Underestimate Russia at Your Own Risk: A Comparison of Hubris by Germany During WWII and Today’s Collective West

In honor of the NATO summit July 11 and 12, this is a comparison of how the Nazi leadership in World War Two and today’s collective West similarly underestimated Russia and overestimated their capabilities.

Despite Russia’s overwhelming upper hand in Ukraine, Western officials and media continue to largely pump sunshine and weave stories of Russian collapse.

There are increasing breaks in the fever, and it looks like maybe, hopefully the acceptance of the loss is gaining traction in Washington.

Meanwhile, the unwillingness or inability for hardliners to objectively assess efforts against Russia occurs today just as it did during Operation Barbarossa. As Seymour Hersh writes:

There is an enormous gap between the way the professionals in the American intelligence community assess the situation and what the White House and the supine Washington press project to the public by uncritically reproducing the statements of Blinken and his hawkish cohorts.

This too is reminiscent of the Nazi offensive against the Soviet Union when the failure was hidden from the German public. Adding to the similarities is the fact that both the Third Reich command and today’s officials in the West simultaneously downplay Russia’s military capabilities while endlessly hyping the threat from Moscow.

Hitler, similar to so many Western “experts” and officials today, mocked Russia’s supposed backwardness while also hyping the threat “Slavic Bolshevism” posed to the West. The progression of his comments show him seesawing between a reluctant acceptance and desperate hope as his miscalculations of Russia slowly dawn on him. It’s a path today’s governments in the West are still discovering.

On the other hand, Goebbel’s diary entries are faster to admit that Operation Barbarossa was a disaster.

Prior to the operation, he writes how there is no way the USSR could hope to oppose “the strongest army in all of history” and adds that “I consider the Russian military force to be very weak, even weaker than the Fuhrer believes. If anything is a sure thing, it is this.”

Indeed, German high command anticipated a quick collapse of Soviet resistance along the lines of the Blitzkrieg in Poland, but within a few weeks of the launch of the German offensive, it’s clear that Berlin underestimated the Russians. And the winter of 1941-42 saw the Nazi war machine stopped 12 miles short of Moscow and then driven back. It was all downhill from there.

Despite evidence that Russian resistance was much more capable than anticipated, Hitler continues to talk of Russian inferiority and a breakup of the country for months before a realization of the situation begins to set in.  Read in tandem with Goebbels’ more honest diary entries, it calls to mind today’s battle within the Blob between the realists and anti-Russian fanatics.

We’ll start with Hitler and Goebbels followed by a sampling of miscalculations by today’s West.

The following quotes from Hitler and Goebbels are from Hitler’s Table Talk 1941-1944” andTagebücher 1924-1945,” respectively. 

Goebbels, July 2, 1941:

…the fighting is hard and stubborn. We can in no way speak of a walk in the  park. The red regime mobilized the people.

Goebbels, August 1:

In the Fuhrer’s headquarters it’s also openly admitted that they were somewhat mistaken in their evaluation of the Soviet military force. The Bolsheviks reveal a greater resistance than we had suspected; in particular, the material resources available to them were greater than we thought.

Goebbels, August 19:

Privately, the Fuhrer is very irritated with himself for having been misled to such an extent  – regarding the strength of the Bolsheviks – by the reports [by German agents] coming from the Soviet Union. In particular, the underestimation of the enemy’s armored vehicles and planes caused us many problems. He suffers a lot because of this. We’re dealing with a grave crisis…

Goebbels, September 16:

We have totally underestimated the strength of the Bolsheviks.

October 17, 1941. Hitler speaking to Reich Minister Dr. Todt and Gauleiter Sauckel:

We shall have to settle down to the task of rebuilding the Russian track, to restore it to the normal gauge. There’s only one road that, throughout all these last months of campaigning, was of any use to the armies on the central front—and for that I’ll set up a monument to Stalin. Apart from that, he preferred to manufacture chains of mud rather than to build roads !

What a task awaits us! We have a hundred years of joyful satisfaction before us.

Hitler, November 12, 1941:

It’s a huge relief for our Party to know that the myth of the Workers’ Paradise to the East is now destroyed. It was the destiny of all the civilised States to be exposed to the assault of Asia at the moment when their vital strength was weakening.

…From the point of view of their value as combatants, the armies of Genghiz Khan were not inferior to those of Stalin (provided we take away from Bol- shevism what it owes to the material civilisation of the West).

…We shall give the natives all they need: plenty to eat, and rot-gut spirits. If they don’t work, they’ll go to a camp, and they’ll be deprived of alcohol.

Hitler, October 25, 1941:

I never saw anybody so amazed as that Russian ambassador, the engineer, who came to me one evening to thank me for not having put any obstacles in the way of a visit he paid to some German factories. At first I asked myself if the man was mad! 1 supposed it was the first time he saw things as they are, and I imagine he sent his Government an indiscreet note on the subject.

Hitler, Night of January 5-6, 1942.

A few days before our entry into Russia, I told Goering that we were facing the severest test in our existence. Goering fell off his perch, for he’d been regarding the campaign in Russia as another mere formality.

What confirmed me in my decision to attack without delay was the information brought by a German mission lately re- turned from Russia, that a single Russian factory was producing by itself more tanks than all our factories together. I felt that this was the ultimate limit. Even so, if someone had told me that the Russians had ten thousand tanks, I’d have answered : “You’re completely mad!”

The Russians never invent anything. All they have, they’ve got from others. Everything comes to them from abroad—the engineers, the machine-tools. Give them the most highly perfected bombing-sights. They’re capable of copying them, but not of inventing them. With them, working-technique is simplified to the uttermost. Their rudimentary labour-force compels them to split up the work into a series of gestures that are easy to perform and, of course, require no effort of thought.

They eat up an incredible number of tractors, for they’re incapable of performing the slightest repair.

Hitler, January, 1942:

Stalin pretends to have been the herald of the Bolshevik revolution. In actual fact, he identifies himself with the Russia of the Tsars, and he has merely resurrected the tradition of Pan-Slavism. For him Bolshevism is only a means, a disguise designed to trick the Germanic and Latin peoples. If we hadn’t seized power in 1933, the wave of the Huns would have broken over our heads. All Europe would have been affected, for Germany would have been powerless to stop it. Nobody suspected it, but we were on the verge of catastrophe.

Hitler, February 6, 1942.

There’s one thing that Japan and Germany have absolutely in common—that both of us need fifty to a hundred years for purposes of digestion: we for Russia, they for the Far East.

Hitler, February 19, 1942:

I’ve always detested snow; Bormann, you know, I’ve always hated it. Now I know why. It was a presentiment.

Hitler, February 22, 1942:

The Russian, as an individual fighting man, has always been our inferior. Russians exist only en masse, and that explains their brutality.

Hitler, April 19, 1942:

In short, our policy in the wide Russian spaces should be to encourage any and every form of dissension and schism.

Hitler, July 19, 1942:

Just when the difficulties of the eastern winter campaign in the East had reached their height, some imbecile pointed out that Napoleon, like ourselves, had started his Russian campaign on 22nd June. Thank God, I was able to counter that drive with the authoritative statement of historians of repute that Napoleon’s campaign did not, in fact, begin until 23rd June!

Hitler, July 22, 1942:

For at the same time as they were trying by Communist Party terrorism, by strikes, by their press, and by every other means at their disposal to ensure the triumph of pacifism in our country, the Russians were building up an enormous army. Disregarding the namby-pamby utterances about humanitarianism which they spread so assiduously in Germany, in their own country they drove their workers to an astonishing degree, and the Soviet worker was taught by means of the Stakhanov system to work both harder and longer than his counterpart in either Germany or the capitalist States. The more we see of conditions in Russia, the more thankful we must be that we struck in time. In another ten years there would have sprung up in Russia a mass of industrial centres, in- accessible to attack, which would have produced armaments on an inexhaustible scale, while the rest of Europe would have degenerated into a defenceless plaything of Soviet policy.

It is very stupid to sneer at the Stakhanov system. The arms and equipment of the Russian armies are the best proof of its efficiency in the handling of industrial man-power. Stalin, too, must command our unconditional respect. In his own way he is a hell of a fellow ! He knows his models, Genghiz Khan and the others, very well, and the scope of his industrial planning is exceeded only by our own Four Year Plan. And there is no doubt that he is quite determined that there shall be in Russia no unemployment such as one finds in such capitalist States as the United States of America.

Hitler, July 26, 1942:

One must give the Russians their due and admit that, in this respect, they have succeeded in limiting the power of monopolies and eliminating private interests. As a result, they are now in a position to prospect throughout their territory for oil, whose position and probable extension are studied by experts with the assistance of very large-scale maps. In this way, they have not only been able to trace the course of the oil-veins, but have also verified their facts and extended their knowledge by test borings carried out at the expense of the State. There is a lot we can learn from them.

Hitler, August 26, 1942:

If Stalin had been given another ten or fifteen years, Russia would have become the mightiest State in the world, and two or three centuries would have been required to bring about a change. It is a unique phenomenon! He has raised the standard of living—of that there is no doubt; no one in Russia goes hungry any more. They have built factories where a couple of years ago only unknown villages existed—and factories, mark you, as big as the Hermann Goring Works. They have built railways that are not yet even on our maps. In Germany we start quarrelling about fares before we start building the line !

Hitler, August 28, 1942:

As regards the Russians, their powers of resistance are inimitable, as they proved in the Russo-Japanese War. This is no new characteristic which they have suddenly developed. If anything happens to Stalin, this great Asiatic country will collapse. As it was formed, so it will disintegrate.

The concentration of effort in the defence of Stalingrad is a grave mistake on the part of the Russians. The victor in war is he who commits the fewest number of mistakes, and who has, also, a blind faith in victory.


A sampling of similar miscalculations from today’s collective West:

5 Ways the Russian Military Is Falling Apart Business Insider August 10, 2015

The Intellectual Failures Behind Russia’s Bungled Invasion Royal United Services Institute. April 1, 2022. “…we might consider an alternative explanation: that Russia’s failures reflect a series of long-standing erroneous assumptions about modern warfare that are held by wide segments of the military.”

The collapse of the Russian military machine GIS Reports. May 2, 2022

A closer look at some of Russia’s military failures in the war on Ukraine NPR. May 3, 2022

How Putin’s War in Ukraine Has Ruined Russia Journal of Democracy. May 10, 2022

Prepare for the disappearance of Russia The Hill. May 13, 2022

Russian forces stunned after commander sends vodka instead of reinforcements Daily Express. May 16, 2022

Inside Russia’s military collapse in Ukraine The Spectator. May 21, 2022

RUSSIA’S POTEMKIN ARMY Modern War Institute at West Point. May 23, 2022


The New Russian Offensive Is Intended to Project Power It Cannot Sustain TIME. June 6, 2022

Russian Troops’ Embarrassing Drunkfest in Ukraine Prompts Alcohol Bans Daily Beast. July 6, 2022

The Strategy Against Russia Is Working and Must Continue European Union External Action (“The Diplomatic Service of the European Union”). September 14, 2022

Putin’s Russian Empire is collapsing like its Soviet predecessor Atlantic Council. September 17, 2022

Panic, protests follow Putin’s ‘partial mobilization’ Deutsch Welle. September 21, 2022

Putin can call up all the troops he wants, but Russia can’t train or support them CNN September 22, 2022.

Russian military showing increased frailty in Ukraine war -British military chief Reuters. September 30, 2022

‘Precipice of collapse’: Putin facing ‘irreversible’ defeat as troops abandon ship Washington Examiner. October 3, 2022.

Ukraine’s victory “almost a done deal”: Military expert on how Russia’s invasion imploded Salon. October 11, 2022. “…despite the Russian military’s efforts at modernization, it remains largely guided by Stalin’s famous diktat that “quantity has a quality all its own.” That may have been true when it came to defending the Soviet Union against Hitler in 1941, but the realities of warfare in the 21st century have greatly complicated that statement.”

Dozens of mobilised Russian troops brawl in the street after getting drunk on vodka because ‘they face doom’ at Ukraine frontline Daily Mail. November 6, 2022

Blowing Hot and Cold: Russia’s military collapse is accelerating. Now what? Center for European Policy Analysis. November 20, 2022. “In the past, General Winter was Russia’s great ally. But now the cold months are helping Ukraine. Its soldiers are better equipped, better trained, better led, better treated, and therefore more highly motivated. Russians, by contrast, are paying the price for their system’s endemic incompetence and corruption.”

Putin’s Russia ‘could fall apart at the seams in next five years’ Yahoo UK. November 25, 2022. “General Sir Richard Shirreff, a retired senior British Army officer and former Nato deputy supreme allied commander in Europe, said Putin’s grip on Russia is in ‘jeopardy’ as Ukrainian advances continue and he is seen to have lost the war. Sir Richard, asked on Times Radio where Russia goes from here, said: ‘Putin has lost this war and it’s going to take time for him for a penny to drop. Where does Russia go? I think downhill all the way.'”

Putin’s War. The deck: ‘A Times investigation based on interviews, intercepts, documents and secret battle plans shows how a “walk in the park” became a catastrophe for Russia.’ New York Times. December 16, 2022. “Russian soldiers go into battle with little food, few bullets and instructions grabbed from Wikipedia for weapons they barely know how to use. They plod through Ukraine with old maps like this one from the 1960s, recovered from the battlefield, or no maps at all. They speak on open cellphone lines, revealing their positions and exposing the incompetence and disarray in their ranks. This is the inside story of historic Russian failures.”

Almost half of top foreign-policy experts think Russia will become a failed state or break up by 2033, according to a new survey Business Insider. January 9, 2023

Transcript: World Stage: Ukraine with Victoria Nuland Washington Post. February 23, 2023. “I think that the terrifically horrible Russian military planning and the hubris that underlay it–you know, you remember in those first weeks, 20-, 30-kilometer convoys of Russian trucks just sitting in Ukraine, you know, with–in the open air, sitting ducks for Ukrainian attack, but also the fact that Putin has been willing to sacrifice so much of his country’s future for this imperial ambition, for this dream of conquest. You know, in some categories, he’s lost almost half of his military arsenal, ground forces in particular, but also aviation, that, you know, he’s–a million people, mostly men, have fled Russia rather than fight for him, that 200,000 Russians are killed or wounded. So, you know, that is an enormous commitment for a country that already had not lived up to its European potential.”

Consequences of the War in Ukraine: A Bleak Outlook for Russia RAND Corporation. February 28, 2023. “Russia’s biggest problems have been its strategic miscalculations, incoherent tactical execution, and poor quality of Russian soldiering. The shortcomings inherent in absolutist rule explain the miscalculations. Russia’s endemic corruption may lie at the heart of many of its shortcomings, down to the behavior of its officer corps. Their performance in the field reveals inadequate planning, inadequate training, and a remarkable disregard for the well-being of Russia’s soldiers, who are treated as little more than cannon fodder. A further problem in the Russian army is the fear of taking the initiative. The Soviet military saying, “The initiative punishes the initiator” is still relevant in the Russian army.”

Russia Losing Troops So Fast, They May ‘Collapse’ by Year’s End: Ex-General Newsweek. March 17, 2023. “Ben Hodges, a retired U.S. Army officer who served as commanding general in the United States Army Europe, predicted Russian forces might ‘collapse’ before the end of the year, succumbing to the battle of attrition in Ukraine.”

The total collapse and break-up of Putin’s Russia has already begun and the West needs to be ready to deal with the aftermath, top Zelensky official predicts Daily Mail. April 4, 2023. “Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said the West must be on high alert, having in the past failed to be ready for the collapse of the Soviet Union. He said Kyiv believes Russia is going to fall apart in ‘spectacular’ fashion within the next few years.”

EXCLUSIVE: Russian soldiers will be ‘shaking with fear’ at the UK’s decision to supply Ukraine with Storm Shadow missiles, US colonel says Daily Mail May 12, 2023.

Speech by Secretary Blinken: “Russia’s Strategic Failure and Ukraine’s Secure Future.” June 2, 2023. “Today, what I want to do is set out this and the many other ways Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine has been a strategic failure, greatly diminishing Russia’s power, its interests, and its influence for years to come.”

Putin looked into the abyss Saturday — and blinked David Ignatius, Washington Post. June 24, 2023. “The speed with which Putin backed down suggests that his sense of vulnerability might be higher even than analysts believed. Putin might have saved his regime Saturday, but this day will be remembered as part of the unraveling of Russia as a great power — which will be Putin’s true legacy.”

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  1. John R Moffett

    Great summary. I can’t figure out if the US policy makers believe their own lies, or if they just repeat them to try and keep others onboard with their criminal policies. They act as though they believe, but the things they say fly in the face of reality. If there is one good thing that could come out of this horrible situation it would be that the US and NATO will fail completely at achieving any of their goals and will begin to break apart. NATO is the most destabilizing entity in Europe, and its demise would bring new possibilities for peace.

    1. Michaelmas

      If there is one good thing that could come out of this horrible situation it would be that the US and NATO will fail completely at achieving any of their goals and will begin to break apart.

      There’s no lack of historical precedent.

      Karl 12: “Russia is a dwarf. I will bring her to her knees.” 1707
      After the battle of Poltava, Sweden lost the status of a great power.

      Friedrich 2: “I will conquer backward Russia.” Mid 18th century.
      In 1759 the Russians entered Berlin.

      Napoleon: “Russia is a colossus with feet of clay. I will destroy it.” 1812
      In 1814 the Russians took Paris.

      Hitler: “I will conquer the USSR by the end of the summer of 41.” 1941
      In 1945, Hitler committed suicide when the Red Army entered Berlin.

      1. vao

        Then of course there are the multiple cases of attackers who, although not destroyed, limped back battered and bloodied and never tried again:

        Hermann I. von Buxthoeven: “Let us subject those primitive schismatics von Novgorod once and for all”. After the defeat of their Livonian Order at the battle of lake Peipus 1242, the Teutonic knights switched their attention to supposedly less troublesome people.

        Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth: “Let us impose our tsar on a Russia hopelessly divided by internal strife and reduce it to a vassal”. 1605-1618. The Poles gained some territories with difficulty, but Russia asserted its independence and selected her own tsar.

        Czechoslovakia, France, Great-Britain, USA, Japan, White Russians, Germany, Poland: “Let us free Russia, disorganized and starving, from the Bolshevik scourge” 1918. By 1922, all those parties had scurried away, defeated.

        Mountbatten’s rule of war nr. 1: Don’t march on Moscow.

        1. Après Moi

          Good to remind of Poles – 150 years later, Russia was already partitioning Poland, a process that ended in 1795, when three European powers did away with Poland altogether (until 1918). My pet theory is that this is why Polish elites (less so among the rest of the population, I hope) hate all things Russian. Not only did they fail to take over Russia in early 17th cent., but Russians rose to significant great-nation achievements, leaving Poland to its sand-box ambitions.
          And let’s not forget that only two years after 1918, Poland attacked USSR. In the 1930s, Poles scuttled any and every attempt to draft a united defense treaty against Hitler. How did that work out?
          Don’t march on Moscow, indeed!
          The only question is ‘why is Europe not able to learn from experience?’

          1. Thirdeye

            This conflict reminds me very much of the Polish-Soviet War. In both cases, a state with a megalomaniacal sense of its place in the world got the idea that the backing of the world-imperial powers would make them invincible against Russia, who they had convinced themselves was weak. That notion was at least plausible in 1918, but now it’s downright ridiculous. Poland got a passable result in the Treaty of Riga, however disappointing in light of the ambitions they set out with. Ukraine got a disaster. The big question now is whether or not Poland will reprise their earlier role as Ukraine faces total defeat. There are hopeful signs that Poland is getting a glimmer of realism after earlier suggesting that they could be the tip of the NATO spear, seeking to be rewarded with some modern version of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. They must be feeling a cold draft as the body count of their mercenaries builds up and their weapons stocks get depleted for naught. Maybe I’m dreaming, but perhaps Poland will finally come to the realization that relations with neighboring states are more important than relations with the enemies of neighboring states.

      2. Gregorio

        Hitler may have committed suicide or he may have escaped to Argentina and died of old age.

        1. vao

          The funniest thing during the Falklands war was the tabloid-touted idea that Hitler had escaped to Argentina and was the mastermind behind the Argentinian surprise offensive. He would have been 93 years old at that time.

        2. Henry Moon Pie

          Funny what he said about snow.

          Great post, Conor. Learned a lot and had fun while doing it.

        3. JohnA

          I am sure Allan Dulles would have helped him come to the US, if he had escaped the Berlin bunker, as part of operation paperclip. Maybe he did.

        4. NotTimothyGeithner

          A KGB head in the old Wilson Quarterly asked if the interviewer believed Moscow or Paris would let that fly. Searches for Addie were cover or the result of the US believing its own propaganda where the US sent commandos to really look usually based on intelligence DC was paying for.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Both. Faith was a driver of events. Promises of Putin’s imminent demise, Russian collapse, and the awesomeness of US Air power are deeply held convictions. The absurdity of trying to establish a no fly zone doesn’t resonate because it’s not based on reason but faith. With “kick a $$” women like Vicky Nuland who curses like a sailor so you know she’s tough and defenders of the garden like Borrell, how could they fail? They hit rock bottom on occasion and look at a map*, and they have a choice find an excuse for failure or keep feeding until someone else says hey this was a bad idea. The first person to see the light will be denounced as a traitor by the Ukraine flag waving types in the West.

      My gut is the woken up ones hope it will just go away with time without an embarrassment which if rationale actors are there likely explains the current offensive and stories about exchanging land for “peace.” Faith based actors haven’t listened to Putin and only see him as trying to throw white french and English babies out offensive incubators. This is the last myth. Western elites can’t conceive why Putin reacted. I mean Western elites know what is best, so forward bases can’t be seen as aggressive.

      *this is part of the Pete Buttigieg myth. Stoires abound about how he has a map of Afghanistan natural resources. The idea of knowing where things are is just staggering to DC rats.

    3. hunkerdown

      “Creative classes” gaslight the future into existing. No less than Ben Franklin counseled that hanging together was better than hanging separately. Take those two factors together, and you will be able to locate, explain, and predict the actions of a culture’s reproductive class with great accuracy.

      1. digi_owl

        Ah yes, the Wicca method of making a change in the world.

        Belive strong enough, and it will happen…

  2. AG

    Yesterday major German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung brought a totally fictious short comment about the desolate state of the RU forces.
    Delusional. No idea why.
    The author is veteran war correspondent Thomas Avenarius (I doubt he still sits in the trenches but when every Westerner fled Baghdad he did not.)
    Old times he know lives in Barbieland.

    No big deal but since it fits the entry.

    I post the machine-translation in the second post. So you can just erase my post if necessary.
    I would argue not a single allegation is correct:

  3. Stephen

    The metaphorical way that this article seems to associate western policy makers with Hitler and Goebels is a little bit close to the truth.

    This list of deranged western articles is also well complemented by The Dreizin Report’s latest series of multiple posts with videos showing destroyed Ukrainian / western equipment. As well as tragically lost lives.

    The role of Russia in the Napoleonic Wars where Alexander I orchestrated the winning coalition and ended up projecting a Russian army to Paris would be another interesting comparison point.

    The west has awakened a sleeping lion and has itself possibly created the military threat of a resurgent Russia that it claimed to be seeking to prevent. It will go down in history as a blunder on a similar scale to Barbarossa. You could not make it up: having lost a for ever war in Afghanistan to brave men in sandals the empire chose to pick on a nuclear state with a real arms industry and a tradition of winning wars for national survival.

    1. Benny Profane

      Simplest way I have heard this described, I think it was Simplicius, is that we have been training the Russian military for a year and a half.

      1. Lex

        People have long derided the Russian air force because its planes aren’t as good but mostly because its pilots don’t get as many flight hours as American pilots. That’s obviously reversed now, with Russian pilots having not just a huge advantage in cockpit hours, but those hours being in actual combat conditions and contested air space.

        Indeed, whenever and however this ends (assuming not in strategic nuclear war) Russia will have the best military on the planet and for a generation will have a combat experienced officer corp.

        1. Paradan

          The Russians have been flying an equivalent amount of sorties as we did in the Iraq war, but with only 10%* of their total air force. They have to hold back a large portion of their force in case NATO decides to join in.

          *so 10% seems low but I think its only counting planes going on sorties and disregarding those down for maintenance or those that have no mission that day. It varies with the type of plane, the nation, and mission load, but a rough rule of thumb is a squadron will have 1/3 of its planes down for maintenance at any given time.

      2. William Verick

        Yes. What Russia is developing this year is an army of veterans that has been vetted and refined by experience. Dead wood is being eliminated and the most effective feedback loops are being recognized and supported.

        This is exactly what John Erickson described in detail in his two volumes: The Road to Stalingrad and The Road to Berlin. Stalin’s Civil War cronies were swept aside or kicked upstairs and new military leaders were chosen based on merit. A whole new officer corp was developed and trained, once again, on merit. By the beginning of Operation Bagration the Soviet operational art was beyond anything Guderian or Manstein had ever achieved.

        It’s very hard for any military make the necessary changes, and to step on the toes needed, to accomplish something like this outside the crucible of war.The difference between the war in Ukraine and the Great Patriotic War is that the Russian side this time around has not been bled white in the process of, to paraphrase Townes Van Zandt, shaking the dust off of its wings and the sleep out of its eye.

        The leaders of Poland and the Baltic States should think very hard before they attempt to send armies to fight Russia in Ukraine. Wars of this scale are hard to sell to one’s citizens unless the country’s existence is at stake. What would be the politics of war in these countries if hundreds of their young men and women were being killed each week? America learned that — at least for a time — in Vietnam.

        1. skk

          Road to berlin is on YouTube , with no ads, as a audiobook in 4 8 hr+ parts – but narrated by text to audio software. If you can get past that, it’s very very educational. They skip all the blood and gore most of the time so I can sleep to it and I do so regularly.

        2. Paradan

          You can never train a peace time army to fight a war. All you can do is train them how to figure out how to fight a war as fast as possible.

        3. Steve

          The thing is, if Poland or the Baltic minnows did send armies in to fight Russia, then in fact all three countries existence would then be at stake.

          Also never ever forget that Russia is still fighting this with a hand tied behind their back due to several factors, first the Ukranian slavic history connecting them in a brotherly bond, it gets shrugged off or if ired in the west but it is a very very real thing. Secondly they are holding back a significant amount of their arsenal including most advanced systems in order to have them their as deterrent or as needed if NATO does be one involved in whatever form puts boots on the ground.

          Soon as any coalition of the willing (those who can be bribed I to it by the US) goes in, then both those limiting factors above no longer apply to how Russia would react to those countries.

          Poland and the Baltics would face a response that would make the Ukraine conflict seem like a preliminary warm up bout.

    2. digi_owl

      Sadly nothing will change until either Russian or Chinese units cross the Rio Grande.

      USA is even more insulated from its own adventurism blowback than UK has been by the channel.

    1. JonnyJames

      Good point. I find it perplexing that CounterPunch posts so many Russia-bashing articles. Almost daily they have some hit-piece on anyone who deviates from CIA narrative frames: prof. Mearsheimer, Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton, Consortium News, Code Pink, Roger Waters, Chris Hedges, etc. I think SuckerPunch is part of the “compatible left”

      1. Alice X

        I try take to them case by case and focus on the information I find credible. The Pauwels piece dispels a number of myths of the conventional Western narrative The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was not a purely cynical act, rather it deflected the Japanese from further attacks from Manchuria and gave the Soviets time to prepare for the attack they knew would come. The Stalin purge of the military was actually a purge of fifth-columnist officers who were intent on working with the Germans.

        1. rkka

          The Pact also forestalled a second Munich.

          The story is told in two books, published 51 years apart. The first is “Tokyo, Moscow, London” by Herbert Von Dirksen, University of Oklahoma Press, 1952. Von Dirksen had been German Ambassador in London in 1939.

          He relates his negotiations with British cabinet members & other senior British officials on the issue of Poland, but when he returned to Berlin to report on these talks, German Foreign Minister Von Ribbentrop refused to see him, and he was eventually told “…that my services were no longer required.” He retired to his estate in East Prussia & started writing his memoirs.

          Fifty one years later, Zachary Shore, Professor of History at the Naval Postgraduate School picked up the story in “What Hitler Knew” Oxford University Press, 2003. Though Von Dirksen was in London negotiating for a second Munich, Von Ribbentrop wanted to be the second “Bismarck” to bring home “…a good treaty with Russia.” Ribbentrop was blocking information on how far the Brits were still willing to go on appeasement getting to Adolf. Eventually, Adolf allowed von Ribbentrop to go to Moscow.

          Shore also relates that the Soviets had broken the communications security of German Embassy Moscow, so when von Dirksen’s cables on his talks with the Brits circulated to German Embassy Moscow, the Soviet government were able to compare the cordial & accommodating attitude the Brits were taking with the Germans with the grudging & miserly attitude the Brits were taking with them. It was obvious that the Brit’s were intent on agreement with Adolf, so when von Ribbentrop knocked on the Kremlin door, the Soviets opened it.

        2. Stephen

          Yes, and most western history ignores all the other deals that western nations signed with Hitler. The Anglo German Naval Treaty typically gets ignored, for example. As well as the fact that no one thought it might be a good idea to consult with Stalin when they did the Munich deal.

        1. Finland only won the PR war

          Yes, the Red Army did very poorly. So poorly, in fact, that after three months of fighting the Finns had to sue for peace, ceding 1/6 of their national territory, including their second-largest city, to the USSR.

      1. Victor

        Both the Russians and their enemies always fought/fight in the same weather. Weather does not choose sides. Weather, terrain, tactics, weapons…the side that is not prepared for these things is inferior side and will lose.

      2. rrr

        valuable ally – Russian Army and Russian military art was valuable ally. Nothing else
        Russia won a lot of summer battles and lost during winter

        Winter is pathetic excuse for westerners. They never say Russians defeated them. They always excuse and cry.

      3. OTOH/IMHO

        That’s an absurd statement. One thing that was apparent was that German uniforms, and even their boots were, in comparison with the Russians, poorly tailored for the cold. The photos of German soldiers miserably freezing are legion.

        1. Johnny Conspiranoid

          They thought it would all be over by the winter. It would have been if Stalin hadn’t created a whole new army beyond the Urals.

  4. Bosko

    Fascinating. There are definitely broad parallels, but the degree to which both the Nazis in WWII and the NATO countries today underestimated Russian material resources and production capabilities is uncanny. Thanks Conor.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      And it’s very ironic given the reason the these would-be conquerors wanted to take over Russia in the first place was to exploit those vast material resources. Did they suppose the Russians didn’t realize they were there?

      1. NN Cassandra

        Actually there is strange twist to this. While Hitler wanted to take the oil, land, resources and all, current crop Western thought leaders are really determined to refuse to take any of Russia’s material resources. OK, they seem to think leaving EU without resources will somehow bankrupt Russia and THEN they will take all the gas and oil, so eventually we are supposed to end where Nazis were heading, but still… I guess not even Hitler could come up with such plan.

        1. hk

          In 1941, Germany had very favorable trade deals with USSR through which they were getting everything it wanted and more. Stalin knew that USSR was not ready for a big war for some time, so he was eager to not give Germany a reason to fight, and thought that a Germany dependent on imports of cheap Russian oil and other raw materials would not attack. So the analogy is actually stark.

        2. Synoia

          Western thought leaders are really determined to refuse to take any of Russia’s material resources.

          IMHO more accurate:

          Western thought leaders are really determined to refuse to take any of Russia’s material resource until the west can profit form the Russian resources

          1. digi_owl

            Ding. It all comes down to arbitrage. UK and USA is so darn used to being the world’s merchant and middle man, skimming a brokers fee everywhere, that a world without that is heresy of the highest order.

      2. Andrew

        Check out the Russian film “Territoriya” from 2015 about the mineral surveys in Siberia conducted during the 1960’s. Great adventure story and stunning cinematography.

      3. digi_owl

        They confuse rugged reliability for backwardsness.

        Russian kit may not look as flashy as NATO kit, but it functions just as well (if not better).

        1. Skk

          I used to own a east German 150 cc 2 stroke motorbike in the UK, in the 80s, if it didn’t kick start, I just unscrewed the plug, poured a thimblefull of gasoil into the cylinder, screwed the sparkplug back in and hey presto !

        2. rowlf

          For Olympic level competition firearms where the Soviets did very well with very talented and highly trained team members, the observations about their equipment was that the parts that needed high precision and manufacturing were done to a high standard. The parts that did not need a fine finish to perform well did not receive one.

          A very practical approach to achieve a goal.

          In WWII the US preferred good enough, maintainable and reliable over best but hard to keep running. The B-29 program almost failed due to being a very complicated system with new technology.

  5. SocalJimObjects

    Some of the things Hitler said can be applied to modern China as well, just change Russians to Chinese :

    “The Russians never invent anything. All they have, they’ve got from others. Everything comes to them from abroad—the engineers, the machine-tools. Give them the most highly perfected bombing-sights. They’re capable of copying them, but not of inventing them. With them, working-technique is simplified to the uttermost. Their rudimentary labour-force compels them to split up the work into a series of gestures that are easy to perform and, of course, require no effort of thought.”

    “One must give the Russians their due and admit that, in this respect, they have succeeded in limiting the power of monopolies and eliminating private interests.”

    No doubt I am picking and choosing here, but why do I get the feeling that the West will also be eating humble pie when war breaks out with China.

    1. Whiteylockmandoubled

      Had exact same reaction to the Hitler quote about innovation and US “expert” pronouncements about China for the past half century.

      Thanks Conor, great piece.

      1. marku52

        We heard the exact same thing about Japan, and Taiwan. Anyplace the free trade economists wanted to blather that the US wasn’t losing anything important.

        “Computer chips? Potato chips? Whats the differnce, Who cares?” Said an actual Reagan trade representative.

  6. marcel

    Two comments:
    a. An essay (in a series about ‘maneuver warfare’) on how Germany lost the war against the USSR while winning (almost) all its battles. It goes to prove that the major error from Germany was that it severely underestimated the capacity of the USSR to raise new divisions.
    b. A proverb: “Russia is stronger than one thinks, but weaker than one fears”.

    1. ilsm

      france had dunkirk, soviet russia had thousands of miles to retreat behind, and stalin moved factories east!

      france’s population along with its armies surrendered, many surrounded soviet troops and the populations behind the thin, blitzkreig lines turned out as guerillas and aggravated the long lines of communication.

      it was logistics, nazis lengthened their lines of communication, russians collapsed on stores. nato/usa has big trouble here

      it was also super weapons, hand produced that broke down regularly, larger units has spares and mechanics, but as units spread out the sustaining mass thinned. the west is really hurting here bc most of the wunderwaffen are pre soviet collapse designs a lot of logistics is old and all are finnicky like the nazis’ gear. and the west trades soldier mechanics for contract tech reps who fix odd faults but have it in their head, and they don’t hacve to stay and be strafed!

      it seems the nato side considers russia to be politically soft as france in 1940 or south veitnam in 1963….

      and if you hear from the average russian, not any of the atlaticist 5th column allowed in the western press, yeltsin was bad and putin saved russia from western plundering!

      nato experts allowed to speak are propagandists……

    2. 5555

      “Germany lost the war against the USSR while winning (almost) all its battles”

      absolute BS propaganda
      Germany was attacking, Russia was defending. Then vice versa.
      Germany didnt win almost all battles – its preposterous idiotic claim

      while you are in a maneuvering defence you hit and run. IT IS NOT LOSING. its tactics.
      then you wait untill enemy is out of resources. Then you defeat them.

      What battles did Nazi Germany win? Kursk Stalingran Berlin? HUH?

      same BS take as “General winter” and wonder weapon

        1. PlutoniumKun

          As, famously, the US did in Vietnam (and Afghanistan and Iraq too).

          The Wehrmacht was devastatingly effective in the early years of the war, and still won many major battles in the latter stages. Man for man, unit for unit, in localised combat they were clearly superior to all the other major armies in the war, including the Soviets. It was nothing to do with Blitzkrieg (which was never a ‘thing’), nor was it due to better equipment, it was good old fashioned Prussian ruthlessness and pragmatism. Their officer corps was made up of men who were imbibing landwar doctrine and tactics from mothers milk.

          But good strategy always trumps good battlefield tactics in the long run if you have any cards to play, and the Soviets/Russians always always a very big hand to play, mostly due to geography. Putin understands this, the dunderheads in Nato’s high command don’t.

          1. Polar Socialist

            Correlation is not causation, we all know that, but oddly enough Germans also always had numerical superiority when they won battles.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              Concentrating your forces at the key combat axis at the right time is the essence of good Prussian tactics.

              1. Polar Socialist

                Local superiority has been the gist of warfare ever since Epaminondas used oblique phalanx in 371 BC.

                That said, local superiority is much easier to achieve when you have superior numbers overall.

          2. The Rev Kev

            It should be mentioned too that the German Wehrmacht had a superior form of training which encouraged initiative and decision making on lower levels. I believe that the US Army adopted many of the ideas of that program into their own training methods after the war was over.

  7. The Rev Kev

    ‘Just when the difficulties of the eastern winter campaign in the East had reached their height, some imbecile pointed out that Napoleon, like ourselves, had started his Russian campaign on 22nd June. Thank God, I was able to counter that drive with the authoritative statement of historians of repute that Napoleon’s campaign did not, in fact, begin until 23rd June!’

    Cannot recall the title of the book but in William L. Shirers’s book “The Rise and fall of the Third Reich” it was mentioned that as the German invasion of Russia started to go south, a lot of the staff officers started to read a book by a French officer who was writing about his experiences in the 1812 invasion of Russia. So many copies were seen in headquarters that Adolf finally banned the presence of the book there altogether. It is never a healthy attitude to ignore the past though.

    US Colonel David Hackworth, who had fought in Vietnam, was sent to the Pentagon on duty so he took the opportunity to read up books by the French on their Vietnam experiences in the library. He was shocked to read that all that he had experience in Vietnam was all written by about by those French officers fighting in the 50s. Stuff like North Vietnamese tactics and procedures. But what really shocked him was to discover that none of those book had been touched in years by US officers but simply ignored so the US forces went in blind and had to relearn all that the French had learnt through hard experience.

    1. Acacia

      … started to read a book by a French officer who was writing about his experiences in the 1812 invasion of Russia

      Might be Armand de Caulaincourt’s En traîneau avec l’Empereur. There’s probably at least one copy somewhere in the Élysée Palace, though it’s hard to picture Jupiter even cracking the book.

      And in our own era, in 2003, during the war in Iraq, the Pentagon organized a screening of Pontecorvo’s infamous La battaglia di Algeri (1966), to try and understand how the French were defeated by insurgents in Algeria. In the film, Colonel Mathieu, tells journalists that torture is necessary if the French intend to stay in Algeria, followed by scenes in which the French officers are waterboarding captured insurgents, set to Bach’s “Passion of St. Matthew” as interpreted by Morricone.

      And what did the Pentagon spectators learn? That the French didn’t torture enough… ?

      Plus ça change…

  8. NN Cassandra

    This duality of enemy being simultaneously enormously strong and unbelievably feeble creeps up every time someone wants to drag nation into war. You need great danger so something must be done about it or else the nation will be destroyed, thus the enemy is powerful and ready to overrun the world. But it must be also incompetent and his army easy to defeat, so you can tell people they will be back for Christmas. You then flip-flop between these two positions depending on what argument you need to make at the moment.

    But yeah, it’s hard to miss how the western ruling class is repeating the same racist cliches from the days of Mr. Hitler almost to the letter (here I heard some expert on public radio to argue that Russians are not like Westerners, they can’t feel shame, they barely care about truth/falsity, etc., of course the same being with Chinese). When you add the reusing of iconography, it’s truly sight to behold.

  9. eg

    I have the feeling that Russia’s historical inability (disinterest?) in projecting power far beyond its own borders gets confused with weakness in its own sphere — especially by primarily maritime empires like the British and American who like nothing more than to stick their noses into other peoples business in far away places, usually in the service of their own rapacious commercial classes.

    1. Hastalavictoria

      The hubris described in this article can be firmly placed at the feet of the WW1 German High Command which allowed the small communist party in 1917 to ascend to power and turn a peasant nation into a modern industrialised one which rolled the mighty Wermacht back to Berlin and would have reached Calais if they had needed to.
      In 1917 Lenin,Trotsky erc were put on a train to the Finland station,after accepting an enormous amount of money and losing a large lump of land in a treaty to stop the war on the eastern front.Thus allowing the Germans to reinforce the Western front .

      Within about a month the CP had gone from 1 to 600 printing presses. 27 years later the Russians got that lump of land back plus some.This is the greatest example of historical hubris I know.

      1. JBird4049

        >>>…to ascend to power and turn a peasant nation into a modern industrialized one…

        One of the reasons why the Germans did not try as hard as they should have to avoid war with the Russians pre World War One was that by their own studies the Russians were going to overmatch the Germans in production, railroads, factories, everything fairly shortly. Not that the quality of the Russians would be better, but the quantity would, meaning the Russians already had a substantial industrial base. They had decided that, if they were going to go to war with the Russian Empire, better to do so sooner than later.

        The Germans have a habit of trying to do too much too soon because of their limited resources. In people, education, technology, manufacturing, they were the equal or superior to everyone else, but they locally lack crucial elements needed for the modern industrial nation. Yes, they could and did stockpile everything from food to oil to magnesium, but you can only stockpile so much. This means that any major war that they fought would have to be won with in a few years, say 2 or 3, or they would lose.

        Because of this, they neglected to plan and prepare for a major full scale war lasting years, and did not do the things they could have to avoid this. Not getting into wars with several powers at once was one of them. Not immediately changing to a wartime economy or not fully investing in technologies that would at least partially deal with the shortages were two others as shown in the Second World War.

  10. Detroit Dan

    The comparison I’ve been making for the past yeaer is: Roman Empire v Persia ~ Western Europe v Russia

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Who will be our modern Valerian? Biden as president is pretty much a footstool already – maybe he should make one more trip to visit Zelensky and get a little closer to the action. It should take much persuading given what a tough guy he fancies himself to be.

      1. Detroit Dan

        Ah. I see that Valerian was taken captive by the Persian emperor in 260 CE. Thanks! i didn’t know that.

        1. vao

          Persia was also fatal to triumvir Crassus, and to emperors Gordian III and Julian the Apostate.

          1. Kouros

            It is possible that the Christians were more fatal to Julian the Apostate than the Persians…

      2. hunkerdown

        Let the entire Ivy League be sent to Russia as furniture. Better than allowing them to reproduce their institutions and themselves here or anywhere.

    2. etfreddd

      In military and Political-historical terms Russia is Third Rome and Continental Land Empire
      (2nd is Eastern Roman Empire or Byzante)

      West (UK USA) is a Carthage – sea traders without real continental army(some expeditionary forces) and without real central power. but with strong fleet and merchants.

      Im sorry but with all respect seeing how americans presenting themselves as Rome is kind a funny cosplay for me. I would say HRE was more “Roman” than US

      Even London admited themselves as Venice and Carthage in medieval era.

      But what is similar – How oligarchy ATE Greece and Rome, and Venice. Like parasites they ate entire society. Learn that history. Its SAME as USA atm

  11. KLG

    Forgive me for repeating SocalJimObjects.

    “One must give the Russians their due and admit that, in this respect, they have succeeded in limiting the power of monopolies and eliminating private interests. As a result, they are now in a position to prospect throughout their territory for oil, whose position and probable extension are studied by experts with the assistance of very large-scale maps. In this way, they have not only been able to trace the course of the oil-veins, but have also verified their facts and extended their knowledge by test borings carried out at the expense of the State. There is a lot we can learn from them.”

    Russia is largely self-contained, with enough food and fuel to last, well, forever. Their economy does not depend on selling high-end automobiles to the rest of the world. Their materiel is not manufactured by the usual suspects whose profits are paramount. War is not the health of the Russian state, unlike one other that comes to mind. Interesting times.

  12. Socal Rhino

    Andrei Martyanov contends that many of the American lessons from WW2 in Europe are plain wrong, and that America relied on accounts from defeated Germans for its knowledge of the eastern front and the Soviet army.

  13. BillS

    On July 5, 80 years ago, Nazi Germany launched Operation Citadelle to try to close off the Kursk salient. It ended in a strategic defeat for Germany. The Germans were never again able to regain the initiative and the result was the Battle of Berlin nearly two years later. This was achieved at the cost of hundreds of thousands on both sides over the course of two months.

    Let us all remember the sacrifice of all the peoples of the Soviet Union in destroying the evil that was Nazi Germany – and recognize the sycophants who will be meeting in Vilnius this week as the inheritors of the Nazi lunacy and they need to be stopped. Let’s hope this can be done by democratic means, but I am not entirely optimistic.

    1. vao

      There is one thing that is almost always forgotten: the USSR had not just to contend with Nazi Germany, but also with its allies: Hungary, Romania, Italy, Slovakia, Japan (very early and very late in WWII), as well as the cobelligerant Finland.

      While generally dismissed as poorly equipped and ineffectual in popular accounts of WWII, modern historiography has reappraised their role as a strategic asset of the Germany. Thus, the conquest of Crimea was not possible without the Romanians; the siege of Leningrad necessitated the involvement of the Finns; at Stalingrad, the flanks could only be secured with the Romanians, Italians and Hungarians; the last German offensive in March 1945 relied on the Hungarian army.

      Those Axis allies represented millions of troops to be dealt with — and, apart from the Italians and Japanese, they were dealt with only by the Russians.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Finns actually covered 900 km of the 3000 km East Front and provided about as much troops as the “satellites” put together.

        As for the quality, the German High Command did try until the end of 1942 to get Finnish troops under German command, but Finns kept deflecting the demands by stating that operating independently Finnish Army had out-achieved the Werhmacht.

        Of course, the mighty German war machine had not been designed to operate on Artic tundra or Carelian forest, so we can’t really blame them if Finns had less than flattering impression of German capabilities.

        1. digi_owl

          That is one aspect of WW2 that seem to memory holed for the most part, even by the Nordic nations.

          Supposedly the Norwegian town of Kirkenes was by some accounts second only to Malta in terms of air raids endured. Never mind that Germany torched Finnmark and parts of Troms during its retreat.

          Interestingly USSR pulled back to the old Russia-Norwegian border after the war, but still Norway was persuaded to become a founding member of NATO.

      2. scott s.

        With respect to Japan, I was reading something the other day about USSR ability to massively move armies after surrender of Germany to the east and execute the Manchuria campaign. I think in the US the general thinking is that Japan had already lost and Stalin was just grabbing the pieces, I don’t think at the time either
        US nor USSR saw it as a simple campaign.

        1. Kouros

          US had an agreement with USSR that USSR will attack Japan 3 months after the end of hostilities in Europe. Americans, as ever, would prefer to have others fight their battles and shed their blood…

        2. digi_owl

          Supposedly the prospect of a land war with USSR more than the nukes was what drove Japan to surrender to USA.

          After all, Japan and Russia had been going back and forth in the region ever since Japan industrialized. And there is still a border dispute between them in the Kuril islands.

          1. vao

            I do not remember where I read that, but things seem to have gone like this:

            1) After taking Okinawa, the Allied planned an invasion of Japan that would proceed by first conquering Kyushu, its Southern part.

            2) The Japanese headquarters had analysed the situation and also concluded that the Allied invasion would begin with Kyushu. In fact, the Japanese had figured out fairly accurately where the Allied invasion would take place and what the various main axes of attack would be.

            3) Accordingly, they reserved everything they had to defend Kyushu and, if not repulse the Allied, at least inflict unbearably high losses to them. The Allied also imagined the Japanese would proceed in such a way, and therefore planned in consequence, estimating the forces that the Japanese would allocate to a fierce defence of Kyushu. It was realized only after the war that the Japanese had committed substantially more men and equipment to defend Kyushu than the Allied had thought possible — and operation Olympic as planned was already requiring considerable resources.

            4) But in order to do that, the Japanese had to more or less empty their Northern territories — notably Hokkaido — of valuable troops and weaponry. This was not a problem as long as the USSR remained neutral, and there were still Manchuria and Korea acting as a large buffer shielding Japan from an invasion via the Northern route.

            5) After the USSR revoked the treaty of non-aggression with Japan, and given the speed of the Red Army campaign in Manchuria, the Japanese realized that the Soviets would be faster in invading Japan through an almost defenceless North than the Allied through a heavily defended South. There was nothing left but to capitulate in order to avoid the dreaded communists occupying Japan.

            1. Polar Socialist

              Not an area I know much about, but I’ve understood from the relatively recent historical research that Japanese politicians were waiting for Soviet Union to join the Pacific war so that Japan could play Soviet Union against USA in the peace negotiations.
              On the other hand the Japanese military was hoping for Soviet Union to mediate a better peace for Japan. Soviet Union joining the Pacific war was a shock for them, and their end game pretty much collapsed (ref. your point 5).

              1. PlutoniumKun

                So much research on late War Japan is hampered by giant gaps in the reliable data. Very little good written material survived the war, and the men who sat in the crucial meetings rarely talked about it in later life. For a variety of reasons even surviving documents are notoriously difficult to interpret within their context, even for native Japanese speaking scholars. The Japanese high command in the war operated in an entirely different way to any other belligerent. Decision making (especially on strategy) was almost always dependent on consensus building across various internal factions. It is likely even very senior insiders had only a vague knowledge of the big picture as information rarely got sent up accurately from the front. Key decisions were often apparently based on a ‘perception’ of what they thought the emperor wanted (such as the idiotic decision to sent the Yamato on a suicide mission). So this leaves the door open for historians to write up their own priors as definitive answers to the conundrum of why the Japanese decided to do whatever they did from the early 1930’s onwards.

                The one thing we do know is that the Japanese had a particular horror for Communism, or what they perceived to be communist, even while they had probably a greater respect for the Soviets than they had for other Asian or western powers. They were also acutely aware that Manchuria – which was absolutely crucial to Japan’s aim for long term autarky – was very vulnerable to a determined attack from the north. They knew that their army was not capable of matching the Soviets even in the 1930’s (which is one probable reason for their focus on the Pacific). To a certain extent, I think the Japanese simply ceased to think about their problem to the north, it was too painful for them to contemplate – so their entire focus was on the immediate crisis sailing and flying to them from the south. Hence the effective abandonment of the northern islands (which the Japanese have never really seen as ‘heartland’ Japan in the way they do the southern islands).

                I very much doubt that the decision to surrender involved much discussion of what Stalin would do, except insofar as they probably correctly anticipated that it was better to surrender to the US than the Soviets. Its very hard to devote much cognitive space to the problems of the Kuril islands or northern Manchuria when there are B-25’s laden with firebombs flying unopposed over your head.

                1. JBird4049

                  Part of the reasoning, I think, for ignoring the Soviets is the extreme difficulties in successfully doing amphibious invasions. IIRC, the one amphibious assault that the Soviets did on the northern islands did not go well for them and they either lost or were stopped in place.

                  This does not mean that the Soviets were bad, they just had no experience in doing them. The local Japanese garrison had limited resources, but the Japanese military had had four years experience in both defending against and doing such assaults. The Americans made doing such things almost mundane, but they built up their abilities over four years starting with small islands and limited garrisons and moving up.

                  I am sure that the Soviets would have quickly learned how to successfully do such things, but that would have taken time.

      3. Kouros

        Now, now. Let’s remember how Hitler got some of those allies:
        Hungary was bought by giving Northern Transylvania from Romania.
        Through Ribbentrop Molotov Treaty Anexes, Germany agreed that USSR has free hand in the Baltic, can deal with the Finns as it see fit and can take what it wants from Romanians. Poland was outright divided.

        And the Russians did all that. So the Finns, the Romanians, the Balts had very good reasons to join Germany in its attack against USSR. Only Germany didn’t have any reason to attack USSR…

        Italy was supported by Germany in Greece, Albania, Africa… Quid pro Quo…

        1. Polar Socialist

          The murky history of prewar politics didn’t start with that secret annex: USSR tried to ally pretty much with anyone to contain Germany in the mid-30’s. Nobody just wanted to play with her.

          Poland and Finland made sure that nothing came of Soviet security guarantees to Baltic countries in exchange for an anti-German “alliance”.

          UK and France didn’t even bother to consult Soviet Union when they sold Czechoslovakia in Munich.

          Oddly enough, Germany made the best offer to contain Germany.

          1. Kouros

            Yes, that is correct. The French and the Brits and the Poles did not want any alliance with the Soviets, no matter how unpalatable Hitler was.

            The Soviets got their treaty with Germany in the end, but a lot was done at the expense of the two power’s neighbours, which ended up as pawns…

      4. hk

        One should also add various “volunteers.”. People forget that a Spanish division participated in the Siege of Leningrad, that French Nazis were among the last defenders of Berlin, or that there were several divisions of SS made up of Scandanavians, including one much lionized by the Ukrainians today, the Wiking Panzer Division–they fought in Ukraine in 1943.

      5. FairandFoul

        Pointing out, too, that the USSR had to contend with immense numbers of Ukrainians who attached themselves to the nazis like fleas to a dog. Might be of note when looking at central and Eastern Europe today. By the way, I recall reading that facist Slovakia was the only axis state that dutifully paid nazi Germany for the costs of removing Jews from their country.

  14. Boomheist

    When the SMO began in Feb 2022 I predicted that Russia will end up as the premier power of the 21st Century because Russia has land, resources, an educated population, energy supplies, is largely self-contained, and has a national history of facing great suffering and danger and surviving. The only other nation that has land, resources, an educated population, and energy supplies is the United States and Canada, as a bloc, but these populations are not used to suffering and have economies far more dependent on thew rest of the world. The West has been obsessed with Russians for over 300 years, there seems to be a near-racial hatred, or fear, and in the end the decision to keep Russia from NATO in the early 1990s will be seen as the greatest blunder of all time.

    I also predicted last year that a broader Russian and Chinese goal was to break the dollar and set up a multipolar economic system, and it seems the BRICS and most of the world’s population are trying to go there. The longer this war in Ukraine continues, the easier that will be, I think.

    We’ll see how these predictions weather time……

  15. Maricata

    Good point. But that is the beauty of it all, to use an oxymoron.

    It is a script written universally for Capital and imperialism.

    Fill in the blanks like those Make Your Own Will kits they sell online.

    And if this war does not stop, making your own Will might not be a bad idea.

    Fascism is gliobalization and imperialism under capitalism.

    Interesting to see Hitler’s comments on unemployment and and the planned economy under Stalin.

    Most fascists today, not Rainbow global multinational cartel – techno fascists, but economic-nationalist fascists still fold their ideology in anti-corporate language when their allegiance is to a transnational corporate global system.

    The US is corporate fascist with Trump representing national-white-settler colonial fascism.

    You will hear the same language of corporate capitalist critique at times from these people.

    But in the end their autocracy is really a global project.

    The parallels you site are stunning. Thanks.

    Corporate fascism has the same hubris as national socialism.

    I am afraid that without opposition, and there is none for both parties are beholden to the war economy, things will continue to proceed towards war.

    Why should the US stop now?

    There is simply no incentive for there is no opposition.

    All roads lead to Rome.

  16. Aurelien

    There were actually four separate issues in the German campaign of 1941: the strength of the Soviet system and economy, the fighting power of the Soviet Army, the fighting power of the Wehrmacht and the ability of the German system and economy to sustain a long war far from home.

    The Wehrmacht was better than the Red Army on a unit for unit basis for much of the war. What sunk the Germans was the Soviet capacity to raise, train and equip fresh armies and to outproduce the Germans in armaments. The Germans believed absolutely that the Soviet system was so weak and rotten that it would collapse at the first push, and that only a few weeks of military operations would be necessary. The whole operation was predicated on that assumption.

    It’s true that the western view of the conflict was disproportionately influenced by what German generals said, partly because the Soviet archives were closed. But they’ve been open for thirty years now, and there’s no excuse for not reading books like Chris Bellamy’s “Absolute War” that take account of them. Meanwhile, there’s a school of thought that holds that the Germans had actually lost the war by the late summer, because, once the walls did not come tumbling down, there was no way the Germans could sustain the war logistically (see Stahel’s book on Operation Barbarossa.)

    I can see plenty of parallels here: in particular, I’ve said for the last year that Ukraine was bound to lose, the only question was how long it would take the Russians to win.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘The Germans believed absolutely that the Soviet system was so weak and rotten that it would collapse at the first push, and that only a few weeks of military operations would be necessary.’

      Got that right. Adolf himself said ‘We have only to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down.’ Four years later he found himself swallowing a bullet as Russian troops were knocking on his front door.

    2. Après Moi

      One of the things that contributed to the Gs’ defeat was – apparently – the complexity of their weaponry. They had too many types of weapons that required costly, time-consuming, and difficult repairs. Soviets, on the other hand, had fewer types of very effective weapons. Kinda reminds me of F35s…

      1. Robert Gray

        I vaguely remember reading somewhere, long ago, that as late as ’43 (maybe even ’44) German factories were still producing something like 37 varieties of aircraft for the Luftwaffe.

      2. Ricardo Ramírez

        IIRC, Soviets tanks were built in such fashion that they were able to cannibalize parts from German hardware.

    3. Kouros

      “The Wehrmacht was better than the Red Army on a unit for unit basis for much of the war.”

      It is maybe debatable. Werhmacht had a greater force for at least the first 6 months of the war. That combined with the higher aggressivity of German training, inherited from the Prussians…
      Also Martyanov presented somewhere on his blog a kill ratio on the eastern front, and the Germans were really not the Spartans at Termopyle…

    4. Kouros

      “The Wehrmacht was better than the Red Army on a unit for unit basis for much of the war.”

      It is maybe debatable. Werhmacht had a greater force for at least the first 6 months of the war. That combined with the higher aggressivity of German training, inherited from the Prussians…
      Also Martyanov presented somewhere on his blog a kill ratio on the eastern front, and the Germans were really not the Spartans at Termopyle…

    5. Lex

      Much of the Blitzkrieg tactics were developed and implemented because Germany knew it couldn’t easily sustain long-term operations, for a variety of reasons. It needed quick victories.

      I agree with the Wehrmacht being better on a unit for unit basis early in the war. By 1943 though it wasn’t true. The mostly poor, popular history of the Eastern Front suggests that the Soviets overwhelmed the Germans. The reality is that the Red Army rarely had a huge advantage in manpower during battle. The Russians learned fast and became better at maneuver warfare than the Germans. Combined with the ability to outproduce the Germans industrially and continually replace human losses, it was a foregone conclusion.

      I partially agree with the logistics and production argument, though I’d say late summer 41 was too early to declare it lost. I guess I’m a traditionalist and mark Stalingrad as the true turning point.

        1. hk

          Germans never had the ability to get oil from Baku anyways, even if they got there. The infrastructure would have been impossible to build, at least in any reasonable time frame if at all possible, and certainly could not be maintained if it somehow got built: see the Japanese at Palembang, roughly the same time.

    6. Not Qualified to Comment

      1942 – “The Germans believed absolutely that the Soviet system was so weak and rotten that it would collapse at the first push, and that only a few weeks of military operations would be necessary.”

      2022 – The US believed absolutely that the Russian economy was so weak and rotten that it would collapse at the first sanctions, and that only a few weeks of military operations would be necessary.

    7. eg

      I believe Adam Tooze’s work on the relative industrial power of the Axis and Allies powers supports your observation that the Germans “had actually lost the war by the late summer.”

      1. vao

        I believe the original work that demonstrated that thesis was the one by John Ellis, “Brute Force: Allied Strategy and Tactics in the Second World War”, 1990.

  17. spud

    Hitler and the central european fascists like all free traders view whats mine is mine, whats your is mine also, because we are superior, and you are sub humans that do not deserve sovereignty.

    todays free traders are of the same ilk, as they always have been and are doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again, till we rid the world of them.

    love this Conor, many many thanks!

    “The Russians never invent anything. All they have, they’ve got from others. Everything comes to them from abroad—the engineers, the machine-tools. Give them the most highly perfected bombing-sights. They’re capable of copying them, but not of inventing them. With them, working-technique is simplified to the uttermost. Their rudimentary labour-force compels them to split up the work into a series of gestures that are easy to perform and, of course, require no effort of thought.”


    free trade is built on 4 principles: white supremacy, genocide, war and trade

    “The Nutmeg’s Curse asserts that the modern world order, what I call the System, is built on four principles that guided the Dutch takeover of the Banda Islands in Indonesia in 1621: white supremacy, genocide, war and trade.

    Jan Pieterszoon Coen, the governor general of the Dutch East Indies, wanted a monopoly over the nutmeg, mace and clove trade based in the Banda Islands. He got it in 1621 by massacring most of the inhabitants, driving the survivors out of the islands, and replacing the Bandanese with slave labour.”

    “Coen, Ghosh argues, was part of a small European elite directly engaged in the conquest of the non-European world. That elite had a very new philosophy. To most people, their lands and environments were living things that sustained them, defined them and carried their own meaning. Ghosh calls their beliefs “vitalism.”

    But to Coen and the other elite Europeans, the whole world — animal, vegetable, mineral and human — was a vast, inert dump of resources, waiting to be seized and turned into European wealth through genocide (or slavery), trade and war.”

    “The Second World War shook the System. Germany, Italy and Japan, latecomers, tried to establish their own empires. (Hitler admired the Americans’ westward expansion and their racial policies, and wanted to imitate them by expanding eastward into Russia and replacing the Slavs with German farmers.) The latecomers failed to realize their empire dreams. Instead, the postwar liquidation of the British, French, Belgian and Portuguese empires turned former colonies into countries that soon became some greater power’s client states. “

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      “Hitler and the central european fascists like all free traders”

      Hitler started writing about autarky in Mein Kampf. Here’s a link about a 1936 Memo from him about the necessity of autarky,

      While I don’t believe free trade promotes peace, it is true that if you plan to go to war with everybody, relying on trade doesn’t make much sense, especially if you don’t have that much of a navy. Hitler anticipated that Germany would have to supply its own needs to the maximum extent possible.

      Amazing what you learn playing Hearts of Iron.

      1. spud

        hitler was all for autarky and sovereignty, that is only germany and italy that is.


        “British advocacy of free trade, he believed, was political cover for British domination of the world. A prosperous Germany required exchange with the British world, but this trade pattern could be supplemented, thought Hitler, by the conquest of a land empire that would even the scales between London and Berlin.

        Once it had gained the appropriate colonies, Germany could preserve its industrial excellence while shifting its dependence for food from the British-controlled sea lanes to its own imperial hinterland.

        It was reassuring to Hitler that such an alteration of the world order, such a reglobalization, had been achieved before, in recent memory. For generations of German imperialists, and for Hitler himself, the exemplary land empire was the United States of America.”

        “Globalization led Hitler to the American dream. In American idiom, this notion that the standard of living was relative, based upon the perceived success of others, was called “keeping up with the Joneses.” Behind every imaginary German racial warrior stood an imaginary German woman who wanted ever more.”

        “When Hitler wrote in My Struggle that Germany’s only opportunity for colonization was Europe, he discarded the possibility of a return to Africa. The search for racial inferiors to dominate required no long voyages by sea, since they were present in Eastern Europe as well.”

        “The Slavs are born as a slavish mass,” wrote Hitler, “crying out for their master.” He meant primarily the Ukrainians, who inhabited a stretch of very fertile land, as well as their neighbors—Russians, Belarusians, and Poles.

        “I need the Ukraine,” he stated, “in order that no one is able to starve us again, like in the last war.” The conquest of Ukraine would guarantee “a way of life for our people through the allocation of Lebensraum for the next hundred years.”

        really sounds like any other free trader that came into power in 1993.

        “George Friedman
        Geopolitical Forecaster and Strategist
        Nationalism Is Rising, Not Fascism
        06/03/2016 02:18 pm ET Updated Jun 04, 2017

        Recently, there have been a number of articles and statements asserting that fascism is rising in Europe, and that Donald Trump is an American example of fascism. This is a misrepresentation of a very real phenomenon.

        The nation-state is reasserting itself as the primary vehicle of political life. Multinational institutions like the European Union and multilateral trade treaties are being challenged because they are seen by some as not being in the national interest.

        The charge of a rise in fascism comes from a profound misunderstanding of fascism. It is also an attempt to discredit the resurgence of nationalism and to defend the multinational systems that have dominated the West since World War II.

        Nationalism is the core of the Enlightenment’s notion of liberal democracy. It asserts that the multinational dynasties that ruled autocratically denied basic human rights. Among these was the right to national self-determination and the right of citizens to decide what was in the national interest.

        The Enlightenment feared tyranny and saw the multinational empires dominating Europe as the essence of tyranny. Destroying them meant replacing them with nation-states. The American and French revolutions were both nationalist risings, as were the risings that swept Europe in 1848. Liberal revolutions were by definition nationalist because they were risings against multinational empires.

        Fascism differs from nationalism in two profound ways. First, fascists did not consider self-determination a universal right. Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Francisco Franco, to mention three obvious fascists, only endorsed nationalism for Germany, Italy and Spain. The rights of other nations to a nation-state of their own was, at best, unclear to the fascists.

        In a very real sense, Hitler and Mussolini believed in multinationalism, albeit with other nations submitting to their will. Fascism was an assault on the right of nations to pursue their self-interest, and an elevation of the fascists’ right to pursue it based on an assertion of their nations’ inherent superiority and right to rule.”

  18. cresty

    Carl Beijer slags off existing opposition to democrats? color me surprised! or don’t, because that’s what he spends his time doing, in socialist guise.

  19. JonnyJames

    Tragically humorous survey of western mass media cartel reports on Russia. Who believes this crap? It is good for some cheap laughs though.

    Napoleon, the British Empire, Hitler… We don’t need to read no stinkin history – ‘murka is the “indispensable, exceptional nation”

    “Blinken and his hawkish cohorts” that’s another joke.

    These bald-faced, suit-and-tie wearing, pencil-neck throwbacks to the 1950s are privileged, sheltered, security-protected pathetic cowards. Let’s send them to the Russian Front and see how long before they soil themselves and have a breakdown. These freaks are not “hawks”. These scum are cowardly parasites, who get others to do the mass murdering. We need to get our anthropomorphic metaphors straight.

    Leeches, tapeworms, disease-ridden ticks…

  20. Alex Cox

    Excellent analysis! The Russian WW2 film White Tiger ends with a scene in which the devil interviews Hitler in hell. Adolf explains that killing the Jews was just part one of his project. The main goal was to exterminate the Russians.

    You can watch White Tiger for free on the Russian Film Hub.

  21. Amfortas the hippie

    during my massive research frenzy into the American Right, from 2003(who the hell are these people?!) til around 2012…aside from reading all the Righty source material i could get my hands on, from Burke to Fallwell to Wolfowitz…i of necessity had to go and re-read people like C. Wright Mills, and his successor, Domhoff(sp-2)…as well as Carol Quigley and Bertram Gross…in order to refresh my memory about the class System in “classless” America.
    a bunch of foia docs regarding the cia, et alia, as well….
    from the Business Coup to Grandaddy Bush and Daddy Koch’ support for the Nazis….to Operation Paper Clip…to cointelpro and operation mockingbird…and just on and on and on….
    the rub: We are the Fourth Reich.
    I can only say that out loud in meatspace to less than a handful of people…and even them, it makes them noticeably uncomfortable.
    but there it is.
    the same hubris, the same better-than-thou arrogance, the same “the rules for thee…”…and the same domestic treatment of dissent and outliers…from commies to black and brown and red and yella….
    and the same assumed Right to stomp all over the world without a by your leave or resistance.
    all those high minded ideals we learn in grade school, regarding a beacon on a hill, and spreading democracy around the world….
    all nonsense.
    we’re the 4th reich…is clarifying.
    and its also sadder than hell to admit and accept.

    1. LawnDart

      I mistakenly believed that USA was mostly a classless society for far longer than I wish to admit, and if it weren’t for first-hand experience the reality would still feel much removed.

      The “good” families are very much scum, and cowards. But they have wealth, connections, and the power: it will take a bloody revolution to cure us of these ails.

  22. oscarromerost

    “There is an enormous gap between the way the professionals in the American intelligence community assess the situation and what the White House and the supine Washington press project to the public by uncritically reproducing the statements of Blinken and his hawkish cohorts.” – Sy Hersch

    I am under the impression that the “supine Washington press project” is a result of being compromised by the “intelligence” community. So what is Hersch saying here? Perhaps he is referring more to the analysts and disregarding the operations side.

  23. Susan the other

    I’m not a war history fan but the Russian tactics in Ukraine have been as canny and cautious as a pack of wolves, knowing when to strike and when to pull back and willing to track their kill patiently. Ukraine on the other hand has broken all the rules, pushed a manure spreader of propaganda, committed atrocities against its own citizens, and done lots of idiotic things assuming the West would come to their rescue. What has in fact been achieved is a rejection of their bid to join NATO primarily because they are such hot headed idiots. But hope never dies as David Ignatius gushes away as late as June 24 in WApo. And I am left to conclude that the West’s not-so-hidden agenda is/was nuclear war. Otherwise there is really no objective. And in comparison, nuclear war is vastly more delusional than all of WW2 and the Cold War combined. The simple fact that nobody seems to reject it, but instead it is used as the reason for limited war, is not reassuring when jerks like Bojo and Zelensky are given a hearing as if they were sane. And NATO complacently allows things to emerge because they are a military organization. If NATO were a peace organization it would clarify things better. But I’m pretty sure NATO is not going to discuss a new charter anytime soon.

    1. AG

      sry if this is a bit akward…

      re: WMDs

      what I do wonder

      a) whether NATO seriously fancies 1 minor nuking to provoke a bigger one by RU and then let them be disavowed by the entire world for stepping over the threshold.

      b) Scenario 2 would be the US sneak attack destroying 80% of RU silos within 5 minutes. Then Kremlin has the choice to retaliate in full or do nothing, because the attack was purely against military targets with minimal human loss. Something I believe so far RU cannot counter with their own WMDs.

      (This is the infamous “war script” described in Foreign Affairs 15 years ago and apparently still valid in its feasibility. What I do not know is how the Perimetr system would play out.)

      1. Paradan

        Russia actually has a larger strategic force. It has to be able to nuke Europe and the USA in case of a war. About half of their ICBMs are on mobile launchers and difficult to target. A USA sneak attack from subs gives about 10-15 mins warning as most of their silos are far inland. The fallout from attacking silos is devastating and can kill 100’s of thousands(within 48 hours) depending on wind conditions.

        And finally…

        If the US could knock out 80% of Russia’s nukes, they would have gone for it. 20 million dead deplorables is just the price of freedom.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Actually, less than 25% of Russian missiles are in silos. And one should not forget the 57 battalions of S-400, or the few S-500 battalions capable of intercepting ballistic missiles.

      2. Maxwell Johnston

        I assume you’re referring to the famous (or infamous?) Foreign Affairs article in 2006, by Lieber and Press, asserting that the USA probably has a first-strike capability. I don’t think it was feasible in 2006, and given that both Russia and China have significantly upgraded their nuclear arsenals since then, it definitely is not reality anymore. Russia’s land-based ICBMs are probably more advanced than the USA’s at this point (and much more dispersed, it’s a huge country), whereas I would still give the USA’s submarine fleet the edge over Russia’s. As for the third part of the nuclear triad, both sides depend on old bombers carrying vulnerable cruise missiles, so they’re even.

        The 2006 article is available here, for anyone interested:


  24. Victor Sciamarelli

    What, IMHO, is missing from the discussion, about the Nazi and US failure, is mention of the strategy of both and why it failed.
    The Nazi plan was the blitzkrieg. In the front of every Nazi mind was the long drawn-out disaster of WWI which was to be avoided at all costs. The blitzkrieg was a brilliant idea and it worked brilliantly against France, Poland, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The factories would arm the military to the teeth, then a well trained and well coordinated massive army with tanks and artillery with the air force moved as fast as a military ever moved. When it was over, unexpectedly, the factories returned to the production of civilian goods and life was expected to return to something near normal.
    The Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 was based on the blitzkrieg. When it stalled, and only then, did the Nazis put its war production on a permanent basis. Hard to believe, but the Nazis did not reach maximum war production until mid-1944.
    The US plan was to overthrow the democratically elected government in Ukraine in 2014 and replace it with someone friendly to the US, as well as arm and train the Ukrainians. After the Russian invasion in 2022, the Ukrainians, US sanctions, allied support, and propaganda would insure the defeat of Russia.
    Yet, like the Nazi high command which was brilliant at blitzkrieg but did not have the proper skills to manage a protracted war, the US can’t manage a protracted war with Russia without an escalation toward nuclear war.
    Like the Nazis, the US underestimated how capable is Russia to go the entire 15 rounds. The US plan is a failure and a disaster for Ukraine, as well as the US.

      1. Victor Sciamarelli

        Interesting details from Big Serge. And if, for example, it was common knowledge that Hungary and Romania supported the Wehrmacht against Russia, Americans would better appreciate Russia’s post-war security concerns in keeping those countries from ever uniting again.

        1. Polar Socialist

          It’s not just Americans. A Hungarian friend of mine was genuinely surprised to learn in the late 90’s that Hungary fought Soviet Union in the WW2.

  25. William Verick

    This is exactly what John Erickson described in detail in his two volumes: The Road to Stalingrad and The Road to Berlin. Stalin’s Civil War cronies were swept aside or kicked upstairs and new military leaders were chosen based on merit. A whole new officer corp was developed and trained, once again, on merit. By the beginning of Operation Bagration the Soviet operational art was beyond anything Guderian or Manstein had ever achieved.

    It’s very hard for any military make the necessary changes, and to step on the toes needed, to accomplish something like this outside the crucible of war.The difference between the war in Ukraine and the Great Patriotic War is that the Russian side this time around has not been bled white in the process of, to paraphrase Townes Van Zandt, shaking the dust off of its wings and the sleep out of its eye.

    The leaders of Poland and the Baltic States should think very hard before they attempt to send armies to fight Russia in Ukraine. Wars of this scale are hard to sell to one’s citizens unless the country’s existence is at stake. What would be the politics of war in these countries if hundreds of their young men and women were being killed each week? America learned that — at least for a time — in Vietnam.

  26. Starry Gordon

    Moving right along, forgetting about the sad war propaganda but focusing on what people are doing materially now, I intuit that Bidencorp’s decision about cluster bombs foretells a combined scorched-earth policy and a retreat. Filling Ukraine with random bombs precludes efficient use of the territory for agriculture and mining. Most of the victims will be Ukrainians, a people who could formerly be counted on to obstruct and fight the Russians (Poles, Germans, Turks, Tatars, Mongols, Kazaks….) So, what retreat can we predict and where will it stop?

  27. ian

    Seems to me it is much smarter to assume your enemy is competent, motivated and prepared – regardless of the actual truth. Better to be pleasantly surprised.

  28. digi_owl

    Hitler calling Russia Asiatic makes one ponder the between state Russia has always been in mentally. Not quite European, not quite Asian. Add to that the orthodox church and things get even murkier.

    Thinking about it one can almost still see the fracture line of the Roman empire in present day Europe, based on various cultural-religious customs.

  29. berit

    PS Thanks for this great article, which I’m reading in the darkness of night.
    40 000 refuges from Ukraine to be settled in this rich country with billions for weapons, rapidly growing numbers of people in distress, anxiety, rank poverty and weak, fumbling, ignorant, coverdly politicans.
    digi_owl, I think it was, is right about the matter of cluster bombs.The convention prohibiting production, sales, storage and use of these devilish things was signed in Oslo by 100 heads of state, hosted in 2008 by then PM Jens Stoltenberg and Foreign Minister, now PM, Jonas Støre, publicly castigated today by leading social democratic newspaper Dagsavisen on this most embarrassing subject. Vilnius tomorrow. Do they stand up against USA? Do they kneel? Libya 02 for years and years to come. Pity the people and the children.

  30. Jorge

    My dad was a chemical engineer, and graduated from UC Berkeley in 1940. One requirement for graduation: he had to read and summarize a technical paper written in one of French, German, or Russian- his choice.

    That’s where the action was!

  31. Ignacio

    This was such an interesting post and commentaries below. Good exercise would be to stomach most of the links provided by Gallagher. That would only help to analyse how delusional the CW thinking has become. For me the question is how we became so delusional in the first place. The only reason that I can find is that the CW turned emotional with Russia. We have been primed to be Russia haters. Anyone who has been paying attention, here at NC, has seen how the Russia, Russia, Russia! thing had been incubated in the CW minds for years. For instance the Novichocks incidents showed how evil they are. Russians are to be feared and hated. All emotional stuff. We didn’t realise that when you become emotionally motivated it modifies your reasoning capabilities to dangerous levels.

    Now, the question is what kind of slap in the face could be given to the CW to return to some reasonable, not delusional, reality analysis and prevent further defeat, denial, and anger before everything spirals out of control. The CW is somehow in a state of shock with Russia and not only Russia. How the cowards dared to attack in the first place? How these supposedly disorganized and corrupt armies managed to destroy ours? How is it that most of the rest of the world dared not to submit to our orders? How is it that our sanctions regime didn’t work?

    We have to deal with all questions and explain the impatient how flawed the assumptions were made, how blinded by hate and how to re address the conflict. It was not that evil that Russia was providing with energy resources in exchange of stuff, not that problematic that you could have decent diplomatic relationships, be somehow empathic and understand that you can tolerate others having their interests and defend them to some point within reasonable terms. The neocons should be cornered to where they belong, which is not precisely the high rooms where decisions are made.

    1. Acacia

      Good questions. In this kind of discussion it is very tempting to remind interlocutors that the Russophobia has been actively cultivated by the state media that most people consume (“incubated” as you say), thinking that it’s actual journalism, that in effect there has been a constant campaign lasting years, while the average person wasn’t paying much attention to the larger geopolitical dimensions of the conflict, nor the history, but what this amounts to is saying “you have been manipulated by propaganda, which you thought was journalism”. I increasingly feel this to be the case, like it’s the 800-lb gorilla in the room w.r.t. popular opinion, and there must be some place for these observations, but I don’t see rhetorically how to deliver them without provoking even stronger denial. So this suggests instead questioning assumptions, though these can be extremely difficult to dislodge.

      1. Ignacio

        Cultivated is much better word that incubated. Thank you for your extremely polite correction. ;)

    2. Russell Davies

      You are right to say that we have been primed to be Russia haters. Below is the opening paragraph of Rudyard Kipling’s story ‘The Man Who Was’, first published in 1890. Everything one needs to know about Western exceptionalism, its racism and violence is captured in just 72 words. Nothing has changed in the 130 years since the story was published; the West still seeks to tame a beast that is entirely in its own imagination.

      “Let it be clearly understood that the Russian is a delightful person till he tucks in his shirt. As an Oriental he is charming. It is only when he insists upon being treated as the most easterly of western peoples instead of the most westerly of easterns that he becomes a racial anomaly extremely difficult to handle. The host never knows which side of his nature is going to turn up next.”

  32. Savita

    In response to the great discussion of the world war two hustlers hustling treaties. I am reminded of a film some of you will enjoy. The english comic satire film ‘In The Loop’. It’s a take on the politics in the UK and US that led to the UN Security council voting in support of the second invasion of Iraq.
    The film is a spin off from the brilliant english political comedy The Thick Of It with more or less some of the same characters.

    1. Ignacio

      Thank you. I can imagine Mr. Blinken permanently singing this: “I can’t get no satisfaction, I can get no good reaction. And I try, and I try and i try…”

  33. LawnDart

    We cannot underestimate the will to believe.

    The fairy tales will continue until the West gets smashed in the teeth.

    And even then, as governments in the West implode, more fairy tales will be crafted: NATO will die and new alliances will be born– a snake cut to pieces, yet still not dead, as the pieces will regrow and live again.

    As USA declines in strength, I fully expect it to become much meaner, more hostile, toxic, and the politics waged ever more venomous, until the evil within is defeated and rebuilding can begin.

    This war, which the Ukraine is of a losing significance, won’t end tomorrow: it’ll last generations– if there are more generations to be had.

  34. N Light N

    Advisors for the west – the U.S. in particular – fear ramifications for any dissent that deviates from the strategy. Hence, the room is bloated with sycophants. Decades of impunity for atrocities have infused the U.S. perpetrators with erroneous infallibility and a false sense of indomitableness. The U.S. is like an old desperate lion who fears being thrown out from their pride by young lions (e.g.- China and Russia). The war that the USA seems to be eager to fight is the wrong conflict – not that any war is the right war. The USA’s heart (for fighting a war with Russia) – provided it has a heart – is not in the right place (unmerited). Russia absolutely understands that this conflict is existential (The U.S. has stated as much); therefore, Russians will be fighting for their lives, and the lives of their families, their homeland, honor, and their future (they will be motivated, easily mobilized, and justified). The Americans, on-the-other-hand, will once again be fighting a criminal war-of-aggression for resources, and to maintain their unfair rules-based international-order (I make the rules and order you around). The U.S. bully (predator billionaire ruling class), and their western vassals, must look inward and rationalize a way to stop this insane march to war. If not, the USA will be defeated.

  35. Felix_47

    My old girlfriend was a Russian classical violinist in the local symphony. She always had a shot of vodka before dinner and after dinner and before bed. Her musical skills were not affected by the alcohol. I noticed some of the articles discussed Russian soldiers and their drinking habits. Many do not realize just how well run the classical music education system in Russia was. My girlfriend often bemoaned the collapse of the Soviet Union and what it did to the classical music training system. Good musicians were well paid, had lifetime careers and prestige…..all deserved in my opinion.

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