Today, being the ninth day of May in the year two thousands and eleven it is meet that one should pay homage to the Russian people of the Great Patriotic War. One must also salute the other peoples of the Sovet Union – the Kazakhs, the Ukrainians, the Armenians and so forth. Much though I abominate the vile political system that tortured the Soviet people at that time I cannot but pay homage to the matchless valour and staggering sacrifice of the Soviets.
The contribution of the USSR to the Allied victory in the Second World War is hard to overestimate.
I watch the Victory Day Parade annually. I was in Moscow in 1994 – not on Victory Day. I wish I could return to Holy Russia some time.
The serried rows of immaculate soldiery striding past the Lenin Mausoleum, the martial tunes ringing out across Red Square and the gleam of pride in the eyes of the decade ravaged veterans stirs the heart.
That cry of ”’urra” harks back to Tsarist times.
One of the undignified things about the parade is that the Russian hierarchs of the day attempt to score political points on issue of the day on what ought to be a solemn and magnificent occasion.
In Afghanistan there is a democratically elected government (despite doubts about the probity of the election), equality for women, freedom of expression, free movement, economic growth and an improving security situation. The Taleban is on the back foot. It is fiendishly difficult to utterly defeat guerrilla fighters. Such conflicts fizzle out rather than end definitively with an identifiable moment of victory.
ISAF is doing well. They control most of the country.
The situation is better than some peaceniks care to admit. Assorted Trots and compulsive dissenters would have us believe that it was all for nothing. So many Coalition dead and billions of dollars pissed away to plonk a heroin peddling tinpot tyrant on the throne of a country in interminable conflict. I hate to rain on their parade. Well, ok I relish it.
People are given to glib comparisons to the Red Army’s 10 year excursion to the Hindu Kush. The Internationalist War was a defeat for the USSR but partly due to lack of commitment. They had all sorts of other commitments in Easter Europe.
The Taleban is not back by a superpower. The Coalition is not vocally opposed by half the world. The Red Army had 40 000 men killed in 10 years. The Coalition has sustained about 2 000 fatal casualties over the same period. Go figure, as the Americans say. It is not the case that a quarter of Afghans have fled the country. It is not that hundreds of thousands of civilians have died from bullet wounds, exposure, disease and hunger in this conflict as they did during the Soviet invasion. Yes, there have been civilian casualties – too many. the US military has been too trigger happy. However, to claim that ISAF is in the same clusterfuck as the Red Army is to play fast and loose with the truth.
I do not know the number of Afghan soldiers killed in this conflict. Nor by way of comparison do I know the number of People’s Democratic Reublic of Afghanistan troops killed in the 1980s conflict.
There has been wrongdoing on the part of the Coalition but there is a free press to expose it.