Tom Diaz

Victory Day, День Победы–May 9th

In Russia, War and Rumors of War on May 8, 2017 at 3:29 pm

Russian Officer o2

 

May 9th is celebrated in Russia as Victory Day, the final defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, and the conclusion of what Russians call The Great Patriotic War.

Putting wholly aside the political wars, cold and hot, that followed and still simmer, two things have to amaze anyone who has bothered to learn the real history of the Second World War. The first is the disparate weight that the Soviet Union carried in winning the war. The second is the shocking difference between the destruction and casualties in the West (including even “war-battered Britain”) and those of the East.

The Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College posted an excellent paper on this questions, The Soviet Experience in World War Two, by J.T. Dykman. What follows are relevant excerpts:

Overview

Americans have little conception of the Soviet Union’s experience in World War II. No cities in the United States were besieged, not a single bomb was dropped by an enemy airplane on any of our 48 states, no part of our population was enslaved, starved or murdered, and not one village, town or city was completely destroyed or even heard a shot fired in anger.

About the only way we can begin to understand is through imagination. The distance between Moscow and Berlin is about the same as that separating New York City and Atlanta. Imagine twenty million people being violently killed between those two American cities in four years. The Eastern Front in the war wound like a serpent from Sevastopol on the Black Sea to Leningrad on the Baltic. Including the twists, bulges and turns of the line of battle at the height of German penetration, November 1942, the line would have stretched from Baltimore to Cheyenne, Wyoming. In place of Leningrad, can you fathom Chicago under bitter siege and constant shelling for 900 days? Is it possible for us to mentally picture thousands of dead bodies lying on the frozen streets between Lake Shore Drive and Evanston? Could we endure seeing a million people die, mostly from starvation, during the Chicago siege or begin to fathom our own citizens engaging in cannibalism for profit? At the same time of the Chicago siege think of Cincinnati becoming a battleground such as Stalingrad where not a single structure was left habitable and several hundred thousand soldiers killed each other in the process of leveling the city. Mentally switch names such as Smolensk, Karkov, Minsk, Kiev and Rostov for American cities and picture them destroyed and silenced. If such images are possible for us to even conceive, we can begin to understand why Americans refer to the conflict as World War Two, but the Russians universally refer to it as the Great Patriotic War.

The Numbers

The populations of the United States and the USSR were about the same, 130,000,000, when both nations went to war within six months of each other in 1941. To Americans, we were sending our boys to fight a foreign war that we’d never experience. To the Soviets, it was an up front and personal war of monumental savagery. America would lose slightly more than 400,000 soldiers (killed or missing) and almost no civilians during World War II and the USSR, depending on which historian you believe, would lose at least 11,000,000 soldiers (killed and missing) as well as somewhere between 7,000,000 and 20,000,000 million of its civilian population during the Great Patriotic War.

Numbers of such dimensions are hard to grasp in the abstract. This graphic from Business Insider helps understand the relative losses of the principal combatants:

this-chart-shows-the-astounding-devastation-of-world-war-ii

War is Hell.

We Had Our Chance Three Times Before—Moses, Jesus, And Mohamed. Now The Destroyer Is Here

In Cronatos Hybamper, Political Satire on January 19, 2017 at 4:16 pm

blackpearl

“All right,” Jyonah Fujimaki said more calmly. “All right. Yes, perhaps a trinity, but not necessarily in the sense of any given religion. More like in the mystery sense. I don’t pretend to know all that could be revealed here. But, you, Dr. Rivera. What was the first test of the atomic bomb called?”

“I don’t know,” Rivera answered acidly. “A ‘test?’”

“You do know!” Fujimaki shouted angrily. “What was the name of the project?”

“Oh,” Quin rolled her eyes. “Trinity. You mean, Trinity?”

“Very good,” he replied. “Very good. And what did Dr. Oppenheimer observe at the moment of the explosion?”

Quin shook her head.

“What is this, Doctor, Trivial Pursuit?”

She only barely knew who Oppenheimer was, much less what he might or might not have said. General Sanders furrowed his brow. It was on the tip of his tongue. The furtive guard moved a bit more quickly, sensing that he was far enough out of the angry scientist’s visual field to risk a few more steps.

“’I am become Death,’” whispered Minister Biryukov. “’I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.’”

“Yes. Excellent, Minister. Your English has improved remarkably. I am become Death. We had our chance three times before—Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed. Now the Destroyer is here. And how arrogant, even of the confused Dr. Oppenheimer. We are not destroyers of worlds. We cannot be destroyers of worlds. Only God can do that. We can only destroy each other. Black Pearl is here to show us a New Eden and tell us to beat our swords into—”

From Cronatos Hybamper –An Extraordinary Incident by Tom Diaz

Although Cronatos is in form a “political satire,” its entire fictional premise—what makes the characters act as they do—is the sudden and simultaneous appearance of three mysterious objects. One of the characters, a brilliant astrophysicist named Jyonah Fujimaki, proposes that these objects are in fact the final manifestation of God, giving humanity one last chance.

The objects appear in deep Alaska, Siberia, and the Negev Desert. They can only be accessed through invisible portals. They look like shimmering black pearls, each about 30 meters high. The kicker is that, within the portal, each appears to be creating an entirely new universe, one in which nothing electromagnetic works. In the face of this phenomenon, politicians, religious leaders, military commanders, spy agencies, and corporate magnates do pretty much what they do in real life—hence, the satire.

How “realistic” is the idea? Hell, I don’t know. I know of few religious traditions that would say the entity that they call “God” actually appeared in a way that human beings could experience directly (face to whatever) without being fried or scared senseless. The Deity’s appearances are usually indirect, mysterious, and through understandable media, such as prophets. Or, in this case, mysterious Black Pearls.

What I insist is indeed “realistic” is that existing religious and political establishments would uniformly resist such a “last warning” and seek to discredit it. End of Days or not, the establishment will cling to its human ways. It always has and always will.

You can read more and open an introduction to the novel here:

From Miniskirts to Shoulder Boards—Women in the Russian Military

In Cronatos Hybamper, Espionage, Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence, Political Satire, Putin, Russia, Russian Army, Ukraine, War and Rumors of War on January 13, 2017 at 11:50 am

putins-miniskirt-army

The mysterious and intoxicating beauty rarely left Russia. But she was definitely confirmed by multi-sourced intelligence to be the most dynamic senior force in the Russian military research and development hierarchy. If there was a glass ceiling in the Russian armed services, she refused to accept it. Colonel Nadezhda Sergeevna Vodovatova was one of a handful of women who had not merely overcome, but blasted through, the sexism that still abounded in Russia’s hierarchy of power. Even President Gribov was said to treat her as a full equal, not merely some sexy dangle to be shown now and again, but a true equal.

From Cronatos Hybamper –An Extraordinary Incident by Tom Diaz

Three strong women play pivotal roles in the novel Cronatos Hybamper. Others have lesser but key places in the narrative.

Things get very complicated when Russian Colonel Nadezhda Sergeevna Vodovatova and a CIA operations officer go toe-to-toe. (You’ll have to read the novel to get the full significance of that very deliberate double entendre. I won’t spoil the plot by leaking any more classified data on that series of events.)

One might fairly ask, so what is the status of women, and especially high-ranking women, in the real life of the Russian armed forces?

Well, it turns out that there actually is woman who is a Russian Deputy Minister of Defense. Her name is Tatiana Shevtsova. However, unlike Col. Vodovatova, Shevtsova’s career was made in the civil service and not in the military.

Another woman, Natalia Poklonskaya, was supposedly the youngest general in Russia when she resigned and was elected to the Duma, or parliament. But, her rank was also not military. She was formerly the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Crimea. She also has the distinction of being the only woman on the United States’ list of individual sanctions against Ukrainian separatists and Russians.

Poklonskaya enjoys international fame for her beauty, according to Wikipedia:

After a video of Poklonskaya at a press conference on 11 March 2014 was uploaded to YouTube, her attractiveness and youth went viral among Japanese and Chinese internet users and also became the focus of attention of Internet communities…Within a month, the press conference was viewed over 1.7 million times. Many fan-created anime-style images of her uploaded to the Internet also attracted international media attention. A music video by Enjoykin based on Poklonskaya’s press conferences and interviews has had 20 million views on YouTube.

The only “real” female Russian military general I could find in my background research was General Yelena Knyazeva, deputy chief of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Main Department for International Military Cooperation. According to the Russian outlet Sputnik News. “She became Russia’s first woman general in almost two decades and second after woman cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, who was bestowed the rank of the Major General Lieutenant of the Air Force in the middle of the 90s.”

I’m not sure that General Knyazeva’s views on gender would fly in the U.S. military, however. “Maybe it would be good [for women to do voluntary service], but I think it’s better for women to get married, have children and bring up their sons who will serve their Motherland,” Knyazeva, the only one-star female officer in Russia’s Armed Forces, told RIA Novosti.

On the lighter side, one should not miss the current (real) Russian President’s so-called “Army in Miniskirts.” An interview with one of the female soldiers can be found on a Pravda Report on You Tube.

You can buy the novel and read about Colonel Nadezhda Sergeevna Vodovatova and the other strong women characters in Cronatos by following the link below, which also opens a long read from the book’s beginning pages.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: