It’s odd how the war in Ukraine keeps channeling Lord of the Rings for me. Lately a bout of pessimism has crept across Dkos and even myself for a brief bit. Kos himself has already handled why not to be worried about Popasna and I agree with him so I won’t repeat him here. Instead, I wanted to tackle two contributing factors to this pessimism.
First is timing. In my own writing I have been a huge cheerleader for a swift Ukrainian victory. My own two articles entitled "Ukraine will win 2 weeks after the ground firms up" and Part 2 certainly impart a sense of impending victory. When that victory doesn’t show up as quickly as we hope pessimism can sink in. While my article titles sound very specific, they are surprisingly vague when you dig into the nitty gritty. What exactly does “when the ground firms up” mean? All of the country must be bone dry? A little soft? A tank can run over it? A tank can run over every last part of a field, or is some of it good enough?
The “traditional” time in Europe to begin the summer tank rush is May or June. The German Operation Barbarossa was originally scheduled for mid May and eventual kicked off in June. So as much as I’d like to see a major Ukrainian offense start now (well, weeks ago), it’s still early in the normal window.
Furthermore, Ukraine is fighting for its life while Russia is fighting for…. I’m not exactly sure what they’re fighting for other than the “most colossal jerks in history” award. But Ukraine has far more to lose than Russia does. A well planned and prepared offensive starting later is better than a hastily put together one that could fail. At this point most civilians’ fates in the occupied and potential battle zones have been decided. Not entirely of course, but those who are there have either chosen to remain, or if unable to leave won’t be affected by another few weeks of preparation. In fact as hard as it is to bear, those extra weeks of preparation may rescue those trapped faster if it results in a better and quicker offensive. A slip shod offense could grind down and go nowhere, greatly lengthening civilians’ danger. Further, Ukraine should be diligent in preparation to reduce the chances of a major reversal and give Russia the chance to go back on a major offensive. It doesn’t look like Russia could, but why risk it?
Any proper offensive also requires months of preparation of supplies, tactical planning, and training to pull off competently. Most armies do not launch something of this magnitude on a wing and prayer. Look at Russia to see what happens when you do. Ukraine’s reserves are also still training. How long it will take is unknown. It depends upon how much training they received prior to the war, what their expected roles will be now, how long they’ve had their particular equipment and so forth. Slapping together some territorial defense units to guard the Belorussian border is far quicker than training a Ranger unit from scratch. We won’t know how long Ukraine will decide to take with this until they show us. Sometime in June is my best guess.
Will it really take two weeks when it starts? It might. In WWII German and Romanian troops in the south started from the Romanian border and didn't make it to our current lines sometime roughly in August. Starting in September the Germans took about 2-6 weeks to capture the territory in Ukraine that Russia currently occupies (these are rough approximations, the exact lines are different of course) including Crimea. The fortifications everyone fears are the Maginot line can be defeated with tanks. It’s why tanks exist. The only thing special about Crimea is the isthmus acting as a chokepoint. The Russian Navy won’t be much of a threat due to Neptunes and eventually Harpoons. The narrow land bridge makes things harder but not impossible. Ukraine will take it.
But what about Wormtongue? For those 6 of you who didn’t read the books or see the movies, Wormtongue is a secret agent in the land of Rohan sent by the traitorous wizard Saruman (not to be confused with Sauron) to sow doubt and despair. Wormtongue eventually becomes the King of Rohan’s primary advisor. I personally hate the movie depiction of this part as the movie shows King Theoden’s despair and premature dotardliness as a magic spell which I feel weakens the power of the scene. In the book, Tolkien leaves the exact cause slightly vague but in my reading it is not magic.
Instead the constant pessimism of Wormtongue’s careful arguments wears down on the King’s energy and hope. The more he listens and isolates himself from those who advise action and hope, the harder it is for the King to see that hope himself. Hope is powerful. But to keep hope going it greatly helps to see positive action. In the book Wormtongue is defeated when Gandalf arrives and through solid arguments helps Theoden see what is still possible. In the book this is amazing as plot wise things are about as bad as they get. But Gandalf wins with a call to action. Instead of counseling inaction as Wormtongue does, Gandalf convinces the King that live or die, choosing to confront our foes brings us spirit and power.
Right now, Ukraine has gone into maximum OPSEC (operational security where they limit information getting out). In some ways, this increase in OPSEC is actually a good portent. Most armies have a standard OPSEC and only increase it in the lead up to an operation. Now that doesn’t mean something happens tomorrow, but hopefully in the next month or so. But that lack of information means less news and hence less positive news coming through.
Less positive news makes it easier for Russian and GOP Wormtongues to weigh us down with their pessimism. The bad ones are the easily spotted trolls. The more difficult Wormtongues are those who know how to walk up to the Forum rules without crossing over. Wormtongue in LoTR operated for years walking a very careful line.
I personally believe the power of the Daily Kos in its war coverage is not just its insightful analysis, but also in its willingness to be hopeful. It’s a measured, realistic hope, but it’s hope. It’s something the MSM actively avoids giving its viewership. Mainstream media wants the populace in despair as we are easier to guide and control. The corporate owners would rather have us eating ice cream to drown our sorrow than to realize we can take effective action together.
This goes beyond Ukraine and is also why many of us find Ukraine’s resistance energizing. People respond to positive leaders willing to stand up and fight for what is good. Corporate media works to create despair to keep the majority of us who want positive change from realizing WE ARE MORE POWERFUL THAN THEY ARE. The GOP has fought tooth and nail to kill every aspect of COVID response not just because they are heartless and incompetent, but because the worst thing in the world for them is for people to see Government working well. Their whole ballgame is to convince everyone a better world is not possible so that we won’t try. The cat was getting out of the bag with some of the COVID response, so they bought Manchin and Sinema to put a lid on it. It’s also why we’re seeing an uptick in trolls here on Dkos.
DKos brings hope! We bring hope to the US. We bring hope to everyone who reads us. So as trolls attempt to drag us into the mud with pessimism and despair, remember that we don’t need to respond to every little jibe. Sinking to a negative vocabulary even as we defeat their logic is still a win for them. Remember that our solid logic brings hope. Remember that kindness, strength and will to plunge forward for the good of all is strengthening and powerful. It’s important that we shine as our best possible selves knowing that we are doing what we can to make this whole world better. Better in Ukraine and better in the US.
And sometimes we just need a little more patience while waiting for Ukraine to please tell us what’s in all that is holy is going on!!!!