Underestimating Russia, etc.

[check the comment thread for a correction]

The Russian Federation has not lost a war or failed in a military intervention since it came into existence in 1991.

The United States has not won a war or succeeded in a military intervention since the U.S. attack on Panama in 1989, and this includes campaigns to destroy nations by means of economic sanctions.

As corrupt as Russia is, on many levels, I don’t think its government spends money on weapons that don’t work, promotes generals who lose wars or doubles down on foreign policies that have failed.

At the top levels of the U.S. government and journalism, failure has no consequences.  Yes-men are rewarded, even when they’re proved wrong.  Dissidents are pushed aside, even when they’re proved right.

It is pretty plain that Biden, Blinken and the rest had no idea what they were getting into when they decided on a showdown with Russia.

The economic blowback from the sanctions war is hurting the U.S. and its allies more than it is hurting Russia.   Public opinion polls indicate that average American voters are more concerned about the cost of living than Ukraine.  What nobody has told them is that the sanctions war against Russia is driving up the cost of living.

U.S. spokesmen are talking more and more about the possibility of defeat and the need for negotiations, although I suspect that Vladimir Putin has decided that the USA is, as he puts it, “not agreement-capable.”

I am not a military expert, I’m neither bold enough nor foolish enough to predict the outcome of the Ukraine war, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be of net benefit to the United States or its allies.


Washington Starts the “Blame Game” Over Defeat in Ukraine by Bernard for Moon of Alabama.

The search for scapegoats for failure has begin

The Secret American Plan to Make Russia Great Again by Dmitry Orlov for The Vineyard of the Saker.

During the Napoleonic Wars, the infant United States was cut off from trade with Europe.  Britain and France outlawed trade with each other and with countries the other dominated.

Although a blow to American living standards, this created space for development of American industries, who for the moment did not have to complete with cheap foreign imports.

In the long run, Britain and France did the United States a favor.  The USA is doing Russia the same kind of favor.

The Danger of Underestimating Russia by Yves Smith for Naked Capitalism.

Ignorance is not strength.

U.S.State-Affiliated NewsGuard Targets Consortium News by Joe Lauria for Consortium News.

The 2014 coup in Ukraine was the trigger for the present U.S.-Russia confrontation.  A government-backed organization of amateur reporters called NewsGuard denies there was a coup, and accused the online news service, Consortium News, of misreporting the event.

Joe Lauria replied by exposing NewsGuard, and proceeded to document the factual basis of every one of Consortium News’ assertions.  If you aren’t familiar with the 2014 coup, or have doubts as to which account to believe, I recommend you read this article.

U.S. Prolongs Ukraine War by Craig Murray.

Wheat can’t be exported from Ukrainian ports because approaches are surrounded by minefields laid by the Ukrainian military.  Russia has offered to clear minefields and allow approaches by neutral cargo ships to Ukrainian ports.  Ukraine has turned down this offer because Russia might gain a military advantage.

Hungry people around the world are in danger because of this.  Ukraine, not Russia, is responsible for this, and Ukraine wouldn’t be blocking its own exports if the U.S. government didn’t want it to.

The chief casualties of the sanctions war are the noncombatants.

When the Lies Come Home by Douglas MacGregor for The American Conservative.  [Added 06/17/2022]


2 Responses to “Underestimating Russia, etc.”

  1. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    Victory in a war is to achieve your initial victory conditions. s far as the US goes, our military hasn’t been defeated in a very long time. Afghanistan and Vietnam were both political failures. There’s a difference here and to ignore it is disingenuous. Both Iraq wars were smashing military victories. Iraq was kicked out of Kuwait and then in the 2nd go-round, Saddam Hussian’s government was deposed. What happened after that was a matter of political leaders dropping the ball and not military inadequacy.

    The Russians flat out lost the first Chechen war. Yeltsin was forced to declare a ceasefire with the Chechens in 1996, and a peace treaty in 1997. Militarily, the 2nd Chechen war was a draw. (As we found out in Vietnam, you can’t call it a win if the enemy simply refuses to stop fighting.) They scored a political win when they bribed the separatist leader, Akhmed Zakayev, into flipping over to the Russian side. Ten thousand Russian soldiers and a hundred thousand Chechens dead. Chechnya doesn’t have the complete independence it wanted but still maintains a lot of autonomy.

    Yes, the Russians “won” in Georgia against a microscopic military and set up two small independent republics. I am not impressed.

    In 2014, the Russians won Crimea which is easy to do when there’s no resistance. They failed miserably in Donbas. The locals did not rise up en masse to throw off the Ukrainian yoke and the Ukrainians managed to force them back to a sliver on the border. I am still not impressed.

    There is no possible way to spin the current war in Ukraine into a Russian win. Their objective was a quick regime change, trying to take a page out of “Iraqi Freedom.” Fail. They tried to take Odessa. Fail. Tried to take Kharkiv. Fail.

    They are trying to take the rest of Donbas. Looks like a good chance of success but not 100%. The Ukrainians are turning every major town into a Stalingrad. The Russians did succeed in Mariupol and got their land bridge but it chewed up a lot of Russian troops who were needed elsewhere. Another Stalingrad.

    Half the Back Sea fleet is sunk or damaged and the other half is afraid to get too close. No victory there. Ukrainian counterattacks in the south are getting closer to Kherson.

    I’m not seeing any chance of a Russian victory here, just a bloody stalemate in a war everybody thought would be over in 72 hours. Ukraine, OTOH, sort of “wins” by surviving as a democracy and functional state. (It may be a Pyrrhic victory.) The west wins if Russia is so weakened by the struggle it cannot launch attacks anywhere else. China loses because their Great Northern Ally is shown to be a a paper bear.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. philebersole Says:

    I wrote in haste and made overly sweeping generalizations, which Fred correctly pointed out. Russia indeed failed to conquer Chechnya in its first attempt. There were U.S. military actions following the 1989 Panama invasion that could be considered military successes—the Gulf War of 1991, the NATO bombing campaign against Serbia in 1999.

    Overall, though, Fred is saying that, yes, Russia did achieve its objectives in Chechnya (the second time), but this doesn’t count because it wasn’t achieved by military means. Also, the failure in Iraq doesn’t count because it wasn’t a military failure.

    This is equivalent to saying, yes, the patient died, but the surgeon performed the operation correctly. The death of the patient may have been due to causes beyond the surgeon’s control, but the fact remains that the patient is dead.

    Russian military interventions in Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia ended the conflicts in these regions and safeguarded the Russian minorities there.

    The Russian attack on Georgia in 2008 was in retaliation for a Georgian attack that killed Russian troops; the Russian occupation of Georgia quickly ended, after Russia made its point.

    Russian and American forces took part in the Syrian civil war—Russia to protect its Syrian ally Bashir al-Assad, the USA to overthrow him. Assad is still in power, so at this point the U.S. intervention is a failure and the Russian intervention is a success.

    The Russian minorities in Donbas, with support from Mother Russia, did rise up in 2014 and maintained their independence despite heavy Ukrainian bombardment. They reportedly are carrying on most of the fighting in their region now.

    The fighting in Ukraine today can in no way be compared to Stalingrad. The Russians are holding back their best forces, and we Americans would do well to think about what they are holding them back for.

    My post was not intended to single out the U.S. uniformed military for criticism. They are not the ones beating the war drums in Washington. They are not the ones launching wars based on lies and failed intelligence.

    The responsibility lies with the U.S. government and the commanders in chief—that is Presidents Biden, Trump, Obama, Bush and Clinton.

    The problem is that the military, like so many institutions in American society, is being corrupted. Those who go along with official lies (such as that the U.S. was winning in Afghanistan get promoted; those who dissent are pushed aside.

    At some point, American global military and economic power is going to collapse, and we the American people will need the loyalty and professionalism of our armed forces and our own patriotism to survive. I hope that loyalty and professionalism will not have been worn away by abuse.


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