More and more the current war in the Ukraine resembles World War II. It has bombed out cities, tanks galore, genocide and even a budding world alliance against the perpetrator of the war. It also will soon have its equivalent of V-E Day and V-J Day. The United States celebrated Victory in Europe Day on May 8, 1945. The USSR celebrated on May 9, 1945, and that day continues with the Russian nation that replaced it.
AMERICAN WORLD WAR II HOLIDAY
The United States does not really have a World War II holiday. The anniversaries of famous war events like the Day of Infamy, D-Day, V-E Day, and V-J occur annually without much recognition. Memorial Day often contains a World War II component. But in general terms the memory of the so-called “Last Good War” by the greatest generation is fading from the national consciousness even faster than the generation that fought it dies.
The same cannot be said for said for the Civil War aka the War of Northern Aggression. That war lives on. We all saw the Confederate flag waving in the Capitol during the attempted coup on January 6, 2021. It is much more alive than World War II. One major difference between the two wars is that one was fought here and the other was fought over there. It is with the Russian invasion of Ukraine that we can glimpse some of the damage which General Sherman wreaked on Georgia. When we think about the Ukrainians have reacted to Russians we can start to understand the lasting hatred for the Yankee invaders and their modern elitist woke descendants evoke in the Confederates.
RUSSIAN WORLD WAR HOLIDAY
By contrast, in Russia, the celebration of the victory over Nazi Germany is a big deal. The war was fought on Russian land and not just over there. Russian cities paid a steep price. And the millions dead due to Stalin blur with the millions dead due to Hitler. So when Putin declares a war against Nazis in Ukraine, it resonates far more with the Russian people than it does when the term is used on Foxhub, in school board meetings, and over masks and vaccinations. We have trivialized and diluted the meaning of the term “Nazi” in a way that would be unacceptable in Russia. Putin is wrong about Nazis in Ukraine but he is right about the power of the term to the Russian people.
When the war began, Putin was ready to proclaim victory even beforehand. An article by the propaganda publication RIA Novosti was to be published after the pending occupation of Ukraine. By mistake, it was published prematurely before being removed from the website. It reveals the big plans the Peter-the-Great admirer had for his special military operation. The article describes Putin’s imperial plans for the total Russification of Ukraine and Belarus and change of the world order.
A new world is being born before our eyes. Russia’s military operation in Ukraine has ushered in a new era – in three dimensions at once. And of course, in the fourth, internal Russian. Here begins a new period both in ideology and in the very model of our socio-economic system – but this is worth talking about separately a little later.
Russia is restoring its unity; the tragedy of 1991, this terrible catastrophe in our history, its unnatural dislocation, has been overcome.
The victory press release continues in this vein. Putin has risen to the occasion to right the wrongs of history and to launch a new world order. Say what you want about the validity of the claims. It reveals a person who is thinking big. To convince him that his dreams will never be fulfilled and that instead he is a loser will not be easy. Look how hard it has been to convince the American Presidential loser that he is a loser!
WHO IS WINNING THE WAR?
Is Putin winning his war to fulfill an historic destiny? Based on American press coverage, the answer is “No!” The Russian army routinely is described as inept, incompetent, and damaged. A guessing game has ensued as to how many tens of thousands Russian soldiers are dead, wounded, or captured thereby undermining the efficiency of its “massive” forces. The Ukrainian fighters are always valiant. Shades of World War II, the American arsenal has been ramped up and is providing ever more powerful weaponry to confront the forces of evil. The pride of the Russian fleet sank. The Ukrainian capital was not captured. The battle has shifted eastward to a smaller setting.
Nonetheless, there are continued reports that Putin thinks he is winning. Not the Russian people who are restricted in the information they have access to and, of course, think Russia is winning but the leader himself. Is he being fed false information by his subordinates who are afraid to tell him the truth? Is he living in an alternate reality? What then?
Let’s keep in mind some other considerations.
The Russian economy has not tanked yet despite the most massive sanctions ever.
Much of the world supports Russia – China, India, huge portions of Africa and elsewhere. We cannot afford to take our eye off the Pacific while China uses the opportunity of the focus on Europe to insert itself into the Solomon Islands and the South Pacific.
Europe is not united against Russia. While Sweden and Finland consider joining NATO contrary to Putin’s wishes, Hungary supports him. France did not abandon its position in the war, but the election just concluded shows what could happen especially if the war drags on.
The United States is not united either. So far there is Congressional approval for the war effort. Still a significant part of the Trumpican party in the House of Representatives refused to condemn Putin. The presumptive nominee of the Trumpican party for the presidency in 2024 thinks Putin is a savvy genius AND WILL NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES OPPOSE HIM. If the wars drags on and Americans tire of more pictures of massacred Ukrainians, destroyed cities, and refugees and if Western arms are not sufficient to stem the Russian tide and Western bodies and aircraft are needed, what will happen then? Will Americans still support the Ukraine then? I don’t know the answer but it is understandable for Putin to think that if he can hold on, he can eventually prevail in some form.
That brings us to May 9. Putin will have to declare victory in some manner over Nazis in the present at the time when Russia celebrates it victory over Nazis in the past. In some ways we are approaching the most critical time of the war. May 9 could become Putin’s January 6 – the day when he failed to seize even the eastern Ukraine just as his American asset failed in his attempt to seize the Capitol. We need to deliver our own message on May 9 (or better May 8 when we celebrate V-E Day) that Russia will never succeed in conquering Ukraine and is failing everywhere. It is time for American stop being reactive and to take the initiative.