They call it “military science,” and it’s full of formulations like this. “Twenty-five motivated troops can hold a battlefield position better than 100 troops, 75 of whom are not motivated.”
A sure-fire laugh-getter used to be, “What the world needs is a good five-cent cigar.” What the world really needs is more examples of smaller, weaker countries repelling more powerful aggressors by themselves without the need of stronger allies or arms shipments from the outside. There’s no shortage of such inspiring history. There’s only a shortage of people knowing, caring and drawing the life-lifting lessons from such examples.
When we talk here about the world’s greatest upsets, we don’t mean the Joe-Namath-led victory of the New York Jets over the Baltimore Colts in Superbowl III. We mean, for example, how Israeli troops, outnumbered a hundred to one in manpower and more than that in Soviet-supplied arms, could conquer territory three times the size of Israel itself in six days beginning June 5, 1967. To many people, “motivation” is an invisible gas trying to pretend it’s a liquid. To Israelis, motivation is rock-solid.
Every single Israeli soldier knows their Arab enemies could lose a hundred wars and keep coming back for more. Israel, however, could afford to lose only once. The Israelis love their homeland. The Arab conscript never really saw the point in dying trying to destroy that Jewish homeland. If the Arabs laid down their arms, there’d be no more war. If the Israelis laid down their arms, there’s be no more Israel.
It’s no secret we’re headed for Ukraine here, but why rush? In 1939, before the Sept. 1 onset of World War II, the Soviet Union wanted some buffer-room to give them a better chance to defend Leningrad (now back to its original name of St. Petersburg) if Hitler should attack. The Finns failed to see why their territory had to be handed over to Moscow. They fought, and the world recoiled in disbelief as the Finns continued to repel onslaught after onslaught by the vastly superior Soviet forces. Russia eventually prevailed, but only after the Soviets had lost the sympathy and gained the ridicule of the planet.
The Finnish troops were fueled and fired-up by the rage of a huge country with hundreds of millions of people mugging a country considerably smaller than California with a population half that of Chicago. The Russian troops, on the other hand, mostly wanted to get warm and go home.
One more example from that period refuses to be left out. The military alliance joining Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy was just being road-tested in 1940, and it was working out badly. Italian troops invaded Greece, which was absurdly out-numbered in all categories except motivation. They were defending their homeland so fiercely they lowered Mussolini’s jutting jaw a bit and then made him hang his head. What a rout! The Italian troops had invaded Greece from bases in neighboring Albania. Get this! Not only did the furious Greeks throw the Italians all the way back out of Greece, they kept going and occupied half of Albania itself. Mussolini had to call on Hitler to hurry up and send help before the Greek flag was raised over Rome itself.
Not one commentator I know of has so much as hinted at the possibility of the Ukrainians defending themselves against the Russians. I think such pessimism ignores military science and huge helpings of recent world history. The Ukrainians are more than fed up with Russian oppression and arrogance. It’s festered and infiltrated into Ukrainian bone marrow. On the other side, what’s in this battle for the Russian soldier? Like their grandfathers who flailed and failed on the Russian-Finnish border in 1939, they feel no pride, shame, ownership or concern over “The Kremlin’s war.” Whatever feelings the Russian troops have can’t compare to their overriding desire to stay warm and stay home.
Here’s courtroom proof of what motivation can do. Remember the “emotional” curvature of Hitler vs. Stalin. When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union on June 21, 1941, millions (yes, that’s MILLIONS!) of Russian troops wanted to switch sides and join Hitler’s Nazi invaders in hopes of destroying Communism. After the credible and provable reports of Nazi atrocities against the Russian people, however, things turned all the way around, and the Red Army became an unstoppable avenging force that destroyed Germany. Russia may be in for a surprise.
A Russian marine hero of World War II who escaped a German POW camp and wound up as an upscale high-fashion New York hairdresser under the name “George Michael of Madison Avenue” told me how his unit destroyed German morale in the battle for the Summer Palace of the Czars outside Leningrad. On one of the coldest days of the Russian winter, his unit attacked the Nazis WEARING T-SHIRTS AND SCREAMING JUNGLE CRIES FROM TARZAN MOVIES!
The Germans had a problem. They had a hard time getting their hands up in surrender quickly enough through two and three overcoats.
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