Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Friday, May 1, 2015

I'm Sorry Russia

There is something very wrong, and possibly very evil going on in our world today. Aside from all the conflicts spawned by greed and the desire to control in our world, there is some all too real revisionist history happening. When people, let alone governments, try to recreate history it's an ominous sign. A sign of hatred. Of deep hatred. That's what is happening right now in our world when it comes to the Russian (then Soviet) victory over Germany in World War Two.

The Soviet Union suffered 25 million killed in World War Two. By comparison, the other allied countries suffered:

United kingdom           450,900
United States                418,500
India                         2, 087,000
China                       15,000,000
Poland                       5,700,000
Yugoslavia                1,363,500
Dutch East Indies      3,500,000

and there are many more.

The Soviet Red Army suffered the most military deaths of any nation in World War Two at 9,750,000. Almost twice as many as the nearest country, its enemy, Germany. The Soviet people, comprised today of Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, and Belarus bled the German army white. Of all the German military deaths of World War Two, 2,742,909 were caused by the Soviet army on the Eastern Front. By way of comparison, only 534,683 were killed by all other allies put together on all other fronts. In this way it's clear to see that the vast majority of the German armed forces were wiped out by the Soviets between 1941-1945. For that sacrifice the world owes the old Soviet Union, or Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Belarus our undying gratitude. No question. To believe otherwise is to disrespect the sacrifice of a generation.

However, that seems to be all the rage these days in the West. And, I'm having a very hard time with that. There are a few reasons. First off, we owe the families, mostly Russian, our eternal respect for the generations of young men and women lost. The families broken to bits. The loves lost. The communities, towns, cities destroyed. They took the steel punch of German Nazism for the rest of us. We set foot back in Normandy when the German army was essentially already defeated. Secondly, to white wash the heroic struggle of the Russian people is to invite a repetition of the same savage crime. We preach this constantly with the Holocaust - rightly so. However, it's as if the greater sacrifice of Russia is somehow less and open to some sort of political interpretation. Lastly, it speaks to who we are, not who they are. It says we are so superficial, so petulant, that we can allow such a sacrifice to be degraded to suit our present political needs or wants.

That leads me to the Victory Day celebrations and parade in Moscow in about a week from now. Countries like my own (Canada), Britain, the US, etc are boycotting the celebrations and parade marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet defeat of Germany. As a son of a vet who fought in that war against the Nazis I find this new Western revisionism very hard to swallow. As a retired infantry vet myself I am ashamed by it. The disrespect is unconscionable. It is dark and it is evil. It goes against everything I believe in and hold as dear. The West should hold its head in collective shame. Not just the leadership, but also the people. It's a disgrace. I'm writing this post just to let the Russian people know that not everyone agrees with this slight. Not everyone sees sacrifice through the lens of political expediency. That the sacrifice of your people is recognized and honoured by anyone with any education and knowledge of history - even though it was just a short while ago. Mostly, I just wanted to say: "I'm sorry Russia".

10 comments:

  1. Well, I think... the reason might be that, at least for the top-level strategists, US and Canada's involvement in the war against Nazi Germany was never about ideology or human rights (the concentration camps were unknown about at first, and were only used to justify the war retrospectively after the fact). It wasn't about opposition to fascism or anything.

    Rather, it was exactly as George Friedman (head of Stratfor, the "shadow CIA") described it in a recent interview while visiting Moscow:
    http://russia-insider.com/en/2015/01/20/2561

    "For all of the last 100 years Americans have pursued a very consistent foreign policy. Its main goal: to not allow any state to amass too much power in Europe. First, the United States sought to prevent Germany from dominating Europe, then it sought to prevent the USSR from strengthening its influence.

    The essence of this policy is as follows: to maintain as long as possible a balance of power in Europe, helping the weaker party, and if the balance is about to be significantly disrupted -- to intervene at the last moment. And so, in the case of the First World War, the United States intervened only after the abdication of Nicholas II in 1917, to prevent Germany from gaining ground. And during WWII, the US opened a second front only very late (in June 1944), after it became clear that the Russians were prevailing over the Germans.

    What is more, the most dangerous potential alliance, from the perspective of the United States, was considered to be an alliance between Russia and Germany. This would be an alliance of German technology and capital with Russian natural and human resources."

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  2. (continued...)

    And, in case one doesn't believe the Russians (the above interview originally appeared in Russian, and was later translated), here's Friedman's own account of his time in Moscow, which he wrote after coming back to the US:
    https://www.stratfor.com/weekly/viewing-russia-inside

    "I try not to be drawn into matters of right and wrong, not because I don't believe there is a difference but because history is rarely decided by moral principles. I have understood the Russians' view of Ukraine as a necessary strategic buffer and the idea that without it they would face a significant threat, if not now, then someday. They point to Napoleon and Hitler as examples of enemies defeated by depth.

    I tried to provide a strategic American perspective. The United States has spent the past century pursuing a single objective: avoiding the rise of any single hegemon that might be able to exploit Western European technology and capital and Russian resources and manpower. The United States intervened in World War I in 1917 to block German hegemony, and again in World War II. In the Cold War the goal was to prevent Russian hegemony. U.S. strategic policy has been consistent for a century.

    The United States has been conditioned to be cautious of any rising hegemon. In this case the fear of a resurgent Russia is a recollection of the Cold War, but not an unreasonable one. As some pointed out to me, economic weakness has rarely meant military weakness or political disunity. I agreed with them on this and pointed out that this is precisely why the United States has a legitimate fear of Russia in Ukraine. If Russia manages to reassert its power in Ukraine, then what will come next? Russia has military and political power that could begin to impinge on Europe. Therefore, it is not irrational for the United States, and at least some European countries, to want to assert their power in Ukraine.

    When I laid out this argument to a very senior official from the Russian Foreign Ministry, he basically said he had no idea what I was trying to say. While I think he fully understood the geopolitical imperatives guiding Russia in Ukraine, to him the centurylong imperatives guiding the United States are far too vast to apply to the Ukrainian issue. It is not a question of him only seeing his side of the issue. Rather, it is that for Russia, Ukraine is an immediate issue, and the picture I draw of American strategy is so abstract that it doesn't seem to connect with the immediate reality. There is an automatic American response to what it sees as Russian assertiveness; however, the Russians feel they have been far from offensive and have been on the defense. For the official, American fears of Russian hegemony were simply too far-fetched to contemplate."

    ----

    In other words, it is unsurprising at all that the ruling class of America and Canada would blatantly disrespect the Soviet/Russian sacrifice in WW2, or that they would support fascism's ideological heirs in Ukraine today, or be just one of 3 countries to vote at the UN AGAINST a resolution condemning neo-Nazism - because it was never about human rights or ideology; it was always simply about making sure that continental Europe stays divided and subdued.

    This is not to say that those who fought in WW2 felt the same way. They surely didn't. But the reasons they were given to motivate them to fight were not the real reasons that the war was waged, and this is becoming very clear now.

    And yes, I would've been happier if I hadn't realized this (I live in Canada, too) but what can you do?

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  3. Brad, thank you for expressing, what I am sure many Canadians feel, although are not able to give voice to. Great job.

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  4. I disagree somewhat, as ideology definitely also determined US involvement in WW II, namely the "filofascism" and anti-communism of the American economic elite, best exemplified by the "judeo-bolshevism"-theory promoted by that notorious antisemite, Henry Ford. I refer to the new edition of my book 'The Myth of the Good War: America in the Second World War,' publisher: James Lorimer, Toronto, 2015.

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  5. Captain, you have nothing to be ashamed for, and no apology is necessary from honorable man such as yourself. And I extend my congratulations with Victory Day to all those Western Allies who honestly and heroically did their duty be it on Normandy Beaches or in naval battles both in Atlantic and Pacific.

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  6. Thank you, Brad, for your kind words. We do not hold a grudge against anyone who has a memory like a sieve.
    But history can not be forgotten that horror again came to our world.

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  7. As Chomsky reminds us, caring about other people is a dangerous idea in America today and signals the transformation of the United States from a struggling democracy to a full-fledged authoritarian state. Sadly, the same can be said about Europe.

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  8. Well said, Cap. Thank you. You are to be commended

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