Streetwise Professor

January 12, 2010

Every Word a Lie, Including “And” and “The”

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 8:34 pm

Moscow Region Governor Boris Gromov and the Russian Federation’s Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin published an oped in the NYT today.  It is a farrago of tendentious falsehoods.  Not that one should be surprised, considering the source.

A few of the lowlights:

  • Gromov and Rogozin state that the Soviet army “accomplished its tasks” and did not make “a shameful escape accompanied by the hooting of the mjahadeen.”  They further state that this was “unlike the US in Viet Nam,” thereby insinuating that the US (a) did not accomplish its tasks, and (b) fled, tail between its legs, with the hoots of the NVA ringing it its ears.  False.  No, I let me rephrase that.  BULLSHIT.  That’s better.  Fact: virtually all US troops had withdrawn from Viet Nam by 1973, having accomplished its tasks far better than the Soviet Army did, having destroyed the Viet Cong in Tet in 1968 and secured a far more stable situation on the ground throughout South Viet Nam than the Soviets ever did in Afghanistan.  Indeed, most US ground troops were gone by 1972, and the ARVN defeated the NVA’s Eastertide Offensive with virtually no US ground support, but with considerable help from US airpower.  Airpower that Congress prevented the US from using when the NVA attacked again in 1975.  If GR are interested in some, you know, real history, I suggest Lewis Sorley’s A Better War.  (Instead of doing bongs with Oliver Stone, which appears to be how they learned their Viet Nam War history.)
  • They state that the Soviet army fought “against the fathers of today’s Taliban militants face-to-face, whereas Western armies prefer to fight from the air.”  Facts: (a) the Soviets employed airpower extensively (indeed, the tide turned primarily because the provision of Stinger AA missiles sharply limited the Soviet ability to use airpower, especially helicopters), (b) the US military (and other NATO forces, especially the British, Australians, Canadians, and French) have gone “face-to-face” against the Taliban, drug lords, Al Qaeda elements, etc., on numerous occasions.
  • RG shed crocodile tears for Afghan civilians, blaming the NATO/American reliance on airpower for “tragic mistakes that kill and wound civilians” and “the suffering of civilians.”  No mention of civilian casualties resulting from Soviet action.  Facts: (a) yes, there are tragic mistakes, but they are just that, mistakes, (b) the US/NATO rely heavily on precision munitions and have restrictive rules of engagement that sharply reduce civilian death tolls, (c) the Soviets did not use precision munitions, employed airpower and artillery indiscriminately, and did not have restrictive rules of engagement, thereby killing large numbers of civilians.  Not to mention that the USSR and its Afghan allies employed mines promiscuously, resulting in massive human carnage, especially among children, whereas US/NATO forces do not.  The mines continued to kill long after the last Soviet soldier turned his back on Afghanistan.  There is no doubt that the Soviets inflicted far more casualties on civilians than has US/NATO.  If you want an indication of the effects of the two wars on civilians, look at the flow of humanity: refugees left in droves during the Soviet invasion, and returned in droves after the US routed the Taliban.  There has been no mass exodus since the US invaded in October, 2001.
  • Gromov and Rogozin break their arms patting themselves on the back for the Soviet’s being “the first to defend Western civilization against the attacks of Muslim fanatics.”  In fact, the initial Soviet invasion had nothing to do with “Muslim fanatics.”  If anything, the Soviet invasion catalyzed Muslim fanaticism, and its militarization–admittedly with the assistance of the US in the 1980s.  But no Soviet invasion, and that wouldn’t have happened either.  To portray the Soviet invasion as some sort of attack against Islamic fanaticism on behalf of the Western world (a sort of reprise of the meme in which Russia saved the West by absorbing the attention of the Mongols and bearing the Tatar Yoke) is a sick joke.  It was a Cold War power play, pure and simple.
  • They claim that Russia is “ready to help NATO implement its UN Security Council Mandate in Afghanistan” and insist that NATO troops stay in the country “until the necessary conditions are provided to establish stable local authorities.”  Help, my foot.  Is a sincere desire to help NATO why Russia tried to bribe Kyrgyzstan to deny NATO the use of the Manas Airbase that it used to supply the Afghan mission?  Russian logistical assistance for the NATO mission has been niggardly, slow–and sold in an extremely mercenary fashion.  (I’m sure the latter is a big surprise to y’all.)

I could go on, but I’ll do my blood pressure a favor.

The post title is something of an exaggeration, because there are, in fact, two true sentences in this screed: “withdrawl without victory might cause a political collapse in Western security structures.  This troubles Russia far less than the consequences for the region itself.”  I’ll bet.

I understand that this is an oped, by high officials of a member of the UN Security Council.  But doesn’t the NYT have any standards whatsoever?  Will they publish anything, no matter how flagrantly false, as long as it is penned by government officials?  This piece is as outrageous as one would expect from Kim Jong Il or Hugo Chavez–or Soviet propagandists.  Which is revealing in its own way.

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28 Comments »

  1. * Did Zbig lure the bear into a trap or not? BTW, “we saved the West from communism in 1920, the Mongols in 1250” is a common Polish fantasy.
    * The USSR got by without Warpac cannon fodder. Withdrew in good order, no rooftop helicopters needed. The DRA held on for 4 years until all assistance was withdrawn. Why did South Vietnam fold like a cheap suit?
    * The introduction of stingers forced the Soviets to switch to higher altitude bombing. Does wonders for precision. What MANPADS do the ragheads have now?
    * NATO seems to be primarily concerned with facades like “free” elections. The Soviets were actually trying to lift Afghanistan into modernity. Elections aren’t much use when you can’t read and write. This requires greater engagement in the countryside. Not turning a blind eye to smack growing on the doorstep of your barracks and such.

    Comment by So? — January 13, 2010 @ 12:39 am

  2. When comparing longevity after the given power withdrew its forces, Najibullah’s government lasted a bit longer than the South Vietnamese regime.

    The former was able to forge a degree of cooperation with some of the forces who fought the Soviets. The latter didn’t experience such with the VC and North Vietnamese.

    Agent Orange and un-exploded land mines in Southeast Asia are part of the tragic American experience in that part of the world.

    The forces fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan were a mixed bag. Some of them were quite crude. The more enlightened among them did reach some agreement with the Soviets and their Afghan ally.

    So?, the manner of the reactionary Pilsudski helped pave the way for a Bolshevik victory on much of the former Russian Empire territory.

    Comment by jojo — January 13, 2010 @ 1:10 am

  3. The truth is US and USSR didn’t achieve anything in their wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan. The side they both were against came out as a winner. Besides there is no such a thing a precision munition. If a predator drone fires into a house full of people it wastes not only the insurgent but also his family and visitors.

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — January 13, 2010 @ 9:04 am

  4. Agree.

    Comment by jojo — January 13, 2010 @ 10:51 am

  5. I don’t agree with you. Much of what was said by Rogozin and Gromov is true.

    Comment by jamie — January 13, 2010 @ 11:24 am

  6. LEOS #3:

    Are you troubled by the civilian casualities inflicted by Russia upon Georgia when Russian forces illegally crossed the Georgian border and struck numerous targets in Georgia outside of Ossetia and Abkhazia, killing many civilians?

    If so, did you ever speak out about the issue, critizing the Russian government for murdering innocent Georgians?

    I’d also like to point out a logical fault in your “analysis.” If US surveillance technology shows what people a house is full of, and that they don’t include any innocent visitors or family, then no such persons are killed when the buildin is bombed.

    Comment by La Russophobe — January 13, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

  7. What about the South Ossetian casualties that happened BEFORE the Russian counter-attack against the Goetgian government strike?

    Did LR speak out against that?

    It’s no small wonder why some have characterized “whataboutism” in the way that they’ve chosen.

    Comment by jojo — January 13, 2010 @ 1:15 pm

  8. LaRussophobe, do you really believe the DoD and CIA care about some villagers getting wasted? It is not apparent that CIA has any reliable intelligence what so ever given the latest attack on its employees in Afghanistan. So your assumptions are based on blind faith in the goodness of good old US of A. That said, I believe the entire war in Afghanistan is pointless, whatever methods the international force uses. You will not see me criticise the international forces for their methods, only their objectives. Now, that cannot be said of Russian campaign in Georgia. Russia did cross into Georgia to destroy bases from which attack on South Ossetia was launched, the mission had clear objectives.

    Civilians were certainly killed, its war get over it! Mission was accomplished and there are no Russian forces stationed outside South Ossetia and Abkhazia today.

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — January 13, 2010 @ 1:29 pm

  9. Btw, La Russophobe would you criticise Georgian side for indiscriminate killing of Ossetians? I guess not…

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — January 13, 2010 @ 1:31 pm

  10. … You will not see me criticise the international forces for their methods, only their objectives. Now, that cannot be said of Russian campaign in Georgia. Russia did cross into Georgia to destroy bases from which attack on South Ossetia was launched, the mission had clear objectives.

    That’s a circular argument. How do we know what the initial objectives were? Weren’t taking Tbilisi and toppling Saakashvili among those objectives? Do you know something Monsieurs Sarkozy and Kouchner don’t?

    Comment by peter — January 13, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

  11. Oops, that’s Messieurs.

    Comment by peter — January 13, 2010 @ 3:29 pm

  12. If the Russians had that in their objectives why didn’t they continue to Tbilisi they would not march on Gori and Poti but straight to Tbilisi and hang Saakashvili on a lamp using his tie as a rope. Did that happen? There were of course paranoid fears in the West that it might happen, but it didn’t.

    So why then, if the Russians had all the opportunity to do so, did it not happen?

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — January 13, 2010 @ 4:10 pm

  13. If the Russians had that in their objectives why didn’t they continue to Tbilisi…

    Because, according to the French, Kouchner got to Tbilisi just in time to cool everybody down a bit.

    … hang Saakashvili on a lamp using his tie as a rope…

    You watch too much Russia Today.

    … So why then, if the Russians had all the opportunity to do so, did it not happen?

    That’s the same circular argument. See above.

    Comment by peter — January 13, 2010 @ 4:46 pm

  14. This thread has veered a little off course, so I will limit my response to issues related directly to Afghanistan:

    1. That “Najibullah’s government lasted a bit longer” than the RVN is irrelevant to my criticism of Rogozin’s drool, which clearly insinuated that the NVA entered RVN on the heels of a retreating American army, in contrast to the orderly withdrawal of Soviet forces. This is a complete crock. I would also note that the RVN succumbed to a massive conventional attack by an army generously supplied by the USSR, not overthrow by a ragged group of religious fanatics.
    2. The RVN did establish a modus vivendi with some former opposition elements. The VC were essentially destroyed during Tet, and most units that were nominally VC were actually manned by NVA personnel. And what inferences are we to draw from the fact that the RVN did not reach a rapprochement with PRVN? The inference I draw is that the latter was hell-bent on subjugating the former.
    3. Stipulated that Agent Orange, and civilian casualties caused by US forces generally, were a tragic result of the outcome of the war. But Gromov and Rogozin said nothing about civilian casualties in Viet Nam. They mentioned–twice–civilian casualties in Afghanistan in an article comparing and contrasting US/NATO and Soviet experiences there. They repeatedly tout the exemplary behavior of the Soviet military in Afghanistan, and slag NATO/US. If there’s was a serious effort to provide a balanced appraisal, they wouldn’t have been silent on the civilian toll of Soviet actions. They were, which is just one of the more egregious examples of one-sided, distorted portrayals in this piece.

    Jamie: try some specifics.

    Re Pilsudski. In fact, he did play a decisive role in the Red victory in the Civil War. When Denikin was advancing north, and making considerable progress against the Red Army, the Poles could have attacked the Reds’ undefended rear, and likely decided the war in the Whites’ favor. But the Whites’ insistence on maintaining the Russian Empire, and Polish suspicion of Russian royalists generally, induced them to stay their hand. This permitted the Reds to rally, and defeat Denikin.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 13, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

  15. No on the last point. The Whites recognized Polish independence. The documentation is very clear. You’re quite right that the outcome of the Russian Civil War might’ve changed with Pilsudski’s support for Denikin during the latter’s advance on Moscow. Later on, when the Reds advanced on Warsaw, Pilsudski opened up a bit in his anti-Russian attitudes; for the purpose of having the Reds focus elsewhere besides Warsaw.

    The South Vietnamese government and Najibullah, had sizeable supplies after their respective super power withdrew. Conversely, they faced a well supplied rival.

    Comment by jojo — January 13, 2010 @ 5:49 pm

  16. “Are you troubled by the civilian casualities inflicted by Russia upon Georgia when Russian forces illegally crossed the Georgian border and struck numerous targets in Georgia outside of Ossetia and Abkhazia, killing many civilians?”

    Phoby, Phoby, Phoby…

    Actually, the Russian operation subsequent to loony Saak’s criminal initiation of hostilities against the Russian Army was remarkable for killing only 66 more Georgian civilians than Georgian soldiers in high-intensity conventional combat. For instance, during the Kosovo war, NATO killed between 750 and 5,200 more Yugoslav civilians than Yugoslav soldiers, and in 2006 Israel’s operation in Lebanon killed almost 1,200 civilians, almost 5 times as many civilians as Hezbullah fighters.

    And did the Russian Army use white phosphorous artillery rounds in a densely populated area like the IDF did?

    Didn’t think so.

    “That’s a circular argument. How do we know what the initial objectives were? Weren’t taking Tbilisi and toppling Saakashvili among those objectives?”

    No indication of it, since the Georgian Army was put to flight, and the Russian Army did not pursue to complete the destruction of that rabble, merely stopping at Gori and the vicinity to wreck the facility from which the 7 August Georgian attack loony Saak ordered was launched.

    You on the other hand have not the slightest evidence that the Russian objectives ever included taking Tbilisi.

    Comment by rkka — January 13, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

  17. God bless Kouchner, he saved the day 🙂 The tie scene I think aired on BBC 🙂

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — January 13, 2010 @ 6:54 pm

  18. The Gipper tore down the Wall. Gore invented the Internet. Kouchner saved Georgia. Obama makes the sun rise.

    Comment by So? — January 13, 2010 @ 7:47 pm

  19. No indication of it…

    Except common sense, of course.

    You on the other hand have not the slightest evidence…

    That’s shifting the burden of proof.

    Comment by peter — January 13, 2010 @ 8:15 pm

  20. “That’s shifting the burden of proof.”

    The phrasing of your question was asking him to prove a negative, which is logically impossible. Slimy move there.

    Further, it carried an assumption that it was indeed an objective of the Russian operation, for which the burden of proof is on you.

    Comment by rkka — January 13, 2010 @ 9:50 pm

  21. @peter,
    Prove that you are not a horse.

    Comment by So? — January 13, 2010 @ 10:07 pm

  22. “In fact, the initial Soviet invasion had nothing to do with “Muslim fanatics.”

    Obviously you’ve never heard of the Herat massacre, in March 1979. Though John Yoo would probably approve of the death by torture of Soviet military advisors and aid personnel.

    Comment by rkka — January 14, 2010 @ 5:46 am

  23. There’re elements in the US and Russia who look for ways to differentiate between the two countries in a way that downplays some of the similarities.

    RKKA touches on a point I raised at this thread about how the anti-Soviet Afghans were a mixed bag. This includes some fundamentalist/terrorist aspects among them.

    Comment by jojo — January 14, 2010 @ 8:15 am

  24. … to prove a negative, which is logically impossible.

    That’s pseudo-logical mumbo-jumbo, it’s useless outside the debate about Santa’s existence.

    Further, it carried an assumption…

    One point at a time, please. We’ll talk about my assumptions when we are done with Leos’.

    Comment by peter — January 14, 2010 @ 8:22 am

  25. “That’s pseudo-logical mumbo-jumbo, it’s useless outside the debate about Santa’s existence.”

    No, it’s calling you out on a slimy rhetorical move.

    “One point at a time, please. We’ll talk about my assumptions when we are done with Leos’.”

    People who make slimy rhetorical moves don’t get to hide behind them to set the order of debate.

    Comment by rkka — January 14, 2010 @ 5:51 pm

  26. Peter still has not provided proof that he is not a horse. Thus I conclude that Peter is a horse, with internet access albeit.

    Comment by So? — January 14, 2010 @ 7:07 pm

  27. … rhetorical move… order of debate…

    What debate? Don’t flatter yourself, from what I’ve seen so far you seem to be incapable of even formulating a concise meaningful point, let alone defending it civilly.

    Comment by peter — January 15, 2010 @ 6:28 am

  28. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2010/0115/breaking65.htm

    Trigger happy GIs…

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — January 15, 2010 @ 3:57 pm

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