintance with Mr. Putin in St. Petersburg in those years, I find it laughable that Jackson Diehl and others who have never lived in Russia (David Kramer of Freedom House comes to mind) invest him with such evil powers.  He’s no Thomas Jefferson, but he is hardly Beelzebub.

I was Consul General in St. Petersburg 1994-1997, and was acquainted with Vladimir Putin, then the first deputy mayor.