Burly brawn doesn’t win wars anymore


Among the many things Ted Cruz would like everyone to forget is this tweet from this fall:

Right-wing media were orgasming over a Russian army recruitment ad which portrayed Russian soldiers as these manly masculine macho dudes, and were contrasting that with the tolerant, diverse American army. The word “woke” got thrown around a lot, in a disparaging way. A lot of Republicans weren’t embarrassed to show off their authoritarian views at that time.

Unfortunately, nothing has really changed. Now Ted Cruz is simultaneously saying we need to get tough on Russia, and blaming the Ukraine war on Biden.

A truly Russian-style government would have Cruz arrested instantly for criticizing the Maximum Leader. I don’t think he (and I) want to replicate Russian militarism.

Comments

  1. raven says

    I’m trying to figure out the end game of this war. Of course I don’t know. It all depends on unknown future decisions and events.

    I do see that Putin can “win” the war, meaning occupy all of Ukraine. He has far more resources than the Ukrainians and can just keep tossing them into Ukraine.

    The best analogy is probably the civil war in Syria. Syria was a modern, ubanized country. The only way Assad could win was by destroying the cities of the opposition. The damage was high.

    Sep 24, 2021 — At least 350,209 people have been killed in 10 years of war in Syria, the UN says in its first official death toll since 2014.
    Wikipedia

    13.2 million Syrians
    Statistics. Over 13.2 million Syrians had been forcibly displaced at the end of 2019. At least 6.7 million of them have left the country, with the rest moving within Syria.

    350,000 dead, 13.2 million refugees of which 6.7 million left the country.

    A rough estimate would be that to win Putin would have to destroy much of most cities and take out the electricity grid.
    Hundreds of thousands would end up dead, mostly civilians from lack of food, clean water, and medical care.
    There will be millions of refugees, some internally displaced as their housing is destroyed, some who flee the country. It’s already close to 1 million fleeing to Western Europe.

  2. Paul K says

    SC @2: I was very grateful for that link yesterday, and to an earlier one from the same tweeter. It gave some very clear insight into both Russian ‘mythology’, and Putin’s gross miscalculation when it comes to this invasion.

  3. andrei613 says

    In a historical sense, this situation brings to mind the 1939 part of the Soviet invasion of Finland, the so called ‘Winter War’.

    And, the mismatch in sizes (Both of forces, land and populations) was far greater in that one.

  4. cartomancer says

    The truth of the matter is that burly brawn NEVER won wars. Wars throughout history have been won primarily through strength of numbers, strategic errors on one side or another and technology, in that order. The idea that physical strength was ever important is a complete myth.

  5. birgerjohansson says

    When they think of warriors, they think of trashy films like “Yor, the Hunter From The Future”.

  6. Tethys says

    Interesting that those paratroopers wear a blue and white striped sleeveless shirt as their part of their uniform.

    I don’t know if Russia simply has not updated its military since murdering the last czar, or if they are deliberately evoking the uniform of his imperial navy. (Alternately it could also be the uniform of the corps of engineers, hard to tell from colorized photos) Similar striped belts can be seen in pics of both Czar Nicholas and his doppelgänger cousin, King George V, when they are wearing full military dress.

  7. Walter Solomon says

    Tethys @8

    I don’t know if Russia simply has not updated its military since murdering the last czar, or if they are deliberately evoking the uniform of his imperial navy.

    Those were worn in the Soviet era as well. I’ve seen enough pictures of Soviet troops in Afghanistan sporting those under their afghankas to be quite sure about that. I guess it’s sort of like Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force still using the traditional Imperial Navy songs. It connects them to their past.

  8. Walter Solomon says

    The brawny US military got their asses kicked by Buddhist rice farmers. That brawny shit means nothing.

  9. Tethys says

    @Walter Solomon

    There are multiple photos of Nicholas and Alix with their doomed son Nicholas, in which he is wearing a striped yoke sailor shirt that is a child sized version of their current Imperial navy uniform. I am certain I have also seen photos of the daughters in their officers/blue and white striped belt Navy uniforms, as they had their own fleets.

  10. Walter Solomon says

    Tethys @11

    I’ll trust your judgment on that as I’m not very familiar with the Romanovs or the history of the Russian Empire. It must’ve been nice being a child of the Tsar and having your own fleet if I’m understanding you correctly.

  11. brucegee1962 says

    Getting back to the OP —
    I read that about 10% of the Ukrainian armed forces that are currently kicking Putin’s behind are female. The article said that during their Soviet and post-Soviet eras, the military was typically brawny and macho, but after the 2014 revolution they began accepting anyone who wanted to sign up.
    The women they interviewed said they were treated well by their male comrades (imagine that!), that they could do everything the men could do, and that they were eager to defend their country as they were trained.

  12. unclefrogy says

    I feel so helpless, knowing that the “end game” for Putin could be just slaughter and destruction. The NATO alliance can not step in and prevent it because of the threat of a nuclear exchange and even more death and destruction. I have little doubt he would “push the button” if he felt like it. would everyone comply and follow his orders? They seem to have so far. He cares not for any people from what I can see, certainly not the Ukrainians nor the people of Chechnya who he already has crushed.
    a blood bath of others one at a time or 10,000 is nothing if they stand in his way to something he wants
    there is nothing I can do to stop it but watch from afar

  13. says

    Armies are meant to fight other armies. As has been demonstrated in the latter half of the 20th century and the first half of the 21st, Armies don’t do well when fighting COUNTRIES. Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, next Iraq, next Afghanistan, now Ukraine. There is only one way to subdue a hostile country with an army. It’s called genocide. Some people call it “Ethnic Cleansing”. It’s all the same. Putin has two choices. Withdraw, or start killing people wholesale. I have a vague feeling he’s not going to withdraw.

  14. Rob Grigjanis says

    SC @2: I have a cousin who was in a Soviet airborne spetsnaz company. He didn’t look like any of the musclebound twerps in those pictures. Average height, slender build, and as quiet, unassuming a bloke as I’ve ever met.

  15. microraptor says

    Russian military vehicles, especially tanks, are notoriously cramped inside them. Being a burly, brawny guy definitely isn’t an advantage to operating a tank.

  16. jrkrideau says

    The ads likely are a matter of cultural differences. An ad that works in Russia likely would not work in the USA and vise versa.

    Also, IIRC, the US army has been lowering physical requirements as potential recruits were not meeting the old ones. It is not a lot of use to demand those burly men if there not a lot of them in the recruitment pool.

  17. John Morales says

    Bad link, jrkrideau.

    Care to either post a link to the actual content (not just to his site) or maybe give a summary of the thesis at hand?

    (Also, he is held in high esteem at Moscow Times. Huh)

    Trigger warning: Contradicts everything the Western media says.

    Can’t contradict the facts on the ground, though. Not the invasion, not the satellite images, not the images of shelling of cities and not the images of over a million fleeing the war. The invasion.

    (It ain’t Russia being invaded, is it?)

  18. John Morales says

    Mind you, jrkrideau, I agree that when it comes to the propaganda war, that is for sure being won by Ukraine.

  19. VolcanoMan says

    @raven (#1)

    The problem for Putin is that as he commits troops and money to fight in Ukraine, he is risking losing power in his own country. I have no doubt that even with the actions a (mostly) unified West has taken, Russia has the ability to wage this war for a long time. But are the Russian people (or perhaps more importantly, the generals and oligarchs who enable Putin to hold onto power) committed enough to their leader and his war to continue to sacrifice and suffer for years and years? Putin’s best hope was always rapid domination, combined with Ukrainians resigning themselves to their fate as part of a new Russian empire. Neither of these things are possible anymore. Moreover, even when domination (protracted as it may be) comes to pass (as is almost inevitable, given the asymmetry of the situation), the PEOPLE will never submit, and thus maintaining control of Ukraine will necessitate a continual deployment of resources, all the while Russia becomes more and more unable to support itself due to crippling sanctions. If China were to step in on Russia’s side, perhaps this issue could be mitigated; but China is in a mutually-beneficial relationship with the West that they are loth to compromise, even though ideologically-speaking, they are more closely-aligned with Putin. They talk the anti-American/Western talk, but their prosperity is nearly entirely due to their ability to sell things to us, and I don’t see them risking this. Xi is evil, but he’s not stupid.

    Thus, the longer Russia occupies Ukraine, the more unstable Putin’s hold on power will be. Nevermind the ordinary people he’s pissing off – they may or may not revolt, but his powerful friends have only allowed him to rule for this long because he was enriching them, and they are not going to sit idly by while he wastes resources on a never-ending occupation, while all of their own assets in the West remain perpetually inaccessible.

    The best chance this war has of ending early, and in Ukraine’s favour, is thus for a diplomatic solution to be negotiated, not with Putin, but with the people who have been propping up his presidency. The ones who aren’t ideologues like Putin, but pragmatists. The ones who have the ability to facilitate Putin’s covert arrest and extradition, in return for various economic and security guarantees, and whatever else it takes to get them on board.

  20. Rob Grigjanis says

    jrkrideau @20: The first article at that link claims that the downing of Malaysia airlines MH17 was a false flag operation by ant-Russian interests. Do you believe that? If so, why?

  21. raven says

    Moreover, even when domination (protracted as it may be) comes to pass (as is almost inevitable, given the asymmetry of the situation), the PEOPLE will never submit, and thus maintaining control of Ukraine will necessitate a continual deployment of resources,…

    AFAICT, the only way Russia can win is by reducing Ukraine to rubble and driving off or killing a significant fraction of the population. With a population of 44 million, that is going to be a lot of people.
    The best analogs would be:

    .1. Checknya. “As many as 250,000 civilians were killed in the combined Chechen wars…”
    (the exact number killed is not well known, this is an estimate.) Out of a population of 1.4 million.
    The capital Grozny was basically flattened.

    .2. Syria. 340,000 dead, 13.2 million refugees, 6.7 million fled the country. Cities reduced to rubble.

    .3. Afghanistan. Afghanistan had such a low standard of living and everything had already been reduced to rubble. Electricity and clean running water were rare. There wasn’t much we could do to them any more. We finally got tired of an endless low level war in the middle of nowhere and went home.

  22. says

    jrkrideau @ #19:

    The ads likely are a matter of cultural differences. An ad that works in Russia likely would not work in the USA and vise versa.

    The whole point of PZ’s fucking post was that the Russian ad was embraced by the right in the US while the US army ad was scorned, you despicable stooge and liar.

    Because they love and admire the bullshit performative masculinity, white/male/straight/cis/Christian supremacy, and authoritarianism of Putinism. As you evidently do as well, to your great shame.

  23. says

    Related to “cultural differences”:

    Silenced in Russia:

    All independent Russian media.

    and:

    – BBC
    – CNN
    – Bloomberg
    – Facebook
    – Twitter

    No doubt there will be more to come. You can get 15 years in jail for calling a war a war.

    Scary how quickly you can go from quite repressive to full totalitarian

    See the Infinite Thread for more.

  24. raven says

    Russia blocks Facebook, accusing it of restricting access to Russian media
    By Elizabeth Culliford

    This may be the only smart thing Putin has done lately.

    Like many these days, I’m so not a fan of Facebook.
    It has been the major site of the antivaxxer movement and is partly responsible for killing tens of thousands of Americans by spreading Covid-19 virus denialist and antivaxxer lies.

    It is about time for the USA and NATO to start up VOA and Radio Free Europe again.
    I read last night that the BBC has already started Russian language short wave broadcasts. Again.

  25. jrkrideau says

    @ 29 SC (Salty Current)
    You’re a despicable stooge and liar, jrkrideau.

    Nice to have some civilized, reasoned debate.

  26. Rob Grigjanis says

    jrkrideau @34: From the link;

    ..the Russians expect to finish up their business in Ukraine rather soon

    “Finish up their business”. The banality of evil. How many kids killed by cluster or thermobaric bombs will it take to “finish up their business”. Oh wait, maybe the dead kids are another false flag operation by Ukrainians?

    Puke.

  27. jrkrideau says

    27 Rob Grigjanis
    The first article at that link claims that the downing of Malaysia airlines MH17 was a false flag operation by ant-Russian interests.

    I think it is 50-50 that it was a false flag operation or incompetence by Donbas militias. My first thought was definitely incompetence but there seems to be enough inconsistency that I had to wonder. From the one, rather biased, source I have been reading it looks like the Dutch court is so screwing up the inquiry that we probably will never know. Link available upon request but it leads to a mess of posts.

    BTW did the article say “anti-Russian or anti-Donbas Republics? I had never thought about it, I had just assumed that if it was a false flag operation that it was aimed at the Donbas Republics more than Russia but now I see I may have missed something.

    @ 21 John Morales
    Can’t contradict the facts on the ground
    Oh, I am pretty sure the war exists.
    The question was about the “the end game of this war” which I think the video, if the blasted link works, discsses quite well.

    If anyone wants I have a really pessimistic outlook video covering a longer post-war period prophesying doom, gloom, and worldwide upheavals for the next two or three generations. I hope Mark is wrong.

    @33 raven
    Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty have never stopped. https://www.rferl.org/

  28. Tethys says

    Why would anyone with two working brain cells debate obvious propaganda?

    Putins actions are reprehensible and Russia has made itself a pariah state by invading Ukraine.
    Again!! Stupid backwards country run by swine.
    Same as it ever was.

  29. John Morales says

    jrkrideau, I very much appreciate the actual link.

    So.

    “On the contrary, both sides, the U.S.-led West and Russia, are escalating their aggressiveness precisely because the struggle is, in the last analysis, about expanding and enhancing NATO or smashing it to pieces. Ukraine just happens to be the field of combat for this historic struggle that will shape the world order for decades to come.”

    A bit anodyne, no?

    (Should be more like ‘Invading Ukraine just happened to be the way Russia started their war’, I think)

    “It is absolutely stunning to witness how in the days since Russia launched its ‘Special Military Operation’ in Ukraine the whole of Europe has snapped to attention and is doing its very best to implement the orders coming from Washington.”

    What a mullet. Presumably, he’s saying this with a straight face.

    You take him seriously? Really?

    (You must be getting ready for QAnon, if so)

  30. lucifersbike says

    “It is absolutely stunning to witness how in the days since Russia launched its ‘Special Military Operation’ in Ukraine the whole of Europe has snapped to attention and is doing its very best to implement the orders coming from Washington.”

    Well, as an unfortunate citizen of Brexit Britain, where the current ruling party has been only too happy to accept huge donations from oligarchs, and the anti-EU campaign appears to have benefited from several million pounds worth of support from murky sources connected to the Kremlin, I doubt very much that our inflated pig’s bladder of a PM will be dancing to Joe Biden’s orders; he and his party are doing as little as possible to implement sanctions in despite of public opinion. Dear American friends, Biden may have his faults, but as an English person, I can only respect his obvious dislike of Johnson.

    Neutral Sweden and Finland have offered aid to Ukraine, Germany has reversed decades of public and political aversion to military action by increasing defence spending by €100 billion (thousand million; outside the Anglosphere a billion is a million million). It’s far more likely that they changed course because of the perceived threat from the largest country in the world – which has already taken territory from Finland and Germany and is right next door to the former – than to be nice to Joe Biden.

  31. John Morales says

    lucifersbike, sorry to hear that. Yeah, been following things.

    e.g. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2022/mar/01/register-of-offshore-owners-of-uk-properties-full-of-loopholes-say-experts

    Salient bits:

    “Where prosecution isn’t really an option, because for instance the owner lives in Russia, which doesn’t extradite its citizens, then you’re left with fines only. £500 a day is small change for those with deep pockets,” he said.
    […]
    The timescale for the register being brought into force remains vague. The government announcement says “implementation will proceed at pace” once the bill has been passed by parliament, though it provides no details on dates.

    Goodrich said the draft bill contained an 18-month “transition window” to allow overseas owners time to comply with the rules. “Those looking to make a swift exit for the door have it held wide open for them,” he complained.

    A register of offshore property owners was first proposed in 2015 by David Cameron, as part of a raft of measures to prevent criminals and corrupt foreign officials from laundering money through expensive UK property.

    Legislation to enact it has been delayed for years, amid suspicion that lobbyists and some politicians have sought to delay it.

    In short, Tories have been holding back on this measure for 7 years now.

    But it’s all happening now.

    How did Humphrey put it? “… in the fullness of time, when the moment is ripe, when the necessary procedures have been completed, nothing precipitate, of course”

  32. Jazzlet says

    @ John Morales
    At least one peer is talking about amending the register bill to give overseas owners 28 days to comply. Seems reasonable to me, but probably won’t be passed by the Commons.

  33. unclefrogy says

    If China were to step in on Russia’s side, perhaps this issue could be mitigated; but China is in a mutually-beneficial relationship with the West that they are loth to compromise, even though ideologically-speaking, they are more closely-aligned with Putin. They talk the anti-American/Western talk, but their prosperity is nearly entirely due to their ability to sell things to us, and I don’t see them risking this. Xi is evil, but he’s not stupid.

    Putin’s Russia and its support from China. While neither are a democracy they are also never been close allies as far as I have ever heard. If Putin needs to reach out toward China to off set the lose of western trade access all advantage is with China and if the last 40 years has taught us nothing the deal will be struct in favor of China.
    China will take them to the cleaners

  34. chrislawson says

    Anyone who thinks the MH17 shootdown is “50/50” a false flag operation…is 100% a lying propagandist for Putin’s mass murders.

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