Why do I say this today.
Because as a former professional officer in the US Army I am confused and disgusted by what I’m seeing in the Ukraine today.
The whole point in engaging in armed conflict is to further your nation-state’s aims by using violence. It is the purest bullshit that “violence never solves anything,” because it does. To paraphrase Josef Stalin, “No man, no problem.” However, when you remove the man, his community remembers. It matters how you remove the man (or woman). I’ll come back to this point in a moment.
The ultra violence we are all seeing in this most disastrous of wars is reminiscent of World War Two for a reason; ie it seems as if the Red Army of 1941 has been dropped out of history and onto the world’s front pages. Indiscriminate shelling of cities, deliberate targeting of civilians, “filtration” of populations and removal of entire communities NKVD style, the opening of “requalification camps” for teachers in captured territories, hell, even chucking people into wells.
Any student of the Second World War will recognize these tactics, they are old-school hallmarks of Soviet occupation. They are meant to deliberately terrorize and cow the population. Period. To a certain extent, these tactics work, but only in the short-term.
I’ll ask you a question. Why are the Ukrainians fighting like weasels for their homes, besides the obvious?
Because the Ukrainians remember occupation and the terror campaigns of the 1930’s, when millions died under Soviet rule. These campaigns to force the Ukrainian peasantry to accept force collectivization worked, in the short-term. Long term? Not so much. At this point there can be little doubt that the Ukrainian population as a whole is willing to put up a tremendous fight against Russian forces, and any idiot can see the result; very, very heavy casualties amongst the invading forces.
I won’t say that Western forces haven’t tried terror before, because we absolutely have. The examples are too numerous to count. I’ll cite one, the deliberate targeting of the civilian infrastructure and population of Germany in World War Two. We burned the German cities to the ground, we killed hundreds of thousands of German civilians in cities like Dresden, Berlin, Düsseldorf, etc.
The result? A strengthened Nazi party, an SS, Wehrmacht and Volksturm that fought like hell until the last day of the war, and in some cases past the official end date. See the fight in Aschaffenburg, to name but one example. True, the Nazi leadership hanged a few people to concentrate the minds of the locals, but many fought from their own accord.
They fought to the bitter end because of terror, the effects of which were studied after the war. The strategic bombing campaign in Germany was ruled a net loss and huge resource sink because it failed in its aim: to sap the civilian population’s resolve and will to fight.
As a result of experience, Western armies no longer rely upon civilian-focused terror. Not because we’re nice guys, but because it doesn’t work.
If you kill a bunch of teachers and pregnant women, resolve hardens amongst the population to make the fight as painful as possible for an invading force.
It matters how you remove the combatant, the man who is giving you problems. Civilians will accept the loss of a soldier, although they will grieve his death. Everyone understands that when you sign a contract, you are putting your one and only ass on the line. It’s the same with partisans.
What people don’t understand is when you kill seemingly innocent bystanders, especially when it’s as obvious as the nose on your face that you did it on purpose. Not a good look to dump a missile on a train station that was painted with “for the children.” Counter-productive to drop some random guy on a bicycle. Stupid to pop a mayor, and her family, and dump them into a hole.
These types of actions make even the biggest milquetoast think “this could happen to me.” This supposed weenie will summon whatever courage they possess and reach for a rifle or support local forces, regular or irregular.
So, if you’re wondering why the Ukrainians are fighting like hell, then look no further than the dead of Bucha.
Terror. It kills a lot more of your soldiers and wastes resources.
This is the definition of unprofessionalism.