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02 January 2021


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Rick Merlotti

Fantastic. Thanks for posting. Required reading for ignorant Russophobes.

Patrick Armstrong

You can start a war with Russia, but Russia will probably be the one to finish it.
I often thank that the cannon-founders of France and the banner-makers of Nazi Germany certainly did not expect their products to end up where they did.

Barbara Ann

Absolutely fascinating post, many thanks Harper.

The Oath Not to Surrender Stalingrad with its dirt eating ritual sounds like it could have been written by Tyrtaeus himself - from his wiki:

He [Tyrtaeus] wrote at a time of two crises affecting the city: a civic unrest threatening the authority of kings and elders, later recalled in a poem named Eunomia ('Law and Order') where he reminded citizens to respect the divine and constitutional roles of kings, council, and demos; and the Second Messenian War, during which he served as a sort of 'state poet', exhorting Spartans to fight to the death for their city.

Your final paragraph is particularly interesting - extraordinarily good OPSEC from the Soviets. As a consequence the encirclement of an enemy bent on world domination who viewed them as deplorable untermenschen came as an almost total surprise - even to allied forces.


Thank you Harper and to your friend Steve Douglas for this wonderful Christmas present!

Steve Ogle

Thank You. No words just feelings.


Thanks, well written. i would guess that much of this insight come from the book by Michael K Jones: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005D7FKJG/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

Chuikov was amazing and should have gotten much more recognition in the West. Although he was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross by the US.

BTW that 'hugging the enemy' tactic of Chuikov was copied by Giap and Tran Van Tra and used against us in the Nam.


I often thank that the cannon-founders of France and the banner-makers of Nazi Germany certainly did not expect their products to end up where they did.
Posted by: Patrick Armstrong | 02 January 2021 at 11:28 AM

Slightly cryptic. Cannon founders?


If Hitler had been an American or Canadian, would he have invaded that endless space of Russia?
I think not.
Many Europeans have no concept of the vastness of Russia, Canada,
the US.
If you are in Brussels, you can go to Luxembourg for lunch.

Laura Wilson

Fascinating. Thank you!

Robert G Spenser

That was an incredible read. Thank you for posting it.


A sole line from a college history class well almost 60 years ago always haunted me. "Russian troops would not fight for the Soviet Union, but the tide of WWII was turned when they were rallied to fight for, Mother Russia."

Other details from that lecture are now missing from memory but after reading this superb article, this must have been the very the battle and the very General the college history professor was talking about.

That line stayed with me since at the time we were in the height of the Cold War, and it was comforting to learn the bloodless, automoton "Soviets" could still be sentimental human beings devoted most to their own Mother Russia homeland.

Our college freshman class motto was "Stay Alive til '65", having been the first Duck and Cover generation cowering under our school desks in the 1950's fearing nuclear annihilation was an air raid siren's call away. Ergo, "covid" is piffle.

Thank you for this article.

Patrick Armstrong

Cannons (pedantic note: in those days cannons were "founded")

Andrei Martyanov

The Show Trial purge process which Stalin conducted against the Soviet military from 1937-1939 had virtually decapitated the Red Army. Approximately 50% of the officer corps, including 3 out of 5 marshals, 13 out of 15 army group commanders, 57 out of 85 corps commanders, and 110 out of 195 division commanders were executed, imprisoned, or “discharged” in the purge. Only the ascendancy of General Zhukov and the arrival of Arctic-like temperatures and snowfall in November 1941 stopped the German Army from taking Moscow.

It is a grossly overstated issue, not to mention the actual numbers, which Western historiography prefers to see as 42,000 (a number debunked by leading Russian historians e.g. Evgenyi Spitzin)"purged", while in reality it was around 24,000, with fewer than 6,000 executed. In other words, putting aside political and ideological issue of purges, which did take place, the actual number of "purged" was almost two times smaller, plus out of 18,000 which were not executed, most have been cleared and returned to the Armed Forces either prior or early in Barbarossa, such as Konstantin Rokossovsky. Out of those marshals purged, as an example, after several high level inspections Far Eastern Military District under Uborevich was assessed as militarily dysfunctional while Uborevich, instead of command, was involved into debauchery and process of unbecoming, characteristic of many (not all) Civil War military leaders. RKKA's issues prior to Barbarossa were systemic and had a lot to do with doctrine and manuals changing. RKKA started transition circa 1940 but didn't complete it by 22 June, 1941. While problems connected to "purges" did exist, their scale was much smaller than Western historiography likes to emphasize. Wehrmacht was simply better through 1942.

Andrei Martyanov


A sole line from a college history class well almost 60 years ago always haunted me. "Russian troops would not fight for the Soviet Union, but the tide of WWII was turned when they were rallied to fight for, Mother Russia."

It was more complex than that, much more complex. And that is why Communist Party after the war enjoyed an unprecedented level of trust and legitimacy. Yes, it was about Russia but not only, it was also for the economic and political system by generation which witnessed WW I and saw how it was lost.


Interesting how ideologies easily dissolve when truly pushed to address the higher characteristics of love and the immortality of a people. Nations are built on such things, and yet without real war, or because of the fear to engage in such powerful human ideas, many have forgotten such things and turned to secular misgivings. It is this question, whether we have such devotion today in the political arena.

Pierre Bancel

Although this is a bit dissonant with its inspired tone, this beautiful essay reminds what the caustic blogger Fred Reed said several times, that "military stupidity comes in three grades: ordinarily stupid, really, really, really stupid, and attacking Russia."


First Charles XII
Then Napoleon
Then Hitler


"Insofar as the imperial arrogance of the members of today’s anti-Russia lobby ominously echoes the anti-Soviet arrogance of German political and military strategists in Hitler’s time, they would be well-advised to consider the answers to these questions, before proceeding any further with their dangerous, ill-considered provocations."

I agree that the Russians are still formidable. But how much of a danger are they to us? We do not want to take over their country or annialate them.

It is also interesting that Putin seems unafraid of his own people, as far as I can tell. Why is that? They are getting a rotten deal and if anything it's getting worse, not better. So why is he so sure they won't get fed up and get rid of him?

John Merryman

The whole "land war in Asia" thing.
I've often wondered how much our own strategically inept and vastly expensive prodding at the edges, from Korea to Yemen, has been due to the simple bluster of Washington politics and how much is driven by the fact our financial markets could not function, without massive public debt as the bedrock of investment.
It doesn't take much knowledge of military history to know this level of ineffectiveness could not be tolerated for long, by any other nation in history. Yet the secret sauce of capitalism is public debt backing private wealth. The tool of the markets has become the god of capitalism.
The medium has become the message.
With all due respect for those here, our 'military industrial complex" has become a form of autoimmune disorder.


John, "WAR IS A RACKET", Smedly Butler.
Is also the man that exposed, and therefore stopped, the coup against FDR.
Also you're refering to the current "capitalism".
We were built on "American System Economics".
We need to go back to it.


Jersey city joan,

What possible evidence do you have for your fantasy post about Russia? Russia can anihalate North America in an afternoon.

We antagonise them constantly. Their citizens are aware of our behaviour and stand pretty much unanimously with their government., which by the way, is doing a much better job of governing on behalf of the Russian people than many of the rotten American State Governments .






Of course they can destroy us with nuclear weapons, just as we can destroy them. But do they want to?

I am surprised you feel the Russian government is doing right by its people. I would say the Russians deserve far better than they are getting, in terms of freedom and economic status. As for the American states, some of them could do a lot better but I would not say they do a worse job than Russia.

What do you think of their recent hacking?

John Merryman


I think there is a fundamental tension between government, as the executive and regulatory function of society, essentially its central nervous system and the financial system. Which would be analogous to blood and the circulation system.
Michael Hudson, in his recent book, Forgive Them Their Debts, laid out how this tension played out in the ancient world, as political leaders had to hold social organisms together, while the wealthy would use predatory lending to siphon value out of the social organism, effectively using the medium of exchange they controlled, to siphon value out of the community, creating the habit of debt jubilees, as a way to reset this dynamic. That the title of the book refers to Jesus' original massage, as promoting their return, later co-opted by the Catholic Church, as Forgive them their sins, to guilt people, rather than relieve them.
My larger sense is that many aspects of culture and civilization mimic biological functions, because society evolves under similar constraints as individual organisms. It is just our tendency to get wrapped up in the practices that enable progress and turn them into dogma, tools into gods, the medium of money into the message of the bottom line, etc. which creates these hurdles we eventually have to overcome. Expand, consolidate. Repeat.
What's a few thousand years, when it comes to evolution?


Andrei Martyanov -

I agree with your comment on the purges of much or the leadership of the Red Army. It may have gotten rid of a lot of deadwood.

I have to wonder though how many of those purged had been close to Trotsky, Tukhachevskii, and Yegorov? Or had been involved in the decisive defeat of the Red Army by Pilsudski at Warsaw? Or knew of Stalin's blunders in that war? Or were Jewish? Or Balts? Uborevich was Lithuanian, wasn't he? And AFAIK Uborevich was NOT commander of the Far East Military District. What source do you have for his "debauchery"?

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