“The U.S. Army’s rapid reaction force in Europe is underequipped, undermanned and inadequately organized to confront military aggression from Russia or its high-tech proxies, according to an internal study that some who have read it view as a wake-up call as the Trump administration seeks to deter an emboldened Vladimir Putin.” (Politico)
OK. This article starts off like some Cold War fever dream once again awaiting the 8th Guards Army to barrel through the Fulda Gap on its way to the Rhine. However, this report is not another neocon fear piece about the growing Russian menace. It is a sober report commissioned by the 173rd Brigade commander about the combat readiness of his own unit. It's a damning assessment.
“When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, the unit's [173rd Airborne Brigade] paratroopers were the first American troops to reach the Baltic states to deter another potential incursion on NATO’s eastern flank. But the assessment details a series of “capability gaps” the unit has identified during recent training with Ukrainian troops with experience battling Russian-backed separatists, who have used cheap drones and electronic warfare tools to pinpoint targets for artillery barrages and devastated government armored vehicles with state-of-the-art Russian antitank missiles.
Some of the shortfalls, like the brigade’s lack of air defense and electronic warfare units and over-reliance on satellite communications and GPS navigation systems, are the direct results of the Army's years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the enemy has no air power or other high-end equipment and technology.
“The lessons we learned from our Ukrainian partners were substantial. It was a real eye-opener on the absolute need to look at ourselves critically,” Col. Gregory Anderson, who commissioned the report earlier this year during his stint as the brigade’s commander, told POLITICO after it had obtained a copy of the report. “We felt compelled to write about our experiences and pass on what we saw and learned.”
The report has so far been distributed only through internal channels to the Army staff and other military headquarters.” (Politico)
This isn’t a matter of being under equipped or under manned so much as it is a matter of being woefully ill trained. As the article alludes to, our experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq have seriously degraded our Army’s ability to conduct modern combat. It’s not a matter of money, but of priorities. I look back at my time with 25th Infantry Division during the “Hollow Army” days of the 70s. My rifle platoon was seldom more than twenty five strong and over half of them were working on their GEDs in our down time. My weapons platoon was kept near fully manned as it should be. We were in the field training every week during our ten week green cycle. We were on the ranges or supporting other units in the field during the five week yellow cycle. During the five week red cycle, my troops were in their GED classes, standing guard mount and performing post maintenance.
We trained with an urgency borne of the realization that our equipment and numbers were wanting. I remember our new battalion commander addressing us just prior to a morning run. “Look to the west and imagine those planes coming through that pass [Kolekole Pass] to strafe our very barracks, bomb our airfield and sink our ships. Remember this with every drop of sweat you shed in training.”
We were masters of digging in. The companies maintained far more picks and shovels than what we were authorized. We lived in our DePuy fighting positions and were quite adept at camouflage. Our camouflage nets were always in place and properly employed. All this was meticulously inspected at all levels of command. We all knew, “if they can see ya, they can kill ya.” Our only body armor was our steel pots. We conducted defensive and offensive operations using only wire for communications… a lot. And thank God we didn’t have cell phones back then. It was bad enough that the pakalolo grew wild in the training areas.
Judging by what I read and view on videos of our Army fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, all that has fallen by the wayside. Maybe some of you young guns can fill us in on what’s going on.
By the looks of Russian military organization and training, the emphasis seems to be on mass mobilization, counter-attack, artillery dominance, electronic warfare, and more recently advanced forms of logistics, command, and control. Thus, the regular Russian military has the opposite focus to the US.
The close advisory role in Syria must be an exceptionally profitable operation for honing proficiency over regular forces on the modern battlefield. I wonder if you could put a percentage on the increased efficacy the Syrian intervention has wrought for the russians?
The Russians moved away from the mass mobilization and towards a smaller professional force. Their reliance on artillery and radio-electronic combat have long histories. Our problem stems from fighting and planning to fight “lesser” enemies rather than peer and near peer opponents.
Same Same “ Chu Lai bombers” GI?
A ten pack of prerolled for cheapie cheapie.
I honestly have no idea what could the glorious “Warriors of Light”, aka “Cyborgs” aka the Ukrainian veterans of the so-called “ATO” teach to their American counterparts. How to fight the war 17th c. style, more befitting the marauding bands of the 30 Years War? How to embezzle funds on unprecedented level and avoid punishment? How to force locals whom you are “liberating” from “separs” and “Moskals” to part with food, money, gasoline and, most important of all, horylka without paying for that? How to rot in trenches?
What glorious battles did the “renewed” Ukrainian military won to share the experience with the US or other NATO militaries? Also – note the lack of CAS in the ATO zone on both sides. Ukrainian military is having it easy, trying to find the excuse for its own incompetence in scary stories about Russian regulars.
By the looks of Russian military organization and training, the emphasis seems to be on mass mobilization
Russia does pay an enormous attention to mobilization resources (which is quite natural for the country with such history as Russia) but, actually, as TTG correctly pointed out–the emphasis is on professional and smaller force, albeit operating within very serious (close second to US in numbers and arguably better in technologically) conventional stand-off capability which is, as Article 26 of Russia’s Military Doctrine states–are means for force (literally in Russian–silovoe–that is BY force, violent) strategic containment. It is a unified cross-force (services) vision of how not to allow attack on Russia. The posture is, actually, explicitly defensive.
I agree with your comments. I don’t know what the Ukies can teach us other than bear witness to the lethality of the modern battlefield.
With Crimea’s Bastion coastal defence system covering much of the black sea, this little force better lean how to swim.
“NATO launches Black Sea force as latest counter to Russia”
Putin speaking on the strategic situation (2016):
4.2 million viewers.
IIRC lack of training opportunities around Vicenza was cited in problems the 173rd had in Konegal Valley after relieving 3rd Bde, 10th Mountain Div.
In the 25th, they have reconfigured 2d Brigade from Stryker to light infantry and in the process cased the colors of 1-14 Inf so there are 2 infantry and 1 cavalry BNs now. A lot of Stryker infrastructure was built (I guess thanks to Sen Inouye) that now is useless. Meanwhile they also brought back DivArty and the 45th Sustainment Bde now is the 25th, I assume that is sort of like the old DISCOM. Just my observation as a “neighbor” of the Division in Schofield Barracks.
in my very humble opinion the most important, truly landmark speech which gives a good feel for Russia’s strategic thinking was Lavrov’s speech to officers (in Russia officers attending War Colleges and General Staff Academy are called slushately–listeners) in General Staff Academy in March this year. It gives a good insight into how Russians view power in general.
Indeed. The history of the Ukraine war in 2014 was:
1) Ukraine military throws a barrage into a civilian town with no clue as to exactly where the insurgents are.
2) Barrel ahead into said town in a column.
3) Insurgents surround the column forcing them into a pocket (“cauldron”).
4) Insurgents call in artillery to blow the column to bits.
5) Rinse and repeat.
By all accounts, the Ukraine military lost hundreds of tanks, artillery pieces, APVs, and much of their troops in almost every battle in the same manner. Allegedly only once did Russian cross-border artillery fire aid in the resolution of any of these battles. All the broken tanks were brought back to a factory in Donbass where their components were used to create new tanks to add to the Donbass militias.
So the Ukraine military is an excellent teacher of what NOT to do in modern war.
Being used to fight lesser enemies and not peer with a strong military isn’t just an issue with US military. Same goes for UK, France and Israel, and has been mentioned by many commenters in the past decade.
I wonder to which extent the remarks about US current unpreparedness apply to these armies as well – and actually, to which extent it might be even worse for these.
I made the comment that the article pretends this all happened in a bubble and the last eight plus years have nothing to do with.
What happened? The tripod of CAS/drones/commandos became the preferred method of war because it appeared “cheaper”. Meanwhile the combat arms got the social petri dish treatment with the NEED for an m2f tranny Ranger. A buddy of mine still in as an NCO told me he wasn’t allowed to teach land navigation during some down time cause he has no safety brief, no sign in roster, and no command clearance. The soldiers can’t zero an M4 but they know the regs surrounding transsexuals, SHARP, and EO.
The 11 series exists as a recruiting ground for the 18 series. There’s maybe a few battalions not infected by the pos, but honestly I don’t think a Kesserine Pass level event would be enough to right the ship.
This is nothing new. 1969-70 2/503rd cherries had a week of orientation, then it was all on the job training. If it was ever calculated, the actual time in the field during Operation Washington Green’s pacification program would have been less than six months before being medevaced for trench foot or wounds never to return. WWI it was generally two weeks in the trenches and two weeks in the rear.
Ukraine is a stalemated trench war. I don’t know what they’d be training for. The only way to end the revolt is a peace treaty separating the Russian majority region from the rest of Ukraine, a united neutral nation, or an armor/artillery attack to break through the trenches. The 173rd can’t do that. But, Russia can. The best training is digging holes, keeping your head down and praying no one ignites a tactical nuclear weapon overhead.
Lyttenburgh, How to get caught in a kettle and obliterated…. On the other hand, I have not see the US or our proxies in Iraq and Syria, using this classic maneuver.
I agree (TTG) that this is atrophy from fighting third world militaries and insurgencies and an unwillingness to self-reflect critically at the highest levels. I am guessing self reflection does not lead to promotion at the general level. In fact, it seems to lead to early retirement (Shinseki vs Petreus)
“It is a sober report… a damning assessment….When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014,..This isn’t a matter of being under equipped or under manned so much as it is a matter of being woefully ill trained”.
It’s far, far worse than being woefully ill trained. It’s being woefully ill-informed. Tragically bad intelligence at the time and disastrously poor military history embodied in the report.
Russia didn’t invade Ukraine in 2014. It just plain old didn’t. Ask anyone in a position to know and an obligation to speak honestly:
OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier said he saw no Russian troops in Ukraine. http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150213/1018221522.html
Ukraine Chief of Staff Admits No Russian Troops in Donetsk http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150129/1017514425.html
No Evidence of Russian Military Hardware Presence in Ukraine – French President Hollande http://sputniknews.com/politics/20150220/1018534477.html
NATO Unable to Provide Proof of Alleged Russian Troops in Ukraine http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150212/1018168758.html
Markian Lubkivsky, the adviser to the head of the SBU (the Ukrainian version of the CIA) stated there are NO RUSSIAN TROOPS ON UKRANIAN SOIL. He said the SBU counted about 5000 Russian nationals, but not Russian soldiers in Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples Republics. He further clarified that there were no organized Russian units in Donbass.
Former NATO General Kujat: I don’t believe evidence of Russian invasion – ENG SUBS. https://youtu.be/l0_yaWyA-1s
“By all accounts, the Ukraine military lost hundreds of tanks, artillery pieces, APVs, and much of their troops in almost every battle in the same manner. “
It’s monitored here: http://lostarmour.info/
Destroyed/captured hardware by type on both sides – with photo and other evidence.
Did you see video of the Russian-Belarus Zapad 2017 exercise? It is also telling.
Interesting. I got my GED while serving in a 105 outfit just South of the Imjin in 1967. We had diddly shit, 6 rounds per tube and a basic load for our 14’s. When Joe came south on the Blue House Raid and they took the Pueblo we figured we were goners. It worked out and 30 years later I wrote my dissertation about GED grads. Keep on pushin.
We never seemed to have a shortage of ammo for training. On a Big Island live fire, my mortar section fired a 30 minute FPF with illumination. We were cooling the tubes with water from five gallon cans and did end up burning one out. An artillery battalion commander was watching from the company defensive position and was in awe as we totally overwhelmed the fire of the accompanying 105 battery. The Division Commander, MG Willard Scott, forcefully intervened before a report of survey could be completed and directed that no one will be found liable for replacing the tube. He declared we were training as we should train and congratulated us on our skill. That old redleg loved mortars and professed that love often.
Fuel, OTOH, was often in short supply. We often had to walk to and from the training areas with all our gear including the mortars and the TOW systems. We looked like an African safari carrying those TOWs along with our extra pioneering equipment. We also found out we had no atropine in our Division supplies. Not to worry. We had no chemical suits either. We used those ponchos that wouldn’t keep the rain out and the black leather glove shells.
Our situation was strange. We were 7th ID and most of 7th DivArty was in the 2nd ID’s AO. Our ASP was way the hell over in Tongduchŏn , nearly a half a day round trip on the dirt roads up there in those days. Our diesel came in by train to Munsani and it was all hands on deck to off load the 55 gallon drums onto deuce-and-a-half’s, drive them back to the compound and stack them. When we went to “Little Chicago” for live fire we did have plenty of ammo but back at the fort it was slim pickens. I assume someone somewhere had a plan but we didn’t know what it was.
“When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014″ Huh? Neocon drivel.
Training always gets the short end of the stick in budgets. It does not provide pork to Congress critters. They prefer to vote on and spend for new acquisition projects. Many of those will never be seen at brigade level, let alone down at platoons.
I saw the same cycle of zero training dollars in the half decade prior to Viet-Nam. My father saw the same prior to Korea.
Training exercises, ah yes! “But we don’t have that equipment Sir!” “Well imagine you do and act as if you did!”. The Naval and Air Force version is “fitted for but not with”.
“We never seemed to have a shortage of ammo for training. On a Big Island live fire, my mortar section fired a 30 minute FPF with illumination. We were cooling the tubes with water from five gallon cans and did end up burning one out.”
That reminds me of my time on the range in Daaden twenty plus years ago. It was during carnival time, and in February it was effing cold, wet and windy down there. We had snow, hail, rain and fog and the weather was very ‘westerwald-isch’ i.e. rotten.
In that sense, in direct comparison, it was quite a poor comparison to having a carnival party on the roads of, say, Cologne. Either way, there we were firing all the time, do count of hits, had to account for every bullet fired and all that.
One evening our sergeant major came along with a bright idea of how to show us why we are able and expected to change machine gun barrels, and to do so at speed.
He did teach us that lesson by having us fire the MG-3 at evening with loooong belts. And so we fired. Eventually, the gun barrel ended up glow in the low light and had to be thrown away after that stunt.
But we changed it and went on until the belts were fired. That exercise was entertaining and silly, but the lesson was teached and it was not forgotten.
As for chem suits, we had the full program – coal filter overgarments and these heavy duty rubber overalls. Since I eventually was in the NBC recce and decontamination team of our regiment I had to use and wear them a lot.
Being suited up in such a thing, with a mask and having a geiger counter tick scrary infos to you was like walking on the moon. Creepy thing, and the sound of the geiger counter is unforgettable.
I had to be ready for emergency service on the days the US removed their chems to ships then. Thank god these beasts are gone and thank god that nothing happened.
And how again was that? By doubling the distance to a radio source, you’ll only receive a quarter of the radiation? Something like that. It led us to cunningly mount the geiger counter sensor on the end of a broomstick. That was sensible but it also was quite silly to use.
With all due respect to all involved, does anbody think seriously that a modern combined arms campaign involving hundreds of tanks and APCs etc. can be supplied by Russia for months? Or even by any other country? Maybe excluding the US and China.
A quick armored thrust into a close territory maybe, for a week or maybe two, but that’s the most. And does anybody really believes that with all the public disobedience, and guerilla tactics available such an occupied territory will not become completely ungoverned, and ungovernable within days or weeks? Who would risk such a huge investment for so little return?
Yes we need classic armies to deter rogue states, terror groups and other to-be aggressors, and to avert the fate of the Ayyubid caliphate who relied too much on mamelouk soldiers and lost their rule.
But this is in my opinion simple warmongering.
I remember reading a quote from some US general in Max Hasting’s The Korean War about how the US went into Korea with a useless army but came out with a very good one. That that highly capable US Army then went into Vietnam and then came back out again a useless one. I believe the issue in the 70s was they messed up the IQ test for recruits and they ended up with substandard recruits.
It would be good if the US Army returned to its historical status in the early US, very small as there is no real threat given American geography. Plus America inherited the old English hostility to standing armies, a noble political tradition.
It pays to read the Russian press. Anybody who bothers can look up a series of interviews that a reporter of Novaya Gazeta did with wounded tank soldiers from Buryatia who were sent to Ukraine. There was a moment in 2014 when it looked like the Ukies would overwhelm the separatists. Then indeed regular units where sent in. But only then. As a general rule the separatists are on their own.
Russia invaded Ukraine?
Yes, it tells us that Russia is truly very afraid of an actual invasion and regime-change effort by the US/NATO.
They are popping out out of everyone’s computers james, not to mention what they are doing inside the US west computers. Green men everywhere.
re: “When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014″
It ain’t necessarily neocon blathering but the simple consequention of following a policy that treats Russia * as an enemy, ** the loser in the Cold War and *** whatever else.
That isn’t so much ‘neocon sillyness’ but IMO far wider spread than they are.
The view of the great importance of, of course utterly beneficient, US leadership and policy of strength, i.e. dictatum, is not just a neo-con silly idea. That view is accepted and Held far wider than just the neo-cons.
It could be summed up as part of a beyond party consensus with the D’s and R’s in the US – that is: The view so expressed is being shared by neo-libs and neo-cons alike.
Likely, if you asked a democrat and non-neocon so-called realist dude like Brezinsky about it, he’ll likely tell you that Russia needs US leadership, and needs Russian submission to that oversight since it would benefit them.
This one is for you; the Truth from the proverbial Horse’s mouth:
I am afraid that once again we come back to the problem of Anglo-American ‘Brezhnevism.’
For four decades after the end of the Second World War, Soviet policy was shaped, with disastrous consequences, both by an obsession with preparing for a kind of rerun of that conflict, and by crude ideological blinkers imposed by a simplistic universalistic ideology
Currently, both American policy, and Western policy more generally, continue to be shaped by contingency planning for a possible war with Russia, the only plausible political context for which derives from reckless policies pursued by ourselves, particularly in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
In turn, these reckless policies reflect crude ideological blinkers, the product of a universalistic ideology which is as simplistic as Marxism-Leninism.
As other commenters have noted, the suggestion that the United States needs to ‘deter an emboldened Vladimir Putin’, on the basis that ‘Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014’ is premised on a grossly distorted reading of how Ukrainian civil war broke out. The problem, however, goes much deeper than that.
To conceive countries like Ukraine, or Syria, as though they are made up of some kind of unitary ‘people’, or can be turned into such, is to live in a never-never land created by a kind of ideological delirium. This fuels the delusion that Putin is attempting to restore the Soviet Empire, which reveals a total failure to engage with what has happened since 1989.
It may help to revert to a figure whom I have mentioned before on SST – Professor Paul Robinson of Ottawa University. I first came across him through an article he published in the ‘Spectator’ in January 2004, headlined ‘Putin’s Might is White.’ This contained the suggestion that this former KGB officer was actually ‘a typical Soviet radish – red on the outside but white on the core.’
(See http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/10th-january-2004/18/putins-might-is-white .)
When in October 2005 his reading of Putin was vindicated with the return of the bodies of the philosopher Ivan Il’in and the General Anton Denikin – ‘the pen and the sword of anti-communism’ – to Russia, and their reburial in the Donskoi monastery, Robinson published a description of the proceedings, again in the ‘Spectator.’
This made it clear that what had happened was very much at Putin’s personal initiative, and also that the tone of speeches at the event was ‘not of White triumph but of unity and reconciliation.’
(See https://www.spectator.co.uk/2005/10/the-return-of-white-russia/ .)
A post in August on the ‘Irrussianality’ blog that Paul Robinson now runs is of interest in relation to Ukraine:
‘Dinner conversation at the ancestral pile in the People’s Republic of Monmouthshire:
“‘Why do kids have to waste their time learning Welsh when they could be doing something far more useful? It’s getting silly.’
The person he is quoting then goes on to recall that the iron and steel industry in the Donbass was founded by the Welsh engineer John Hughes, in so doing making me think it likely that the group came from ‘Anglo’ gentry (Robinson was a contemporary at Eton and Oxford of our clown of a Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson):
‘There wasn’t anyone living in Donetsk till Hughes turned up, and then the Russians arrived to work in the mines and steel works. Just like in the valleys here – they’re all English really.’
(See https://irrussianality.wordpress.com/2017/08/07/gweriniaeth-pobl-o-sir-fynwy/ .)
This is in part a parochial ‘Anglo’ reading, as another story relating to Donetsk – originally Hughesovka – may bring out. In 1889 a young Welsh girl called Annie Gwen Jones, freshly graduated from University College Aberystwyth, was hired to tutor the granddaughters of John Hughes.
More than fifty years later, after the Red Army had retaken what was then called Stalino in September 1943, she would produce fascinating recollections of her time there in a BBC Broadcast.
(See http://archive.li/Uawj7 .)
Some years before, the house in which the Hughes family had lived had been visited by her son, the journalist Gareth Jones, in the course of a series of trips to the Soviet Union in which he produced what was the I think the only significant body of reporting in the Western media on what is now called the ‘Holodomor’.
(See http://www.garethjones.org .)
The spectacular, if short-lived career of Gareth Jones – he was murdered by bandits in Manchukuo in 1935 – was possible because on her return to Wales, his mother married her fellow Aberystwyth graduate Edgar Jones, who turned the County School in Barry, along the coast from Cardiff, into one of the best schools in the Principality. (My grandfather and father were both pupils, the latter following Gareth Jones as a scholarship boy to Cambridge.)
Coming forward in time, when we were recording in Moscow for BBC Radio programmes on the ‘new thinking’ in February 1989 there were amply visible signs of the collapse of belief in Marxist-Leninist dogma among those who were responsible – and some indications of underlying arguments.
A quite widespread and patently growing belief among many such people, at the time, was that the Cold War, and indeed the whole confrontation with the West, was an ‘own goal’, caused by the Soviet adoption of Marxism-Leninism, and specific policies adopted above all by Stalin.
An alternative view was that Western Cold War attitudes were underpinned by much more deep-seated factors, which did not start with the adoption of Communism and would not end with its abandonment or indeed a comprehensive liquidation of the Stalinist heritage, in particular the attempt to control Eastern Europe.
If one reads the interviews which Putin gave to Oliver Stone, it is clear that he has moved, over the years, from the optimistic view towards the pessimistic – but in no way abandoned the belief that the attempt to control Eastern Europe was a massive mistake on Stalin’s part.
It might have been useful if Hillary Clinton’s husband, and many others, had reflected on some of this issue before embracing NATO expansion. Once one moves the borders of the Alliance east, one creates a situation where elements in countries left out which are strongly anti-Russian, often for very understandable reasons, think they are being consigned to a revived Soviet sphere of influence.
If one however pushes the alliance further, one ends up blurring a crucial distinction. In most of the possible candidates for membership, the security guarantee is essentially redundant, in that there is no conceivable reason to think that Russia wants to reoccupy them.
In others there are very substantial minorities who are pro-Russian, again often for very understandable reasons, who look to that country as protector, and whom it will defend.
The Baltics, despite the presence of such minorities, comes in the former category. Key countries in the second category are Georgia and Ukraine. In both, anti-Russian nationalists are simply playing a game which has been played for centuries – in contemporary jargon, looking for ‘krysha’ from external powers to impose maximalist versions of their agendas.
As the post by Robinson from which I have quoted brings out, the result of this is inevitably to produce a backlash. What he does not bring out, however, is how ambiguous the feelings of members of an ethnic group who have absorbed the culture of a larger, more powerful, and more culturally fertile group can be. From personal experience I can tell you that the contempt of Anglicised Welsh people for Welsh linguistic nationalists can be intense.
(Mild irony alert: ‘Our type created the Donbass, reported on the Holodomor, built schools that could give Welsh boys an education as good as anything Eton could provide, until they were destroyed by a drunken English Labour politician. What are your type good for? – better than the ‘Banderistas’ in Ukraine perhaps, but a pretty poor lot all the same.’)
Two things should have been clear to anyone who was looking at what was happening for a very long time. One is that if, having lost themselves in ideological fantasies, people in Washington and London want to back the ‘revanchist’ agendas of ethnic nationalists in Georgia and Ukraine, a good few of those who oppose these will fight, and look to Russia for support.
Another is that the question of the nature of the Cold War was liable to be considered by more and more people in Russia as settled, in a way that does not suit Western interests at all. Central to the ‘new thinking’ had been Georgiy Arbatov’s humorous threat to do ‘something terrible’ – create a situation where the United States would ‘not longer have an enemy.’
It is now amply clear that Arbatov was a naive fool, as was Gorbachev. The level of hostility to Russia in the West, in the wake of the liquidation of the Stalinist legacy, is greater by orders of magnitude than it was in Brezhnev’s day. A natural conclusion quite visibly drawn by many sometime pro-Western Russians is that the sceptics were right all along, and the fundamental agendas of the West were always more anti-Russian than communist.
But, for God’s sake, the natural result of this is not ‘revanchist’ attempts to reincorporate populations who never wanted to be part of Russia. It is what might be termed a ‘Byzantine’ strategy, having at its heart a decisive move towards China.
Another characteristic of this strategy is extremely sophisticated diplomacy, having at its heart a successful integration of non-military and military dimensions of policy – the success in Syria being a rather spectacular case study.
Someone explain to me how light trucks are in upgrade from Humvees when facing a Russian army? Also how are light tanks suppose to provide protection from anti-tank missiles? I would assume light tanks would simply be a snack for anti-tank missiles. What am I missing here?
A couple of phrases in the assessment got my immediate attention, “the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014”, “our Ukrainian partners” (???), and “to deter possible Russian aggression in the Baltics”. I can imagine that the work in this assessment was probably done by a captain in the brigade S-3 section with inputs from junior officers in the other staff sections. The quoted phrases indicate that the brigade’s intelligence on eastern Europe was sketchy at best or was simply parroting the party line, Time, and CNN. Also, basing the assessment of the brigade’s capabilities on several rifle companies parading around the Baltics for photo ops and PR and comparing them with the Russian forces on their on turf couldn’t result in a valid evaluation. Wouldn’t it be like the Russians sending a battalion of light infantry to Mexico, marching them up to the Rio Grande and then concluding that the available assets were inadequate to defend the border against possible aggression. So, perhaps the 173d Airborne Brigade needs a change in training emphasis and new or different equipment, but to base the assessment on faulty premises and a tiny expedition right up to the border with Russia seems like busy work for the staff.
—humvees… “to be replaced with”..Ground Mobility Vehicle, a much lighter-weight, more mobile truck—
— brigade to be equipped with a small contingent of light tanks, which would offer much-needed protection to forward scouts against Russian anti-armor missiles—
Someone explain to me how light trucks are an upgrade from Humvees when facing an artillery heavy Russian army? Also how are light tanks suppose to provide protection for scouts from anti-tank missiles? All I can guess is while anti-tank missiles are taking out the light tanks, they aren’t being used against the scouts?? What am I missing here?
It also applies for real, if you run out of ammo you keep shooting so the enemy won’t notice!
Whatever skills and equipment the US forces bring to any potential conflict with Russia, they may be closer to confrontation in Syria if one gives any credibility to this article that speaks of “dire warnings” from the Kremlin the writer argues that we ignore to our peril and a list of US actions regarded by Russia as hostile. I cannot speak to its credibility.
The level of hostility to Russia in the West, in the wake of the liquidation of the Stalinist legacy, is greater by orders of magnitude than it was in Brezhnev’s day. A natural conclusion quite visibly drawn by many sometime pro-Western Russians is that the sceptics were right all along, and the fundamental agendas of the West were always more anti-Russian than communist.
True. And also true is the fact of an unprecedented in Russian history general contempt towards modern combined West. I would, however, not rush in re: “Stalinist legacy” since this legacy is very complex and not black and white. Here is Natalya Narochnitskay’s excellent summary of why since 2012 Stalin continues to top even “liberal” polls of Russia’s most important historic figures. “The West hates Stalin namely for restoration of the territory of the historic Russian state, and for Yalta, and for Potsdam. These are the outcomes which do not allow them to calm down. You know, I am no Stalinist and I clearly understand that all nostalgia for Stalin has roots in a non-stop trampling of our history, making mockery out of lives of our fathers. It is useless trying to prove to the West that Ivan Grozny (Terrible) in 30 years of his reign killed 10 times fewer people than Catherine De’ Medici killed during St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. We are going to be counted as barbarians no matter what, while the West will remain good!” (c) Mind you, this is conservative Russian Orthodox thinker speaking.
If there were a land war in Korea, how would American troops fare?
It is an interesting question from several points of view, not least air superiority. I guess I assume that there would not be a single North Korean aircraft able to fly in such a conflict and that U.S. and South Korean air forces would roam the battlefield at will making the job for North Korean troops close to impossible.
What would a ground war after an initial a) nuclear or b) non-nuclear strike by the U.S. look like? Is it in fact possible that North Korea would NOT be able to shell Seoul?
I think the bottom line is that a very great many North Korean troops would simply never give up. They would have all to be killed, and that would be a very big task.
Very good, I agree.
That is what I have been thinking and saying as well; “Europe” means “Civilization, the one and only”, and thus the Russ and the Iranian and the Chinese and the Hindu are barbaric people who should have the decency to listen and obey their betters, who, incidentally, are also possessors of this rational religion called Protestantism.
I find the Hubris of Euro-Americans in this regards, however justified on empirical grounds, rather amusing; it clearly has gotten into their heads. It would have been really funny if the consequences would not have been so serious.
How much does Protestantism, the religion of Northern Europeans and Americans, have to do with this, if any?
Empirically, I have noticed Southern European states do not share in this posture.
I am somewhat envious, admittedly, that TTG understands you so easily, Lyttenburgh. To not go into the, I suppose, military acronyms. I may have a vague idea. On other hand my mind is pretty selective.
Who are the “Warriors of Light”?
Within my own selectivity, for one reason or another, fake news?, this part of the Odessa clashes seems to have been burned itself into my mind:
Russia has seen the value of a “technical” centered force in its experiences in Syria. They have developed light battalions and proposed super light brigades based on lessons learned there. The key is mobility. Look at the Tiger Forces and other successful units in the SAA. They are built around small units that integrate infantry, technicals, 23-2 auto-cannons, a few tanks and BMPs and a hefty dose of indirect fire support. The Russian BMD is a magnificent weapon for airborne forces. We should have a “light tank” like that for our airborne forces.
We are seeing the constant struggle between armor and anti-armor tipping in favor of armor with the introduction of active anti-missile systems like shtora, arena and trophy. These systems provide much needed survivability to lighter armored vehicles.
And the Muslims and the Hindus (excepting the naval-gazing ones who come to US to make a buck, teaching navel-gazing techniques) and the Buddhists (excepting that Gucci-wearing monk who could be useful against China – some day)….
I think most races and creeds suffer from a similar delusion. the fact that the West has ruled the world for the last few centuries, what you rightly call the empirical grounds, has fed that hubris. I see it increasingly among the Chinese. The many Iranians I have met are incredibly smug about their great civilization. Most bizarre are my compatriots who insist on Indian greatness against all current evidence to the contrary.
This article, and the majority of the comments, may well be correct in that the military is lacking in a number of important areas. Having said that, outfits like Politico have almost zero credibility with me, though I understand the report was initiated by a commander. But with my skepticism, I always have in the back of my mind a great deal of distrust–in other words, my default assumption which again may be wrong–is that someone somewhere wants to throw more money at a problem which may or may not exist.
I understand that cynicism is no substitute for truth, but we’ve just been lied to so many times . . . .
Evidently, we all need our crutches, lest we fall down to a humble level.
That is what I have been thinking and saying as well; “Europe” means “Civilization, the one and only”, and thus the Russ and the Iranian and the Chinese and the Hindu are barbaric people who should have the decency to listen and obey their betters, who, incidentally, are also possessors of this rational religion called Protestantism.
Babak, I also do not want to come across (I seem to repeat this many times now) as black and white in my judgements–I am not. I am a European, that is Western man, and so is Russia–she is essentially a Western nation. In the end, Eduard Limonov, not without the merit, recently wrote a piece titled “We (Russia) are the real West now”. I am categorically against the Europo-centric worldview but classic European culture is my culture, it is native. Many Russians love Omar Khayyam, as do I, but for the majority of educated ones Tolstoy, Shakespeare, yes, Beatles are native, own. So are Greeks and Romans. And so is the secular type of government. There is no denial of European culture having a global impact, both positive and negative. The world is complex, as per barbarity–obviously, what has been done to Iraq, Libya, Syria–that is barbaric. But there is also no denial that a type of insidious, relatively slow moving barbarity is happening in Europe itself now.
Thank you for your comments.
I think you – the Russ as well as the Bulgarians, the Romanians – are not Western Europeans; you did not experience the Classical Civilization, the Medieval Flowering nurtured by the Catholic Church, the Religious Wars, the Enlightenment and the great age of Scientific & Industrial Revolutions- rather you have been consumers of them.
Nothing wrong with that, we all were born illiterate and ignorant and uncouth, everything excellent we had to learn and master through a very difficult process of education and internalization.
I understand this desire to be identified with Western Europeans, I see it among Israelis, for example, and in Gorbachev and his “Common European Home”. But I cannot approve of it because it is neither practical nor has any root in the historical process.
As you say, since the time of Tsar Ivan, successive Russian governments have carried out this project of “Westernization” – from burning poor Boyars’ cherished beards to economic shock therapy; 500 years of statism which does not have any counterpart in the Western European history (not even the Spanish Inquisition).
On the other hand, your experience, has been repeatedly been of foreign invasion by alien cultures which, you had to fight to destroy at great cost – the Mongols, the Tartars, the Muslim Khans, the Lithuanians & the Poles, the French, and lastly the entire Europe, led by the Germans.
Both the Napoleonic War and the Hitlerite War were pan-European; it was entire Europe against the Russ. This is a historical fact and had I been Russian, I would not be too dismissive of this salient feature of those two wars that were meant to destroy the political power of the Russ.
I also know that you are unlike the Western Europeans. Two examples of which will suffice: How many times have you witnesses a Western European man break into tears? And how many times have you seen a Western man kiss another man on the cheek? (The French used to do that). And then, there is the fact that they – the Western People – do not want you West of the Diocletian Line.
In my opinion, it is more productive to accept oneself and one’s background and one finds oneself and then to try to improve oneself – perhaps by learning from others.
That is what Germany was doing for centuries, before Prussians got to her – Goethe was the epitome of that orientation of the German people, and my friend who was killed in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 was likely one of the last representations of that ancient German spirit.
True, but the number of US exercises in Europe the last year are beyond count
Would there even be ammunition for the task? How soon would the US and South Korea run out of PGM and cruise missiles? Are US pilots proficient in using dumb iron bombs or rockets?
Babak, everything you wrote is true to one degree or another but “experiencing” a Classic Civilization is a moot point, however important from a purely academic point of view for a simple reason. Everything we live IN today was forged in the crucible of the battlefields of WW II. American superpowerdom, Soviet collapse, today’s geopolitical mayhem–all of it has direct roots in the WWII. Whatever the impact of the Classic Civilization is (and there is no doubt an impact), Soviet Union, rather its Slavic part, was and even today (with the exception of present day Ukraine)remains one of the most, if not the most, educated parts of the world. What’s the use of Plato, Plutarch or Archimedes, when there is no Physics as a separate subject taught in most public schools, what’s the point of any classicism amidst discussion on the use of restrooms for transgender kids? So, let’s not overestimate important, but by no means only, thing which defines civilizations. Russians are Western people because for centuries not only adopted but contributed greatly namely to the European culture and achievement–from arts, to science to economy. There is more real Western (not in a modern, derogatory sense)or European essence in any young or even middle-age educated Russian from Novosibirsk or Vladivostok than it is in some German from Hamburg let alone some Dutch from Amsterdam. Let’s not mistake a surface, shallow appearances with fundamental and not always immediately revealed things. In conclusion: without understanding the impact of the Soviet period on modern Russia (West doesn’t have this understanding, why–once my book is published in 2018 you will be able to find at least some answers there)and how “Bolsheviks” (or whatever title they are called) managed in less than 50 years completely “Westernize” Russia there is no understanding either Russia’s history or of its character. Again, combined West has neither and it is very dangerous.
Speaking of standing armies, I found this while following some links re the definition of “militia” under US law. Jeremy Scahill had a piece declaring the Second Amendment didn’t mean what it says, so someone else pointed to this as a source for the US Constitution’s meaning.
Andrew Fletcher – A Discourse of Government With Relation to Militias
Apparently the US Founders had a fair amount of respect for the Scots. This article basically argues that standing armies are the bane of peace.
I agree that NK would lose air superiority pretty quickly. That is the one main contribution the US could make to SK’s ability to fight the war.
I highly doubt that the US will use nuclear weapons first in a war with NK. Even if NK detonates a hydrogen weapon in the Pacific as a test, which I also doubt they will do, I think the US will rely on conventional war with SK as the leading force. At least until things go badly, which I believe they will.
I also don’t believe NK will use nukes first unless things are going very badly. One would want to reserve those for use against the main body of the enemy or the US carrier groups because as soon as NK uses nukes, the US will use nukes – and the US has far more of them and is equally as ruthless in using them.
I think NK will be able to shell Seoul, but as some analysts have pointed out, it’s not going to “obliterate” Seoul because artillery bombardments aren’t generally done with “all out” shelling from every weapon available. There are reloading and logistics and whatnot to be considered. Plus Seoul is very big. Also there is little real military value in “obliterating Seoul.”
However, if I were Kim’s generals, my goal in the war would be one of two approaches:
1) Fight a purely defensive war and try to ensure that SK can’t penetrate very far into NK without horrific casualties; OR
2) As soon as it looks like a war is inevitable, start it and try to smash through to Seoul and capture as much of it as possible. Then sue for a ceasefire and negotiations.
I also agree that NK’s soldiers aren’t going to quit – especially their 100,000+ Special Forces. And with a million man army – and at least several million more reserves – if the war lasts long enough to call them up, which I believe it will – short of blanket nuking NK, it’s going to take many months of brutal fighting to even begin to win.
This definitely is not going to be anything like recent US wars which are “over” – except for the inevitable decade-long insurgency which is likely to happen in NK as well – in 4-5 weeks.
Babak, and who were Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, Dostoyevsky, Pushkin, Gogol and Turgenev?
Balint: “With all due respect to all involved, does anbody think seriously that a modern combined arms campaign involving hundreds of tanks and APCs etc. can be supplied by Russia for months? Or even by any other country? Maybe excluding the US and China.
A quick armored thrust into a close territory maybe, for a week or maybe two, but that’s the most. And does anybody really believes that with all the public disobedience, and guerilla tactics available such an occupied territory will not become completely ungoverned, and ungovernable within days or weeks? Who would risk such a huge investment for so little return?”
Can be supplied? Yes. In my opinion, you are making the assumption that Russian troops need to be supplied with the same level of creature comforts as Americans. As long as POL and ammo flow they can continue.
“Public disobedience and guerilla tactics? Not a problem, simply follow the German tactical examples of the first and Second world wars. A few Louvains and Oradour-sur-Glanes, etc. and the general population is easily cowed.
“Who would risk”? You are assuming leadership is always rational. It is not.
I was in the 7 ID and at the end of the fiscal year(October) we would go shoot up all the ammo we had left over to make sure we got same for next year. A forced march back to the FT Ord mortar ranges and all the clay-more, laws, 7.62 ,5.56, and hand grenades you cared to shoot, throw, blow up.
Good times. Arty and the mortar boys joined in and the big pit with all the green target men usually got a good what for.
Europeanized Russ, but not Western.
I see a steady drip of articles on ‘realclearworld.com’ and ‘realcleardefense.com’ insisting that we need to modernize and deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe.
The justification goes like this …
1. The Russians did it first because the Russkies have 1,500 or more tactical nukes (most of them are in storage and are old) and misrepresent their ‘first use’ policy by leaving out that it is only for defense.
2. Lament at how we only have gravity based B61 tactical nukes and no tactical missiles.
In short, we will compensate for lack our of readiness by having new stealth cruise missiles being manned by sleep deprived crews on missile ships in the baltics, what could go wrong? When we have hypersonic weapons then the fun will really begin.
What is the last time the US WON a war?
I was just thinking the other day about how War and Peace has much more in common with the Chinese “Dream of the Red Chamber” than it does with any of its contemporary European novels.
Personally, I would suggest that you refrain from saying “Western Europe” (UK, Spain/Portugal, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Scandinavia (?), and Germany–right?) and instead say “The UK/US dominated portions of Europe.”
I would also refrain from talking of the “Medieval Flowering.” The “flowering” generally is considered to have come about during the Renaissance, and that period occurred for one single reason only: the fall of Constantinople.
Up until the fall of Constantinople, the peoples of the Eastern Empire lived in a substantially more fruitful, secure, and technologically advanced civilization than did the peoples of Western Europe, who were mostly just flea-ridden barbarians snuffling around in ratty clothes, doing their best to get enough nutrition to pass the winter safely while avoiding too much skin disease.
France, Spain, and Italy all had (and still have) substantial numbers of the ordinary population who have no problem with Russia, and even view it and its culture with respect and sincere appreciation. Unfortunately, those groups are not the ones who are generally accorded much political power–but they do have considerably more *cultural* and *social* power than the “Western Media” likes to admit.
Following WWII, the secret service agencies of the US and UK undertook a vicious political purge of anything even vaguely pro-Russian or “Red”: Marseilles, Rome, Naples–and of course, the UK and US governments, along with the German government, were conspicuous supporters of the Franco regime, rather than the Republicans. So it can be said they did the same thing there, as well–in cooperation with the Nazis. And of course, the entire Eastern European / Soviet spy apparatus that the US adopted was simply Gehlen’s organization with a new name.
Long story short: people talk about “The Banks,” but for some reason none of the conspiracy theorists out there (LaRouche as the exception?) ever seem to point a finger at the US, UK/British leadership (particularly its nobility). Both are, notably, Protestant bastions.
Let us not forget that this entire anti-Russian / “Trump was set up by Putin” campaign was kicked off with documents leaked to the US by MI-6.
My own take is that continental Europe is a propaganda battlefield for the US and UK alliance on one side, the Russians / Eastern European traditional elite on the other, and whatever NATO and the EU have become (both strongly UK, of course) giving us a vision of who’s winning. The Middle East, Turkey, North Africa, and Far East of course do have some middling influence, but it’s pretty weak compared to the “Big Three.”
Lacking a reason for a war of extinction, intentional mass killing of civilians is by russian and/or NATO countries is hardly imaginable for me. I might by wrong.
I’d be curious to hear what an IDF infantryman thinks about working alongside a Merkava tank that is equipped with a trophy defence system.
I would imagine that the prospect of that thing firing off without warning would be enough for any soldier to wish the tank-crew good luck in the battles ahead….. just don’t expect any help.
“Who are the “Warriors of Light”?”
Not military acronym – just another “name”, which post-Maidan UkrPropganda gave to the brave “warriors of the ATO”, i.e. “Воины света”. The mem dates back to early March 2014, when Byelorussian rock band “Lyapis Trubetzkoy” performed the titular song as an “anthem” to the “heroes of Maidan”. The name stuck, but, soon enough, no one was using it to describe the TerrBat troopers other than ironically.
“Cyborgs” was the name to the “defenders of Donetsk airport”. Years later they still call themselves as such, totally oblivious that the name had any other meaning.
“It pays to read the Russian press. Anybody who bothers can look up a series of interviews that a reporter of Novaya Gazeta did with wounded tank soldiers from Buryatia who were sent to Ukraine”
And I suppose you know Russia, “Tom”? And to pick up the liberast rag “Novaya Gazeta”, of all things availible!
“I think you – the Russ as well as the Bulgarians, the Romanians – are not Western Europeans; you did not experience the Classical Civilization, the Medieval Flowering nurtured by the Catholic Church, the Religious Wars, the Enlightenment and the great age of Scientific & Industrial Revolutions- rather you have been consumers of them.”
That’s not an argument, but a re-iteration of the old cliché about “why Russia is not European”
1) You know who else did not experience the Classical (aka Greco-Roman Antiquity) Civilization? Scandinavians, Scots, Irish, Hungarians, Finns, most of the Germans. Most importantly of all – the people who experienced this civilization were not the same people who now make up the modern day European countries. These are descendants of barbarians, who settled/conquered large swathes of the Roman empire, often, blissfully ignoring many tenets of the much advertized “Classical Civilization”. Yet no one questions that Finns, Irish and Hungarians are “European”.
2) “Medieval Flowering” is totally made up term with no traction of reality. In 13 c. the Roman Catholic Church both achieved the apex of its temporal and ideological power in the Catholic Europe… and placed several “time bombs” beneath its foundation, which would in time being result in Neo-Pagan counter revolution. Yes, for all intends and purposes, the “modern Western worldview” is no Christian – it’s pagan, if not animist.
3) I fail to see how the experience of the Religious Wars is something that really defines one to be “European”.
4) Russia experienced Enlightenment. How can you not know that? Russia also partake and participated in the Scientific & Industrial Revolutions, not just being “consumers”.
The key problem here is the outright “murder” of the term “Europe”, which now identifies as solely “Western Europe”, or, even more narrowly – the “North-Western Europe”. Which a blatant arrogance. As a Russian, I do not wake up in the morning with my first thought be “I’m European” or “I’m Asiatic”. I feel no need to define myself as such. What, will it somehow benefit me?
“500 years of statism which does not have any counterpart in the Western European history (not even the Spanish Inquisition).”
Totally unwarranted comparison and inaccurate application of the term “statism” to boot. Russian state appeared as such simultaneously with the similar processes in the Europe – i.e. in the second half of 17 c. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
“Two examples of which will suffice: How many times have you witnesses a Western European man break into tears?”
“And how many times have you seen a Western man kiss another man on the cheek?”
This custom was never really prominent to begin with. Now it’s as good as dead in Russia.
That’s it? These two superficial things is the only ones you’ve found to radically “distinguish” Russians from “proper” Europeans?
“And then, there is the fact that they – the Western People – do not want you West of the Diocletian Line.”
Then they are free to leave Baltics, Balkans and Eastern Europe.
I must disagree.
Yes, during the Soviet Period, the Muzhik, or rather the youth of Muzhik, were transformed into upstanding Citizen.
But that, by an in itself, did not transform the Russ into – as you imply – authentic Westerners.
In fact, your own position, if I understand it correctly, is a thesis with which I completely disagree; viz. that through a process of education and guidance – however coercive – an alien people could be transformed successfully into good Westerners and enjoy the fruit of that culture and civilization.
This thesis has been informing much of the so-called International Development Agenda.
However persuasive, there has been no empirical evidence for its validity; the Russ, as I insist, are not any more Western than the Japanese or the Koreans – they are akin to decaffeinated coffee, but very good decaffeinated coffee.
The Western powers, during their colonial phase, created a Universal History for all of mankind. They proceeded, however, to also destroy the traditional orders – first in Europe during Napoleon’s reign and then across the world.
England, France, Spain, Portugal – and later Russia and Japan, took Newtonian Mechanics, Maxwell’s Equations, Separation of Powers, Representative Government to the four corners of the Earth. We have observed and indeed observing the absorption of those systems of thought by non-Western people – according to their cultural capacity – all over the world.
In this sense, yes, the Russ have absorbed some of the products of the Western Diocletian Civilization and have acted as a secondary focus of transmission to others – such as to Iranians, to Chinese, to Koreans, to Central Asians and to others. However, that does not make the Russ Western; in my opinion.
I shall, nevertheless, would be pleased to read your book when it comes out.
Fine, but why does UK dominate Europe?
IN regards to the significance of the Medieval Period, I must disagree; without it neither modern empirical sciences nor modern state could come into existence – in my opinion.
I think, judging by the contents of tertiary history books that I have read,
Europe end somewhere on the Eastern border of German and Austrian Empires’ frontiers; Russia was not considered part of Europe.
I will let you have the last word on this topic.
Europe and West are inseparable–they are one and the same. Both the United States and Russia are geographic and cultural extremities of this West, with the US currently de-Westernizing, while Europe already being largely de-Westernized, in the process which Robert Reilly called “de-Hellenization”.
Romania and France, Bulgaria and Denmark, Macedonia and Sweden, Kosovo and Lichtenstein , and Poland and Italy are inseparable?
You cannot be serious.
The boundaries of “Europe” seems to be something that depends on the eye of the beholder. As per Adenauer’s joke, the Germany east of the Rhein, is part of the Asiatic wilds, and there is a certain truth to his characterization. I like to joke that the Chinese are not really “Asians” but “Westerners” (and there is somewhat of a truth to this–the Koreans, the Japanese, the Vietnamese, and the Bamar have something in common in their respective parochialisms that the more cosmopolitan Chinese lack.) Russia is unusual, I think, like the various Balkan peoples: they are unsure if they are Europeans or not, and the Western Europeans, in turn, are undecided if they want to accept them as Europeans or not. (Something that is never true about, say, the Japanese–they are not Westerners and they don’t pretend or even want to be either.) With regards the present trend, though, I think you’re right that the Westerns will not accept Russians as Europeans, unless they stop being Russian. That the Russians (or the Greeks, the Serbs, or even Westernized Turks) think that they can be Westerns while still being a member of their respective civilizations might be the dangerous mistake. I get the sense that Putin and the Russian leadership suffer from that delusion, though.
I’m with Babak on this. Western Europe is the product of three interlinked events that lack counterparts in any other part of the world: the Western Christianity and the Medieval Catholicism, the Reformation and the Counterreformation, and the Enlightenment. The East, instead, got state authority force feeding trappings of “Enlightenment” at sword point–Peter the Great, Frederick, Meiji, and Mao.
“Europe and West are inseparable–they are one and the same”
I diasagree. As the saying goes, you are comparing wet with soft :). Europe is not the West. The West, though, is, among oether things, Europe.
“Fine, but why does UK dominate Europe?”
The thing is – the UK (Britain, England – take you pick) did NOT dominate Europe, neither now nor in the past. Again – let’s go back to the time, when the modern states became a thing and, as such, they became the one and true agents to conduct inter-state relations – i.e. to the aftermath of the 30 Years War and formation of what is called “Westphalian System of International Relations”. It postulated two core principles. First – the sovereignty of the state over its conduct of the foreign and inner policy. Second – the concept of balance of power in Europe.
During first 70 year of its existence the Westphalian system in Europe was pretty much in flux with wars raging nearly constantly, alliances shifting and hopeful great powers rising and falling. Elsewhere in the world this “free-for-all” ruthless competition was even more brutal. And there Britain won. While in Europe France constantly threatened the balance of powers by becoming pan-European hegemony (and failing, due to most of other states uniting against it), the Britain managed to amass a true colonial empire without earning a great deal of bad rep.
Everything changed in the second 70 years of Westphalian System existence. It was then when arose the Pentarchy of the Great Powers – France, Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia. For a time being Britain could allow itself to amass the influence oversees without really committing itself to the military interventions on the continent and preferring just to subsidize the “continental soldier” in the guise of this or that ally. Their luck ran out in the aftermath of the 7 Year War, when while the Britain achieved virtually all of its goals, it alienated ALL of European continental powers. At the same time happened one important shift in the European worldview – oversees colonies now became viewed as integral part of the global system of international relations and security. This new perception combined with the now traditional desire of the European powers to pursue the balance of powers had singled out Britain as the potential hegemon and united the entire continent against it. The end result is well known – either direct support of the rebellious North American colonies (France, Spain, Netherlands) or the proclamation of the “armed neutrality”. The Britain lost.
There were no period of time when the UK was really a “dominant power” in Europe after that. Yes, a spanner in the work of other would be hegemon – not the hegemon itself.
“I think, judging by the contents of tertiary history books that I have read,
Europe end somewhere on the Eastern border of German and Austrian Empires’ frontiers; Russia was not considered part of Europe.”
What makes some territory “Europe” then?
>>>Fine, but why does UK dominate Europe?
It won the Great Game when Stalin took control of the Soviet Union; the moment that happened, the Soviet State became something far more feared than respected, outside its own borders. Then, when WWII finished, English conservatives infiltrated the US’s ultra-conservative, ultra-reactionary anti-communist wing, tied them to Gehlen’s organization–which returned a strictly Nazi view of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union–and used these two groups to shore up what power it could retain for itself in the Commonwealth states. So while the sun finally did set on the British Empire, what emerged was a neo-colonial model that still managed to return vast profits and exploitatively extract basic resources from foreign territories.
This, in turn, gave a huge advantage and returned massive profits to US and UK corporations and–significantly–the banks that under-wrote them.
That, in a nutshell, is why the US/UK are now the world’s sole superpower. The gradual and inevitable erosion of that system as more and more of those foreign territories discover the means and power of ending the exploitative arrangements is precisely what is also the main feature of our current era–and represents the allure of cooperating with states like Russia and China, which have both shown that they can resist domination by groups like the IMF, WTO, and the petrodollar banking system while still developing themselves technologically to a point where they are able to directly compete with the US and UK on their own ground.
>>>IN regards to the significance of the Medieval Period, I must disagree; without it neither modern empirical sciences nor modern state could come into existence – in my opinion.
Hmmm….I would argue that most of the foundations of science that were laid down in the Medieval period were put in place by scholars in Islamic lands. “Al Kimiya” and “Al Gebra / Al Jabr”) are two of the most obvious examples, but most of the advances in logic and astronomy were made in Muslim lands, at the time. The Chinese famously invented printing, gunpowder, and paper during this period, as well–all of which were critical key technologies required for the Scientific Revolution to take place.
In Europe we don’t start seeing scientific institutions start taking on the Church and begin to break away from doctrine until the Renaissance, (and I’m sure Lyttenburgh would point out that it was happening in Russia at about the same time, and I agree with him that this is an important point); during the Medieval period there are some great scholars at work, but their work is overwhelmingly dominated and hindered by Aristotelian logic, and very-little-to-none of it ever breaks free of theology–I, at least, can’t think of any.
Meanwhile, astrologers and alchemical mages were employed in every court in Europe, laying the groundwork for what I would describe as a *technological* revolution, rather than a scientific one. If there were any Medieval writings that were really breaking away from church doctrine, then I suspect the only place we would find them would be in heavily coded alchemical writings. The alchemical tradition in the medieval era has been badly abused by historians and popular literature alike; if there were any real advances or moves away from the strictures of theology and monastic domination of mathematics, technology, and logic, then I suspect it can only be found in alchemical texts. Unfortunately, precisely because of church domination and the fear of accusations of heresy, those codes are VERY hard to break, and likely those writings can only be truly understood when placed into the very specific, personalized historical contexts of the writers, and those are entirely lost to us today.
During the Medieval period the most advanced math, chemical, and engineering developments in the world were all in other places than Western Europe. IIRC, except for clockwork and perhaps ship design, all of Western Europe technology was inherited from other cultures. The Chinese and Muslim peoples were far advanced in engineering, mathematics, and chemical technology during the same period. It’s not until the late Renaissance–which, again, came about entirely because learned Byzantine men and women took refuge in Western Europe following the fall of Constantinople–that we see Western Europe catch up with those places in terms of theory and mathematics.
In terms of technology it isn’t until the late Enlightenment that we see Western Europe even *start* to overtake and outstrip those cultures; for instance, in Western history textbooks it is largely forgotten or overlooked that the Chinese had the most advanced and effective shipbuilding technology up until the mid-to-late 18th C, when the British and Dutch started overtaking it. In the case of the British, the rapid developments in technology and buildup of their oceangoing fleets was a direct result of the consolidation and management of the navy under the (Dutch) King William II. The Chinese fleets, OTOH, atrophied and deteriorated in large part because of the laissez-faire foreign trade and naval policies of the Imperial Court.
This is stupid, if there was an actual war with Russia/China, there is no real preparations you can make, unless playing Fallout in real life seem appealing for anybody.
interesting, Lyttenburg, I vaugely understood it was ironic.
Could you clarify: “warriors of the ATO”? too. Somehow related to the control of the air? The warriors in charge of air traffic? CAS could stand for this military nitwit for just as many things. Country Assistance?
Also – note the lack of CAS in the ATO zone on both sides [?US, Russia?]. Ukrainian military is having it easy, trying to find the excuse for its own incompetence in scary stories about Russian regulars.
Randomly ATO, Authority to Operate?:
For the record, I am not a fan of the speed of Europe’s Eastern Enlargement/Expansionism.
by the way, the US officer mentioned in the end, seems to be an interesting guy.
If I may add. Notice I have highly mixed feelings about the media warriors of light both Russian and expats. Including some of their more or less visible supporters. But what is your take on these rumors? More randomly:
Or Meduza, and yes, I recall your statements about those Russian expats:
Yup; poor Russia, so close to Europe, so far away from God.
“Could you clarify: “warriors of the ATO”? too. Somehow related to the control of the air? “
ATO – “Anti-terrorist Operation”. You see, the Ukraine can not lawfully use Army against its own citizens. So they constructed an elaborate ruse where everyone (everyone) in the People Reoublics (Denetsk and Luhansk) were proclaimed “terrorists”. And you can use whatever you like against the terrorists – also, you do not negotiate with them. So far, no one in the world have agreed with such designation.
CAS – Close-Air Support. Understandably, both the DNR and LNR lack any, and the Ukraine decided to stop using their already shrinking “air-park” of helis and attack planes by the early autumn of 2014.
1) I don’t care about rumours – only facts.
2) Shclosberg is an asshole and his party is a bunch of whiney Russophobes, who’d gladly hand over Crimea and Russian sovereignty at the drop of the hat. Still – kicking the shit out of him (if true) was a criminal act and should be treated as such.
3) “Meduza” the paper is like it’s namesake – invertebrate jelly like brainless critter that only eats and shits. The Westerners rely on it because it provides constant anti-Russian slant and/or it translates its articles in Russian.
Wow! I’ve never viewed the alchemical tradition from this point of view, PA.
Also the nuance between scientific (big on theories and purely empirical experimentation) and technological (“hands on” stuff) development. There was technological development in the Middle Ages, which is easily attested by the development of the metallurgy and, therefore, of arms and armor. And all it had been achieved on their own, via experimentation and refinement of the processes involved, not just rediscovered from some ancient Roman period volume.
Additional thanks for reminding everyone about the impact the Greek refugees had on the development of the science and contribution to the general knowledge of the West. Sufficient to say, that several Classic works were simply unknown in the West till 15 century, e.g. works of Diodorus Siculus.
I have to stay with Scraton’s (a known Russophobe, btw) definition of Western Civilization. “The roots of Western civilization lie in the religion of Israel, the culture of Greece, and the law of Rome, and the resulting synthesis has flourished and decayed in a thousand ways during the two millennia which followed the death of Christ”
Please take the time to study the history of the University of Paris.
@Lyttenburg: A lot of really interesting scholarship on alchemy has taken place in the last 50 years or so. Unfortunately, a lot of it is scattered, and few works have received much public attention. Dame Francis Yates kicked it off in the 1960s, and some of her books remain popular and quite relevant–her book on Rosicrucianism discovered a lot of things about the movement and the political currents that underlay it, as well as the role played in it by John Dee, the chief court alchemist for both Elizabeth I and James. To date, the focus in English-language literature has mostly remained on “Hermeticism,” which falls in the Renaissance; but the institution of court astrologer and alchemist was already firmly established, by this time, and their role at court changed only gradually over the few centuries when such men wielded influence. If you’re interested in the subject, the most current scholarship I’ve read is by Wouter J. Hanegraaff. You can find quite a few of his books over at Library Genesis.
I think we will just have to disagree about how important a role theologically independent, empirically-founded thought played in the Middle Ages. During my own readings in history, it has always seemed to me that the real developments in Medieval thought involved Europe’s gradual separation of secular knowledge from theology and faith, and the development of humanistic (rather than strictly religious) areas of social organization. That was something that Europe arrived at rather slowly; China and India never had much problem making those distinctions.
Have you ever browsed Joseph Needham’s work, Science and Civilization in China? He has this list in his first book of key moments in technological and scientific development, and in nearly every case (optics and screws being the two biggest exceptions, but those were also both mostly inherited from other civilizations), Europe trailed China by generations or centuries.
Is the closing question genuine, sir? I’ll add my two bits despite keeping my yap shut being the better idea.
I’m a few years out of date now and I followed Ukraine through the letters from a certain vineyard, but I imagine that the poor fellows sent to train the Ukrainians how to conduct a Squad Attack were just laughed at: “When will we ever find 2-3 rebels by themselves? Wherever you find 3 rebels, 30 more will be right behind them,” or something to that effect.
On one hand “tactics” has essentially been boiled down to “procedure”. The squad attack battle drill is based on sound tactical principle, of course, and will produce results when applied correctly in the correct situation, but the correct situation is as likely to occur in the Donbas as it was on the Somme or in the Hurtgenwald or perhaps some of the places you gentlemen of the committee have been to. But the Army teaches procedure, not tactics. Perhaps someone will correct me.
On the other hand “tactics” in the field boils down to application of firepower (procedure, essentially), something the Army thought it did better than anybody else (A-10s and C-130 gunships excepted); only, the Russians do it better it seems. This would account for “capability gap” comments, I believe.
To put it in doctrinal terms (using doctrine as a proxy for tactical acumen), the 173d, finding itself without firepower superiority on the ground and with less than air supremacy in the air, would find no doctrinal recommendation in Full Spectrum Dominance publications on how to conduct an attack. Training cannot make up that deficiency. For an Army that solves problems by throwing money at them, I’m not hopeful.
3) “Meduza” the paper is like it’s namesake – invertebrate jelly like brainless critter that only eats and shits. The Westerners rely on it because it provides constant anti-Russian slant and/or it translates its articles in Russian.
Well yes, Galina Timchenko could have chosen the name to refer to jellyfish. I admittedly assumed her intention was a reference to Greek mythology.
But yes, hard to dissect the troubles between Timchenko and the owner of lenta.ru from over here. Is her interview with this guy still available somewhere?:
On the other hand at least Russian Wikipedians seem to consider her dismissal scandalous:
The rise of the West owed nothing to the discoveries of the Chinese or Indians or even Muslims.
The West rose and as it rose it incorporated what it found among non-Western people into its own repertoire; look please at the sails of a Man-of-War and trace each kind of sail back to its non-Western origin.
I will illustrate it in a different manner: Arabs never bothered copying and preserving for posteriori the hieroglyphics that has been written on the stones that covered the Great Pyramids of Egypt. It never occurred to them to try to decipher the meaning of such writing. It was, as though, intellectual curiosity had been extinguished in an entire civilization.
Needham and other historians of sciences, unfortunately, only serve to give non-Western people the impression that all of the Western sciences and medicine are based on piracy of the intellectual achievements of Chinese, Muslims, and Hindus of this world; thus lulling them into a smug
form of intellectual slumber.
I guess it is not politically correct to state – without equivocation – : “You guys lost the spark.”
>>>The West rose and as it rose it incorporated what it found among non-Western people into its own repertoire….
Well, yes–and I don’t think any of my comments above implied the contrary. However, there *was* a lot of stuff that moved from Islamic lands into Europe via translated texts that were imported for their technological, artistic, and scientific value. The idea of “Romantic Love” that emerged in the Middle Ages owed a great deal to Sufi poetry, which the French and Spanish were exposed to via the Andalusian caliphates. There are plenty of chemical terms that were lifted directly from Islamic texts, then rendered in Latin alphabets; realgar, for instance, is one that I was looking at earlier today, when I was reviewing what little I know about metallurgy. Muslim and Islamic-Jewish scholars were copied and read in Europe; we received a lot of Aristotle via Islamic sources (and those sources did manage to preserve the Greek, even if they didn’t manage to decipher Egyptian); Chinese advances did filter across to Europe, slowly being transmitted in fits-and-starts across the continent, from East to West; the Chinese did copy and study European texts, although apparently they found little to appreciate in them (Needham mentions one recorded instance of a Medieval Chinese scholar who copied a few works by Galen to take back with him; obviously, they weren’t considered important enough by the people of the time to preserve); sometimes, even, Chinese advances were unknowingly copied and studied in the West, via the Byzantines. One example I’m reminded of that I’ve always been fond of is the Rosary, the origins of which can be traced pretty definitively back to China, among Buddhists.
My own impression of Needham is far less cynical than yours. I am sure the man deeply appreciated and valued Chinese contributions to science and technology, and his work was undertaken as an effort to break apart the dominant idea among Europeans of the time (which is still mostly dominant): that some geographic area called “Europe” bred a fundamentally superior kind of human that was able to band together and achieve such a high degree of spiritual and intellectual refinement that it was able to create, ex nihilo, new way of thinking, meditation, and communication that empowered Europeans with the ability to make vast technological leaps that were simply beyond the capabilities of other civilizations of that era.
I do not subscribe to that view. I think Sir Karl Popper was a pompous stuffed-shirt ass that was far too full of himself (notably, Soros is a big fan of the guy). Popper is the guy we get that quaintly shallow fantasy “The Scientific Method” from, and the guy who established that part of “Western Exceptionalism” (an important part of “American Exceptionalism”) that rests on “We created Science!” fantasy.
Needham headed up a scholarly effort that simply demolished any possibility of sincere people ever again taking that Popperian/Postivist nonsense seriously.
As for Islam, Hindus, and Chinese: Chinese scientific institutions and technology development is doing quite well these days. India’s lags a little, but is improving rapidly. Iran’s scientific and technological capabilities are great enough, now, that Pres. Trump can rant on about how they’re going to develop a nuclear weapon soon and send it over with ballistic missiles, and most Americans will believe him. Russia sent people into space when the only other country in the world that could do it was the U.S, and its space-station technology still outstrips that of the U.S.
No, I don’t see things as cynically as you do. I’m glad Needham wrote his book, and if I’m reading you correctly it appears I take it in precisely the opposite spirit from you.