Follow Dr. Waddy

Submit your email address below to receive updates on new articles, videos, and posts. Don't miss out!

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Russian Steamroller Has Run Out of Gas



Friends, as the media features wall-to-wall coverage of supposed Trump-Russia collusion, and waxes poetic on the perils of Russian imperialism and tyranny, it pays to remind ourselves just how far Russia has fallen since the heady days of Soviet hegemony. In my view, Russia should be taken seriously.  It should be respected, and its limited remaining sphere of influence ought to be avoided by Westerners.  All this is mere prudence, but it doesn't change the fact that Russia today is utterly incapable of world domination.  It can't control U.S. elections, it can't win a low-grade conflict in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, and it can't even begin to compete with the West on an economic or technological plane.  The Left's narrative that the Russians are at the gates is therefore pure drivel.  It should be seen as such, it must be seen as such, before our Russophobic hysteria drives us to provoke Russia in a truly regrettable and counterproductive way.  Russia is not our friend, it's true, but neither must Russia be our enemy.  I, for one, am glad that President Trump has extended the olive branch of peace to President Putin, and I hope that, despite the media's best efforts, he succeeds in improving relations with the Russian Federation.

My latest article addresses Russia's relationship with the West, and the degree to which it is being distorted and misrepresented by leftist propaganda.  Read all about it at Townhall.com:

https://townhall.com/columnists/nicholaswaddy/2018/07/20/three-reasons-why-you-wont-be-speaking-russian-a-year-from-now-n2502037

24 comments:

  1. Dr. Waddy: This a very perceptive article. You're right; only if we imprudently back them into a corner are they a danger to us as they are still technically capable of incalculable destruction. It need not ever happen; President Trump may have exaggerated a bit by saying the Dems want a war with the Bear but they don't mind poking Ivan a bit by knowingly misrepresenting him in order to get at the hated President Trump. Anyone who as a kid pushed the wrong guy into a corner knows how that can turn out. Sure, Putin wanted Trump to win; he was fully aware of one of the old, old fundamental tenets of national leadership - if you want to take the people's minds off what you are doing at home, then promote crises with other countries. He reasonably expected Hillary to pursue a radical leftist domestic agenda and did not want to have to deal with her possibly aggressive attitude toward Russia. Speculation that he was personally miffed at some feckless insult which Hillary supposedly paid him is very doubtful. He couldn't have risen as far as he has by being that small. At any rate, I agree with you that his efforts had no appreciable effect. Hillary herself engineered her defeat.

    I'm fascinated by Russia. Their history and geography, their music and architecture and the little I know of their literature, is very interesting. They've had such a hard time of it and yes, though they have done their neighbors much evil (and suffered intensely), I hoped that in 1991 they had finally caught a break. Maybe, by their lights, they have. We need not clash with them though we probably must play international poker with them. I'm glad President Trump has invited President Putin to the U.S. Trump is probably good poker player; he stings his domestic leftist gadflys especially when he trivializes their passionate concerns and pushes them into emotional farce. Ahhh, FDR sat down and dickered with arguably the most fiendish person ever to "live" - Stalin. Though he was bettered he yet retained his membership in the human race. That Putin has committed human outrage is probably true - look at what Peter the Great did - but much of that was probably done with KGB authority. That the left would carp about that is laughable; they would gladly set up a U.S. chapter anytime.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A sound analysis, Jack. Plenty of leftist dictators have attracted admiration from liberals (including Kim Jong-un when he was insulting Trump!). Putin's reign of terror is also pretty mild compared to many others. Again, one need not LIKE Putin -- but to make him into an international pariah seems grossly overdone.

    I suspect the Russians were as surprised by Trump's victory as everyone else was. I doubt they expected Trump to be so savagely attacked for "collusion" after his victory either. Indeed, the way U.S. democracy has unraveled in the last couple of years must make the Russkies positively giddy!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dr. Waddy: I can't remember having read any account of what Russia thought of our first Civil War. They were involved in the Great Game with Great Britain and had the Brits entered on the side of the Rebs might have considered taking advantage by a thrust at India with its warm weather ports(?) I think a Russian fleet made a flag showing appearance at some American ports just before the war. What do they think of our Civil War II? It could make them think, as many European monarchs thought and hoped during our first Civil War and as Lincoln so brilliantly perceived, that our democracy (which is yet an on going experiment) was discredited thereby. But it wasn't; it was affirmed by the war, as Lincoln so nobly urged it be in that immortal moment at Gettysburg ( if I could choose any historical event to witness, it would be that ).

    Yeah, the Russians had to be surprised by Trump's victory but I cannot think of any other reason they would do mess with our election other than a crude try for a Trump victory or, failing that, to create some kind of hurly burly from which they could benefit somehow. Its a longstanding historical perception that Russia is an insular country, which is not well understood by the world but which, in turn, does not understand the rest of the world. Witness Peter the Great's clumsy, "inconsiderate" (beard cutting) and sometimes murderous efforts to force Western civilization on Deep Russia.

    Despite my faulty grammar, I'm encouraged by your opinion that my observations are solid.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jack, your grammar is impeccable!

    I honestly haven't a clue what the Russians thought of our Civil War. That's a good point to raise. One suspects they had bigger fish to fry. Perhaps, even then, they would have been encouraged when democracy fell on hard times... "I told you so"?

    From Russia's perspective in the here and now, I would think they would assume that anything that brings the U.S. down a peg would tend to raise their status correspondingly. If you think of power politics as a zero sum game, and I suspect the Russians would, it would make sense that their attitude towards us would be one of Schadenfreude writ large.

    Your observation that the Russians have a history of misunderstanding the world is a sound one too. If they were smart, they would probably admit to interfering with our election, apologize, and promise to play nice in the future. That would take a lot of heat off Trump, as well as US-Russian relations. It seems to me that sometimes the Russians over-commit to obvious lies.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dr. Waddy: I don't doubt for a minute that a near absolutist monarchy like that of Russia would have welcomed the demise of the American democratic experiment. Good point about a possible Russian mea culpa now though. It may well have been negotiated, though perhaps not to a conclusion, in that oh so dreaded by the left private conversation our President had with President Putin. And it may be on the agenda in the upcoming reunion. When Krushchev surrealistically visited the U. S. in, I think, 1958, he engaged in the "Kitchen Debate" with Vice President Nixon, ostensibly over differing U.S. - Soviet living standards. But it gave the Russian premier a chance to size up Nixon and might, I think, have headed off the Cuban Missile Crisis had Nixon been elected.

    Its very interesting to consider the conversations Russian diplomats such as Molotov, Mikoyan (actually a Vice Premier) (his visit to the U.S. was very big news in about 1959 or '60 before the summit ending U-2 shootdown as I remember) and Dobrynin had with their bosses before departing the hellish world of the Kremlin and interacting with people from what amounted to another planet. The Russians may still be learning how to deal with us and Trump presents them with new problems.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dr. Waddy: As for the joy experienced by witnessing the misfortunes of opponents encompassed by the definition of "schadenfreude", the Russians may well take heart from this perception. Its best for us, I think, though, to consider their 20th century history, which we must not ignore. Is it possible that they actually think we are capable of savaging them, through NATO, as the Germans did? For them, this is a prime consideration. Can we blame them for considering the possibility? Look at our 19th century history in the West, that of the French and Belgians in Africa,of the Turks in Armenia. Why should we assume they think better of us? We have wised up I think and are now the flag which sets you free but should we expect them to bet all, as they see it, on our good will? Their insularity may prevent them from perceiving present day realities but a clear perception on our part of their viewpoint can only benefit us.

    ReplyDelete
  7. A superb point, Jack: the Russians have good historical reasons to fear the West, and to doubt that we are as civilized as we claim. Of course, it's not 1941, but the only rational reason to push NATO ever eastward is to freeze the Russians out of the areas they once dominated. NATO is, in essence, an anti-Russian alliance, and the Russians must surely see it as such.

    Luckily, the Russians are not as isolated as they were in Soviet days, but you're right that the Trump phenomenon must make us extra inscrutable. Presumably the Russians expected Hillary to win -- and to do nothing of substance in response to their meddling. After all, once she ascended the throne, what would she care about a little Wikileaking here and there? Then again, perhaps Hillary would have been the Russians' worst nightmare, and the world would have run red with the blood of all who dared offend her... Luckily we'll never know!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Dr.Waddy: They know we wouldn't send in the SS but they may fear that we would use nuclear weapons. At one time late in the 20th century, I believe our Navy pursued the (I think it was called "Forward Strategy"), which called for our carriers, which carry nukes, to go right into the Baltic, as I remember reading about it in Naval Institute Proceedings. Perhaps they remember what we did when MacArthur turned the tide in Korea with the Inchon victory and proceeded to conquer the would be conquerors. We must always stay strong should they threaten but they surely have suffered and must be expected to have been marked by it.

    I think Hillary has had one thing on her mind all her political life; a totalitarian leftist America birthed by her. Would she have confronted Northern hemisphere male dominated Russia? Probably gladly, if she saw it serving that end. Besides, she and Bill stood thereby to kill and maim alot of the military for which they have always harbored such "loathing".

    ReplyDelete
  9. I agree, Jack, that US-Russia relations wouldn't have been warm under Hillary, but then again you might ask: what do the Russians have on the Clintons??? One never knows. My guess is that President Billary, if it was of a mind to pursue foreign adventures, would have chosen a softer target than Russia. Another Haiti invasion perhaps? That's more their style.

    As far as nukes go, I would say in this day and age a "forward strategy" vis-a-vis the placement of nukes is fairly irrelevant. Mutually assured destruction still applies, and whether the nukes that incinerate you travel 50 miles or 5000 is academic...

    ReplyDelete
  10. Dr.Waddy: Mutual assured destruction has still to be a very plausible doctrine. It was not stated as such in the early '60's as I remember but it had to have been in the mind and heart of Krushchev, who had been at Stalingrad. There have been times since when it has been theorized that some Russian planners have considered the possibility that a nuclear war could be winnable. Don't know if that view has purchase within present day Russian leadership. If it does, then the NATO delivery system might be considered critical.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Dr. Waddy: One other thing I was thinking of. How many electoral votes did any Communist Party of the USA candidate ever garner? And we know that party was supported by the USSR. AHHH, they don't understand our politics much more than we do theirs. They bumbled with our election just to create truck and in that they did succeed, though perhaps not to their advantage.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Quite, Jack! Their electoral subterfuge has boomeranged on them in spectacular fashion. Of course, it's possible that the Wikileaks business really did cost Hillary the election. If so, then it was presumably worth the cost for Russia.

    True -- some believe nuclear war is winnable, a la Dr. Strangelove. No sane person seems willing to test the theory, however, so I'd say MAD is still effectively unquestioned. Now, nuclear war with China or North Korea is a somewhat different kettle of fish...

    ReplyDelete
  13. Dr. Waddy: Mao Tse Tung thought that a nuclear attack on China would be futile. It may have freed him in his mind to massively confront us in Korea. He believed, probably rightly so, according to all I learned in Chinese studies, that China was fundamentally and deeply rural. His main and successful strategy for taking China, after he moved his base to the north, in the old, old Shensi Province, was to base his power in the countryside. So he thumbed his nose at American nuclear power. Certainly Chinese cities have taken on far greater significance in the time since 1950 but could China survive an all out (nonetheless very unlikely)nuclear exchange now? They may think they could. But, I still think the most likely setting for a nuclear set-to with them would be at sea, near the Chinese mainland and its possible neither homeland would be hit. Its possible that after such a showdown, each side would recoil. North Korea? Hard to say - we did get good news this week but they'll still probably hold on to a few nukes for what they may regard as insurance. They are another insular nation with, perhaps, not a sound grasp of the dynamics of the outside world. Saddam Hussein thought planting a few 1950's vintage Scuds on Tel Aviv would save his bacon.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Jack, you may be right that China would survive a nuclear attack, in some form, but the life of the survivors wouldn't be a pleasant one.

    I can see why Mao felt that way in 1950 -- our nukes then were comparatively few and under-powered -- but nowadays I still believe that, for all practical purposes, no major country can accept being on the receiving end of a nuclear attack. You're right that the potential for limited, tactical nuclear strikes exists, but it would take a lot of moxie to try it.

    My point re: China was more that, if WE mounted a first strike on China, we might believe we could escape with minimal damage to ourselves -- even no retaliation against the US mainland. The more they upgrade their arsenal, though, the less plausible that theory will be.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Dr. Waddy: I think I see your point on China and its very plausible. In having referred to Mao and the Communists having repaired to the North, I was speaking of 1927 and the "Long March", the truly epic 6000 mile trek of some 80,000 ( of whom only 20,000 survived)from the Shanghai area to the "Caves of Yenan" where they regrouped and fought the murderous Japanese with far more success than did Chiang. (In referring to this I do not presume that you are not fully acquainted with it). After that experience Mao was probably unimpressed by anything, even the explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If only he had fallen in 1949; he was a brilliant military man but a tragically misguided nation builder - the latter naturally, he was a Marxist (with some modifications).

    ReplyDelete
  16. Jack, it's one of history's great tragedies that the communists were allowed to conquer China in 1949. Talk about a setback for containment! I'm sure many great books have been written about how communism was reconfigured to align with Chinese culture, but nonetheless -- Marxism is never to be celebrated. If China had remained under nationalist rule, it's interesting to speculate on what the country would be like today...

    ReplyDelete
  17. Dr. Waddy: I took history of China after 1949 from Dr.Ray Huang, who, in addition to having been a Nationalist officer, aided Dr. Joseph Needham in his monumental work Science and Civilization in China. I remember him saying in class: " We Nationalists were not opposed to change in China but we truly did not realize how much change was required" " You must realize that a nation must hit rock bottom before revolution can come". He was at that time (1975), I believe, persona non grata in Marxist China. The 20th century of course offers many examples of where legitimate concerns were hijacked by murderous doctrinaire Marxists like Mao or Pol Pot.

    I think the Nationalists were, in the end, feckless and they murdered some many thousands of Taiwanese, in short order, when they crossed. That of course, is numerically small compared to the toll of the sociopathic commies on the mainland. The consequent attention paid to those in our State Dep't who harbored and promoted romantic sympathy for Mao and his executioners, was deserved.Marxism has proven an unalloyed evil.

    ReplyDelete
  18. All true, Jack, and yet there is still no stigma in leftist circles to admiring Marxist luminaries like Mao, Lenin, and Castro. It's as if cutting a million throats is a mere slip of the wrist, when one's ideals are "pure"...

    ReplyDelete
  19. Dr. Waddy: And it shows them for just what they are - just as similar allegiance to the equally subhuman Nazi heritage would place anyone beyond the pale. I just finished reading a brief biography of Khrushchev; Gads, I didn't know about all the murder he was involved in. He did deliver the USSR from Stalin but its daunting to think of him face to face with humans like Nixon and Kennedy. Imagine what was going through K's mind in the "kitchen debate" with Nixon.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Jack, I assume many Russian communists were so isolated from reality that they actually believed their own propaganda. Witnessing the USA firsthand, as Khrushchev did, must have been a rude awakening!

    And yes, he was knee-deep in the blood of the Purges. As he must have seen it at the time, what choice did he have?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Dr. Waddy: Oh, yes, the biography confirms that; had Stalin thought him at all deviant K would have been toast. This is the world leftists always create when they have full sway. Their fundamental idealism enables them to envision and countenance unthinkable things and when they get the power . . . ! It destroys some of them but the real sociopaths thrive on it. Some of them are in the present day American left.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Jack, the casual barbarity of Stalinism is truly chilling. One wonders what Marx would have made of it. For his sake, it's just as well that he bit the dust long before 1917.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Dr. Waddy: From what I've read, Marx grew up in grinding, dehumanizing poverty. Would that he had never been born. I'm going to guess that he cannot have known for what subhuman uses his writings would be employed. Yes, there was the example of the French Revolution but had its lessons been fully digested in his time? And could this intellectual holding forth in a great library have envisioned what incalculable evil he was inspiring? I think Stalin would have made of a living Marx an object of sadistic fun after a time.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Jack, I thought Marx grew up in middle class circumstances, but I must admit that I'm no expert on Marx, Lenin, or any communist luminary. But I suspect you're right that someone like Marx, the epitome of the detached intellectual, could never have imagined the real world consequences of his own ramblings. I swear, sometimes the power of the written or spoken word amazes me... It can't override human nature, but it sure can unleash it in dramatic fashion.

    ReplyDelete