Wednesday, February 04, 2015
Why we should cut Russia some slack
I admire the Russian people. They suffer a generally dreadful climate and have almost always had atrocious government. Yet through all that they have not only survived but have made great contributions to human civilization. One only has to mention the names of Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky to know how much of our classical music we owe to Russians. And there are other notable Russian composers too: Rachmaninoff, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Gliere, Borodin, Mussorgsky Scriabin, Glazunov, Prokofiev etc. The list goes on.
And in literature we think of Tolstoy, Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, Gogol, Turgenev, Pasternak, Nabokov, Gorky etc. Perhaps because of limits imposed by their climate, Russians are great readers.
And in science and technology too Russians have much to their credit. Sikorsky invented the helicopter as we know it today; the first earth satellite was Russian, and Russia's military industries are legendary. If there were a war tomorrow, the absurd F35 fighter would be rapidly blasted out of the sky by the latest products of the Mikoyan and Sukhoi design bureaux. Multi-role aircraft rarely perform any role well and the F35 is an extreme example of that. It is a political compromise and is as good as you would expect from that.
And I admire the Russian people for not losing their patriotism. Most of the Western intelligentsia have lost theirs under Leftist influence but not even Communism could suppress Russian patriotism. Despite the theoretical internationalism of Communism, Stalin in fact had to name what we call WWII as "The great patriotic war" in order to get maximum support from the Russian people. Patriots stand ready to support and defend their own people. It is only nationalists who want to subdue other people.
So why has the Western world declared a new Cold War on Russia? Because of typical Leftist meddling in other people's affairs. Ukraine is in the midst of a civil war. America has had a couple of those too so can hardly criticize. Ukraine is a botch of a country and the war is an attempt to remedy that. Ukrainians dislike Russians greatly -- about as passionately as Scots loathe the English. And the "United" Kingdom went within a hairsbreadth of breaking up over that just last year. So the Russians of Ukraine want to get out from under a Ukrainian majority who despise them and, sadly, war is usually needed for that.
And Mr Putin is cautiously supporting Ukraine's Russians. No Russian leader would do less, given Russian patriotism. The West should encourage the independence movement in Eastern Ukraine, not condemn it. Didn't America have a war of independence once? So why aren't Americans sympathetic to the independence desires of others?
The cold war is hurting the great Russian people and it should cease at once. While King Obama has been doing all he can to reduce American military preparedness, Mr. Putin has been steadily rebuilding his forces. In the face of Western hostility he is well positioned to turn the cold war hot. What if he decided to invade one or all of the Baltic states, with withdrawal being conditional on an end to the cold war and a large sum of monetary assistance as reparations for the damage to Russia's economy?
The West could do nothing militarily. The USAF would not dare to deploy the F35 in its present bungled state, leaving only the ageing F22 Raptor to face the startling performance of the latest Russian military aircraft. So Russian air superiority in the Baltic would be established from the start. American aviators would get as rude a shock as they did in WWII when encountering Japan's Mitsubishi Zero fighter.
And no Western military would have the stomach for a fight with Russia anyway. All that the Western militaries are good for these days for is to take on moronic Middle-Easterners -- and they have had little success even at that. Ever since Vietnam, the American army has lost all its wars. There have been some battlefield successes but no lasting victories. Iraq, for instance, is now arguably more hostile to the West overall than it was under Saddam. There would surely be enough warning in that to preclude a hot war with Russia. Russia could do to American forces what it did to Napoleon and Hitler.
And there are substantial Russian populations in the Baltic States so Mr Putin could well declare that he was on another rescue mission. Russians would rally to the cause. It would take a very large sum indeed to buy the withdrawal of Russian troops under those circumstances. Yet the West would feel obliged to rescue the heroic people of the Baltic states from a war brought on by Western folly -- so would pay the Danegeld. Western taxpayers would feel the pain resulting from the folly of their leaders. The world desperately needs a leader who is a man of peace at the moment.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).