June 7th, 2012

Godzilla, default

Why did the USSR win WWII but Imperial Russia collapse in WWI?

Here because there's no way this discussion doesn't turn political in a hurry.

The root of this question is a very simple one: V-E Day in 1945 saw the Hammer and Sickle raised over the Reichstag in a gutted, burned out, hollowed Berlin. The Soviet army had from the first fought and both won and lost battles that included some of the greatest victories by one side over another, and the most appalling defeats any state has survived to win a war at all, let alone as decisively as the USSR did. But in WWI, by comparison, at the time of Brest-Litovsk Russia fell into a civil war and the Germans were able to roam at will wherever they wanted to without anything particular that Russians could do to stop them.

So this is the question at the heart of this OP: how did the USSR survive defeats in 1941-2 that were much more shattering than any others in military history, while the Tsarist regime, which actually had a fair set of victories to its credit by WWI standards disintegrated so totally that that Russia went through two more governments and a phase when the strongest military forces in Russia were Czechoslovaks and the Latvian Riflemen?

It can't be defeats suffered on the battlefield, as the 1941-2 phase saw worse Soviet defeats than any suffered by Nicholas II's army. It can't really be reliance on foreign aid as the USSR ground up Nazi offensive capability before Lend-Lease mattered (though the later Soviet offensives were never going to happen without all those trucks and railroads). Nor is it necessarily people seeking to undermine Russia more in WWI, as in practice this really kicked in once the Russian Revolutions began. And while Stalin may have been better able to rally Russia than Nicholas II, Stalin's cruelty and callousness played no small part in the horrific Soviet disasters of 1941-2 and also in Third Kharkov, for that matter.

So what made the difference between the Russia of WWI and the USSR of WWII?

I think at the crudest level the difference is that Stalin was a ruthless, evil man able to make the USSR work in a life or death crisis and Nicholas II was a blithering idiot who would not be believable as a leader in terms of his overall malignant influence were he not real and the consequences of his incompetence not also real. At the flip side, the Kaiser and his army were no different than their neighbors, while the Nazis just had to be Nazis to create a Soviet Rally Round The Flag mentality.

Israel's Muslim brother


Although it is a predominantly Shia Muslim country, Azerbaijan has a complicated relationship with its neighbour Iran. And meanwhile it maintains good relations with Israel, based on mutual benefit from the arms-for-oil exchange.

In the geographic sense, Azerbaijan (roughly the size of Austria) is in one of the most complex regions of the world. Locked between two former occupation forces and current major geopolitical players, Russia and Iran. In order to prevent a possible return into either sphere of influence, Azerbaijan is desperately looking for allies in the West. And... it is finding them in the south.

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