EDITORIAL: Russian History, Repeating Itself


Russian History, Repeating Itself

At the end of the Quentin Tarrantino movie “Kill Bill” the heroine delivers a secret Kung Fu blow against her adversary while they battle, one which allows the nemesis to walk away apparently unscathed. But after taking a number of steps, he staggers and drops lifeless after his heart explodes.

Something very much like that happened to Russia after what it regards — quite insanely — as its greatest military triumph, namely World War II.  Russians can talk all they like about how they “defeated” Germany, but while Germany united over the course of the next few years Russia fell apart. The USSR disintegrated, and today Germans enjoy a standard of living immeasurably higher in every respect than what is faced by Russians.  Far from being the nation’s greatest victory World War II was actually Russia’s great defeat, in part because the nation did not even realize it had occurred.

In World War I, as brilliantly chronicled by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Russia suffered another massive military defeat.  Over 100,000 Russian soldiers were captured as prisoners, the nation sued for peace and the Russian monarchy soon collapsed. 

And how about Afghanistan?  Chechnya? The disastrous campaign against Japan in the Far East?  The Cold War, that administered the coup de grace following World War II?  We challenge you to name a single major military conflict in the past century that has ended well for Russia.

And it is the same, of course, with Georgia.

Far from displaying Russia’s power, the Georgia adventure confirmed its weakness.  Everyone knows Russia wanted regime change in Tbilisi, but it did not happen.   Russia was faced with a unified international furor and forced to immediately remove its soldiers from Georgia proper, limiting itself to the nakedly imperialistic act of seizing Ossetia and Abkhazia.  As Pavel Baev of the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo, Norway, writes in the Moscow Times: “Russia may soon discover that achieving a ‘military victory’ is not as simple as pushing Georgia’s U.S.-trained but poorly led army out of South Ossetia.”  Baev points out that Russia could have shut down the worldwide energy corridor that runs through Georgia, but it didn’t because, we now see, it can’t afford to “to cause any additional anxiety among European consumers.”  The price of oil did not rise because of the Georgian crisis, but rather continued its slide, having the result as Baev says of “punishing Russia with lost profits measured in billions of dollars.”

And the Georgia attack isolated Russia, too,  inflicted  “great damage” — in Baev’s words — on Russia’s reputation.  Vladimir Putin’s repeated lectures about the evils of unilateralism, once aimed with some effect at the Bush administration, have proven to be meaningless propaganda designed to undermine an enemy. Years of propaganda victories by Putin were utterly undone by the five-day war.  The nations of Eastern Europe rose up in outrage against Russia, and Poland embraced the U.S. missile defense system it had previously spurned, thumbing its nose at Russian power.  There is now a serious threat that the West, moreover, will take aggressive efforts to wean itself off Russian oil by finding alternative sources and alternative energy technologies, something it would likely never have done without such vivid impetus as the Olympic War provided.

6 responses to “EDITORIAL: Russian History, Repeating Itself

  1. Odd, someone on this blog only yesterday flatly stated that Solzhenitsyn’s knowledge of Russia’s history was merely superficial–and yet the preceding editorial suggests that Solzhenitsyn’s “August 1914” is ‘brilliant.’

    One can only hope that future historians write as brilliantly, accurately, and vividly as Solzhenitsyn when chronicling the August 2008 Russian military victory over Georgia, the U.S. and NATO.

  2. The world’s greatest nations are going back to the period of stone age, where people were savage and called barbars, why because of wars and attacking the weaks and occupy. What is the point of being developped, knowledgeable? I think we need to be peaceful on the earth, because we’re not everlasting, every human is nothing but mortal, no doubt about that, we all will die later of sooner. Russia lost ‘its power because it was the time to loose it. God will never let prosper a nation that
    control maliciouly its population. They got corrupted from other nations and they were bought out. The young president Dmitry may
    start war to show prestige of the old regime, that is not what people want nowadays, people want to survive and live their few remaining span of life and then naturally pass. But like that took place in Georgia recently, was not wise, and it was a clear provocation of US and other countries to reciprocate the act. Children and young generation are chocked to see stuffs like big Wars errupting again ignorantly caused by intelligent developped nations! Putin was bad as well and he is probably advising the new president to flex muscles and intimidate others, that time is gone, build your land to protect the population from famine, deseases and poor conditions and provide education and housing .
    This is my view of the world and want to see every country applying to this philosophy.

    Thanks for taking time and read this.


  3. >Everyone knows Russia wanted regime change in Tbilisi

    Is there any documentary evidence of such intentions? Russia is fed up feeding ungrateful Georgian parasites for 200 years, now it’s the West’s turn.

    > There is now a serious threat that the West, moreover, will take aggressive efforts to wean itself off Russian oil by finding alternative sources and alternative energy technologies,

    Tell it Dick Cheney and other Western oil tycoons! :) And anyway, as the saying goes, while the grass (the “alternative sources and technologies”) grows the horse (the West) starves.

  4. The disintegration of Russia was the result of its defeat in the Cold War, not its victory in WWII. However, having survived the “pro-western liberal” pest, Russia is now immune to it. What does not kill us makes us stronger.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS: Eugene, do you really think your own personal, utterly bare opinion means anything? Such statements appear childish and ludicrous to us. If you want to make a claim like that, cite evidence. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt. Isn’t it logical that Russia was defeated in the cold war because it was weakened by WWII? Do you think at all before you write on this blog? We will not publish your nonsensical gibberish indefinitely. The comments are for exchange of information, not the venting of crazed personal rantings.

  5. I wanted to say “Great Northern War” but that was 300 years ago so that doesn’t count really… Russia even got beaten in the Crimean War 150 years ago and didn’t realllly *win* over Napoleon although I am willing to count that as a victory for Russia if Russia will acknowledge that by then Napoleon had already been at war with Spain, Germany (actually, that which nowadays is called Germany), Britain, Sweden, Denmark etc and was exhausted.

    also, for some reason this article reminded me of a soviet joke which could easily be remade into a contemporary one: “When Brezhnev came into office, he discovered three letters left to him by Khrustchev, numbered and on each an instruction “if things get tough, open this letter”, “if things get tough after the first letter, open this letter” and “if things get tough after the second letter, open this letter”. Brezhnev put the letters safely away. Everything went well at first but then things got a little difficult and, not knowing what else to do, he opened the first letter. It read: “Blame the Americans” Brezhnev took this as excellent advice and – like a miracle – things quieted down a lot. after a while though, tensions rose again and Brezhnev was forced to turn to the second letter. This read: “Blame me”. So Brezhnev blamed Khrustchev and, again, like a miracle, the difficulties died dowbn. A few years later though, a large crisis broke out and Brezhnev sought aid in the third letter. It read: “now, my dear, it’s time for you to write three letters” “

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