Friday, September 16, 2011

Intervention and the presumed combat multiplier of popular uprising

In 1984, an American expert on Soviet military history wrote this in a chapter called "The Making of Soviet Strategy":
The most important mistake [of the wars in the immediate post-revolutionary period] was made by the influential Tukhachevsky, who insisted in the later stages of the [Russo-Polish] war on launching an ill-conceived offensive against Warsaw. This could be relegated to the annals of Soviet military history were it not for the significant political statement Tukhachevsky sought to make with it--that "revolution" could be exported by bayonet. Arguing for an assault on Warsaw in spite of seriously overextended supply lines and insufficient reserves, he may have placed too much weight on the expectation that the working class would rise up to greet the Soviet forces.
That's in Paret, page 652. The emphasis is added.

Tukhachevsky was perhaps the most famous of the so-called "Red Commanders"; a Bolshevik and a committed revolutionary, he vied for influence in the new army with the many rehabilitated imperial officers that Trotsky found it necessary to retain for the sake of military survival. The decision to press forward against the Polish capital was a strategic miscalculation heavily informed by ideological bias; success of the operation was dependent on an unlikely popular uprising that only a revolutionary internationalist could have any faith would happen. Sound familiar?

So: any guesses as to who that Sovietologist was? Ok, I shared this on Twitter yesterday, so some of you will already know: it was Condoleezza Rice. That, ladies and gents, is what we call irony.

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