One of Napoleon’s observations is that you should never interrupt your enemies when they are making a mistake. Russians know this, not least because they were careful not to interrupt Napoleon himself in 1812. Putin and his team have had plenty of opportunities to meet NATO’s leaders, observe them, negotiate with them and assess them. It’s unlikely they’re very impressed. But when they started their “special military operation” in Ukraine they could never have dreamed how self-destructive NATO would be.
What mistakes? First, the West has not shot itself in the foot with its economic sanctions – Hungary’s Viktor Orban is right when he observes that it has put a slug into its lungs. One can still limp along with a broken foot, but a shot to the lungs is pretty serious. Second, who in Moscow could have imagined that NATO would shovel its ammunition and weapons stockpiles into the Ukrainian black hole in the expectation that if they can get the latest wonderwaffe to General Steiner they’ll be in Moscow by Christmas.
A good reason for Moscow to take it slowly – let the mistakes develop, compound and metastasize. It’s happening by itself. Naturally, inevitably, logically. No outside effort required. An unexpected bonus.
Consider Germany, “the engine of Europe“. It stands on one thing – the reputation of German engineering and quality – Mercedes/Miele/Bosch, they may cost more but they’re cheaper in the long run because they’re so well made. No Western country manufactures much these days but Germany still does. In fact, only South Korea and China have a bigger share of their economies in manufacturing. (America, the colossus of former times, is half Germany!) But manufacturing needs energy. German energy comes from Russia – not all of it – about 20%. But coal is 40% and nuclear 10% and they have to reduce these because Greta wants them to which means they need more gas which is cheaper and “cleaner” and which mostly comes from Russia which requires another pipeline to be built. But then they decide that Ukraine is The Big Moral Issue and close the pipeline and step up coal which they’re going to get rid of altogether in 2030 thanks to more wind energy. And what about the nukes? Unicorn wings flapping. Hard to be green and hate Russia too.
And let’s ban potash from Russia and Belarus. That’s about a third of world production. Ban Russian wheat (it is the number 1 exporter) and oil (it is the number 2 exporter).
Oh, and by confiscating Russian assets they’ve shown the whole world that only an idiot would keep his wealth in NATO currency in a NATO bank.
And all this for a country they lied to about NATO membership.
Scene – Napoleon’s study – flunky enters “Mon Empereur, your enemies have banned a big energy exporter, a big food exporter and a big fertilizer exporter.” Will Napoleon shout “Stop it, mes chers ennemis, you’re going to destroy yourselves with inflation!” Probably not.
Everybody eats food and everything needs energy, their prices will rise and pull every other price up with them. EU inflation in May was 8.8%. But it hasn’t got liftoff yet – UK energy prices are set to rise 65% in October with another hike in January. It’s just begun.
Trouble in the streets all over Europe and two of the smug seven gone a month later.
Javelin anti-tank missiles were the wonderwaffe a few months ago – in mid April America had sent a third of its stockpile. That’s three or four years to replace. A quarter of its Stinger stocks. Vovan and Lexus got the UK Defense Minister to admit the UK had sent so many anti-tank missiles that it was running out. The Czech Republic is just about out of stuff to send. France has given up 18 months’ production of its Caesar guns.
And Kiev wants still more. Now that Kiev’s NATO backers have come up with the crazy idea of giving guns that need NATO ammunition, 155mm ammunition stocks are running down fast. If Ukraine is really firing 3000 155mm shells a day, that will burn the entire US annual production in a few weeks. And so on. War consumes astounding levels of ammunition – the Russians know this because they remember – they’re never allowed to forget – 1941-1945. NATO thinks blowing up, in wars of choice, at its leisure, people in sandals is the gold standard of military achievement. I again recommend reading The Return of Industrial Warfare. Russia is keeping up production but NATO isn’t and, absent a very long lead time (and a lot of other changes that you know perfectly well will never happen in FIRE-centered economies) can’t.
Even The Economist has noticed – Europe’s winter of discontent. (Still thinks that it’s Putin that put the double-tap into the lung though. But it is The Economist which has done its bit to bring us to this point.)
Why would Moscow want this to end any time soon? Time is working and the enemy is making lots of mistakes.
This is the way I feel about the Democrats and the Deep State. People ask me what we should be doing right now to fight, my answer is that they are doing a fine job of fight each other.
My answer to the question, “when will it end” is simple: when the people have suffered enough. We are not there quite yet but are getting close.
The Deep State are brutal but lack self-awareness. Their own “smartest guys in the room” attitude will be their undoing.
They are unraveling and my advice is to let them do it. We can pick up the pieces later
Will Napoleon shout “Stop it, mes chers ennemis, you’re going to destroy yourselves with inflation!” Probably not.”
This was hilarious. Great writing. Would love to see how Germany et all crawl out of this one – “I’m so sorry,” blub, “it was a mistake.” Again.
Germany is running PSA’s teaching people how to split wood for fires!
Don’t you think part of the problem is people still think changing the president and party fixes it all. When that’s not where power and accountability really vest, it’s circus for the masses.
Agreed. I know do many who think a Red Wave will fix it. I have to laugh. Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and Mitt Romney are going to fix it. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
That’s why I think Russia is in no hurry to conclude this SMO.
Mr. Johnson.. what do you think?
The way I see it, Russia must take full control of all Ukrainian Territory. EU loving Ukrainians (anti-Russian Ukrainian citizenry) who choose to live in former Ukraine must be forced to reside in single tiny rump territory to be completely encircled by Russia Land (formerly Ukrainian Land). Ukraine-tiny-rump-territory (aka UTRT), will never be allowed to directly boarder/butt up with any NATO/EU Countries including Belarus. All avenues that lead into and out of UTRT must be forced to pass through Russian tightly controlled inspection. Russia will have to establish lethal territorial military buffer between Poland etc. (with Russia’s finest NUKEs). UTRT will never be allowed the option of joining EU and NATO, and who’s government will be outlawed from voicing any anti-Russian sentiment whatsoever, and who’s very existence will only take foothold pending Moscow’s approval. Please note there is no hope in swaying EU loving Ukrainians, from living in harmony with Russian people, their minds have been poisoned and as a result all Pro-Western Media and NGOs will be prohibited from UTRT. If UTRT citizenry don’t like it, they ought to be allowed the option of immigrating to Ukrainian-NAZI welcoming CANADA or like countries.
Bless Mother Russia, if Russia doesn’t fully succeed in this war, we are destined to slavery and fascist control.
Fernando By says
Also known as the Gaza Strip
It seems rather apparent that the NATO leadership is not actually concerned with defeating the Russian Federation. Their concern is the one group of people that can actually remove them from power – their own middle class citizens. The later already ensured the downfall of three government leaders, Boris Johnson (though he’s trying a Clintonesque waffle to stay until October), Estonia’s leader got her country into the war and then resigned, and now Italy’s Draghi is out. Brandon of course is failing by the hour, adderal and the brain chemical cocktails he’s being fed only work so long, but then the power groups behind him fully support the neocon provoked war, which shows just how badly corrupted by whatever was happening in Ukraine before the ukrainians “fired that prosecutor”.
NATO countries leadership know something really must be done about those pesky elections. Especially before the Winter of the Politicians discontent. I expect a doubling down of digital ‘passports’ to further ‘transition’ rights into priveleges (to keep you safe), just like China’s Xi has done, followed by another push to digitalize money (imagine what Sri Lanka’s government could have done to people if there were no physical currency in curculation) Monkey Pox! Covid 2022 election varient! and all the rest. Along with your 5th, 6th, or 7th booster (what # are we on with that “effective” vaccine that actually does not prevent infection?), selective information suppression, and a global media fear campaign. We are living in interesting times.
Just a side note , monkey pox is real but the mode of transmission and the cluster of infection vastly different than COVID. At this state it is like more fear mongering and seem like insidious way for certain pharma to sell vaccines. After all the infected seem to be sodomites in gay communities.
“Their concern is the one group of people that can actually remove them from power – their own middle class citizens. ” That NATO would be targeting that demographic demonstrates just how clueless the west is about Russia. Outside of the minds of those who need to believe the unbelievable it’s clear that class of Russian is tiny and powerless.
I’ve used Napoleon’s caution to Soult many times these past few years, particularly with regard to allegations of Russian interference in US elections. Why get involved when the electorate does a great job itself?
I wasn’t speaking of Russian politicians.
Now that I count it, since the SMO…
2) Sri Lanka
Fernando By says
An out of the ball park homerun hit by Helmholtz Smith:
« Let the (US/NATO/EU)mistakes develop, compound, and metastasize. »
Do not interrupt!
NB*: Please allow a bit of « creative emphasis »
for the kremlin who needs friends when you have enemies like they do now.
Napoleon was also a big believer in lucky generals not stupid ones. The level of complete lies by UK military is shocking.
“Head of the UK Armed forces Sir Tony Radakin today said Vladimir Putin has ‘already lost the Ukraine war’ and says speculation he could be assassinated is ‘wishful thinking’ — as he warned Russia was still ‘the biggest threat’ the UK faces.’
The UK’s military leaders are just a joke these days. Either they really believe this nonsense, in which case they are stupid; or else they are cynically saying what politicians want to hear, in which case they are liars.
When I last checked we had the same military recruitment and retention crisis that the US has. Zero surprise with leaders like that.
The UK is a tiny island off mainland Europe. It’s only real claim to fame, or rather infamy, is its parasitical, genocidal theft of the resources of most of the world for half a milllennium. It’s an insignificant and inconsequential backwater now, puffing out its egotistical chest in an effort to appear important…..what they say or do is irrelevant in today’s world……Russia could swat them instantly like an annoying little fly.
A resurgent Argentina with improved military from chinese and russian sources will easily take back malvinas from the dying british empire.
i think the taking of malvinas by argies will be the just final curtain for the british empire..
So, buntalanlucu, you are against the principle of a people’s right of self-determination, as exercised by the people of Crimea, and as is now being achieved by the people of Donbass and Luhansk thanks to their ongoing liberation by Russia? As the Falklanders had and have no wish to become Argentinean (no less than 90.49% of their electorate—not just those voting but of the islands’ *entire* electorate—voted to remain British in last sovereignty referendum). But you would override the Falklanders’ wishes and consign them to foreign rule by a country with no legitimate claim to the territory?
The European Empires, of which the British was the best, were the best thing that ever happened to the Third World; and the worst was the Europeans’ premature departure.
Not that one expects an Irish republican to possess any loyalty to the European peoples or culture, Irish republicans being notorious for always choosing the most evil to side with, from Buonaparte through Adolf to Muslim terror groups—that being in addition to the evil Irish republicans perpetrate in their own right, i.e. their slaughter of women, children and elderly. And now Provisional Sinn Féin are amongst the biggest champions of every Woke cause, from welcoming Third World immigration through championing mass abortion and LGBT+ issues to supporting the Ukrops.
Saying the same thing but the west won’t hear this and even if the do it’s been to late for a while.
I think the “west” aka ango dominated west cannot back down because they already say the end of the road which is their loss of world domination and they cannot accept it.
the west survived and thrive by stealing other nations’s resources , that is why they still greedily trying to extract more from rich africa and dead scared of china influence wresting their rule over africa. Then they lusted over the incredibly rich territory of russia and planned many overt regime change in russia to wrest these resources for the west.
alas the west failed in stealing russia’s territory and resource and now it become clear that the west already ran out of steam and cannot hide their own paper economy..
usually at this stage a dying empire will resort to war but as the world have seen , the so called NATO is just paper tiger rotten to the core with no combat power , the only NATO member that still have combat power have obsolete weapons and doctrine when faced with russian military.
what choice the west got left ? keep manufacturing victories on their media / propaganda and then celebrate these pretend victories
The West was preeminent when it was at least European, if not Anglo-dominated; it was precisely when the West stopped being Euro/Anglo-dominated that our decline started—i.e. the US with its 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which opened the door to the Third World, and the rest of Europe—even countries who never had an empire—similarly opened their borders. Who is the VP of the US? Kamala Harris—not even slightly Anglo. Johnson, UK PM? Not Anglo, he’s of Turkish-German descent. One of his possible successors? Rishi Sunak—not exactly a name redolent of Yorkshire dales or Highland glens. The modern West suffers because we are *not* Anglo-dominated any longer. Benjamin Franklin was right to wish ‘the Saxons … with the English, make the principal body of white people on the face of the earth. I could wish their numbers were increased.’
Republicans wince as their Ukrainian-born colleague thrashes Zelenskyy
anyone especially those in the america who still think voting republican will make america’s economy better and inflation gone and ukraine problem gone is basically delusional and sadly will be again disappointed with the republican rulers..
at this stage it boggles the mind why american public still think voting for the opposite of the ruling regime will make situation better , it is like they do not even read about how republican voted for ukraine donations with gusto
Very wise words that take many years of hard graft to learn. In the litigation field we say half the battle is standing up and taking the punches (which presupposes doing the training and planning), but the other half is knowing when to shut-up and let your opponent sink himself. Great article.
Aus Wien says
I believe we can add a collection of “woke” western militaries to the list of mistakes. The US is having difficulties recruiting quality young men. The old timers can’t wait to leave the armed forces. If it comes down to a war of broad axes and swords, the GI with two mommies is going to get her butt licked.
Indeed, go woke, go broke.
Larry, many thanks for perhaps your best post ever…. succinct and witty.
Great article and exceptionally good satire
stylistically, reminds me of a story by Heinlein for some reason. Certainly could be transformed into a nifty sci fi story for say the journal “If?” back in the day (after selling the editors that this was sci fi not fantasy).
With a whiff of Clark in the current story:
The absurd focus on ‘stealth’ that’s very expensive and easily broken by different radar band seem very much like clark’s ‘Superiority’
Russia has traditionally had an excellent process control and industrial quality, those of us who have studied quality control in Statistics know this well, since the Second World War; developing weapons that were not only effective but very efficient in combat and very simplified, lowering their level of failures.
The history of World War II puts the Soviet Union as a manufacturer, on colossal scales, of crude weapons compared to the German ones. Serious Error that still persists today.
So true. And failing to recognize the Soviet industrial capabilities was the downfall of Nazi Germany.
From “Wages of Destruction” by Adam Tooze.
“The exceptional performer was the Soviet Union, which in 1942 produced twice as many infantry weapons, as many artillery pieces and almost as many combat aircraft and tanks as the United States, the undisputed manufacturing champion of the world. The Soviet miracle was not due to Western assistance. Lend-lease did not begin to affect the balance on the Eastern Front until 1943. The best single explanation for this remarkable triumph was the extraordinary concentration of Soviet production on a limited number of weapons produced in a handful of giant factories, permitting the fullest possible realization of economies of mass-production.126 But what is also clear is that the production miracle came at the expense of enormous sacrifice on the Soviet home front, where hundreds of thousands if not millions of people starved to death for the sake of the war effort.”
D.E. Murray says
Wow, thanks for that book recommendation. I looked it up & will order it.
Tooze has an informative Twitter feed. I came across this:
and the focus of soviet production not going for the perfectionist route aka like the germans who treat every tank produced expecting life expectancy of months if not years.. while soviet production of tank focused on simple and (some say crude) manufacturing process/welding which ease the production and speed it up. The soviets expect tank’s life expectancy so short..
Andrea Catalano says
Hi, I found this article which corroborates the notions expressed in the article above:
D.E. Murray says
The following content I wrote to German. I have to translate it with DeepL and I hope that my words are translated correctly.
My question to you, what do you think about it?
When I am not sure about certain things, I always start to ask myself questions.
For example: The USA and its NATO-wauwaus will not make peace with Russia anymore. Their aggression against Russia is too comprehensive and total. Even treaties with the West would be as trustworthy to Russia as one-ply toilet paper. So this war will continue, and as war is wont to do, acts of war lead to further and further escalations. Especially by participants who realize that they are developing weaknesses against the adversary and are falling behind.
What might these weaknesses look like in the West?
Well, a war of aggression or an attack provoked by the West on the part of Russia cannot be ruled out. With the psychology of the Western personnel, nothing is impossible. What is more, the variant of a military clash between NATO and Russia “by accident” becomes more probable the closer their militaries operate to each other. But the USA and especially the European NATO members are not capable of defeating Russia, neither in terms of their military capacities, nor in terms of their level of training.
In addition, there is the psychological component. For the Russian people it would be again a Patriotic War. The defense of their homeland. Among other things, the Western politicians, governments and MMedia had openly communicated the strategic goal of destroying the Russian economy and state long before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. For what would a Western military take on the horror and hardships of such a war?
A powerful military needs a solid economic base, especially in the case of protracted warfare. This in turn requires a continuous influx of raw materials, goods and, above all, a secure energy supply as its backbone. I don’t think I have to explain to anyone that the West is currently doing everything possible to destroy its economic existence. Especially the energy supply and industrial base. Especially in Europe. You can’t maintain and equip armed forces with money alone.
So what else could the West escalate if not direct military war? More bioweapons attacks? Given the heated atmosphere and the nature of open warfare, I can’t imagine Russia and China continuing to sweep such attacks under the rug and not respond immediately militarily.
However, a direct military war between the West and Russia would almost certainly lead to the use of nuclear weapons faster than you can spit on your own feet.
We live in exciting times. I would like to see different conditions.
Addendum: Putin had clearly communicated several years ago that Russia will never again allow its country to become a battlefield. Never again this destruction and death of millions of civilians. I have made the experience over the many years that Putin always does what he says. This means nothing else, that Russia’s strategy is to carry the acts of war as quickly as possible to the enemy’s territory.
I hope that it is clear and understandable for everyone what this means for Germany, among others, and in what danger the politicians and mainstream media are currently putting us. All this is no longer abstract, but real