Russia and the art of war

27 Mar

It’s been my consistent assertion since February 2022 that the West, its deeply unimpressive leaders more beholden to equally poor leaders in Washington than to their own citizens, set out to goad Russia into its military operation in Ukraine. 1 No one has ever challenged me, using evidence and reason, on that. 2

And it’s been my consistent assertion since autumn 2022 that those leaders, and systemically corrupt media, underestimated Russia’s power. Russia is winning despite – indeed, partly as a consequence of – the West’s unprecedented economic warfare, which has grievously harmed Europe’s economies in loss of industrial competitiveness here and now, and in lost future trade with both asset-rich Russia and economic powerhouse China. At the same time, a challenge to Western hegemony posed by BRICS and by shifting allegiances – for instance the Iran-Saudi rapprochement – has been expedited even as the West’s capacity to pursue a military war of attrition with a peer adversary has been shown to be far weaker than most of us suspected. This despite its lead nation outspending, on “defence”, the next dozen nations – China and Russia included – combined. 3

No one has sought to challenge me on this set of assertions either.

On neither do I claim originality. I merely studied, triangulated and synthesised many sources before presenting my conclusions in scores of posts on a catastrophe made in Washington and obediently pursued by the “collective West”.

One of those sources was Jacques Baud, whose resume I supplied on September 11, 2022 in response to a boast by former Trotskyist Paul Mason to have “debunked” the man:

Jacques Baud is a former colonel of the General Staff, ex-member of the Swiss strategic intelligence, specialist on Eastern countries. He was trained in the American and British intelligence services. He has served as Policy Chief for UN Peace Operations. As a UN expert on rule of law and security, he designed and led the first multidimensional UN intelligence unit in the Sudan. He has worked for the African Union and was for 5 years responsible for the fight, at NATO, against the proliferation of small arms. He was involved in discussions with the highest Russian military and intelligence officials just after the fall of the USSR. Within NATO, he followed the 2014 Ukrainian crisis and later participated in programs to assist the Ukraine. He is the author of several books on intelligence, war and terrorism, in particular Le Détournement published by SIGEST, Gouverner par les fake news, L’affaire Navalny. His latest book is Poutine, maître du jeu? published by Max Milo.

Today I make a return to Colonel Baud. First because he adds detail to the core claims set out in my two opening paragraphs; not least the fact, scarcely noticed by me – preoccupied as I was with NATO’s eastward creep, the Maidan Coup and eight years of civil war in the Donbas prior to the SMO – that Ukraine joining NATO would have irked the Russians, yes, but more serious was Bush’s 2001 abrogation of the ABM Treaty. This, in tandem with a Georgia and/or Ukraine in NATO, could place nuclear missiles within a few second strike time of Moscow. 4  5

Second and more uniquely because, for reasons which emerge with gradual but forceful clarity, the Russians are at every turn outthinking a West which so foolishly provoked her.

And third because, while this interview weighs in at a staggering two hours-fifty (with a natural break at one hour-thirty-six), it provides the most profound understanding I’ve yet to encounter in a single source on a conflict which may yet, when all is said and done, go thermonuclear.

* * *

  1. I’m not hung up on the distinction, and have myself used “invasion” rather than “special military operation” to describe what was launched on February 24, 2022. Here I use the latter not as apologetics but because a recurring feature of Western propaganda – and of NATO failure to understand Russia’s tactics, strategy and, indeed, her “martial art” – has flowed from misreading a war of attrition as one of territorial conquest.
  2. “No one has ever challenged me, using evidence and reason …”  From mainstream critics this holds 100% – I get general accusations of ‘bias’ and ‘extremism’, not engagement on specifics.

    From the Far Left it’s slightly different. Days after Russia’s SMO began, a communist took me to task for “rejecting revolutionary principles in favour of realpolitik”, and not sharing his faith in that parallel universe of cigarette trees and soda water fountains where condemnation of “Russian chauvinism” is not music to the ears of US empire-narrative managers:

     … well, thanks for your frankness. In a nutshell, you are a socialist who has given up on socialism, so you’ve chosen barbarism. You may regard this as an ad hominem attack, but It is not, it is an attempt to drag you away from your embrace of a stinking corpse.

    The Spanish Inquisitors had similarly laudable intent. This would-be saviour of my lapsed revolutionary soul continued:

    Nearly all of the reasons you give to justify your stance is true, yet your argument amounts to pure sophistory, because you leave out some crucial facts, most importantly is the Putin clique’s utter contempt for Ukrainian sovereignty. This is in complete continuity with Stalin’s brutal – and yes, genocidal – policy towards Ukraine, a complete reversal of the Bolsheviks’ support for Ukrainian self-determination … and Stalin’s policy was itself a reversion to czarist white Russian chauvinism.

    I was unsurprised by his failure to set out alternative steps Russia could have taken in the face of years of Western provocation. It’s a failure widespread on the Left.  As for self-determination – for Ukraine but not, it would seem, for Donetsk, Luhansk or Crimea – Lenin was a realist, not an emotional dreamer. His exchanges with Rosa Luxemburg on the subject were not conducted in the shadow of a Ukraine – corridor for every Western invasion of Russia – ruled by a US proxy intent on joining an alliance predicated on her encirclement. No nation could accept such a thing and the only argument on offer from the Far Left is that Russia should be socialist. Which is a variant on the line: dear oh dear, if you’re trying to get to Rome you don’t want to be here!

  3. There are two likely explanations for the West’s poor military showing in Ukraine. One is that America’s military industrial complex (Eisenhower’s term) prioritises profits. (Russia’s is largely state owned and in all cases state directed.) Add in the gravy train momentum of revolving door – Lloyd Austin has the unofficial middle name, “Raytheon” – and pork barrel politics. Upshot? One, fancy weaponry at eye-watering costs which wows arms fairs but proves too clever by half in protracted battle. Two, no “surge capacity” – since capitalism abhors “slack” – caused the West to run out of materiel when, even if the will were there (it isn’t) the issue would take months or years to fix and still would not narrow the gap since Russia will also step up production. The other explanation is that not since WW2 had a Western power faced, even by proxy, a peer foe. Accustomed to defeating inferior forces by “shock and awe”, NATO advisors to Ukraine failed – this is key to what Baud is saying – to understand the kind of war Russia was fighting. Compounding both through devastating losses of men and materiel have been Zelensky’s politically driven decisions to hold onto Donbas towns, like Bhakmut and Avdivka, whose ethnic Russian populations had seen Azov style atrocity and would welcome Russian forces as friends here to stay. As we know, Bhakmut and Avdivka “fell” anyway.
  4. The parallel Baud draws here is Turkey joining NATO in 1952. Moscow didn’t like it but not until the US deployed Jupiter nuclear missiles there in 1961 did the Soviets make their own move in Cuba. (Like all schoolboys of my generation, I was taught that the 1962 crisis was resolved by JFK “facing down” nasty Nikita. In actuality it was resolved by removing the Jupiters from Turkey on condition of this remaining secret. Which, for decades, it did.)
  5. Washington, unlike Moscow or Beijing whose constitutions forbid it, refuses to rule out aggressive use of nukes. It’s true the threat diminished with Russia’s recently acquired superiority in hypersonic missiles. No longer can the US strike her nuclear silos, confident of dealing with a response from the remnants using ‘star wars’ shields. There is currently no answer to incoming missiles at Mach 10 or 20. But while this has, I’m sure, lessened Russia’s fears it can hardly be supposed – all things considered – to eliminate them in a country keenly aware of its history.

4 Replies to “Russia and the art of war

  1. Brilliant from Jacques Baud – thanks. The least Alex Christoforou should do is learn to pronounce his name relatively accurately. It’s basic courtesy, really.

    • For Alexander Mercouris, a man of courtesy, it rhymes – surprisingly to me – with “bore”. Is this correct? In my head I’d pronounced it “bough” while allowing for the possibility of “bawd”.

  2. Simplicus the thinker takes up the theme here….

    ….but, in focusing exclusively on the comparisons between the Russian and Collective West ways of waging conflict, misses a fundamental point which, in essence, forms the heart of much of what Michael Hudson has been banging the drum about.

    Which is that the features and characteristics Simplicus describes in terms of conflict/warfare are systemically applicable accross the entire Western paradigm. Every facet at every level of the Western model – from economics downwards along all axis – operates on a model which has negative efficacy built in as standard operating procedure. Its not just warfare; it’s policy making, logistics, education, etc ts also icommunication, language, thought patterns, organising principles and everything else in between and what that generates.

    Here’s Simplicus from that same article quoting the author David P Goldman who clearly departed shocked and alarmed from attending a recent Bilderberg style meeting about Ukraine where the foreign policy establishment of the collective West demonstrated the depths in which the West and it’s culture is irrevocably trapped in a doom spiral – pace Hudson’s synthesis – of The Fantasy Based Community:

    “No one disputed the data I presented. And no one believed that Russia is taking 25,000 casualties a month. Facts weren’t the issue: The assembled dignitaries, a representative sampling of the foreign policy establishment’s intellectual and executive leadership, simply couldn’t imagine a world in which America no longer gave the orders.

    They are accustomed to running things and they will gamble the world away to keep their position.

    In short, there is no Plan B, nor real strategic plan to defeat Russia at all. It’s merely a bricolaged scramble to make sure the West stays in power by any assortment of haphazard, and at times mutually antithetical, means.”

    Which, holistically, raises all sorts of relevant questions. Not least of which, in a clash of civilization’s context, is that of what would an actual workable Western culture look like strpped of it’s current nonsensical malice in blunderland operating model? Is such a scenario even possible – whether generated internally (which I see no feasible evidence to support), or externally imposed? Is it desirable? Is it an oxymoron?

    I’ll just leave it there for the present. As Phil is aware, I’ve other matters to focus on right now.

  3. Pingback: The art and science of warfare – onthebrynk

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