And the war drags on, regardless of advanced technology, the strength of a commander or head of state in battle rests with training given to ground-fighting soldiers who are the bedrock defense for a country. Air attacks played a huge part in global conflict during the last century and do so right now. War leaves victims on both sides of the barricades.
One feels compassion for the old babushas who did not start this war, and for parents who receive back from battle their adult children and grandchildren, once gone to be soldiers and now sent home in body bags. Meanwhile, Putin shoveling his infantry into a glow-in-the-dark nuclear wood chipper and bombing a dangerous power plant from ignorance and unconcern is a new low. No medals will be given …but there will be a reckoning at the end, if history serves as instruction.
In the Kremlin, heads have already rolled. Close to 80,000 wounded and dead men now crowd casualty statistics kept by NATO. Many were running the other way. Recalling braver times, the western world is most fortunate that we are not fighting General Patton’s nemesis and Eisenhower’s friend, Marshal Zhukov. Zhukov and his superb field staff and snipers out-maneuvered Hitler’s best strategists, and dug in at Stalingrad like vengeful grizzly bears to win the Eastern front for the Allies of WWII and drive Hitler to suicide.
There was a time, though short, when Russia was our friend. Alas, those real Russian heroes are no longer with us, and their fighting skills and common sense which helped create the new peace after WW II seems completely gone from whatever crazed strategy Putin is dictating from the safety of his Kremlin bomb shelter.
Whether he is more intelligent than the last butcher, Stalin, is a toss-up, and a bet I would not take, for evil has many guises and claims the sanity of many people, sometimes all at once. Stalin produced mass starvation, mostly in Ukraine, during his brutal tenure. Putin rather enjoys stealthily offing those who disagree with him by poison, or – even more fun – the incandescent blast of rocket attacks on hospitals and apartment houses. He does like a good show.
Putin is still adored in Russia, even as the economy there is getting to its last gasp, though he is not sane by any psychiatric standard; one of the core diagnostics for serious mental illness is “I believe I alone am right, and the whole world is mistaken.” Putin fits the diagnosis. So do some westerners, but we aren’t running a huge country, killing kids and parents and torturing prisoners for sport. In all of this, just ask him: Putin is absolutely, why of course he is, “totally right:” another hallmark of genuine crazy. But some cracks in his certitude show. “Understand your enemy” is a primal rule of warfare. He has incredibly misjudged real Ukrainian patriotism and the condemnation of much of the world as well.
Sensing disaster, Russia’s stubby, shifty-eyed Fearless Leader has, by covert info, begun to panic, with reason. He is 40 years older than when he rose from obscurity in the collapsed Communist Party, clawed his way up Russian Federation spy ranks, pausing to gloat and see off the odd victims of his ruthlessness, with zero remorse. By consent of the Russian people (except the 300,000 + who immediately left Russia this spring) Putin has made – and quietly murdered - too many enemies in this ascent and he knows this. The body count is tall and several of his inner circle are quietly scheming to jump ship. His good friend (!) Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovitch was a casualty of Team Putin’s wrath when he tried to broker peace and get his yachts back. He was rewarded with a near-death experience from poisoned tea - a reminder that no one outshines his boss. Too bad he drank the tea.
This is what happens when a career covert operative gets his hands on levers of power over a geographically huge, lumbering nation, despite never having served in the duma, the diplomatic corps, the Russian military or any sort of semi-honorable surface combat. I believe if he were ever tasked with carrying a rifle in a pitched battle, his would be the coattails disappearing over the horizon, and he would scarcely be missed. Meanwhile………….
The Russian army is losing a war and their economy is crashing, and the Russian public, despite vacant grocery shelves, have continued to swallow fantasy and untruth. No one actually in the grinding Russian military machine seriously thinks that any of the mythic greatness promised to enlisted soldiers of All the Russias is going to materialize out of their Ukraine debacle.
An explanation for why Putin and his posse of yes-men seriously think they can destroy from existence the Ukrainian nation goes back to a deep and profoundly fearful awareness of their own vulnerability. True cowards are often bullies, whether in the schoolyard or the Winter Palace. Putin evidently needed some spectacular public restoration of his manhood, and Ukraine emerged in his crosshairs. Wrong fight to pick. The Ukrainians, knowing real freedom, will never surrender it; they will certainly outlast the short, unpleasant gnome in the Kremlin.
Linda Berry is a Northsider.