A look at the past: The key to the Russian Riddle
“Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. The key is Russian national interest.”
Winston Churchill’s quote came a quarter century and two months after the start of World War I.
In late August 1914, one month into that conflict, a massive Russian army was defeated at the Battle of Tannenberg.
While the German offensive through Belgium that brought Britain into the Great War on August 3, 1914 had stalled at the First Battle of the Marne in mid- September, the relatively small British Army committed to France would be destroyed within a year, to be replaced with conscripts.
Ultimately, 700,000 British soldiers were killed. Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty in 1914, faced the threat of submarines and a German Imperial Fleet with nearly as many dreadnaughts as the Royal Navy.
But Britain endured and prevailed.
Russia fought on with some success against Austro-Hungarian forces while a broken economy paved the way for the Bolshevik coup of late 1917.
Barely a quarter century later on August 23, 1939, Joseph Stalin shocked the world with the Soviet- German Non- Aggression Pact opening the way for Nazi Germany to invade Poland a week later and for the USSR to invade Poland three weeks after that.
Churchill understood that Russian diplomacy was focused on national self-interest (as well as other ambitions).
Although Stalin sought to create an industrial dynamo, his political paranoia instituted a 1938 purge that ravaged his military by executing four out of five Soviet marshals and imprisoning or killing 80 percent of the remaining officer corps.
Stalin realized Russia’s vulnerability was along its western flank.
He also knew Hitler’s immediate interests lay in destroying Poland and then conquering the Baltic States, the Low Countries, and ultimately destroying France.
In the autumn of 1939, England faced an uncertain future but Churchill was back at the head of the Admiralty.
On May 10, 1940, with German forces massed in France and the Low Countries and readying for Operation Sea Lion, Churchill became Prime Minister of Britain.
After the Red Army occupied eastern Poland in late September 1939, Stalin ordered an invasion of Finland hoping to shore up the Soviet Union’s northern flank against future German aggression.
At the time, Churchill called for war with Russia. Fortunately, London demurred.
Russia, whether under tsars such as Peter I and Alexander I, or commissars as demented as Stalin or as seemingly enlightened as Mikhail Gorbachev, will pursue whatever is in Moscow’s best interest.
Vladimir Putin is no exception. Furthermore, wise Russian leaders understand and respect force.
That remains as true today as it was for Alexander I when he accommodated Napoleon with the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807 before destroying the Grande Armee in the fall and winter of 1812.
Putin is determined to reclaim Russia’s world power status and will do whatever he thinks is necessary to achieve that end. Eight years of the Obama administration’s leadership from behind brought the world to a perilously chaotic international situation.
President-elect Donald Trump’s administration inherits challenges from rogue states like Iran and North Korea s well as the continuing (and growing) threat of Islamist fundamentalism.
Other challenges include, China seeking regional if not global hegemony, and an emboldened Russia reasserting itself in Europe and penetrating the Persian Gulf and southern Europe via Turkey and the eastern Mediterranean of coastal Syria.
Trump must restore America’s international credibility with diplomacy that reassures and supports allies.
An insipid foreign policy coupled with a depleted military capability invites catastrophes rendered between 1914 and 1918 and 1939 and 1945.
Russian national interest will be as much a part of Putin’s approach as it was for leaders from Peter the Great to Stalin and— ultimately— to Mikhail Gorbachev.
What made possible the December 25, 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union was the strength of vision expressed by President Ronald Reagan who undertook the largest peacetime buildup of U.S. military might in history coupled to his unerring sense of America’s potential for greatness.
The only way to deal effectively with international threats is to do so with credible diplomacy grounded in economic stability, and supported by unassailable military strength.
Dr. Earl Tilford is a military historian and fellow for the Middle East & terrorism with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.
Editor’s Note: Readers, as you can see, we have started a new feature for our editorial page, Think About It. If you would like to submit any interesting facts related to science, politics or any other world issue you would like to share, please email it to [email protected] You may also mail it or drop it by the Herald Office at 1460 West Main St., Suite E, Centre, AL 35960. Dear Editor:
The fanatical Leftist Press has sickened many with their hypocritical pretensions to a patent on Intellect and compassion. Liberal pretense is relentless and will have a National Corpse: R.IP. Western Culture!
They abyss of deceit in D.C. has abolished law and order and invaded our public classrooms as never before silencing criticism of the one Globalist party in power ill-disguised as two. Because deluded ‘progressives’ worship borderless Corporate-Profit Globalism, Dear Editor:
Monday is a State Holiday in honor of Robert E. Lee, America’s greatest General.
By April 1863, General Lee had brilliantly defeated four of Lincoln’s invading Generals.
In Lincoln’s obsession to collect his 40 percent of Federal sales tax for his Wall Street owners, he next selected General Hooker, pitting 134,000 Federals against 57,000 Confederates.
Lee sent General Jackson undetected around Hooker’s right flank, while Lee faced the center. Jackson’s surprise attack sent Lincoln’s tax collectors reeling, whereupon Lee charged Hooker’s center, thereby trouncing Lincoln’s fifth General.
Confederate Colonel Charles Marshall recalls:
“On the morning of May 3, 1863 the final assault was made upon the Federal lines at Chancellorsville.
General Lee accompanied the troops and as they emerged from the fierce combat waged in that tangled wilder- it is a crime to examine its chosen puppets, B. Hussein and Hillary.
Everything is permitted (accommodationism) in the imagined Leftist Utopia to come. Unleashing irresponsibility (fatherless households) has created a confluence of crises emptying The National Treasury and dismantling morals.
If power is a Trust that must be held accountable, how can anyone defend the conflicting words and actions of the Obama and Clinton Mafia? Jesse L. Warmack
119 Allison St. Piedmont, Ala. 36272 ness, driving the superior forces of the enemy before them, Lee rode to the front of his advancing battalions.
“The white smoke of musketry fringed the front of the line of battle, while the artillery on the hills in the rear of the infantry shook the earth with its thunder.
“The soldiers with their faces blackened with the smoke of battle, the wounded crawling with feeble limbs from the fury of the devouring flames, all seemed possessed with a common impulse.
“One long, unbroken cheer, in which the feeble cry of those who lay helpless on the earth blended with the strong voices of those who still fought, rose high above the roar of battle, and hailed the presence of their victorious chief.” Roger K. Broxton, President Confederate Heritage Fund 12753 Broxton Lane P.O. Box 771 Andalusia, Alabama 36420 334-222-5130 Email: rogerbrox[email protected]turylink.net