ationism that thcv fear, but democracy.rn— Stephen B. PresserrnFLINT, MICHIGAN, is the birthplacernof botli General Motors and the UnitedrnAuto Workers union (UAW), whichrnmakes the recent demise of Buick Cit’,rnits last automobile assembly plant, morerndian a little ironic. In June, GM closedrnBuick Cih’, idling 2,200 hourly workersrnat a plant that once employed 28,000rnbuilding Buick I.cSabres and PontiacrnBonne illes. About one-third of the laidoffrnworkers will be eligible for retirementrnbenefits, wlnle the remaining two-thirdsrncould be called to work at other facilihes.rnSince the late 1970’s, GM has eliminatedrnmore dian 250,000 jobs, includingrn50,000 in the Flint area. Buick City’s closurernis part of GM’s strateg)- to eliminaternup to 50,000 more jobs at its North Americanrnoperations in the next few years.rnOnce criticized as “Generous Motors,”rnthe automaker is slashing jobs in responsernto Wall Street’s demands that itrnmake itself more competitive in the globalrneconomy. GM has built automobilesrnin Flint since 1904. No more.rn”This action is one more example ofrnthe ‘America last’ strategy that’s drivingrnthe biggest corporahons in the U.S. to cutrnthe guts out of the economic future of toda’rns workers and their children,” UAWrnPresident Stephen Yokich said. “Closingrnthis facilits is a betrayal of GM’s workforce,rnof the eommunit’ and of the countnrn. . . ” Union officials noted that GM isrnbuilding eight plants overseas to take adxantagernof cheaper labor costs. ThernUAW, unable to stop the shutdown of autorntowns like Flint, has settled for collectivernbargaining agreements that requirernGM to offer remaining emploecs jobs atrnother facilihes.rnFlint autoworkers went on strike for 54rndas last ‘ear in response to fears that GMrnplanned to send their blue-collar jobs tornMexico as a result of NAFTA. “GeneralrnMotors would love to pull out, not justrnout of Flint, but out of the United States,”rnone striker said as Bruce Springsteen’srn”Born in the USA” blared out of a picketlinernloudspeaker. “They’ve got our backsrnagainst the wall.” The strike at hvo FlintrnGM facilihes eventually idled more thanrn190,000 CJM workers nahonwide, effectivehrnsliutting down the corporation’srnNorth American operation. The UAWrnwas born during the sitdown strikes inrnFlint in the mid-1930’s, but the reactionrnthis time was ver’ different. “They’rerntoast,” one Wall Street analyst said ofrnFlint autoworkers when the strike finallvrnended.rnNAFTA critic Pat Buchanan receivedrn37 percent of the vote in Michigan’srn1996 GOP primary, his best performancernin any state. Buchanan benefitedrnfrom UAW members in blue-collar localesrnlike Flint who crossed over to cast arnballot for his “America First” agenda.rnBut in the next election, with the Republicansrnseemingly poised to nominaternGeorge W. Bush and the Democrats setrnto pick Al Gore, there are few options —rneconomic or political —for the formerrnautoworkers of Buick Cit.rn— Grt’o KazarnT H E FIGHTING IN DAGESTANrnwas abating as of late August. Russianrnfirepower had slowed the ChechenbackedrnIslamic militants, led by an internationalrncorps of Islamists, includingrnChechen “field commander” (read:rn”warlord”) Shamil Basayevaud the Jordanianrnprofessional militant known oiilv asrn”Khattab.” ‘I’hey had seized 20 townsrnand villages in the mountainous regionrnof western Dagestan, and the emissariesrnof the newly proclaimed “Islamic Re]5ul>rnlie,” reportedly backed by Osama BinrnLadin’s network, fanned out to the capitalsrnof die Islamic world, seeking aid andrnrecognition, casting themselves as holyrnwarriors fighting the armies of the infidel.rnOnly by concentrating the firepowerrnof their shrinking number of battle-rcad’rnunits and deploying elite airbornerntroops—Yeltsin’s Pretorian Guard, usuallyrnheld in reserve near Moscow —did thernRussians turn back the tide. For now.rnNeverdieless, the niujahedin are said tornhave made inroads in recruiting thernmountain peoples of the hodgepodge Republicrnof Dagestan (in part because Russianrncommanders displayed their usualrnhamfisted approach to counter-insurgenernwarfare, killing innocent villagersrnalong with “bandits” in air and artiller-rnbombardments), and Basa)ev has announcedrnthat die war is simply entering arnnew “partisan” phase. Moscow isrngripped by fear of terrorist attacks, andrnRussian troops have failed to seal the borderrnwith Chechnya. In the Russian hinterlands,rnthe parents of conscript troopsrnare uneasy, as are the troops themselves:rnThe Russians despise the Caucasianrn”blacks” and back punitive actionsrnagainst Basayev’s bases in Chechna, butrnnobodv wants to die to keep these wildmenrnwithin the Russian Federation. Thernoften puny, diseased conscripts don’trnknow what the’ are supposed to be fightingrnfor, since most Russians have alreadyrnfled Chechnya, Dagestan, and Ingushetiarnfor the Russian Caucasus. ThernStavropol and Krasnodar Cossacks arcrnarming themselves, preparing again tornplay the role of frontier guardian.rnMeanwhile, the Chechens havernstepped up their most lucrative cottagernindustry: kidnapping. The hostage tradernis a source of extra income tor thernChechen elans, but it also helps explainrnjust what the Islamists are up to in Dagestan.rnRanging as far awa- as Moscovs’, thernChechen kidnapping gangs are nornlonger restricting themscKes to ransomstrnle snatches. They want slaves, Russianrnslaves, but of a particular hpe — techniciansrnwho can operate the oil pipelinesrnand refineries in Chechnya, for thernChechens (and their patrons) have bigrnplans. Those plans involve Caspian Searnoil, pipeline routes through the Caucasus,rnand the creation of an Islamic confederationrnin the Nordi Caucasus. Butrnthe projected confederation needs anrnoudet on the Caspian, so Dagestan wasrntargeted by the Islamic geostrategists. Itrnmay need one on die Black Sea as well,rnwhich explains Chechen terroristrnSalman Raduyev’s attempted assassinationrnof Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadzernlast year and his backing ofrnGeorgian Abkaz separatists. But the zealrnof the Islamists and the aid of Muslimrnstates was not enough. The “field commanders”rnneeded a mediator, someonernw ith contacts in the Caucasus, the Westrn(the Russians are justifiabh’ suspicions ofrnWestern oil companies wlio would like torncut them out of the potentially lucrativernCaspian oil flow), and Moscow.rnThey found their man —or maybe hernfound them —in the person of Kremlinrncourtier, media magnate, and bankingrn”oligarch” Boris Abramovich Berezovsky,rnknown as “BAB” far and wide. BAB is alternatelyrna Russian patriot, a captain ofrnindustry (he is part owner of the Sibneftrnoil company, among others), a sufferingrnJew (his critics are autoniatieally dubbedrn”antisemitic” bv his growing stable ofrnnewspapers and TV stations), Russia’srnMoriarty, and a Thinker of GreatrnThoughts who uses his media to opinernon Russian politics, history, economics,rnand societ}-. But most of all, BAB is a survivor.rnWidi Yeltsin a lame duck, investigatorsrnseizing his Swiss bank accounts,rnand his enemies poised for a post-YeltsinrnNOVEMBER 1999/7rnrnrn