matters of domestic policy, this one isrnbest left to local governments. Throughrncxpcrimcntahon, thev just might be ablernto create some policies to discourage reproductionrnby those unable adet[uatelyrnto care for their young, to remove childrenrnfrom the houses of crack dealers, orrnto enforce effectixeh’ the gun laws we alread’rnhac.rnRcmarkabb’, such experimentationrnmight actually be bearing fruit. Whilernthe sensationalizing of youth violencerncontinues apace, there is evidence thatrnthe actual incidence of such crime is onrnthe decline. Random acts of savage beharnior, especiallv among the urban underclass,rnhave been the norm throughoutrnmost of American histoiy. Candid socialrnscicuHsts confess that vc sHll don’t understandrnthe root causes of crime or socialrnpathologw There are still those whornbeliee that the problem is either geneticrnor enironmental, but there are also anrnincreasing number who sa’ it is ineradicablerneil itselfrnSocial tinkering around the edges ofrnthe problem won’t accomplish much; institutionalizationrnis both expensive andrnpoliticalb’ unpalatable. The UnitedrnStates nov’ has more of its population incarceratedrnthan docs any other leadingrnindustrial nation, and placing tiny felonsrnbehind bars is unappealing. Feloniesrnseem to be committed less frct|uentlv byrnthose \ ith a greater stake in the communit-,rnand moral, spiritual, cultural, orrneen economic response to the Michiganrntragcd}’ mav be more promising thanrnlegal ones.rn— Stephen B. PresserrnT H E CHECHEN WAR, as the Russianrnleadership discovered in earlvrnMarch, is far from over. On the night ofrnMarch 2, a convoy of nine trucks, carryingrnabout 100 hiternal Ministry specialrnforces troops from Grozny to the strategicallvrnimportant crossroads village of Pervomayskava,rnwas ambushed by an estimatedrn40 Chechen hoyevikiy (“fighters”rnor “warriors”). The first and last trucksrnwere taken out bv rocket-propelledrngrenades; the Chechens then rainedrnhea\ machine-gun fire on the trucksrntrapped in between. Around 40 of thernspecial forces troops were killed andrnaround 20 wounded, accordiirg to Russianrnmedia reports. Meanwhile, odierrnChechen troops counterattacked nearrnthe mouth of die Argun gorge in soudiernrnChechna, brieflv re-capturing severalrnvillages, then melting back into thernsnowy mountain passes.rnThe Russian military appeared confused,rnat first dening diat a successfulrncounterattack had taken place, then graduallyrnrevealing approximately what hadrnhappened. Vladimir Putin, appearingrnshaken and angry, told Russian televisionrnthat the “incompetence” of certain unnamedrnMVD officers was at fault. Thernmost embarrassing part of the entirernepisode was diat the ambush had takenrnplace in the “secure zone,” an area thatrnthe Russians had allegedly “mopped up”rnafter entering Grozny.rnVerv few people asked the obviousrnqueshon: Did the Russian military’, flushrnwith “victory” after taking Grozny, reallyrnbelieve diat the war was over? Plad the^rnalready forgotten the lessons of the lastrnwar? B’ the Kremlin’s own admission,rnbetween 2,000 and 5,000 hoyevikiy remainrnat large. None of the first-rankrnChechen warlords have been captured,rnand Chechnya’s borders —especiallv thernone with Georgia, through which thernChechens are being re-supplied —remainrnporous.rnThe truth is that die Russians were inrnabout the same position in 1995. Havingrntaken Grozny, the Russian expeditionaryrnforce had supposedly trapped the rebelsrnin the Argun Gorge. But the Chechensrndisappeared into the mountain passesrnand reappeared in the Russians’ rear,rnconducting ambushes and retaking, albeitrnbriefly, towns and villages in a “securernzone” that included Grozny, whichrnchanged hands several times in therncourse of the 1995-96 war.rnTrue, die Russians have shown signs ofrnlearning some of Hie lessons of die lastrnwar: Artillerv and airpower have clearedrnthe wa}’ for ground troops diis time, andrnthe Russians have seldom been foolishrnenough to send armored vehiclesrninto the streets of Grozny, where thernChechens often successfully ambushedrncoiivo’S during the first war. It is also truernthat the series of terrorist bombings lastrnfall and Putin’s air of competence andrnfirmness have so far kept the Russiansrn(meaning the edmicallv Russian; supportrnis ver’ diin among minorities, especiallyrnMuslims) firmh’ behind the war. But casualtiesrnare probablv twice as high as diernofficial figure of around 5,000 killed andrnwounded, and the unpopularitv of thernfirst war (a misnomer—the Russians andrnChechens have been fighting each otherrnfor 200 }ears) was based not on warm andrnfuzzy feelings for the Chechens, whomrnthe Russians frankly despise, but on thernsimple feeling among common peoplernthat the}’ did not wish dicir sons to die inrnvain, victims of a corrupt and incompetentrnsystem that treated its people as anrnexpendable commodih’.rn— Denis PetrovrnO B I T E R DICTA: Richard Moore, arnpoet from Belmont, Massachusetts, hasrncontributed two new poems to diis issue.rnMr. Moore is the author of nine books ofrnpoetry, as well as translations of Plautusrnand Euripides, a book of literary essays,rnand a novel, The Investigator. His most recentrnbook of verse. Pygmies and Pyramids,rnwas published by Orchises Press.rnMr. Moore teaches at Clark Universitvrnand gives fret[uent readings in the Bostonrnarea.rnOur illustrator this month is new to thernpages of Chronicles. A native of Canada,rnPatrick Fitzgerald studied illustration atrnthe Ontario College of Art and Design inrnToronto. Before becoming a freelance illustrator,rnhe worked for an advertisingrnagenc}’ for two ‘ears. His clients have includedrnthe Washington Post, the U.S.rnPo.stal Service, Harcourt Brace, Scholastic,rnPenguin, and Oxford UniversityrnPress. His work regularly appears in thernGlobe and Mail.rnLooking for a good book?rnSupport Chronicles by purchasing books, CDs, and other itemsrnthrough the Amazc^ link and search engine on our website:rnw’ww.chroniclesmagazine.orgrnChronicles w\ receive between 5 and 15 percent on every purchase.rnMAY 2000/9rnrnrn