Streetwise Professor

October 17, 2013

The Russian Army’s New Recruiting Ploy: Subjecting Defenseless Dogs to Dedovshchina

Filed under: Military,Russia — The Professor @ 9:17 pm

I’ve written often before of the Russian military’s software problem, or meatware problem if you will: its inability to attract or dragoon  sufficient numbers of physically and mentally fit individuals to the ranks.  Between a demographic deficit and the assiduous efforts of anyone with half a wit to escape the draft, the Russian military is undermanned, and those men are disproportionately physical or mental weaklings.

If you want an indication of how desperate they’ve become, the military has announced it will now allow recruits to bring their pet dogs into service with them, if the dogs can be trained to perform tasks useful to the Army.

This is manipulative and cruel and sick.  This is the army of dedovshchina: the institutionalized abuse of new recruits by those who have been in the service a mere few months more.  Those recruits foolish enough to bring their pets along will have to watch those pets be abused and tortured by sadistic “grandfathers” who will engage in such depravity as a part of their efforts to terrorize their subordinates.

It will happen.  You know it will.  As LaRussophobe says: there’s sick, and there’s Russian sick.

But the military with the software problem continues to indulge its hardware fantasies.  Like building multiple aircraft carrier groups centered around nuclear powered flattops.  This from a country that couldn’t even recondition its existing carrier (the Gorshkov, which the Indians were foolish enough to buy) without running years beyond schedule and billions over budget.

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  1. Rogozin and Sechin will simply demand one be commissioned as the Putin. Theft will be a problem on this ship.

    Comment by pahoben — October 18, 2013 @ 10:29 am

  2. It’s not just the conversion of Gorshkov that makes interesting reading. It took four years to build, and a further five to get it into commission in 1987, but then after only six years of service, a boiler room explosion put it out of action for over a year, and it then served for an additional year before being offered for sale in 1996. It then took eight years to get India to buy it.

    So this ship has seven years total service, in its thirty five years of existence. No Western Navy would even remotely tolerate that kind of waste. The fact that the USSR did tolerate it indicates that this was just yet another Potemkin project, a ship built for appearances and to keep up with the Joneses, not as a serious element of sea power.

    Comment by jon livesey — October 18, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

  3. @jon-yup. All true. And the Gorshkov was built when the Soviet shipbuilding industry was pretty decent, as compared to the complete shambles that is United Shipbuilding. The idea that they can build even one CVN now is farcical. (Did you see the story about the newest attack sub, which is apparently a disaster?)

    And even if they get one built, they won’t know how to operate it. The US has built up carrier operational experience over almost 100 years. It’s not something you can learn overnight.

    And just what would the mission be?

    Yes. A Potemkin project. But that’s what they do, isn’t it?

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 18, 2013 @ 10:54 pm

  4. That’s a risky move indeed. Unlike the Russian recruits, the dogs have multiple international organization dedicated to ensuring their decent treatment.

    Comment by Ivan — October 19, 2013 @ 12:35 am

  5. @Ivan. But they would all be treated as foreign agents. (The organizations, not the dogs.)

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 19, 2013 @ 6:58 am

  6. @jon. And the Russians are thinking of getting rid of their one remaining carrier, such as it is.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 19, 2013 @ 9:20 am

  7. Thanks for the pointer to the stories. I find the Russian defence plans quite puzzling and unconvincing. Here is a nation with a GDP about 80% that of the UK, and they claim plans to build up to ten attack submarines at a cadence of one per year, plus a class of nuclear powered carriers, and the planes to go with them, and all the required sensors, missiles, propulsion and defensive weapons. And they are doing most of the development by themselves – they have some joint projects going in aircraft – while Europe already spreads its defence equipment across four or five countries that collectively have a GDP about four times that of Russia. It’s as if there is no one authority that can connect the budget to the military plans and make things fit. People in the UK have conniptions every time there is another Defence Review, but the hard decisions get made and the country ends up with a balanced force projection ability that costs about 2.5% of GDP, while Russia spends 4.5% and struggles to complete projects.

    I think that Russia will run into the problems of “We can only afford one fighter” a lot sooner than either the US or Europe.

    Comment by jon livesey — October 19, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

  8. @jon. I agree totally. Putin’s naval obsession is particularly bizarre. Maybe he thinks he’s the second coming of Peter I.

    More seriously, he apparently has dreams of making Russia a world power again, with the ability to project power globally, and thus has identified the Navy as his re-armament priority. Russia’s geographic conditions make that difficult to achieve as it is. But as you note, navies are expensive and what’s more, Russia has not been able to deliver on major naval projects since the USSR collapsed. Putin created the United Shipbuilding monstrosity, and it is completely incapable of delivering anything on time, on budget, and of any quality.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 19, 2013 @ 7:04 pm

  9. Russia’s geographic conditions make that difficult to achieve as it is.

    Not true. According to some experts in the field, the melting of the polar icecaps within the next few years will catapult Russia into a global power and open up endless possibilities for Russia’s bluewater navy potential. Perhaps Putin has been listening to them?

    Comment by Tim Newman — October 19, 2013 @ 9:18 pm

  10. ObamaCare will make the Russian Navy look like a shimmering success in just a few more months!


    Comment by ObamaPutin — October 19, 2013 @ 10:21 pm

  11. @Tim. You mean experts like S/O?

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 19, 2013 @ 10:39 pm

  12. Meantime, on the ground… Russia is currently forced to top into its reserve fund to guarantee basic operations and avert the city of Moscow’s factual bankruptcy among others…

    Comment by MJ — October 20, 2013 @ 1:09 am

  13. To tap, that is…but given that there is someone to keep a tab of my spelling errors, we are safe here 😉

    Comment by MJ — October 20, 2013 @ 4:27 am

  14. >(The organizations, not the dogs.)

    On a second thought, this smells a lot like an omission if not outright sabotage. I mean, no questions about some borzoi with checked pedigree, but how can a German Shepherd ever be trusted?

    Comment by Ivan — October 20, 2013 @ 4:56 am

  15. @MJ. Have a link re tapping into reserve fund/Moscow bankruptcy?

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 20, 2013 @ 8:17 pm

  16. “According to some experts in the field, the melting of the polar icecaps within the next few years will catapult Russia into a global power and open up endless possibilities for Russia’s bluewater navy potential.”

    I find that hard to believe. The opening of the ice passage solves just one of Russia’s basic naval problems, which is the time it takes to transfer shipd from European to Asian waters, or vice versa.

    But it does nothing for the other problems: the cost of a Navy when your GDP is about the size of Italy’s, or 20% less than that of the UK. The poor educational quality of recruits. An incompetent Naval construction industry that takes twenty years to build an attack submarine the Navy still won’t accept into service, and which managed to keep an Aircraft Carrier in service for just seven of its thirty five year life. And I guess it would be tasteless to mention the Kursk.

    Russians are a great people, but they are now facing really nasty economic problems. Their population peaked around 1990 and is now down about five percent from there. They have to amortize the cost of defence projects over a GDP that is a seventh that of the US or a sixth that of the eurozone. And there are competing demands for the money, since Russia is no longer a pure command economy, and Russia needs to spend sizeable amounts on education and health care, with a life expectancy at birth of 68 years, compared to 80 in the UK, largely due to poor treatment of preventable and communicable diseases, such as drug resistant TB.

    Every country is entitled to defend itself, but Russia really has to ask what benefits a World Power class defence would actually bring to them. No-one is proposing to invade Russia, although I am sure the Chinese would not mind leasing part of Siberia. It’s all a bit like watching a broke neighbour buy a flashy car so as to look a bit less broke.

    Comment by jon livesey — October 20, 2013 @ 8:22 pm

  17. @jon. I am pretty sure Tim was being sarcastic.

    Agree with all your points. I’d add a few others.

    1. Reduced ice in the Arctic would probably benefit the US more than the Russians. It would make it easier for the bigger, better US Navy to access the Arctic waters adjacent to Russia. Perhaps that’s why Putin is paranoid about the Arctic, and desirous to expand his navy to protect that region, but ice is a far better barrier than anything United Shipbuilding can construct.

    2. Even if relatively ice free, the Arctic region will still be virtually unpopulated. Yes, maybe some energy development in the region, but there’s really nothing and nobody to project power on in that region.

    3. An ice free Arctic will have little effect on Russia’s ability to project power in the Middle East, East Asia, SE Asia, SW Asia or Africa, let alone anywhere in the Western Hemisphere.

    Overall, Putin’s ambitions to be a global power are delusional. Geographic and economic limitations make such ambitions unachievable.

    And even if they were achievable, what would be the point? Other than to gratify other delusions, namely, Putin’s delusions of grandeur?

    Hell, Russia’s position as a regional power is precarious. Ukraine is slipping away. Putin has to work hard to maintain dominance over the ‘Stans.

    What idiocy.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 20, 2013 @ 9:08 pm

  18. @Professor Unfortunately now. In fact it is an insider “hush-hush” communication.

    Comment by MJ — October 20, 2013 @ 9:22 pm

  19. That is no… 🙂

    Comment by MJ — October 20, 2013 @ 9:27 pm

  20. Thanks, MJ. I’ll wait to see when your inside info becomes public 😉

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 20, 2013 @ 9:37 pm

  21. @Professor You will be waiting and waiting for a very long time as it concerns to publicity. 🙂 While there may be a publication or two on that subject, there will be a positive spin on it. However, Moscow doesn’t even have the budget to buy the usual salt and other chemicals to prepare in order to guarantee the road maintenance operations for the winter and has already appealed to the federal government.

    It is already apparent however that the economy has stagnated and from this point on there is only one direction – further downwards. All the big talk is smoke in the mirror. While oil has done wonders for Russia, as it has come it has left to coffers to improve social services and project power. Unless there will be a new spike in oil prices there is no relief for Russia on the horizon – and that despite the excess liquidity as far as the private capital is concerned. But the private capital is either taken out of the country or invested in real estate or luxury items due to the absence of corresponding mentality or lack of rationalopportunities for meaningful investments.

    Even if you leave the regular corruption issues aside, Russia just is incapable of undertaking large initiatives and delivering that undertaking anywhere meaningful. The “getting things done” culture just doesn’t exist here. The maximum planning horizon here is just three months.
    Rhetoric is the primary Russian energy source. 😉 It is all about appearance, image and illusion.

    There are enormous centrifugal threats in Far East and projection of an illusion of power is the only device to fight such things off.

    If I am not mistaken, come next political cycle, Kudrin is planning to enter the political fray. Now, given his personal and mutually respectful relationship with Putin I doubt Putin is not privy into these plans. Reflexively Putin is against any shakeup of the political status quo I think and it seems to me that he thinks preserving the status quo is the only mechanism allowing preservation of the administrative-territorial-functional integrity of Russia. But I think even he will understand that every paradigm has an expiration date – the evidence is too overwhelming.

    At the end, as politics is downstream of culture and culture takes a very long time to shape, politics cannot solve serious problems in Russia.

    In fact I think the daily televised monkeying by Putin and Medvedev is a testimony of their understanding that problems are not solvable at least during their tenure.

    Comment by MJ — October 20, 2013 @ 10:06 pm

  22. MJ, Professor: OK, why is all this? People have been watching Russia and expecting the emergence of the next World Power since the days of Ivan the terrible and Elizabeth I of England, and it never happens.

    Instead, Russia gets autocrats who are completely pathological – Ivan slaughtered most of Novgorod and set up his own kleptocracy, the Oprichina. Later autocrats let capital exploit workers so badly that it eventually led to Revolution. The Soviet State destroyed the previous aristocracy, but set up one of its own so absolute that they even had their own currency and retail stores. And now Putin is back to being a Tsar ruling through oligarchs, and killing the ones that get out of line.

    It’s not the Russian people who are the problem; I’ve worked there and they are great, if a bit too accepting of the status quo. But there must be some dynamic in Russian history that ensures that riches and resource are usually stolen, and rarely used to build the country and benefit its citizens. As you say “At the end, as politics is downstream of culture and culture takes a very long time to shape, politics cannot solve serious problems in Russia”. So what’s the cultural problem. Any thoughts?

    Comment by jon livesey — October 21, 2013 @ 3:53 pm

  23. Navies are a necessity for island / maritime trading powers, but a luxury for anyone with substantial land borders with neighbors who are a military threat. That Putin seems to have an “obsession” indicates he does not actually think Russia is threatened on land – so much for NATO expansion. Instead, the obsession with a navy means he thinks he can develop power projection on the cheap to revive Russia’s sphere of influence. This has to be in the Middle East because any fleet would be useless in the northern Pacific or elsewhere. It’s also possible he forsees a world where the US leaves Europe to its fate, and he thinks he can neutralize combined European naval spending.

    The spending on it and what Putin will actually get out it will turn out to be not worth it, but it is not unusual for nations to think they can get power projection for the cheap, only to be disappointed later. The attempt to bomb Japan from China in WWII was equally chimerical. Mussolini’s investment in the Italian Navy was similar, although the problem here was not the quality of Italian ships (their leadership though…), but that he was doing it against the French and British fleets (his conquest of Ethiopia is in the same category). The US reliance of local militias at the start of the War of 1812 (as well as any other Jeffersonian style military ideals) likely fits. Putin may be wrong, but he is hardly alone in that sense.

    Comment by Chris — October 21, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

  24. @Jon. At root, the problem is that there has never been a limit on the state in Russia. I’ve mused about the reasons why this is true, as compared to Western Europe, for instance. In Europe, power was usually more diffuse. Local barons/lords could individually or collectively resist to some degree the power of the crown. Thus, the crown had to bargain with the nobility and especially in England the nobility had sufficient power to extract concessions from the king that imposed limits on his power. With the rise of the commons, again especially in the UK, the need for the central government to get tax revenue to pay for wars forced it to give concessions. Over time, the state was gradually constrained.

    In Russia, in contrast, the nobility (the boyar class) was in a much weaker bargaining position vis a vis the Tsar. It was never able to extract concessions from the Tsar (or Tsarina) that limited the power of the crown.

    Very speculatively, I have attributed this (in blog posts from years ago-2007, as I recall) to geographic factors. England, for instance, is relatively compact and densely settled. This permitted the support of many local barons who could band together and resist the king. Moreover, geography and castles made it very costly for the king to reduce the barony to obedience. These factors gave the barons some bargaining power.

    In contrast, in Russia, the vast distances and scattered settlement meant that boyars were widely scattered, which made it difficult for them to resist the Tsar. Moreover, the terrain did not favor the defense and poverty (a consequence of Russian climate) made construction of strong castles of the European style impossible. This made it difficult for the nobles to resist the Tsar.

    In the early Muscovite period, moreover, the Tsar could call on the Mongols/Tatars to obliterate any recalcitrant noble. (There is something to the Tatar Yoke, though perhaps not in the way that it is usually invoked.)

    The brutish, nasty, poor-and most importantly short-nature of life during these periods also tended to make the Tsars focus on the present, and heavily discount the future. The precarious nature of monarchy only reinforces such short sightedness. A Tsar could not have any confidence of surviving for long, and palace intrigue meant that his rule was always subject to being terminated with extreme prejudice. So Tsars had little incentive to take the long view. Take now, and let the future take care of itself-because there was little likelihood that the future would be all that long.

    In sum, geographic and climatic and economic factors made it much more difficult to mount a successful resistance against the central power. In W Europe, such resistance resulted in bargains that constrained the kings. Combine this with the inability of the central power to pre commit to avoid expropriation, and its lack of incentive to do so given the precariousness of life and rule, led to a bad equilibrium. A largely unopposed and short sighted central power inexorably became autocratic and brutal.

    Once in that equilibrium, it is very hard to get out. Russia has never succeeded. It has always been the case of meet the new boss, same as the old boss. One autocract replacing another.

    Until conditions permit the development of rivals with whom the central power must bargain with some degree of equality, Russia will remain on this autocratic hamster wheel from hell. The problem is that path dependence combined with the geographic and climatic conditions in Russia makes it virtually impossible for the sustained development of rival sources of power.

    Like I say, highly speculative. But I think there is something to it. I am highly confident that the hypercentralization of Russian authority is the root of the problem. Then it is necessary to explain why power in Russia has been centralized far more than in Europe. That’s where the speculation comes in.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 21, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

  25. It’s not the Russian people who are the problem; I’ve worked there and they are great, if a bit too accepting of the status quo.

    Spot on.

    But there must be some dynamic in Russian history that ensures that riches and resource are usually stolen, and rarely used to build the country and benefit its citizens. As you say “At the end, as politics is downstream of culture and culture takes a very long time to shape, politics cannot solve serious problems in Russia”. So what’s the cultural problem. Any thoughts?

    If you could answer *that* definitively, you’d be a rich man.

    Comment by Tim Newman — October 21, 2013 @ 6:24 pm

  26. Take now, and let the future take care of itself-because there was little likelihood that the future would be all that long.

    Russians have never escaped this trap, probably because life in the periods which followed the Tsarist times was also often brutal and short. It is a massive problem in Russia. As an anecdote, mate of mine until recently ran the biggest shopping centre in St. Petersburg. They did a survey and found almost all purchases were financed on credit. Russia is not alone in this regard, but they are walking into an enormous consumer credit crunch.

    Comment by Tim Newman — October 21, 2013 @ 6:36 pm

  27. And as for your overall theory prof, it makes very good sense to me. This is as plausible an explanation as any.

    Comment by Tim Newman — October 21, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

  28. @jon livesey It’s a complex question and hardly has a straight-line answer. Some of the reasoning is offered by the Professor. My knowledge of the Russian history is too fragmented and scarce in order to offer a coherent and transient through many centuries explanation.

    Geography, vastness and severity of the terrain indeed are major contributor to the perils of Russia and they result in the fragmentation of the nation not only in the administrative sense of the word but also in terms of the Russian identity. Generally identity is the driver of culture I think (or is it the other way?).

    Much like many others in modernity, I think Russians also have not been able to deal with their identity and it is one of their biggest complexes and it drives their hidden fears.

    They have gone through several identity metamorphoses though. In some not so ridiculous in my view sense Russia is yet again trying to go through new metamorphoses.

    I cannot help but to notice that at least for the last century the unifying identity shaping factor/ideology of Russia has been the concept of “enemy.” Russia always needs an enemy and if she doesn’t have one, she needs to invent her – this is not an endorsement by me but a constitution of facts as I understand them.
    I think the fundamental driver of this invention is the fear of decentralization.

    In all likelihood the Russian rulers, ideologists and policy makers believe that decentralization of Russia is equivalent to her disintegration. Whether it is a correct opinion or not is hard for me to judge. But Moscow does not trust the periphery and the periphery doesn’t have big hopes tied to Moscow. But how does one centralize such a vast and diverse entity or keep it intact when decentralized?

    The historically very natural unification of Russia failed due to the inability to Christianize Russia beyond her Slavic population. This itself is an interesting phenomenon. How and why did Tatars and many others accept Islam but not Christianity in the absence of common borders with various Arab Caliphates considering that the Arab invasion never reached these or even immediately adjacent lands (see the map:

    At one point, about one hundred years ago, the disintegrating Russia was reintegrated by sacrificing the monarchy and replacing it by what was to become the Soviet Union. No wonder it took place on the almost exact same territory as occupied by the Russian Empire. The dissatisfaction of the “have nots” of all peripheries was skillfully channeled into the realm of the preservation of the Empire despite the centrifugal movements of these very peripheries.

    A new identity was shaped and new missions of World Revolution and the hegemony of the Proletariat were formulated. Somehow, implicit in but central to this concept was the hegemony of Russia and russification. [However, interestingly enough this was a supra-Russian or even a supra-Slavic concept. Some of the most chauvinistic Russian were not of Russian ethnicity – Stalin being the most infamous of them.]

    But perhaps by mid-30s it became clear that this was not working as desired and a few more enemies needed to be invented. Thus the “internal enemy” or “the enemy of the people” was invented and was exercised before the WWI and after it.

    In a way, the unexpected and non-believable for Russia WWII was a diversion from this habitual process as it offered a real though a temporary enemy.

    Germany was disseminated and a new enemy emerged – the USA. She kept Russia going till early 90s.

    And here comes the next wave of disintegration of Russia in early 90s. She has no major enemies and the animosity now is inter-Russian as most illustratively attested by the wars in Chechnya and the attempts of Tataristan to spin off as a sovereign country from Russia along with a number of other milder centrifugal movements of the periphery.

    So the current Russian anti-Americanism is tested and much cherished political machinery for internal purposes. But to me this is not a winning strategy because of the lifting of the iron curtain.

    In the age of internet it is hard to maintain such curtains though I heard yesterday FSB is moving to take a total control over the internet in Russia.
    The anti-Americanism as an identity shaping or maintenance paradigm is very short-sighted to me because it is so artificial.

    While USA seems to have global-security related interests in this hemisphere, per my understanding she has no direct economic interests within the reach of Russia short of the South-East Asian region perhaps. But South-East Asia is not a competition stage between USA and Russia.

    Why does Russia need to invent enemies for identity shaping and maintenance purposes when she has real ones is beyond my understanding.

    In my unprofessional and neutral in a way opinion Russia has a very serious long-term enemy in the persona of China. The conflict with China is very real and existential even though there is no direct indication of it in the short run. But what is fifty years for China? History of China is not measured on the scale of decades.

    Shorter-term enemies of Russia are Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey – the latter if the failure to join the EU fails as a matter of formalized recognition.

    So I guess what I am getting at is that the immediate threat to Russia (and to the rest of the world) is Islam. And I say this not because I see it along the religious, spiritual or doctrinal lines. Not at all! I see it along the cultural and identity liens. It is not Islam per se but the culture induced by her that is the existential fault line in my view.

    It will be interesting to see how China is going to deal with her own internal potential threat emanating from Islam.

    And by the way, why not China but USA when inventing an enemy one might ask? I think first because having USA as Russia’s enemy gives her the corresponding stature.

    And it is not accidental that Russia of all the nations in the world took an issue with the concept of American Exceptionalism since there is an older than the American Exceptionalism Russian equivalent – the “historic mission of the Russian nation.” This is the second reason.
    As I promised it didn’t evolve as a straight-line… 🙂

    P.S. For some reason I think that GWB administration understood well what I tried to articulate here. At least in the persona of Condoleezza Rice it did and I think it was evident in the conduct of GWB when it came to Russia and Putin in particular. When it comes to Obama, well I think he is the greatest jerk and nincompoop in the American history, so I don’t have any expectations from him but to destroy America for three more years, and then more by inertia. And while if my choices were Obama or Hillary I would undoubtedly choose her, and while I accept that she is a shrewd politician, and might’ve had the right instincts behind her “Reset” policies, I think she is too shallow to grasp the Russian stratas – she is not a thinker but a campaigner though compared to Obama she is a strategist I think.

    Comment by MJ — October 21, 2013 @ 11:12 pm

  29. @MJ

    Good post and I agree in large measure. It was disappointing to me that Russia and the US could not establish a united position on Islam.

    I do believe that the Clinton administration contributed in no small way to the ease of maintaining anti Americanism as a drefining political force in Russia. The oligarchs received support in various ways and US policy in regards to Chechnaya in no way fostered a more productive path of development and in fact contributed to the rise of Putinism.

    Maybe it was inevitable due to Soviet cultural inertia but I still believe Clinton administration policies were misguided and contributed to the current state of affairs.

    Comment by pahoben — October 22, 2013 @ 7:08 am

  30. @pahoben I also think that the opportunity to build an American-Russian tandem, not just on Islam but on a host of other issues, was squandered in early 90s. And since then, rightly or not, there is no trust towards USA in Russia. In fact since then there is an opinion in Russia, that USA is “out to get Russia.”

    Comment by MJ — October 22, 2013 @ 9:19 am

  31. > since then there is an opinion in Russia, that USA is “out to get Russia.”

    Yeah, right, “since then”. And the fact that Russia is largely governed by the same nomenklatura who lost the Cold War and had their evil empire halved is of no importance. Don’t look at the men behind the curtain.

    Comment by Ivan — October 22, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

  32. @Ivan I understand you are upset with something but I don’t get the point you are making.

    Comment by MJ — October 22, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

  33. ” And the fact that Russia is largely governed by the same nomenklatura who lost the Cold War and had their evil empire halved is of no importance. Don’t look at the men behind the curtain.”

    That’s not a bad point, but it takes me back to the basic question. Countries like the UK and France can lose Empires and still find ways to cooperate constructively with the Word community, and they have much the same “establishments” they always did. Germany and Japan suffered much worse, but managed to evolve into first class World community members. Some countries have the ability to adjust to the inevitable, and even to look cheerful while they do. Not Russia, at least not yet.

    I’m going to read what MJ and the the Professor wrote a couple of times before commenting.

    Comment by jon livesey — October 22, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

  34. Well, taking the closest analogy I can think of: what would Germany be like today without allied occupation and denazification? Maybe a lot like Russia, even if still with much better cars.

    Comment by Ivan — October 22, 2013 @ 2:53 pm

  35. @jon. One big difference (which Ivan alludes to) is that Russia never suffered an occupation like Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, and never had to confront, or be held accountable, for its past.

    Russia is more like Weimar Germany, which nurtured the “stabbed in the back” mythology. There are some very close parallels. Both Weimar Germany and post-Soviet Russia suffered economic collapse and a precipitous fall from world power to abject basket case. Neither was forced to hold accountable those responsible for their misdeeds and crimes-primarily because neither was occupied by powers that required such an accounting. (“Victor’s justice” is usually used as a pejorative, but it has its virtues-especially for the defeated.) So the elites (and a good fraction of the non-elites) in each could rage at the injustice of their fate, and plot revenge. Each blamed their misfortune on malign foreigners and traitorous elements within their own countries.

    Freed from the necessity of confronting their pasts, both Weimar Germany and post-Soviet Russia mythologized them, and this led them to believe in the cosmic injustice of their fates.

    Germany and Russia also share a Romanticism that encourages persecution fantasies.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 22, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

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