As someone who has studied WW2 history for over 40 years (on an amateur basis), as soon as the Crimean situation occurred I went over to my bookshelf and pulled out my favorite book that covered the Crimean campaign – “Stopped at Stalingrad” by Hayward. The book is highly recommended and covers air / ground coordination in that era and has an excellent overview of the ground campaign in the crucial 1942-3 time period.
The scale of today’s troop movements and activities is so small relative to that era. Only a few thousand troops can decide an entire campaign. The days of millions of soldiers on all sides of the wire have been relegated to the past.
While this volume focuses on the military aspects of the campaign in WW2, many other books talk about ideological motivations and logistics, notably the horrifying “The Wages of Destruction” by Tooze.
The contrast between today’s situation and the “total warfare” that existed really from the end of WW1 and through the civil war in Russia as well as the horrors in the Ukraine in the 1930’s and then on both the German advance and Russian re-capturing of the various regions is very instructive on one key dimension – as Putin takes over Crimea, he actually intends to FEED the population.
It is important to realize how poorly civilians have always been treated in these Eastern campaigns by all sides. To say that people were viewed as an afterthought is a giant understatement. Civilians were second to territory, resources (oil), or ideological objectives.
Today by most accounts Putin realizes that he needs to actually administer the region and needs to take steps to build up morale, keep the economy functioning (on some level), and that this will be a financial burden on Russia. The days of just stripping off assets, turning locals into slave labor, and siphoning off any agricultural products (I am not just talking about “surplus”, I am talking about everything) are apparently past us. I am no fan of Putin and in no way want to appear to be in favor of his activities, but feel that this is a fact worth mentioning.
By the abysmally low standards of twentieth century Eastern warfare, the Crimea incident likely had the least impact on civilians.
Unfortunately the situation in Western Ukraine has the potential to be closer to a “typical” historical Eastern event with mass bloodshed, significant disruption to the economy and population, with civilians caught in the middle and having their needs ignored.
Cross posted at LITGM
28 thoughts on “An Unmentioned Fact on the Crimea Situation”
Putin is engaging in what Boyd called “Moral Warfare” because the cost of attrition warfare, as practiced by Russia in Afghanistan and more recently in the Caucasus, is too high.
He’s been pretty good at it so far, but cracks are showing.
The indigenous Tatars aren’t too happy:
and their leader, Mustafa Dzhemilev, has a good shot at winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
Plus now we see daily reports of the market for Russian bonds freezing up. That’s probably the reason why Putin has appeared to throw some cold water on the Separatists’ referendums.
I’m not disputing you, but I wonder at your sources for this. Memories, actions, and ancient hatreds span not only generations, but centuries in Europe, especially Eastern Europe. While Putin rules a non-Soviet Russia, his background is KGB and is in direct line from the Chekisti who carried out the Holodomor.
Right now, it can be taken as a given that there will be no real Western opposition to anything that the Russians want to do to Ukraine. Note, that I am NOT recommending direct Western intervention in Ukraine. We lack the resources, the binding legal commitment, the will, and the competence of the National Command Authority to do so. Serious efforts should be concentrated on deterring attacks and pressure on actual NATO members, if NATO is to continue to exist. And there are no serious efforts in any directions. The Russian conquest of Ukraine is in early stages.
If there is an analog, the Soviet Red Army conquered Ukraine in 1919, and there was an initial policy of supporting Ukrainian institutions through the 1920’s. In the 1930’s, all things Ukrainian were banned in favor of forced Russification; with the Holodomor taking place [with the complicity of the American media] in 1932-33. Between 2 and 8 million were deliberately starved to death, plus an unknown but huge number deliberately executed by the Red Army and Cheka.
And if this is repeated on any scale, the West will choose once again to look the other way rather than oppose Russia.
Once again, I am not arguing with you, but from my point of view the flow of history has carved deep and wide channels in that part of the world where events will flow. I would welcome countervailing indications.
The only real card we have to play is to emphasize energy production and “drill, baby, drill.” That, of course, is against Obama’s religion as declaimed by Bill McKibben the high priest of enviroNazis. The lemmings are headed for the cliff .
“Stanford, on the edge of Silicon Valley, is at the forefront of the 21st century economy; it’s very fitting, then, that they’ve chosen to cut their ties to the 18th century technology of digging up black rocks and burning them. Since it’s a global institution it knows the havoc that climate change creates around our planet; other forward-looking and internationally-minded institutions will follow I’m sure.”
Expect other leftist organizations, like universities, to follow.
“Expect other leftist organizations, like universities, to follow.”
Yeah, because smart people are so stupid.
“Yeah, because smart people are so stupid.”
No, just naive like you.
Another relevant book on the matter regarding the eastern front from
Panzer Battles by Major General Friedrich von Mellenthins
The Russians never respond well to maneuver and counterattacks:
Believe it or not, Obama’s counterstroke is taking its toll:
“Yeah, because smart people are so stupid.”
1. They are not smart people.
2. They are not stupid. They are deluded and/or malicious.
Smart people – emerging from the universities? As they are currently operating?
Maybe if they were smart going in.
Otherwise – credentialed, not educated. And not particularly smart.
proggtards are not smart. devious, mendacious, evil yes
Is war becoming more humane, or are we just entering a brave new world where food and housing replace freedom?
I think back to the Korean War and wonder what our response would have been if the North had simply infiltrated South Korea and formed protest groups in need of protection – and asked the Soviets for help. It is more than likely that all of Korea would now be dark at night now.
Well, to be fair, Hitler was only interested in feeding ethnic Germans. Putin might only be interested in feeding ethnic Russians (it’s certainly only the ethnic Russians who voted to secede).
“He also realized that his own strength lay in the superior training of his junior commanders and their capacity for independent action and leadership.” That was also an advantage the Germans had over the soldiers of the democracies.
“Plus now we see daily reports of the market for Russian bonds freezing up. That’s probably the reason why Putin has appeared to throw some cold water on the Separatists’ referendums.” Grurray stole my thunder. Always follow the money.
““He also realized that his own strength lay in the superior training of his junior commanders and their capacity for independent action and leadership.” That was also an advantage the Germans had over the soldiers of the democracies.”
In all of my reading about the German army, it was emphasized that they had far better noncoms who could act with independent drive and skill. The US army in WWII and since has been marked by excessive number of officers and weakness in infantry soldiers. I don’t know if the all volunteer army has fixed this. From Dakota Meyer’s book, Into the Fire , the officer corps seemed not to have improved. The book is amazing.
An essay on the junior officers of the US army, .
The first, and possibly the worst, is an officer corps vastly too large for its organization—now augmented by an ant-army of contractors, most of whom are retired officers. A German Panzer division in World War II had about 21 officers in its headquarters. Our division headquarters are cities. Every briefing—and there are many, the American military loves briefings because they convey the illusion of content without offering any—is attended by rank-upon-rank of horse-holders and flower-strewers, all officers.
Read Gary Berntsen’s Jawbreaker about what happened in Afghanistan when the Big Army arrived and began building empires.
Sgt Mom – on “smart people” and universities – my late grandfather had a favorite saying:
If you take a fool and educate him, all you have is an educated fool”
On ignoring the population – just think had Hitler treated the Ukranians as friends and liberators instead of untermenschen – sub human – would the world have been vastly different today?
Of course had he done so he wouldn’t have been a Nazi.
“Of course had he done so he wouldn’t have been a Nazi.” He’d have been an insincere Nazi. Alas, the mad, bad bugger was entirely sincere.
MikeK – Germany had extremely high standards for NCO’s, and despite Hitler’s desire to have only fervent National Socialists in command positions, he and the General Staff did not suffer fools lightly.
Our poor soldiers did not have a large supply of experienced leaders due to our isolationism and neglect. Patton was one of the few commanders who seemed to have a knack for picking out talented leaders, and often gave them great freedom to do what they thought was best – very much like the German System. On the flip side there was Monty. He was a control freak and rarely let capable officers change tactics on the fly as situations changed.
Italy chose officers with political connections and good fascist ideology. This lead to disastrous situations.
I had a foreman at a job I worked at when I was young who was a sergeant in the SS at Stalingrad. If you played your cards right he would tell you stories and he had some good ones. He went into POW camp with 1300 other guys, 400 survived to be freed.
An amazing guy really, in very good shape at 50+, he used to walk around with a sledgehammer in case something needed adjusting.
Bill Brandt “If you take a fool and educate him, all you have is an educated fool.”
And to make things worse, the purpose of the educational system is now to turn out indoctrinated ignoramuses.
“Patton was one of the few commanders who seemed to have a knack for picking out talented leaders, and often gave them great freedom to do what they thought was best – very much like the German System. ”
Thomas Ricks has a book called The Generals , which is not bad although, of course, diminished by Ricks’ hatred of Bush and Iraq. He thinks Marshall was the best judge of generals but he chose Mark Clark who was as bad as Monty. Bradley was mediocre and got a big reputation because of Ernie Pyle and his “GI General” nonsense. I was once staying in a hotel in Palm Desert at a medical meeting. Bradley came to town and wanted our hotel for his entourage. We all had to leave. GI General my a$$.
After Patton, we had few of that caliber. Two were Terry Allen and Teddy Roosevelt Jr, both of whom were hated by Bradley and relieved for no reason after Sicily. They were sent to the states but returned for Normandy.
From Wiki “In spite of Allen’s successes, General Omar Bradley was highly critical of both Allen and Roosevelt’s wartime leadership style. “While the Allies were parading decorously through Tunis,” Bradley wrote, “Allen’s brawling 1st Infantry Division was celebrating the Tunisian victory in a manner all its own.” All they did was fight. Norman Coda was one of Allen’s proteges.
“Bradley’s resentment of Allen stands in marked contrast to that of General George S. Patton. Although Patton and Allen frequently argued and even insulted each other, particularly when discussing tactics and leadership styles, the former recognized Allen’s competence in building a fighting division. When Patton heard General Eisenhower deliver a lecture on the ‘poor discipline’ of Allen’s 1st Division, he contradicted Eisenhower: “I told him he was mistaken and that anyhow no one whips a dog before putting him into a fight.”
Bradley’s reputation is losing air the past 50 years, as it should.
Pengun – I was friend in the Army with a German civilian – ran the photo lab where I would develop my film taken while on leave.
Although Willi never said where he was taken prisoner, I suspected it was Stalingrad.Taken prisoner in 1942, released in 1955.
Said the only way he survived was that he was a diesel mechanic and the Russians found a use for him.
Of the 100,000 taken prisoner there only 6,000 ever returned.
Your Sgt was lucky – and his unit of 1300 others.
Has anybody seriously condemned Marshall for anything? I find no fault with him, yet it is rare to find an individual that gathers so few complaints.
“Grurray stole my thunder. Always follow the money”
Dan, Ha, I have my RSS feeds displayed on my phone so I can sometimes get those quick responses in (especially if stuck in some long meeting or other likewise distraction-worthy activity).
I’ve actually been keeping an eye on the ruble since the Ukraine mess started. The entire affair has not been good for Russia financially, but the slide had been going on for most of last year. I’m not sure if Putin’s increased assertiveness and aggressiveness is the cause or the result, but it seems he’s increasingly got his hands tied nowadays.
It is an anniversary this weekend we should observe. The Dambusters flew their mission May 16-17 1943.
A friend of mine flew an F 18 in Gulf War I and said he was terrified the whole time. I watch 12 o’clock High once a year or so and think about the fact that it is a true story.
the primary inspiration was Colonel Frank A. Armstrong, who commanded the 306th Bomb Group on which the 918th was modeled. The name “Savage” was inspired by Armstrong’s Cherokee heritage. In addition to his work with the 306th, which lasted only six weeks and consisted primarily of rebuilding the chain of command within the group, Armstrong had earlier performed a similar task with the 97th Bomb Group and many of the training and disciplinary scenes in Twelve O’Clock High derive from that experience.
Two officers in the group wrote a novel based on the events and that was the basis of the movie.
MikeK – I read that for many years the Air Force Academy uses that movie as a basis to teach leadership to their cadets.
On the Dambusters – I loved the series Foyle’s War – because while the crimes he has to solve are fictional (as far as I know) the screenwriter used real history as a backdrop.
One of their episodes involved the research center with Barnes Wallis – who after a lot of trial and error, invented the skip-bomb.
“Bradley’s reputation is losing air the past 50 years, as it should.”
Atkinson has not been kind to Bradley in his Liberation trilogy.
“Expect other leftist organizations, like universities, to follow.”
Yeah, because smart people are so stupid.
These people are not stupid but malevolent.
Once upon a time it was “building socialism” now it is “saving the planet”.
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