Monday, December 15, 2014

Sand castle geopolitics II

As was promised, I continue......

Warfare is not a joke. Continental warfare? It is a nightmare. And then there is WW II. Industrial scale war of annihilation. Let us make some historical comparisons, they are not only warranted but inevitable. In Hollywood's version (really bad one--imagine Russian John Wayne) of Tolstoy's War And Peace with incomparable Audrey Hepburn as Natasha, and no less incomparable Henry Fonda as Pierre Bezukhov, a drab and, obviously, drunk Kutuzov discusses how to stop....250, 000 French troops who invaded Russia. It is a painful experience for normal Russian to watch this, since it is a well-known fact (as well as among scholars of Napoleonic Wars) in Russia that Napoleon invaded Russia with a force excess of 700, 000 combat troops (without rear "services")  who represented the whole of Europe. At that point, it was the greatest Army (Grande Armee) ever assembled.  Poles were really prominently represented. So, these guys go in, are met with Russian Armies and go at it until they clash at apocalyptic Borodino Battle, where in a duration of the light day of 7 September, 1812 they slaughtered (killed, not wounded) 51, 000 Russians and 37, 000 French (and others). Owen Connelly is quite explicit in his superb "Blundering To Glory: Napoleon's Military Campaigns." So, 88,000 people killed in about 8-10 hours of battle. Borodino is also considered the first artillery battle. Are we getting the perspective yet? I, of course, am not talking about hundreds of thousands of Russian civilians killed, maimed, disappeared etc. 

Well, meanwhile in the US, the Napoleonic War, or as it is known in the US, War Of 1812, saw a battalion and regiment action in which, in about 8 months, roughly a fifth of what Napoleon and Kutuzov slaughtered at Borodino in 10 hours, died. Of all causes. This is a very peculiar ratio since the United States lost in WW II combined (on both theaters) less than a fifth of what Wehrmacht (plus Axis Allies) and Red Army managed to lose in a single  Battle Of Stalingrad. In fact, more Russians died in the 900-days siege of Leningrad than US lost in all of its wars combined since the inception (founding). Why does it matter? I want to deviate a bit here. I am writing about scales which matter globally but those scales in no way deny American or British soldiers and sailors the heroism and dedication they exhibited fighting Nazism and Japanese Imperialism (not that British have a good say in that). Heroism of 2nd and 99th Divisions at Ardennes, as well as Hodges' First Army, or the insane heroics of aviators of Taffy III at the Battle Off Samar, as well as incomparable heroism of USS Samuel B. Roberts, among many, remain a manifestations of a human spirit and valor in the selective group of phenomena, which all of us characterize as "without equals". But the scale still matters.....   

Scale defines what is known as the shared national historical experience. Or, in a layman's lingo--until they shoot or bomb you to smithereens, you have no idea. Russia (USSR) lost in WW II 27 million people, most of them civilians, US lost about 300,000--all servicemen. European Russia was obliterated, in the US-the hardship of fast getting out of Great Depression was in the range of rationing the ham, in Leningrad people were happy with 125 grams of faux-bread. While US students study Anne Frank's diary, the Diary of Tanya Savicheva is unknown. 

The question is, thus, what impact? And that is where the whole thing goes haywire. It is one thing to study some political mambo-jumbo in the Ivy League madras,  totally another--to live, generation after generation, in the family knowing that someone close was killed on the fronts, or survived through concentration camp or slavery, of the WW II. Scale defines the attitude to war. Russians hate war, I hate it, and I have some minor experiences. Continental warfare, its scale, its savagery, especially in the 20th century, is beyond comprehension of the overwhelming majority of the Americans and political class they elect. John Boehner cries, remembering his childhood, well, he should have tried to see my father choking on food in his mature years, in the fat times of Brezhnev's stability. They didn't teach kids, who just lost mother from hunger and father killed at the front, how to eat in 1941-42--they needed to survive. I don't cry, I carry on, I just hate war. The question, thus, which one has to ask is this--do Madeline Albright, Samantha Power, Susan Rice or Victoria Nuland have any idea what war is? I am pretty sure they don't, as famous "aneurism" quote from Collin Powell suggests. 

Behold, we have an Ivy League educated lawyers and b.tches coming on-line and they will tell us how cool it is to die for their egos "larger than cathedrals"(c) since they, surely, know what are they talking about. 

Excuse me, friends, I must catch my jet
I’m off to join the Development Set;
My bags are packed, and I’ve had all my shots
I have traveller’s checks and pills for the trots!
The Development Set is bright and noble
Our thoughts are deep and our vision global;
Although we move with the better classes
Our thoughts are always with the masses.
In Sheraton Hotels in scattered nations
We damn multi-national corporations;
injustice seems easy to protest
In such seething hotbeds of social rest.
We discuss malnutrition over steaks
And plan hunger talks during coffee breaks.
Whether Asian floods or African drought,
We face each issue with open mouth.

Ross Coggins

Here is a good quote by Michael  Lind. 

"The possibility of military defeat and invasion are usually left out of the United states and Britain. The United States, if one discounts Pearl Harbor has not suffered a serious invasion from 1812; Britain, though it has been bombed from the air in the (20th century), has been free from foreign invasion even longer....Elsewhere in the world, political elites cannot as easily separate foreign policy and economics."(c)

I am pretty sure that mayors of L.A. or Boston sleep and envision Russian armored invasions in their respective cities.... Oh, wait, it happened before, I know....Wolverines!!!!!!!!!!

To be continued.........

1 comment:


    The last paragraph in this report highlights essentially the problem which you are referring to. Americans, particularly modern Americans, do not have any concept of real warfare. Because they have never experienced on their own turf (in recent history).

    There are 2 more things we can point out to. The first is that ISIS is a creation of the political West either directly or indirectly. And the 2nd is that westerners are too complcient with their uber consumerist and egoistic lifestyles to volunteer to help. Whereas 3000 Muslims from Europe believe in something enough to die for it. Again, contrast this with your typical westerner.