So far, Ukraine is doing the fighting and dying in its year-long conflict with Russia, sustained by American weapons, technology and military expertise. Ukraine appears to be holding its own, but it would be a mistake to believe that Russia will simply give up and abandon its imperialistic ambitions to annex a portion of its western neighbor. Certainly, in my opinion, Russia will never surrender Crimea.
The American mainline media is fond of describing Russia as a regional power with an incompetent military and unstable leadership. I’m not sure that’s true.
Napoleon thought he had defeated Russia when he captured Moscow in 1812. In Napoleon’s mind, all that was left to do was wait for Russia’s military leaders to admit they had been beaten and formally surrender.
But the Russians never showed up to surrender. Instead, winter set in, and a cataclysmic fire burned down most of Moscow.
Rather than spend the winter in a burned out city, Napoleon decided to march his troops back to France. That’s when the Cossacks showed up. Russian cavalry harassed the French army on its long retreat and Napoleon lost ninety percent of his troops before he reached safety.
During World War II, Hitler invaded Russia in the summer of 1941 and drove the Russians back across a broad front. The Nazis made it to the outskirts of Moscow but they never captured the city. The Germans besieged Leningrad for 900 days but the Russians refused to surrender, although one million Leningrad civilians died from starvation during the siege.
Are there any lessons to be learned from history? I think there are. Russia may appear to be on the verge of defeat in its war with Ukraine, but that’s what Napoleon and Hitler believed when they picked a fight with Russia.
But what do I know about military strategy and geopolitical affairs? After all, I’m just a retired professor who lives smack dab in the middle of flyover country.
That’s a fair point. On the other hand, what do the bozos in Washington know about military strategy or the tangled history that connects Ukraine and Russia? Apparently, not much.
The witless diplomats and policy wonks who are recklessly pushing our country into war with a nuclear power probably think it’s fun to muck around in eastern European affairs. Who knows? They might get a lucrative book contract out of this fracas or a teaching gig at Harvard.