05 August 2022

Russia is losing -- freedom is winning

It's becoming clearer and clearer that the tide is turning in the Ukraine war.  The most important factor in this is of course the courage and determination of the Ukrainians in defending their nation.  As for Western support, the recent shipping of more advanced and powerful weapons such as HIMARS is helping turn the tide, but we also should acknowledge the importance of economic sanctions.  Inevitably their effect is slow to manifest itself, but as time passes, we see how deep their bite goes.  This summary of the analysis I linked earlier explains the wide-ranging effects on the Russian economy.  Manufacturing is crippled, trade is shrinking, more than a thousand companies have pulled out, educated people are leaving, and the country is heading for a GDP contraction of 30% to 50% relative to before the invasion.  What surface stability remains is due to government interventions which are unsustainable in the long term.

Putin has retaliated by reducing natural-gas supplies to Europe -- but while this is indeed hurting Europe, it is hurting Russia even more, and other potential customers such as China and India are driving hard bargains.  It won't be easy to re-direct natural-gas exports where there is no network of pipelines already in place, as there is from Russia to Europe.  Europe's energy needs will increase in winter, but it is already working on freeing itself from the need for Russian gas imports.  It's hardly credible that such a wealthy and advanced region, with the full support of the US, will not be able to find adequate alternate sources of energy for heating.

On the military front, the UK Ministry of Defence recently posted this video on Russia's growing desperation and resort to old, obsolete equipment since so much of their newer material has been destroyed.  Here's some more detail.  Ukraine is using the advanced HIMARS system to devastate Russian bases and weapons stockpiles near the occupied city of Kherson, whose liberation is the main immediate goal (here's a video of what a HIMARS strike on a weapons warehouse looks like).  Russian missile attacks continue, but of one recent salvo of eight cruise missiles, the Ukrainians destroyed seven before they reached their targets.

(One weird, if trivial, oddity of the situation is that several right-wing US blogs I read not only support Putin but doggedly insist that Russia is actually winning.  Sorry, but I find sources like US intelligence, the UK Ministry of Defence, and the Institute for the Study of War rather more credible than some blogger who also believes that covid vaccines are causing mass deaths and that Biden worships Satan.)

Putin clearly believed that Ukraine would fall easily and that the other democracies would chicken out and take no serious action.  The ghosts of Hitler and Tojo could have told him how that kind of gamble tends to work out.  Evidently he chose not to consult them.  So now he is learning the lesson on his own.

Never forget -- however imperfect, our own democratic societies are free, advanced, rich, and pluralistic, and that makes them strong.  Gangster-states like Russia and China are brutal, corrupt, backward, intolerant of dissent, terrified of letting their own people exercise any freedom or initiative; and all of that makes them weak, no matter how impressive their armies may look on paper.  The mighty Russian military machine turned out to be mostly obsolete and ill-maintained junk, its leadership stunningly inept, its soldiers badly trained and unmotivated.  We've seen what China's civilian engineering standards look like.  Its ruling regime is even more totalitarian and corrupt than Russia's.  It's unlikely that its military is any better than Russia's.

We are the future.  The gangster-states are dead-end relics of failed ideologies.  They can be dangerous, the way a corroded old unexploded bomb is.  But the future belongs to freedom.


Anonymous NickM said...

I've just finished building a website for an openly gay comedian. This is in England so it is OK. In Russia this would be very far from OK. I'd be guilty of promoting homosexuality or something. Just for the record, I am not gay myself and am in fact married to the gay comedian's oldest friend (I'm male and she's a woman). He's currently in Edindurgh - doing gigs at the fringe.

Things move on and one day there shall be an LGB pride "do" in Mecca. Well, why not?

05 August, 2022 06:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent & insightful post, linked at Reaganite Independent (A former Republican who quit the GOP in 2015– when they drifted towards Trump and a mindless pro-Russia platform (for no reason other than they financed Trump’s buildings + the Kremlin owned him).

Heaving being proven correct on both points, I now hold a special form of contempt for them usually reserved for wayward family members.


05 August, 2022 22:21  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

NickM: Why not, indeed. In Tudor times people were being burned at the stake in England for having the wrong religious opinions, and now the place is highly secular and tolerant. In the future, Arabia or even Indiana might follow the same path.

Anon: Thanks, and thanks for the link! People in Reagan's time would consider it surreal to see so many Republicans cheering for dictatorships in Russia and China. It's as big a turn-around as, and much faster than, the pivot from the party of Lincoln to the party of Confederate-flag fetishists.

06 August, 2022 02:38  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

Russia might be losing but I don't think they're losing fast enough for Ukraine.

06 August, 2022 12:01  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Unfortunately inevitable. Russia is a backward but huge country with a ruler who won't give up on this because he's too dim to figure out any other way to avoid losing face. I suspect the war will be over in a few more months, though. That's a lot less time than it took to beat Hitler, Tojo, etc.

06 August, 2022 23:46  
Anonymous Reaganite Independent said...

Reagan surely spinning in his grave at 10,000 RPM

07 August, 2022 07:31  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

It's too bad he can't come back for a while and give some of these people a good talking-to.

07 August, 2022 19:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once you start thinking you have a destiny, reality doesn't matter. Basically Putin wrote checks he couldn't cash, but he needs this to distract from the kleptocracy.

08 August, 2022 04:21  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Anon: Unfortunately, reality has a way of reminding people like that that it does indeed matter.

08 August, 2022 23:37  
Blogger Bohemian said...

Totalitarian corrupt and evil Regimes get what they deserve, eventually.

09 August, 2022 03:52  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Usually so, at least in modern times.

10 August, 2022 07:29  

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