by Tatzhit Mihailovich

INTRO:

In this article, I discuss the mechanisms driving the biggest threat facing all of us. I speak, of course, of the possibility of a nuclear war between the two superpowers.

Recently, I translated a short story by a Russian submariner – he missed a signal, and went through the launch procedure unable to tell whether they were launching ICBMs for real.
The story vividly describes _how_ the war would happen, but those technical details are relatively well-known.

[this is what the last 40 seconds of the old world would look like]

[and this is how the whole thing would go, more or less]

So I realized it is much more important to explain _why_ could the war happen - like in any murder, the motives behind it happening in the first place are more important that the specifics of the tools and ammunition used.

The story touches on the mentality a little bit: the author wasn’t able to tell whether Armageddon was in progress _because_ he knew that, when push came to shove, his comrades would end the world and not bat an eye.

This attitude isn’t limited to military men – here’s a an article about ordinary Russians reacting to an ICBM-looking trail and _half-megaton_ blast above their city, smashing windows and knocking out most cellular networks:

http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/5-meteor-videos-that-prove-russians-dont-give-f2340k/

Simply put, Russians are less scared by nuclear war than Americans.

This mindset is somewhat shared by the political leadership – in fact, Russia has already started a massive nuclear rearmament effort. And, unlike the USSR, they have little else to use as leverage.

The reason this article is very important is that Americans and American government seem to be oblivious to what Russians think and where that might lead us.

The US government policy in the Middle East had essentially the same problem – thinking that Arabs would share the American view of the situation, and act like Westerners would. That thinking is so arrogant and bull-headed that it makes Donald Trump cringe(!), and even elicited under-the-table resistance from US military leadership(!!).

To sum it up, Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State blew up the Middle East; Hillary as President may blow up the world.

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CONTENTS:

– 1. CRY WOLF: COLD WAR MAY BE AN OLD THREAT, BUT TODAY’S CIRCUMSTANCES ARE FAR LESS BALANCED

– 2. ‘IF PUTIN IS TOPPLED, HE WOULD LIKELY BE REPLACED BY HAWKS, NOT DOVES': HOW A NUCLEAR STANDOFF MAY BE RE-IGNITED

– 3. ‘NUKES UNDERWATER, NUKES IN SPACE, NUKES LAUNCHED BY COMPUTER': WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF A NEW COLD WAR

– 4. ‘WE ARE AFRAID OF MUTUALLY ASSURED DESTRUCTION, THEREFORE RUSSIANS MUST BE TOO, AND WOULD ACCEPT THE FATE OF NORTH KOREA RATHER THAN DROP THE BOMB': DON’T THINK THAT OTHER CULTURES REASON LIKE YOU DO

– 5. ‘YOU DON’T KNOW IF THE OTHER GUY HAS THE GUTS TO PULL THE TRIGGER… UNTIL YOU’RE SHOT': ONE CAN’T PROVE A MINDSET, BUT IT SHOULD DEFINITELY BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT

– 6. ‘MOST RUSSIANS STILL SING WWII SONGS AT PARTIES’ : HISTORY OF ALL-OUT WAR

– 7. ‘I USED TO BE A DESTROYER OF WORLDS': WARRIOR’S NOSTALGIA

– 8. AN ALL-OUT WAR THAT GOES NUCLEAR

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‘CRY WOLF': COLD WAR MAY BE AN OLD THREAT, BUT TODAY’S CIRCUMSTANCES ARE FAR LESS BALANCED

There is plenty of talk about nuclear war these days – the Doomsday clock is at its lowest point in decades (in fact, it’s far lower than it has been for the majority of Cold War!), nukes are becoming a daily topic again, and there is no shortage of articles saying ‘we feel a new war coming‘.

http://thebulletin.org/timeline

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=202_1450622572

http://slavyangrad.org/2015/12/08/the-smell-of-war-is-in-the-air/

However, most people treat all of the above with scepticism – the ‘nuclear scare’ has gone stale over the last 70 years. The reasoning goes ‘if the Soviet Union never used nukes, the more reasonable and far weaker modern Russia certainly won’t’. Any talk of a ‘resurgent Russia’, ‘new Cold War’, ‘Putin dismantling Europe’ is largely viewed as fear-mongering by military lobbyists and sensation-hungry journalists.

[this is how a lot of people view news reporting on ‘Russian aggression’]

Of course, all that is somewhat true – modern Russian leadership is indeed much less stern than the WWII veterans that stayed at the helm of USSR until the mid-1980s, and Russian military, whatever the Russian patriotic channels say, is but a shadow of the Soviet might.
http://media.theweek.com/img/generic/USRussiaDefSpend.jpg


[In war, just like everything else, you get what you pay for]

Putin’s half-hearted and purely reactionary military endeavors[1] aren’t exactly Hitler material either, no matter how they’re painted.

http://fortruss.blogspot.com/2015/09/the-myth-of-hybrid-warfare.html
However, the belief that ‘Russia is more reasonable than USSR’ that most people seem to have is due to an ahistoric, ‘Hollywood’ understanding of USSR’s decision making and circumstances.
There are a number of purely practical reasons why ‘global nuclear war’ was way lower on USSR’s list of responses than it is for Russian Federation.

For starters, USSR spent the first 3 decades of the Cold War 1.0 (so, you know, about 3/4ths of it) being way outmatched in the number of nuclear weapons, so the USSR was going to suffer much more should a nuclear exchange take place, and the leadership had three decades to learn restraint. Also, the WWII veterans that led USSR up until the Perestroika and collapse remembered the real cost of war all too well, and did not easily fall into empty jingoism and warmongering.

On the other hand, Russian Federation started with way more warheads than USA, so the new leadership always knew that, whatever else happens, nukes are the one thing they can rely on. And for the current generation of Russians, old wars are no longer personal memories of horror, but rather proof that Russia will always win in the end.

http://uselectionatlas.org/FORUM/GALLERY/6080_19_05_11_4_55_23.PNG

Second, USSR was much more powerful militarily, ideologically, and economically. Nukes were used as a deterrent, but USSR never needed them to protect itself from a conventional invasion, an engineered protest movement, or an economic blockade of some sort.
If USSR was still around, Ukraine 2014 would have ended just like Czechoslovakia 1968, and Russian ‘opposition’ would end up like the 1968 protesters. Sanctions would be laughed off – USSR’s planned economy had little need for foreign credit, Soviets made their own drilling equipment (and their own everything), and Soviet officials would be completely unfazed by travel bans.
Of course, modern Russia isn’t nearly as secure in all these aspects, which makes nukes one of their few remaining options.

Third, understanding the world shouldn’t just focus on where we are today, but where we’re going tomorrow, and why.

As someone who lived for decades both in US and in Russia, I feel that Americans really fail to understand the the the ‘pro-Western vs pro-Russian’ ideological debate that Russia’s been having since the 17th century.
The collapse of the USSR was a big victory for the pro-Westerners; but the fact that the West refused to treat them as allies and equals means means the downfall of that ideology and a return to the Russian/Soviet ‘besieged fortress’ mindset (this resurgent ‘readiness for war’ mentality is also very important, and I’ll focus on it later in this article).

http://slavyangrad.org/2014/09/24/the-russia-they-lost/
A good analogy is Iran: If we learned anything, it’s that you can’t beat a culture into submission. US government’s aggressive foreign policy only continually pushed it to be more anti-American, more united, and more interested in obtaining nukes.

The catch is that Russia already has nukes. Stubbornly waging a ‘new Cold War’ is in fact forging America’s worst nightmare – a radicalized, nuclear-armed opponent.

If you would like an expanded discussion, I have recently written about the misgivings Russians have with US foreign policy.
Short version: Russians actually like most Western values… but what happened in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, Syria doesn’t look like ‘Western values’ at all. Heck, most any politician in the USA who dares voice his own opinion, across the entire far-left to far-right spectrum, agrees with the Russians’ grim view of US government’s actions – from Dennis Kucinich and Tulsi Gabbard to Pat Buchanan and Ted Cruz, and even loose cannons such as Ron Paul and Donald Trump.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=046_1450636501

http://www.kucinich.com/#!The-Real-Reason-We-Are-Bombing-Syria/c1z12/01DA15A9-6BB0-4632-B9E7-FE9E03F1FB0B

http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1512/01/sitroom.01.html

http://buchanan.org/blog/the-mind-of-mr-putin-124130

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/cruz-middle-east-was-more-secure-with-hussein-gadhafi/article/2578041

http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2015/april/24/libya-migrant-crisis-whose-fault/

http://www.vox.com/2015/12/16/10296032/donald-trump-gop-debate-iraq-war

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Before we to talk about the implications of that renewed animosity toward the West, it is worth mentioning this excellent analysis of the practical and diplomatic aspects of the new Cold War by a Sovietologist with 50 years experience:

http://eastwestaccord.com/text-remarks-by-stephen-f-cohen-professor-emeritus-princeton-university-and-new-york-university-at-san-francisco-commonwealth-club/
Key Points:
‘The chance for a durable Washington-Moscow strategic partnership was lost… it was squandered and lost in Washington. And it was lost so badly that today, and for at least the last several years (and I would argue since the Georgian war in 2008), we have literally been in a new Cold War with Russia. Many people in politics and in the media don’t want to call it this, because if they admit, ‘Yes, we are in a Cold War,’ they would have to explain what they were doing during the past 20 years.

Here is my next point. This new Cold War has all of the potential to be even more dangerous than the preceding forty-year Cold War, for several reasons. First of all, think about it. The epicenter of the earlier Cold War was in Berlin, not close to Russia. There was a vast buffer zone between Russia and the West in Eastern Europe.
Today, the epicenter is in Ukraine, literally on Russia’s borders. It was the Ukrainian conflict that set this off, and politically Ukraine remains a ticking time bomb. Today’s confrontation is not only on Russia’s borders, but it’s in the heart of Russian-Ukrainian ‘Slavic civilization.’ This is a civil war as profound in some ways as was America’s Civil War.

My next point and still worse: You will remember that after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Washington and Moscow developed certain rules-of -mutual conduct. They saw how dangerously close they had come to a nuclear war, so they adopted ‘No-Nos,’ whether they were encoded in treaties or in unofficial understandings. Each side knew where the other’s red line was. Both sides tripped over them on occasion but immediately pulled back because there was a mutual understanding that there were red lines. TODAY THERE ARE NO RED LINES. One of the things that Putin and his predecessor President Medvedev, keep saying to Washington is: You are crossing our Red Lines! And Washington said and continues to say, ‘You don’t have any red lines. We have red lines and we can have all the bases we want around your borders, but you can’t have bases in Canada or Mexico.’ Your red lines don’t exist.’ This clearly illustrates that today there are no mutual rules of conduct.

Today there is absolutely no organized anti-Cold War or Pro-Detente political force or movement in the United States at all––not in our political parties, not in the White house, not in the State Department, not in the mainstream media, not in the universities or the ‘think tanks.’ I see a colleague here, nodding her head, because we remember when, in the 1970s through the 1980s, we had allies even in the White House, among aides of the President. We had allies in the State Department, and we had Senators and Members of the House who were pro-detente and who supported us, who spoke out themselves and listened carefully to our points of view. None of this exists today. Without this kind of openness and advocacy in a democracy, what can we do? We can’t throw bombs to get attention; we can’t get printed in mainstream media, we can’t be heard across the country. This lack of debate in our society is exceedingly dangerous.
….

The position of the current American political media establishment is that this new Cold War is all Putin’s fault––all of it, everything. We in America didn’t do anything wrong. At every stage, we were virtuous and wise and Putin was aggressive and a bad man. And therefore, what’s to rethink? Putin has to do all of the rethinking, not us.
I disagree. And this is what has brought the outrageous attacks down on me and my colleagues. I was raised in Kentucky on the adage, ‘There are two sides to every story.’ And these people are saying, ‘No to this story, the history of Russian and American relations, there is only one side. There is no need to see any of it through the other side’s eyes. Just get out there and repeat the ‘conventional mainstream establishment narrative.’

We in the United States cannot lead the world alone any longer, if we ever could.
… globalization and other developments have occurred that ended the mono-polar, US-dominated world. That world is over. A multi-polar world has emerged before our eyes, not just in Russia but in five or six capitals around the world. Washington’s stubborn refusal to embrace this new reality has become part of the problem and not part of the solution.’
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2. ‘IF PUTIN IS TOPPLED, HE WOULD LIKELY BE REPLACED BY HAWKS, NOT DOVES': HOW A NUCLEAR STANDOFF MAY BE RE-IGNITED

I think a discussion I just had (in my previous piece on nuclear war) outlines one possibility rather well:
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American idiot: America and Russia won’t be going to war with each other anytime time soon you retard.

Tatzhit: Yeah, it seems unlikely now. Two years ago, it seemed impossible. How much time until it seems likely?

[discussion about dates]

New Zealander: … It is possible, even likely, that Putin would be taken down from within before it got to a nuke strike without a pretty damn serious set of conditions to justify such a pointless and self destructive action.

Tatzhit:
A more disturbing scenario is the following:

Ethnic Russians get defeated in Ukraine (it’s heading that way, and would likely lead to a large-scale cleansing campaign), or Russia gets humiliated in Syria (Syria/Assad is basically on its last legs – almost every man who could fight is either dead, fled, or in the army), or the plunge in oil prices plus Western sanctions manage to destroy Russian economy.

US seems to hope this would shatter popular support for Putin, and he would be either replaced by US puppets like Miloshevich/Yanukovich/Shevarnadze, or Russia would disintegrate like Libya/Syria/Yugoslavia.

This doesn’t account for the fact that Russia has very low popular support for pro-Western opposition (i.e. 65,000 members and supporters of various opposition parties voted in 2012 elections for United Opposition Council. For comparison, in the US, Green Party alone has over 200,000 members).
To put it bluntly, 9 in 10 Russians view pro-Western politicians as hated clowns [snip].

Also, Russian government and society are far more centralized than tribe/ethnicity/religion split Middle Eastern and Balkan countries. [In other words, Russia doesn’t have that many fault lines that could be exploited to dismantle it.]

In short, if Putin is deposed due to perceived failure to stand up to the West [or if the balance of power in government shifts while the figurehead stays the same], he would likely be replaced by hawks, not doves. They would then obviously proceed to play a game of ICBM chicken with US, because really that’s the only major card they can play.

This process has already started, more or less – remember how Russia recently unveiled plans for ‘underwater ICBMs’, that are essentially impossible to detect or intercept?

… This whole scenario can very well end in two nuclear superpowers pushed into a Mexican standoff with constantly escalating stakes.

New Zealander: Look mate, I appreciate your passion and you do have some points, but your last line ‘two nuclear superpowers pushed into a Mexican standoff with constantly escalating stakes’, do you think we have not been there before? and yet we are all still here.

Tatzhit: Yeah, because USA managed to talk the Russians out of it. You think it’s gonna work a second time?

Maybe this will help explain my position a little more:
http://slavyangrad.org/2014/09/24/the-russia-they-lost/
New Zealander: Well, that’s one way to look at what occurred, but in reality the USA managed to call them out on it by wielding a very large stick rather than talk them out of it, so yes, it would likely be the outcome if it came to it again as the USA still has that same stick.

Anyway, good to see someone take an interest in such matters, but don’t go cashing in that life insurance policy just yet.
Tatzhit: Heh, I dunno about that. USA had a much larger stick than the Russians for three decades (parity in nukes was only achieved in late 70s), and that didn’t impress them at all.

No, I’m pretty sure by late 1980s Russians realized they were at this standoff for 40 years and no one shot, so they decided to lower their guard and be friends. They really thought they should try to accept the American way – hence, you know, voluntarily dismantling USSR, putting neoliberal economists in power, dramatically scaling back international presence, and all that.

In return, they got economic ruin of the 90s, continued economic pressure (remember that 1970s ‘anti-USSR’ Jackson-Vanik amendment was not repealed until 2012, when it was instantly replaced by Magnistky bill and soon after, US&EU sanctions), US-backed ethnic cleansing of the pro-Russian Serbs, continued NATO expansion to East Europe (sure, the Baltics voted for NATO – because they’re apartheid states where [many] Russians, even local-born, are banned from voting), and as a final straw – a US-backed coup in Ukraine, which led to the pro-Western half of the country basically shitting on the needs&wants of the other half.

Russians are coming back to the Soviet mindset FAST, and it’s not gonna be pretty when they get there.
http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/hey-obama-what-about-serbias-territorial-integrity/ri8092

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[I’ll leave any semi-accurate comparisons of today’s Russia with Weimar Republic, Russian Empire circa 1914, Japan 1905, etc. up to the readers – such mental exercises make for entertaining conversation, but the historical context is too different to make any solid conclusions.]
– 3. ‘NUKES UNDERWATER, NUKES IN SPACE, NUKES LAUNCHED BY COMPUTER': WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF A NEW COLD WAR

From a technical standpoint, we can all predict what would a renewed Cold War imply – even more proxy wars around the globe, more WMDs, possibly a renewed Iron Curtain.

That increases the risks, because it probably entails a massive nuclear proliferation on the part of Russia. In other words, more red buttons that need to be pressed as soon as any alarm goes off – because US missiles are now right on Russia’s borders, not across the ocean.

The reasoning is very simple: there are plenty of experts in Russia who are saying that, since Russia’s voluntary withdrawal and reduction of nuclear arsenals has completely failed to convince USA/NATO to adopt a similarly pacifist/isolationist stance, Russia should go back to what worked before, i.e. holding them at gunpoint. And since matching the US empire in conventional firepower is completely unrealistic[2], Russia should logically go all out on the Mutually Assured Destruction doctrine.

Nukes underwater (that one Russia is already building), nukes in space (cue this article), nukes built to intercept US nukes (since USA refused to cooperate and unilaterally withdrew from the ABM treaty in 2002, anyway), more systems designed to automatically launch nukes, stationing nuclear weapons in countries Russia would like to protect (just like the US does), etc. etc.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn28498-is-russia-building-an-underwater-drone-to-deliver-a-dirty-bomb/

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/russia-is-concerned-about-americas-far-off-space-weapons

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-135_anti-ballistic_missile_system

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Hand_(nuclear_war)
In fact, many argue that such measures may not be simply a smart geopolitical move, but a necessary condition for survival – massive nuclear rearmament as the only way to prevent Russia being decapitated in a rapid nuclear strike and/or dismantled in a US-led invasion (and these fears are far from baseless).

If you check out all the links above, you will see that the Russian leadership seems to be rapidly heading down that path already.

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/06/indications-u-s-planning-nuclear-attack-russia.html


4. ‘WE ARE AFRAID OF MUTUALLY ASSURED DESTRUCTION, THEREFORE RUSSIANS ARE TOO, AND WOULD ACCEPT THE FATE OF NORTH KOREA RATHER THAN DROP THE BOMB’ : DON’T THINK THAT OTHER CULTURES REASON LIKE YOU DO

There is one thing missing from this fact-based analysis: the mindset of the men with their fingers on the big red buttons.

The American public tends to think that the rest of the world is populated by similarly pragmatic, individualistic, and Hollywood-raised people. Because of this error, Americans always get very surprised when the natives respond to ‘democracy’ with jihad or, say, a communist uprising[3].

The same is true of the current situation:
Americans think that Russians are just as loss-averse as they are, so while there is a good chance of retaliation, nukes would never fly.

Therefore, nuclear escalation won’t be a real problem – at worst, Russia will become another Cuba/North Korea type country, too bothersome to invade but otherwise completely harmless.

And, as I’ll try to explain below… that is not entirely true.

5. ‘YOU DON’T KNOW IF SOMEONE HAS THE GUTS TO PULL THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOU’RE DEAD':
ONE CAN’T PROVE A MINDSET, BUT IT SHOULD DEFINITELY BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT

Before we proceed with a discussion of the fabled ‘Russian soul’, I need to point out that, unlike the historic facts and recent news I discussed up to this point, ‘mindset’ is a much more elusive concept. Sure, I can try to pin it down by focusing on a relatively narrow topic of ‘attitude to all-out war’, or even ‘nuclear war in popular culture’. I can present a few translated stories, or popular songs, or recent examples when people acted based on this mindset, to support my interpretation of what Russian leaders and military men are going to think as the world slides closer to Armageddon.

However, another article may present counter-arguments that sound equally compelling, especially to someone who does not know the culture.

When dealing with people’s beliefs, intentions, and potential future decisions, we really don’t find out for sure until the moment comes and we find out if the big red buttons get pressed or not.

So, I’ll give you my opinions and examples, take it for what it’s worth. I can’t guarantee that the mindset I explain will prevail, or even that nuclear escalation itself will continue and won’t be defused (if, say, Hillary miraculously loses next election and we get isolationist Trump or socialist Bernie).

I can only guarantee that this mindset exists, that it’s strong in Russia, and definitely worth keeping in mind.

6. ‘MOST RUSSIANS STILL SING WWII SONGS AT PARTIES’ : HISTORY OF ALL-OUT WAR

We won’t get bogged down in details of Russian history and national identity: first off, everyone knows Russians fought&won against every great conqueror from Golden Horde to Napoleon to Hitler, and second, the fine historic details don’t matter – what matters is that Russians believe their nation survived by standing up to empires that were far more powerful, via great effort and sacrifice (more on this subject here). I suppose the best way to demonstrate this belief is through popular culture, and situations from recent memory when this belief played a crucial role.
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=716_1435271196
For example, here’s a WWII song. Easy to remember, depressing by Western standards but quite OK for East Europe.
The catch is that it remains an extremely popular party song today. For Russians, singing WWII songs is a completely normal thing (as well as songs about other wars). On the other hand, I can’t remember a single American party where anyone would play WWII songs, much less sing them.

Exhibit A: ‘SINGING WAR SONGS MAKES COLLEGE STUDENT A CELEBRITY IN 2011′

Ok, so those old songs can be explained by memories and tradition.
But the next one, below, is only a few years old. The guy who sings it used to be a college student and became crazy popular because he sings stuff like that. In short, war songs are not a fading memory, but a permanent part of culture.

 

[in these two, I could not fix the subs, so translations are not as good]

Exhibit B: ‘WHEN WAS THIS POEM WRITTEN?’
Here’s a famous poem that is fairly representative of the ideas discussed – talking about Russia’s history, it’s unique ‘mindset’, and the implications (it also claims Russians are ‘Eurasian’ and not European, i.e. the aforementioned ‘Pro-Westerners vs Pro-Russians’ debate, and the skipped part talks about siding with Chinese against Europe, but thankfully we don’t need to discuss those subjects).

‘Scythians’ by Aleksandr Blok

Tr. Alex Miller, with corrections/editing by yours truly

You are but millions. Our unnumbered nations

Are as the sands upon the sounding shore.

We are the Scythians! We are the slit-eyed Asians!

Try to wage war with us—you’ll try no more!

For you – whole centuries. For us —a single hour.

Like willing serfs, obeying and abhorred,

We held the shield between two hostile powers—

Old Europe and the raging Mongol horde.

For centuries you’ve watched our Eastern lands,

Fished for our pearls and bartered them for grain;

Made mockery of us, laid out your plans

And oiled the cannons for the great campaign.

The hour has come. Doom flies on beating wing.

Each day augments the old outrageous score.

Soon not a trace of dead or living thing

Shall stand where your empires thrived before.

O Ancient World, before your culture dies,

Whilst failing life within you breathes and thinks,

Pause and be wise, as Oedipus was wise,

And solve the age-old riddle of the Sphinx.

That sphinx is Russia – sad and yet elated,

And weeping black and bloody tears enough,

At you with longing she has looked and waited,

With love that turns to hate, and hate—to love.

Yes, love! For you of Western lands and birth

No longer know the love our blood enjoys.

You have forgotten there’s a love on Earth

That burns like fire and, like fire, destroys.

We love cold Science passionately pursued;

The visionary fire of inspiration;

The salt of Gallic wit, so subtly shrewd,

And the grim genius of German nation.

We know the hell of a Parisian street,

And Venice, cool in water and in stone;

The scent of lemons in the southern heat;

And fuming pyres of soot-begrimed Cologne.

We love raw flesh, its color and its stench.

We love to taste it in our hungry maws.

Are we to blame then, if your ribs should crunch,

Fragile between our massive, gentle paws?

Come join us then! From horror and from strife

Turn to the peace of welcoming embrace.

There is still time. Keep in its sheath your knife.

Old West, we can be brothers to your race.

But if you spurn us, then we shall not mourn.

We too can think deceitfulness no crime,

And countless generations yet unborn

Shall curse your memory until the end of time.

[snip]

For the last time, old world, we bid you come,

Feast as an honest brother in our walls.

To share our peace and peaceful toil, as one…

Once only the barbarian lyre calls.
This poem wasn’t written this year, or this century. It was written as World War I was drawing to a close, and former allies were planning to dismember a disintegrating Russia. They didn’t heed the warnings, and fledgling Soviet state was attacked by ~16 foreign powers soon thereafter. Obviously, that turned out about as well as invading Russia usually does (not to mention began the whole Russians-distrust-America thing).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Russia_Intervention


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EXHIBIT C: ‘HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO COME BACK TO PATRIOTIC WAR MENTALITY?’

Here is another obscure piece of history that is very relevant to situation at hand:
The early Communists – who were internationalists, and fought Russian nationalist Whites in the 1918-1922 Civil war – weren’t too hot on the whole ‘Russian spirit’ thing, nor the ‘patriotic all-out war’ concept.
Back in the naive early days, Communists believed future international struggles would be largely ideological[4] and that common people of all nations would soon see the light and establish communism on their own. Wars would become obsolete and impossible, because working-class soldiers would refuse to die for their capitalist overlords (and by the way, this was one of the reasons the aforementioned Allied invasion of Russia failed).

That nonsense lasted for about two decades, but then USSR got a rude awakening through a series of smaller conflicts (notably with Japan and Finland), culminating in the 1941 Nazi invasion [5].

Lo and behold – Soviets came back to the tried-and-true ideology of the ‘Great Patriotic War’, talking about ‘Russian spirit’, the whole nine yards. Even the (previously suppressed) Orthodox Christianity was back on the menu within three months of the war’s start!

And, as we know, that ideological about-face worked exceedingly well – it wasn’t the numbers[6] or production that won the war (Nazis controlled far more population and industry than the Soviets did, especially after summer 1941), but good old-fashioned culturally motivated determination (see the description of this video).

That determination was not forgotten when WWII was over, and became an integral part of the Soviet ideology, and then was largely inherited by the Russian Federation.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Christians_in_the_Soviet_Union#World_War_II_rapprochement

The key lesson to be learned here is that defining features of national character don’t get erased in a couple decades, and come back rather rapidly when ‘triggered’.

EXHIBIT D: ‘SCRATCH A MODERN IT SPECIALIST AND YOU’LL FIND THE SAME WARRIOR SINGING THE SAME SONGS’

Yes, Russians have become somewhat ‘Americanized’ in the past couple decades – and one could try to argue that the Russian Federation, with its lack of official ideology and a largely apolitical population, has lost the ‘beehive attitude toward war’ mindset – but such changes have happened many times before, and are always rapidly reversed when push comes to shove.
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=272_1439878261&comments=1

http://thesaker.is/cuckoo-russian-national-idea-in-a-song/
No need to go back into history for more proof, or even go back to Afganistan and Chechnya [7] – take the still-smoldering Donbass war (or any other post-Soviet civil war, really).

One simply needs to read some memoirs by volunteers in such conflicts to see that you don’t need to dig very deep into a modern-day IT specialist or college student to find a Russian soldier straight out of Stalingrad or Kulikovo Pole (this memoir is quite typical of any post-Soviet conflict, actually – a random man, often without military experience, simply buys a train ticket, shows up and says ‘give me a rifle’).

https://www.stormfront.org/forum/t250261/

http://fortruss.blogspot.com/2015/07/confessions-of-combatant.html

[Donbass self-defense militia.
Yup, those men don’t look impressive. And a lot of them are not. But a great many are – they stood up to an army and won, after all. A huge feat even if Russia did help under the table.]

[And hey, here are those people singing 1970s Soviet songs about the times of old, while readying for combat in 2014. Need more proof they’re motivated by age-old mentality?]

7. ‘I USED TO BE A DESTROYER OF WORLDS': WARRIOR’S NOSTALGIA

Yet another layer to this whole ‘mentality’ discussion is the fact that USSR did spent 40 years in a Mexican standoff with most of the world, and what it left behind weren’t just the weapons of war, but the men trained & ready to use them, and sons raised by these men.
There is a certain level of nostalgia about the past imperial might present throughout Soviet space, and going back to familiar patterns is easy.
Maybe, if the West stopped poking the bear for another generation or two, hipsters and the like would’ve completely taken over Russia – but that didn’t happen, for better or for worse.
Here’s a fairly representative example – just some reminiscing by a former chemical warfare officer. Men like these often formed the backbone of various volunteer militia units.

===
I STILL CAN

I still know how to poison water wells, use gerbils to spread infection, how to put on a gas mask in under two seconds.

I can jumpstart a machine for making poisonous smoke, tell adamsite from phosgene, iprite from zomane, CS from chloracetophenon by smell and appearance.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phosgene

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfur_mustard

I know the ‘symptoms’, the ‘lethal factors’, the ‘delivery methods’.

I can go without sleep for three days, or wake-up every 60 minutes, or sleep standing up; can keep that up for 10 days or so.

I can go without water or food, while running or marching in full NBC kit, meaning a rubberized suit and gas mask; only stopping occasionally to drain sweat from the mask – our masks don’t have an automatic sweat valve, and eventually it accumulates and starts getting in the nose.

I see well at night, can deal with frostbite and heatstroke. I don’t get panicky if my teeth start wobbling and my gums start bleeding. I know what to do.

I know edible grasses and plants; I know that, if you chew long enough, you can even eat moss.

I can swim – during a calm or a storm, with the current or against it, with fins or without, with a heated diving suit or naked. I can swim like that for a long time.
I can leave my family behind for months, can go to ‘defend national interests’, can suddenly depart and leave for some godforsaken place.
I can live in a frozen room with 10 other people, with families – mine and somebody else’s – sleeping under multiple blankets fully clothed.

I can shoot – in the heat, when the barrel overheats – and in the cold, when fingers can stick to bare metal.

I can organize firing positions on the roof of house so that machine guns control the entire block, I can plan out a raid or an ambush, I know how to properly throw grenades or kill a man with one blow – humans are so easy to kill.

I can still do all these things…’
====

Now that we have established that Russians do have a tradition of fighting ‘people’s wars’ and that this mentality resurfaces whenever a challenge presents itself, we can move on to the final section:
8. AN ALL-OUT WAR THAT GOES NUCLEAR

We can come back to the story from a Russian submariner that started it all. Here’s a small excerpt:

====
Near-WW III experience

Today, I want to tell you about how I fought in WWIII. Let’s be honest here – all of you, despite being highly educated, well-read and quite cultured, don’t really understand how it will happen.

You doubtlessly watched a lot of movies about battles, sieges, raids and wars, and I can imagine what you think when you hear the word ‘war’. Low-flying planes, sirens, alarms on radio and television, overloaded trains and convoys of refugees, men with stern faces and women waving handkerchiefs to the departing ships. That’s your first image. If you start thinking more deeply, then it’s about grief, hunger, misery, disease, and more grief. But. All of these images in your head – they are about past wars. A truly modern war will be quite different: you’re sleeping, and then you are dead. And the war is already over, more or less, although you did not even know it started.

[the rest of the story is very interesting, profanity-laden and funny, but I had to move it into a separate post for brevity]

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=63c_1450155007

=======

As discussed, this story highlights two important things: first off, the world as we know it can be ended within 30 minutes, at a press of a button, and secondly, both the author and his comrades would take it so calmly, he wasn’t even able to tell whether they were ending the world or not.

Hopefully, I explained some of the reasons they think like that, even though it’s really hard to put a finger on the attitude to nuclear war specifically.

I suppose the only other thing I can present about that is another Russian ‘folk song’ – that one, about nuclear war specifically. It’s variously known as the ‘Hymn of the Strategic Rocket Troops’, ‘Song of the Rocketmen , or simply ‘Mushroom Cloud Song’. It’s obviously an unofficial joke, but it’s known to most Russians I met, and also sometimes sung at parties. Innumerable versions exist, the one I translated is somewhat more depressing than average – so I suppose it can also serve as my closing statement:

MUSHROOM CLOUD SONG

Last ICBMs fly off into the sky,
Nothing left to do but sit and wait.
And although NewYorkers still got time to cry –
In Tel-Aviv and London it’s too late

Maybe we hit someone who did not deserve,
Please forgive us if that is the case,
Shelter doors are making their final swerve –
Now expect incoming to our base…

Refrain:
Blanketing, blanketing, phosgene gas spreading thin
Trying to find a hole in my mask and suit.
Everyone, everyone tries to think happy things,
When the ICBMs are finishing their route.

Flashes on horizon make a splending view,
Mushroom clouds are nicely stratified.
Buddy was just running next to me and you
And in seconds, he has been deep-fried.

Our jets are racing to the West,
Can’t find Paris on the burning plain
Eiffel Tower couldn’t take the test –
H-bomb threw it into boiling Seine

Refrain:
Blanketing, blanketing, sarin gas spreading thin
Trying to find a hole in my mask and suit.
Everyone, everyone tries to think happy things,
When the ICBMs are finishing their route.

Mushrooms looming everywhere I can see,
Radiation counter stuck past ten.
Tanks are burning just like Christmas trees –
Why we even bothered making them?

Atmospheric detonation in the sky,
Sand is slowly melting underfoot.
Pity I am low on oxygen supply,
Lungs don’t like radioactive soot!

Refrain:
Blanketing, blanketing, sarin gas spreading thin
Think it has found a hole somewhere in my boot.
Everyone, everyone tries to think happy things,
Sarin can be absorbed through skin exposure route.

Glowing rain pours down from a black cloud,
Floods a country by the name Zaire.
Third world comrades really hoped to sit this out
But we all still share atmosphere!

Radiation limits all exceeded,
No one walking on the blackened plain
Just cockroaches – smiling, unimpeded
Dancing graceful through the acid rain.

Refrain:
Blanketing, blanketing, phosgene gas spreading thin
And what goes around surely comes around.
Everyone, everyone tries to think happy things,
Maybe a few of us will hide out underground.

Here is a different version of the same song, done in a more modern style and with a video


(and here is how it would be sung at house parties)

Not much to add here – hopefully this long and meandering article leaves you, the audience, with a better understanding of how and why the world might end in relatively near future.

I won’t discuss the implications because I think they’re obvious – ‘end the neocon’s reign in US politics before they end humanity’s reign on this planet’, and all that.
Another good way to put it – if the War on Terror brought us 50 times more terror, where would the current push towards war with a nuclear superpower get us?

NOTES:

[1] Georgia 2008 – slap on the hand for an invasion and murdering/wounding dozens of Russian peacekeepers, Crimea 2014 – an ‘invasion’ that involved less shooting than an average evening in Atlanta due to being overwhelmingly supported by both local population and the ‘defending’ UAF units, Syria 2015 – moderate-sized aerial intervention on the side of the elected government, four years after a dozen other countries threw their support behind religious extremists

[2] Once again, refer to the military spending graph.
Note that the US government spends more on the military today than at the height of the Cold War, even though the biggest official enemy (ISIS) has an army at least a hundred times smaller than the now-defunct Warsaw Pact.
Also note that Europe, as well as a lot of Middle East and Asia, are US satellites that host US military bases, so the disparity in military capability is in fact ~twice larger than the graph would suggest.

[3] As a side note, I bet if USSR was still around, a lot of Middle Eastern insurgents would parrot communist or Maoist slogans to get Russian/Chinese weapons, rather than the islamist rhetoric that gets them Saudi/Turkish arms nowadays… but I digress.
[4] This opinion was based on the Russian Civil War, mostly, where far more militarily competent Whites lost simply because they had no ideology to offer (other than supporting a dead tzar that they themselves had overthrown), and the soldiers of foreign powers arrived disillusioned from trenches of WWI and very often sympathetic to the Bolshevik cause

[5] By the way, the Germans and Austrians did almost go Communist, but eventually the Reds were defeated in what amounted to slow-boiling civil wars, and Nazis took over

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weimar_paramilitary_groups

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austrian_Civil_War

http://tatzhit.livejournal.com/6888.html

[6] Contrary to popular belief, Soviets didn’t ‘lose ten men for every German’, but more like 3 for every 2.

Official Goebbels-era German casualty stats are indeed very low at 3-4 million, but more modern estimates put the count at about 5-5.5 million. Once we add combat deaths of Romanians, Finns, Hungarians, and other Nazi allies, the overall Axis losses in the East Front are about 6-7 million, compared to Red Army losses of about 9-11 million. It is still worth noting that Soviets lost a much greater proportion of the population than the Axis powers, most of it was much earlier in the war, and it didn’t discourage them.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_casualties_in_World_War_II#Statistical_study_by_R.C3.BCdiger_Overmans

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties_of_the_Soviet_Union#Reconciliation_of_persons_conscripted

[7] Check out the ideology in that link. As I said, history is about what you believe…
Note that the author’s opening statement talks about the same ‘Russian idea of resistance’ that I’m discussing here, and claims that it has been revived yet again

Extra links from very Western sources:

http://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_how_russia_has_come_to_loathe_the_west311346

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/russia’s-moral-framework-why-it-matters-13923

 

The Essential Saker: from the trenches of the emerging multipolar world