Category Archives: Russia

The Great Siberian Ice March

Somehow I wound up on this page on WikiPedia and found it fascinating. During the Russian Civil War in the late teen and early 20s, the Red Army was chasing the White Army across Siberia, specifically Lake Baikal had to escape across the frozen lake in sub-zero temperatures.

the Arctic winds that blow unobstructed across the lake froze many in the army and their families to death. The bodies remained frozen on the lake in a kind of tableau throughout the winter of 1919 until the arrival of summer, when the frozen figures and all their possessions disappeared in 8,000 feet of water.

Does anyone know of a good history of the Russian Civil War? I don’t know of any notable works on the topic.

Interesting from the Belmont Club

Whilst perusing Wretchard’s thoughts on the current state of Iraq

Philip Bobbitt argued in his book, the Shield of Achilles, that Napoleon’s strategic revolution consisted in fielding armies so large that any sovereign who opposed him would, in matching the size of his force, be compelled to wager the entire State, and not simply a wedge of territory in confronting him. Napoleon’s campaigns were designed to kill enemy armies — and thereby enemy states. What Napoleon failed to realize in his 1812 campaign against Russia was that the Tsarist state was so primitive that the destruction of its army simply did not mean the corresponding demise of its state. Like the proverbial dinosaur of pulp fiction, Russia had no central nervous system to destroy and lumbered on, like the bullet-riddled monster of horror stories, impervious to the Grand Armee. What Russia had on its side was chaos as epitomized by its savage winters.

Saddamite Iraq, like most terrorist-supporting states threatening the world today, are like the landscape of 1812 in that they were cauldrons of anarchy given a semblance of shape by fragile, yet brutal shroud-like states.

Most of what I’ve read actually suggests that Napoleon’s brilliance was in organization of his armies, not his actual command or tactics. In Russia, he was captured by not seeing a qualitative difference between Russia and the rest of Europe. Unlike the Nazi Germany, (who did see Russia accurately, but bungled the strategy) the problem was that he did not conceive of Russia properly.

Needed – software that helps in conception via clever use of 3D motion graphics.

Joke of the moment

From a Reason article on the future of Russia.

Answering a question about the future of democracy in Russia, Shevtsova said: “To add some optimism to my conclusions, I’ve got my favorite joke that, it seems to me, reflects the ambiguity of our democratic movement.

A sick man is picked up by an ambulance. He asks the doctor, ‘Doctor, where are you taking me?’ The doctor replies, ‘To the morgue.’ The man says, ‘But I’m not dead yet!’ The doctor says, ‘But we’re not there yet.’”

If this is Russian-style optimism, I’d hate to see what the pessimism looks like.