Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Some 70,000 Iraqis died as an indirect consequence of the 1991 war in the Persian Gulf and a Harvard University study determined that another 100,000 people, mostly children died in the following year.This high incidence of infant mortality was caused by economic blockade against Iraq.

When questioned about civilian casualties General Tommy Franks seems to have said, “We don’t do body counts.” When war goes hi-tech civilian death becomes an abstraction. In the evolution of war we see in Ancient Greece the concept of glory held certain personal ability, courage and character essential for challenging man in eyeball to eyeball confrontation. In this combat dying constituted glory for soldiers. No wonder we read of Alexander of Macedon hurling himself into the thick of battle to set an example for his men.

In the First World War heavy casualties of men in the trenches was so high both Germany and France shrank from such a strategy. Technology of co-ordinated attacks using armored tanks and infantry moving quickly with air power to pulverize anything that stood in the way. Blitzkreig showed technology very useful.

In our century technology of warfare is such it is more hi-tech versus low tech. It is same story of rifles against bow and arrows that determined in the Americas. Colonialism was ushered in with the help of technology. In these days war would mean imposition of a culture with claims to ‘liberal and democratic’ values over another less endowed culture and belief-systems. For this purpose human casualties are merely an abstraction.


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AESOP FABLES UPDATED- taken by the blind side

IMG_0331IMG_0332Sorry, the story continues in Almost Aesop, Fables available through Amazon.com-b 

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Today Crimea is seeking referendum in a move to break away from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.

Western powers have denounced the hastily organized referendum as illegal.

Some 59 percent of Crimea’s 2 million inhabitants are ethnic Russians, the minority question which has bedeviled since the early 19 th century resonates even this very day. Nationalism of Hungary Italy against monarchies have not yet sorted the friction between majority rights and minority rule. How the nation-builders got their act wrong we can see at the Paris peace conference after World War I.

That war felled the Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires, bequeathing to the Allied victors a hotch-potch of ethnic and cultural identities clamoring for statehood. The peace pitted Wilson’s “imperative principle” of self-government for formerly subject peoples was to stop the customary tendency of European statesmen sitting over fine dining and a smoke in the billiard room redrawing maps as though it were toting up gambling losses.

The U.S. President’s principle somehow didn’t extend to Ukraine. His opposition to a sovereign Ukrainian state was backed by the British and French, supporters of anti-Bolshevik forces in the civil war in the wake of 1917 revolution.While the Paris peacemakers bestowed statehood on the likes of Czechoslovakia and Hungary Ukraine was left to be fought over by Poland and Russia. Poland seized swathes of Ukraine’s territory and the rest was swallowed up in the newly formed Soviet Union,1922.

(British Prime Minister David Lloyd George said he had glimpsed a Ukrainian only once in his life “and I am not sure that I want to see any more,” Margaret MacMillan wrote in her 2001 book, “Peacemakers.”)

To be fair to the high-minded President Wilson he was hoping the resurgent Russian empire would reverse the Bolshevik takeover. Something we have seen similarly in the Middle East. Wave democracy for all your worth the region shall be all the better for it.

Wilson’s tactics in 1919, and the West’s ambivalence toward Ukraine after it finally broke free of Soviet control in 1991, show the limited options available to the U.S. and its allies in response.

Note: One supplicant inspired by what Wilson called “the sacredness of the right of self-determination” was Nguyen Tat Thanh. The man later known as Ho Chi Minh petitioned the conference to grant Indochina independence from France. Wilson never replied, according to “The Wilsonian Moment,” a 2007 book by Erez Manela, a Harvard University history professor.
A surgeon’s mistake is covered by a tombstone. What if a statesman makes a blunder? Mass graves as one sees in Vietnam and elsewhere make any personal tombstone redundant. ( ack:James G. Neuger /bloomber.net)


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Peter the Great

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Molotov told de Gaulle that he once stood behind Stalin who believed himself alone. With his two hands he covered large parts of the globe that stood in his study. The entire Europe lay covered by his one palm and he was heard muttering,”It’s small, Europe.”

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Ivan IV Vasilyevich (1530 –1584) known in English as Ivan the Terrible, was Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 until his death. His long reign saw the conquest of the Khanates of Kazan which was commemorated by one of the most beautiful buildings erected anywhere on the earth.(St. Basil’s Cathedral impressed the Tsar so much that he had the architect, Postnik Yakovlev, blinded so he could never design anything as beautiful again. (In reality, Postnik Yakovlev went on to design more churches for the Tsar. Then what is legend if it does not stretch truth so even violence and rank stupidity sound much sweeter than reality? It is what legend does to the memory of people and places.)
Ivan the terrible is an anglicized travesty of the ruler who gripped the imagination of Russians. Ivan the fearsome is closer to the truth. Look only what he has achieved? Sheer scale of his achievements weigh more against his failures. He annexed Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, transforming Russia into a multiethnic and multiconfessional state spanning almost one billion acres, approximately 4,046,856 km2 . He brought about changes in (1,562,500 sq mi). He was the first tsar of all Russia.
The 1560s brought hardships to Russia that led to dramatic change of Ivan’s policies. Russia was devastated by a combination of drought and famine, Polish-Lithuanian raids, Tatar invasions and the sea-trading blockade carried out by the Swedes, Poles and the Hanseatic League. His first wife, Anastasia Romanovna, died in 1560, and her death was suspected to be a poisoning. This personal tragedy deeply hurt Ivan and is thought to have affected his personality, if not his mental health. At the same time, one of Ivan’s advisors, Prince Andrei Kurbsky, defected to the Lithuanians, took command of the Lithuanian troops and devastated the Russian region of Velikiye Luki. Since then he would be wary of the nobles and take stern actions to nip the trouble in bud.
His creation of a buffer between him and the nobility was in the creation of the oprichnina. It consisted of a separate territory within the borders of Russia on which the tsar held exclusive power. The Boyar Council ruled the zemshchina (‘land’), the second division of the state. Ivan also recruited a personal guard known as the oprichniki. Originally it was a thousand strong. They enjoyed social and economic privileges under the oprichnina. They owed their allegiance and status to Ivan, not to heredity or local bonds. Think how this idea would change in the hands of Joseph Stalin. His gulags was a land where dissidents were made to work to death and his personality cult created a new class that owed allegiance to him only.
The modern Ivan, Comrade Stalin and no other, the man who personally saw to the death of some 22 millions as with Ivan the Grozny were molded by history, culture and also by circumstances that create historic parallels. If that is the case only Russia could have produced two evil geniuses whose contribution to history of world would be debated by historians for many more centuries to come.
Tailpiece: the tsar also made laws restricting the mobility of the peasants, which would eventually lead to serfdom.

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Former Lenin University at the background,Lenin Hill

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