Monday, February 28, 2022

Hubris is costly - to everyone

 Hubrisexcessive pride or self-confidence.

I'm sure Sun Tzu had something to say about it as it relates to war but it has been too long since I read The Art of War. I never did wade through Clausewitz but he certainly would have had reason to comment on it as much as anyone since Napoleon is one of the finest examples.

Napoleon said "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake", so Kutuzov didn't. Napoleon made some of the most careful logistical preparations to supply his troops, yet Kutuzov knew Napoleon was beaten when he crossed the Nieman River with half a million men and invaded Russia.  He was over confident but faced conditions he had no knowledge of. Within 6 weeks half the men were dead from weather, disease and starvation. The supply trains couldn't keep up and there was no way that many troops and animals could live off the land as they had in western Europe.

Kutuzov could see no reason to fight and simply kept retreating, though there were smaller battles. Russian nobility were hungering for a fight since it meant glory and honour and all that stuff so Kutuzov was finally forced into meeting the French Army at Borodino. The Russians lost but Kutuzov won as he could easily replace his losses and Napoleon could not. Long vs short supply lines.

Napoleon had only 100,000 men when he entered a deserted Moscow in mid-September. He expected Alexander to sue for peace because that was how it was done. Alexander sat in St Petersburg while Napoleon strewed in an empty city. Who started the fire is debatable but the city burned and Napoleon pulled out. He had to go back the way he came as the Russian army blocked him from going a southern route. His men starved and froze. He arrived at the Berezina River with 40,000 men and 40,000 hangers on, picked up in Moscow. The Russian army under Chichagov was waiting for them and The Grande Armee took a heavy beating but Napoleon was allowed to escape.

Then the real cold weather set in and maybe 10,000 made it back to France

Hubris. Chichagov could have captured Napoleon but did not think it was important. This resulted in 3 more years of war and thousands of more lost lives. 

This is a very very abridged version. Wikipedia is a good initial reference. 

Tolstoy's War and Peace is a wonderful read and not a bad history of the war

1812: Napoleon's Russian Campaign by Richard K Klein is the comprehensive history I have read

National Museum in Poznan,  artist January Suchodolski 1866
the Battle of Borozina

Next blog with be on the ultimate Hubris - Operation 
Barbarossa, Hitler's Invasion of Russia

Saturday, February 26, 2022

The Kyiv Blitz Enters Day Three

 The Russians have run into very strong resistance all over Ukraine and are making little or no progress according to Euromaidan Press. Kyiv is a hell hole. More like Stalingrad than London from what I can gather. Ukraine is fighting back ferociously on all fronts and chewing up Russian soldiers and hardware. Not fast enough but grinding them down. Russia has not achieved air superiority which is amazing. 

Friends in Dnipro say it is calm, streets are being patrolled and everyone is pitching in. Zhovti Vody went on high alert yesterday as a Russian fighter circled the town around noon. A blackout was ordered for after 6 pm in case we were to be bombed. If they are going to bomb every little town of 40,000 they will be busy. 

Our family in town have packed go-bags, as have we but do not expect to need them as the ground war is not likely to get here. We have our DIL Lina and her friend Elena and 8 yr old son staying with us as we are far enough out of town we are not likely to get bombed anyhow. 

Our granddaughter Masha is still at the Polish border, the wait there is days long. I hope she makes it across and doesn't decide to come back to Kyiv and fight. There are lots of kids her age doing just that. One journalist asked a girl, "What are you going to do today?" "Make Molotov cocktails". 

Ukraine can well take as its battle cry the final words of 13 brave soldiers on Snake Island who told the Russian battle ship captain to GFY. 

For up-to-the minute information get on Twitter.

Subscribe to Kyiv Independent Newsletter (free)

Euromaidan Press is another good source of constantly updated information

from Euromaidan Press

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Update on War in Ukraine

 This is just to say we are still here and the lights are still on. 

An update under the circumstances will be like a certificate of health for a hooker in Tijuana. Good for 15 minutes and only in the Doctor's office. 

Putin's unholy rant last night contained more lies per minute than anything Trump could have done. Trump is an amateur. 

Russia has recognized the Donbas Republics to include the entirety of Luhansk and Donetsk Oblast, though they currently control less than one third. 

The Russian embassy in Kyiv is burning documents.

Civilians are being evacuated from Donbas to ensure the highways are clear for military use (same was done in Georgia).

The front line is undergoing heavy shelling to try to provoke a Ukrainian response (worked in in Georgia).

Germany has cancelled approval of Nord Stream II. USA has recognized Russian actions as a full invasion and will impose all sanctions.

For up-to-date stuff go to Twitter. I am just learning how to use it so don't know how to send links yet. I will try and see if this works. I am following people whose names I recognize and whose opinions I have read elsewhere and respect. 

For honest journalism go to Kyiv Independent 

Many thanks for all the encouraging messages from blogger and Facebook friends. 

Kindergarten hit in Stanytsia Luhanska five days ago

Kindergarten hit in Stanytsia Luhanska five days ago

No one was killed 

Friday, February 18, 2022

Schrodinger's War

Pulling the petals off a daisy (she loves me; she loves me not) would be about as useful as trying to sort any usefulness from the many pundits prognosticating on the likelihood of war with Russia. 

I have shared to Facebook a few positive spins simply to reassure people at home. I am not so reassured any more. Last count was 170,000 to 190,000 troops including National Guard surrounding us on four sides, looking for an excuse to invade.

There has been a huge increase in shelling of towns and villages, including a kindergarten, from the Russian side along the Donbas front , in a village, as the Ukrainians are under orders not to fire back and escalate the situation. Of course the Russians blame the Ukrainians. 

Today a Russian appointed leader, Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic of Donbas, have ordered the evacuation of civilians, especially women and children, into neighbouring Russia out of fear of Ukrainian  military attacks, stating that the country is headed for war. 

This is 1.5 to 2 million people. Residents there are angry at the forced evacuation saying nothing is happening and everything is staged. Does this include pictures of lineups at gas pumps, I wonder? Putin reacted to the situation in the Donbass. Acting head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations urgently flies to the Rostov region. On behalf of the President, he will create conditions for the accommodation of refugees. Everyone arriving in the Rostov region from the Donbass will be given 10,000 rubles each.

That is one convoy I would avoid like the plague. Have you seen pictures of the Highway of Death in Iraq after the first Iraqi war? The Russians will shell it and blame the Ukrainians. Then they have their war. 

A scenario discussed on Ukrainian Twitter: buses with residents of Luhansk and Donetsk regions, who have been ordered to evacuate to Russia (and many of whom hold Russian passports), may be hit by Russian artillery and an attack would be blamed on Ukraine as a pretext for an invasion.

A car bomb exploded under the car of Major General Denis Sinenkov, chief of the DPR People's Militia Directorate. He was not in the car. Surprise, surprise, surprise. Reporters were immediately (instantaneously?) at the scene claiming terrorist bomb. Of course.

The FSB and GRU have compiled detailed list of people to be assassinated or jailed when they attack and as they take over territory. This will include dissidents from Russia and Belarus, Ukrainian politicians, anyone deemed in opposition or who could potentially lead opposition. (A list like that could run into many thousands. When Suharto overthrew Sukarno in Indonesia in 1967, he had a list of thousands of people to assassinate, handily supplied by the CIA of course). 

The ability to mount partisan resistance will depend n people's willingness to die and on the level of counter insurgency measures taken. How many Lidice's will people suffer before giving in. Western Ukraine had a taste of it from 1945 to 1955 when the Red Army and KGB put down the partisans fighting for Ukrainian independence. Thousands killed and deported. If Russia attacks, there is nothing to gain by playing nice inside Ukraine's borders.

I have two bottles of expensive whisky that Tanya bought me that I am going to start drinking. I'm not leaving them for the Russian Philistines.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Thoughts on Freedom

 The past couple of weeks have been hard for me to collect my thoughts enough to write a coherent post. Constant updates on both the pending Russian invasion (a continuation of one they began in 2014) and the so called "Freedom Convoy" creating chaos across Canada have kept me busy reading but never catching up.

The Freedom Convoy is doing exactly what it was intended to do, play on people's anger in the name of freedom. It had nothing to do with the cross-border vaccination mandate which was the same for bother Canada and USA. That was a smoke screen, designed to give some measure of legitimacy and attract truckers to the cause. No one has ever used big rigs as heavy weapons before though the organizers tried it in 2019. The fact that it has the support of the extreme right in Canada, America and elsewhere in the world, should make it clear it is NOT about freedom.

Then there is Ukraine which after centuries of colonial domination by Poland or Russia, is trying to be free to set its own course as a nation. A free and democratic nation (even such as it is) on the Russian border is a great threat to Putin. And since Putin cannot bring Russia into the 20 century, never mind the 21st, he is determined to take the rest of the world down to their level. 

The western nations led by USA are correct in calling out Putin's aggression as an immediate danger for two reasons. If they downplayed it and Russia did attack us, it would be political suicide, especially after Biden downplayed the DoD's call for an advance evacuation plan of Afghanistan. It also puts the West in control of the narrative and Russia is left to deny deny deny and in fact change their plans if they were indeed exposed. 

I will write a decent post about the Freedom Convoy sometime. Just not right now. 

Friday, February 4, 2022

Fighting the Black Dog


Sunless days are not kind to me. I need sun in my face every day. Looked at buying a sun lamp but thought maybe lengthening days would help. Yes, if every day wasn't cloudy.

I take Lucky out for his midnight ablutions. Takes toy, drops toy and pees, checks neighbours cat who sleeps in a nest in our outbuilding, takes a dump, picks up toy, goes back to the house to bed. Then I lie awake for hours fighting battles from yesterday, 10 years ago, 30 years ago, 50 years ago with people long since dead. Nothing important.

My oldest is a professional counsellor so she gets dumped on too often. Since I am a relative she can't charge me. she gave me a couple of meditation apps I will try out. Insight Timer and 

I walked Lucky today. First time since he dumped me on my face a week ago. Temp was -2C and streets were mostly free of ice. Had a near miss but stayed upright. Getting out helped both his mood and mine. 

In the meantime, listening to this young lady, now 13, is a mood lifter. Enjoy.