Generational Dynamics: Modern Generational Theory Generational
 Modern Generational Theory


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 3-Apr-2022
3-Apr-22 World View -- History and future of the Russia-Ukraine war

Web Log - April, 2022

3-Apr-22 World View -- History and future of the Russia-Ukraine war

Russia's incompetence in the Ukraine invasion

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Status of Russia-Ukraine war

Map of Russia-Ukraine war, status on April 2, 2022 (Al-Jazeera)
Map of Russia-Ukraine war, status on April 2, 2022 (Al-Jazeera)

The purpose of this article is to provide a historical analysis of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in order to forecast what is most likely to come next.

Russia has been conducting numerous war crimes, making indiscriminate attacks on civilians and residential neighborhoods, flattening villages and cities with illegal cluster bombs, illegal cassette bombs and illegal thermobaric bombs. Russia hasn't yet begun using illegal chemical weapons, as they used in Syria and Chechnya, but that's presumably coming.

There are now some ten million displaced people in Ukraine who have lost their homes. Three million refugees have flooded into neighboring countries, including Poland, Hungary and Romania.

Russia is supposedly withdrawing some forces from around Kiev into the Donbase in the east, near the border with Russia. Many analysts believe that they're being redeployed in preparation for a new assault on Kiev.

Army culture and skill sets

The most common opinion among military analysts is that the Russian army botched the war, and has been shown to be incompetent. This is the subject that I want to explore in detail in this article.

I'd like to address the skill sets possessed by an army, and the societal culture from which the army comes.

Suppose you have an expert gardener. She came from parents who valued gardening, and raised her to develop powerful gardening skills.

Now suppose you have an expert carpenter. He came from parents who valued carpentry, and raised him to develop powerful carpentry skills.

Now ask the gardener to do carpentry, and ask the carpenter to do gardening. Both will do a poor job, and may be totally baffled. You can train them to do their new jobs, but the training will take many months, but even after training they won't do their new jobs well, since they lack the cultural background to do so.

I'm going to make the argument that Russia's army has the skills and culture to be effective within Russia, as in defending against Napoleon and Hitler, but does not have the skills and culture to be effective in an expeditionary war, as is currently occurring in Ukraine. Before making that argument, I'll give some examples.

The Mfecane war (1820s)

The first example is the Mfecane war ("the crushing") of the 1820s in southern Africa, a remarkable example of how a leader can change the skills and culture of an army, and turn it into a formidable expeditionary fighting force.

The southern portion of Africa in the first decades of the 1800s was a region in great turmoil, with many different populations competing for resources.

Among the indigenous populations, the Zulus were an obscure tribe in the Transvaal, the northern portion of what is now South Africa. The Zulus went from obscurity to world renown as a result of Shaka, born in 1787, who became the tribal chief in 1816, and who took the Zulu from being a tribe to being an empire.

Standard practice in tribal wars of the time was that the fighters of each warring tribe would throw long spears from a distance at the fighters of the other tribe. Shaka changed both the skills and the culture by having his fighters carry short spears, requiring them to attack the other fighters at close range. Shaka revolutionized tribal warfare with these new kinds of spears and warfare techniques, resulting in the deaths of millions of indigenous Africans, by the time the war climaxed in 1828. Shaka's Zulu Empire left behind vast uninhabited regions by obliterating the populations that used to live there.

The great Zulu Empire lasted for decades, until it was destroyed by the British in 1879 in the bloody Anglo-Zulu war. At the climax of that crisis war, the Zulus were dispersed, and the Zulu nation ended.

Vietnam war

A reader expressed surprise that the Russians have had more casualties in one month than the Americans had in the entire Vietnam war. Actually, this isn't surprising at all.

A basic tenet of the American culture is that each individual human life is valuable, and is worthy of saving and protecting. So it's not surprising that the American armed forces placed a very high priority on reducing casualties, with the result that American casualties were low during the Vietnam war.

The Americans had developed plenty of skills for fighting expeditionary wars. They had fought the Nazis and Imperial Japanese during World War II, and then the Korean war, and so by the time of the Vietnam War, they had developed powerful doctrines for winning wars with few casualties. That is the American culture.

The North Vietnamese and Chinese cultures are very different. They place very little value on an individual human life. The result was different battle tactics that led to many casualties. During the Vietnam and Korean wars, they used human wave tactics, which means that they used an infantry of hundreds or thousands of soldiers, attacking a well-defended enemy position, intended to overwhelm the enemy by sheer weight of numbers and regardless of inevitable high casualties.

This cultural difference actually gave the North Vietnamese a big tactical advantage during the Vietnam War. The North Vietnamese could suffer huge numbers of casualties and win because Americans did not want to suffer even a few casualties.

In my recent book, "World View: Vietnam, Buddhism, and the Vietnam War," I quoted Bui Diem, Saigon's Ambassador to Washington from 1967 to 1972, who gave his assessment of why America lost the war. He emphasized the cultural differences between the American and Vietnamese soldiers:

"In the eyes of the South Vietnamese, the Americans created for themselves extra difficulties by making the war too expensive by the way they fought it. The men from the "affluent society" brought into Vietnam a new kind of war never seen or even thought of before. The Vietnamese opened their eyes wide in bewilderment when they saw U.S. forces supplied with hot meals by helicopter while still in combat. They saw the thousands of unnecessary gadgets piled high in huge PXs, the hundreds of planes crossing the Pacific for the transport of American troops on rotation. They witnessed the more than generous use of bombs and ammunition by the U.S. forces, and hours of bombing and strafing . . . triggered in many instances by mere sniper fire."

I'm not going to pass judgment on whether it's a good idea to send helicopters to provide hot meals to soldiers on the front line. I'm simply pointing to this as a capability that requires a great deal of organizational skill and coordination, skills in logistics and command and control, and indicative of America's capabilities in executing an expeditionary war.

England has had centuries of experience with expeditionary wars, and we inherited those skills. We built on those skills since WW II with the Korean, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghan wars. All of these wars have been politically controversial, but one thing they unequivocally accomplished was giving the American army the skills to fight an expeditionary war.

This assessment illustrates powerfully how armies are as different from one another as gardeners and carpenters. There were vast differences in both skills and culture between the American and Vietnamese soldiers. Keep this in mind when we discuss the Russian army. In particular, the American ability to fight an expeditionary war with few casualties was and is unmatched in the world. However, as we saw in Vietnam, this doesn't necessarily mean that the American army always wins, since the American culture and skills are at a disadvantage when facing human wave attacks.

Russia's history of crisis and non-crisis wars

The Russian people hate the Chinese people but love the European people, even though Russia has been invaded by both, the worst invasion being the hated "Mongol Yoke" that followed the 1209 Mongol invasion of China, followed by an attack and conquest of almost all the Russian principalities, making them bitter vassals of the Mongol Empire for two centuries.

The major European invasions of Russia were all non-crisis (Awakening/Unraveling era) wars for Russia, fought in conjunction with a crisis war for Europe. These were the Great Northern War with Sweden during the European War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14), Napoleon's invasion (1812) following the French Revolution, and Hitler's invasion during World War II. Russia's army performed very well in defending "Mother Russia" during these wars, which were non-crisis wars even though they presented an existential crisis for Russia.

Russia's crisis wars for the last few centuries were internal rebellions -- the Razin's peasant rebellion in the 1600s, Pugachev's Rebellion in the 1770s, the Crimean War in the 1850s, and the Bolshevik Revolution in the 1910s. In other words, Russia has never had a successful expeditionary crisis war.

This leads me to posit the following claim: That Russia's army has been and is incompetent when executing an expeditionary war, but is extremely competent in fighting an invading army within Russia. In other words, the Russians don't have the culture and skills to fight an expeditionary war.

I have to add that "Navigator," a military historian posting in the Generational Dynamics forum, disagrees with this claim. He says that the "trigger" for the Russian army to become extremely competent is when Mother Russia is being threatened. The current war in Ukraine may provide the answer to which of these claims is correct.

Russia's incompetence in the Ukraine invasion

There are obvious differences in skill and culture requirements between an army fighting a defensive internal war versus an army fighting an expeditionary war in another country. The local civilian population supports the army in one case, and opposes the army in the other case.

Much of the incompetence of Russia's army in Ukraine can be attributed directly to the opposition by the local population. The following are things that I've heard analysts say to explain Russia's failure in Ukraine:

Contrast that with America's performance in Vietnam, where helicopters delivered hot meals to the soldiers in the front line. I'm not saying whether that's good or bad, but it does illustrate a mastery of supply line management that the Russians do not have.

Russia's Winter War invasion of Finland (1939)

In 1939, Russia's dictator Josef Stalin ordered an invasion of Finland to gain territory to serve as a buffer between Germany and Russia. This war is remarkably similar in many ways to Putin's current invasion of Ukraine. Here's how describes it:

"On November 30, 1939, following a series of ultimatums and failed negotiations, the Soviet Red Army launched an invasion of Finland with half a million troops.

Though vastly outnumbered and outgunned in what became known as the “Winter War,” the Finns had the advantage of fighting on home turf. Led by Marshal Carl Gustaf Mannerheim, they hunkered down behind a network of trenches, concrete bunkers and field fortifications on the Karelian Isthmus and beat back repeated Soviet tank assaults. Elsewhere on the frontier, Finnish ski troops used the rugged landscape to conduct hit-and-run attacks on isolated Soviet units. Their guerilla tactics were only aided by the freezing Finnish winter, which bogged the Soviets down and made their soldiers easy to spot against snowy terrain. One Finnish sniper, a farmer named Simo Häyhä, was eventually credited with over 500 kills. While the Finns put up a spirited resistance during the winter of 1939-1940, their troops were ultimately no match for the sheer immensity of the Red Army. In February 1940, following one of the largest artillery bombardments since World War I, the Soviets renewed their onslaught and overran the Finnish defenses on the Karelian Isthmus. With its forces low on ammunition and nearing the brink of exhaustion, Finland agreed to peace terms the following month.

The treaty ending the Winter War forced Finland to cede 11 percent of its territory to the Soviet Union, yet the country maintained its independence and later squared off against Russia a second time during World War II. For the Soviets, meanwhile, victory came at a heavy cost. During just three months of fighting, their forces suffered over 300,000 casualties compared to around 65,000 for the Finns. The Winter War may have also carried important consequences for World War II. Among other things, the Red Army’s lackluster performance is often cited as a key factor in Adolf Hitler’s mistaken belief that his June 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union would be a success."

Russia's final "victory" over Finland was the result of what was essentially a human wave attack. Stalin has been quoted as saying, "Quantity has a quality all its own," referring to such an attack.

So far, the Russian invasion of Ukraine appears to be very similar to the Soviet invasion of Finland. "Navigator," the military historian whom I quoted earlier, said that he believes that the Russians will make the "post Winter War" adjustments and begin a national militarization and mass mobilization. This will allow them to repeat the human wave attacks of 1939-40.

Operation Barbarossa (1941), Hitler's invasion of Russia

On June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, an invasion of the Soviet Union. More than 3 million German and Axis troops invaded the Soviet Union along an 1,800-mile-long front. But in this case, the roles of invader and defender were reversed from the Winter War, with the obvious consequences.

Hitler's Blitzkrieg victories in Belgium and France made him overconfident, even though his attempted invasion of Britain was faltering. In Russia, the Nazi army made numerous blunders, and was overwhelmed by the long supply lines, the harsh Russian winter, and the fierce opposition of the Russian civilians, who were defending "Mother Russia." The Nazis attacked but failed to control any large cities -- Leningrad (St. Petersburg), Moscow or Stalingrad (Volgograd). Hitler's defeat in Russia turned the tide decisively toward the Allies.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Few people believe that Russia will agree to any "peace deal" short of full conquest of Ukraine, and possibly Moldova, Poland, Romania, and the Baltics as well. Vladimir Putin expected a quick victory in Ukraine, and as his army suffered one setback after another, Putin is suffering from Cognitive Dissonance which will only infuriate him and cause him to double and triple down on the offensive. As suggested, Putin's next step may be national militarization and mass mobilization of the Russian population in defense of "Mother Russia," in preparation for a human wave assault on Ukraine. This would be similar to Stalin's actions in Finland in the Winter War.

Of course, there are some significant differences between Russia's invasions of Finland and Ukraine, mainly the possible interventions of Nato and China. Poland and the East European countries cannot afford for Ukraine to lose, and China cannot afford for Russia to lose. This is a formula for a long war, a proxy war, and a war that will spread to the rest of Europe.

The Regeneracy in Europe, Russia and America

I've written about the generational theory concept of the "Regeneracy" for years: During a generational Crisis Era, bitterly opposed political factions put their political differences aside and unite against the common enemy, in a regeneracy of civic unity for the first time since the end of the previous crisis war.

In my last article, I described how the Regeneracy applied to the European nations. All of these countries had significant political differences, but now they are increasingly united against Russia.

What about Russia itself? There have been some scattered anecdotes about Russians turning against Putin, but most reports indicate that the vast majority of Russians support Putin's war in Ukraine, especially as he has cut off all foreign media and allow only state-run media that says that Mother Russia is defending against Nazis in Ukraine.

In America, the position of the Biden administration is confusion, and laden with mixed messages, including contradictory statements by the president and vice-president.

There are numerous reports quoting unnamed administration and military officials that Biden has been pressuring Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to accept any peace deal offered by the Russians, even one that gives up significant territory to the Russians. Biden's motivation would be that any other outcome would be a block to his fanatical support of the "green new deal."

However, it's increasingly clear every day that Biden's war on the domestic fossil fuel industry is causing huge spikes in energy prices and inflation, which is causing Europe to suffer, and is providing the funding for Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Zelenskyy is considered a hero by many Americans, while Vladimir Putin is considered evil incarnate, and this is causing many Democrats and Republicans to demand that Biden change policies. Biden has been forced to speed up military aid and weapons deliveries to Ukraine. The pressure is growing to support and encourage more domestic development of gas and oil, rather than beg Iran and Venezuela to produce more. This is the Regeneracy process in America, and it is continuing.

A word of thanks

After my last article, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who have written to me to wish me well, and to tell me how valuable my articles have been by providing a non-ideological explanation of what's actually going on in the world. By applying modern generational theory to historical and current events, I've apparently filled a very important need for a few thousand people, much more than I previously realized. It makes me want to go on, as best as I can.

If any organization or college would like to set it up, I would be willing to give a Zoom course on Generational Dynamics. Here's the blurb: Twenty years ago I began developing Generational Dynamics, a methodology for analyzing historical and current events, based on Forrester's MIT System Dynamics applied to generational flows, and incorporating Chaos Theory and technology forecasting. My web sites, and, contain over 6,000 articles with thousands of analyses and predictions about hundreds of countries, and they've all come true or are trending true. None has been proven wrong. In addition, I've written four books on the history of Iran, China and Vietnam, and the history and theology of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Daoism. The major prediction over the last 20 years has been that we are headed for a global financial crisis and a world war against China. That time is now approaching. So now, the Russia-Ukraine war is just beginning, and it is expected to cause a chain reaction that will lead to a major European war, and within a couple of years to a world war and a global depression.

I would also like to repeat my invitation to some organization or college that would like to take on the responsibility on further development of Generational Dynamics.

John Xenakis is author of: "World View: Vietnam, Buddhism, and the Vietnam War: How Vietnam became an economic powerhouse after the Vietnam War" (Generational Theory Book Series, Book 4), March 2021 Paperback: 325 pages, over 200 source references, $13.99 Complete Table of Contents

John Xenakis is author of: "World View: War Between China and Japan: Why America Must Be Prepared" (Generational Theory Book Series, Book 2), June 2019, Paperback: 331 pages, with over 200 source references, $13.99 Complete Table of Contents

John Xenakis is author of: "World View: Iran's Struggle for Supremacy -- Tehran's Obsession to Redraw the Map of the Middle East" (Generational Theory Book Series, Book 1), September 2018 Paperback: 153 pages, over 100 source references, $7.00 Complete Table of Contents

John Xenakis is author of: "Generational Dynamics Anniversary Edition - Forecasting America's Destiny", (Generational Theory Book Series, Book 3), January 2020, Paperback: 359 pages, $14.99, Complete Table of Contents


Related Articles:

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the Generational Dynamics World View News thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Apr-2022) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

Web Log Pages

Current Web Log

Web Log Summary - 2022
Web Log Summary - 2021
Web Log Summary - 2020
Web Log Summary - 2019
Web Log Summary - 2018
Web Log Summary - 2017
Web Log Summary - 2016
Web Log Summary - 2015
Web Log Summary - 2014
Web Log Summary - 2013
Web Log Summary - 2012
Web Log Summary - 2011
Web Log Summary - 2010
Web Log Summary - 2009
Web Log Summary - 2008
Web Log Summary - 2007
Web Log Summary - 2006
Web Log Summary - 2005
Web Log Summary - 2004

Web Log - December, 2022
Web Log - November, 2022
Web Log - October, 2022
Web Log - September, 2022
Web Log - August, 2022
Web Log - July, 2022
Web Log - June, 2022
Web Log - May, 2022
Web Log - April, 2022
Web Log - March, 2022
Web Log - February, 2022
Web Log - January, 2022
Web Log - December, 2021
Web Log - November, 2021
Web Log - October, 2021
Web Log - September, 2021
Web Log - August, 2021
Web Log - July, 2021
Web Log - June, 2021
Web Log - May, 2021
Web Log - April, 2021
Web Log - March, 2021
Web Log - February, 2021
Web Log - January, 2021
Web Log - December, 2020
Web Log - November, 2020
Web Log - October, 2020
Web Log - September, 2020
Web Log - August, 2020
Web Log - July, 2020
Web Log - June, 2020
Web Log - May, 2020
Web Log - April, 2020
Web Log - March, 2020
Web Log - February, 2020
Web Log - January, 2020
Web Log - December, 2019
Web Log - November, 2019
Web Log - October, 2019
Web Log - September, 2019
Web Log - August, 2019
Web Log - July, 2019
Web Log - June, 2019
Web Log - May, 2019
Web Log - April, 2019
Web Log - March, 2019
Web Log - February, 2019
Web Log - January, 2019
Web Log - December, 2018
Web Log - November, 2018
Web Log - October, 2018
Web Log - September, 2018
Web Log - August, 2018
Web Log - July, 2018
Web Log - June, 2018
Web Log - May, 2018
Web Log - April, 2018
Web Log - March, 2018
Web Log - February, 2018
Web Log - January, 2018
Web Log - December, 2017
Web Log - November, 2017
Web Log - October, 2017
Web Log - September, 2017
Web Log - August, 2017
Web Log - July, 2017
Web Log - June, 2017
Web Log - May, 2017
Web Log - April, 2017
Web Log - March, 2017
Web Log - February, 2017
Web Log - January, 2017
Web Log - December, 2016
Web Log - November, 2016
Web Log - October, 2016
Web Log - September, 2016
Web Log - August, 2016
Web Log - July, 2016
Web Log - June, 2016
Web Log - May, 2016
Web Log - April, 2016
Web Log - March, 2016
Web Log - February, 2016
Web Log - January, 2016
Web Log - December, 2015
Web Log - November, 2015
Web Log - October, 2015
Web Log - September, 2015
Web Log - August, 2015
Web Log - July, 2015
Web Log - June, 2015
Web Log - May, 2015
Web Log - April, 2015
Web Log - March, 2015
Web Log - February, 2015
Web Log - January, 2015
Web Log - December, 2014
Web Log - November, 2014
Web Log - October, 2014
Web Log - September, 2014
Web Log - August, 2014
Web Log - July, 2014
Web Log - June, 2014
Web Log - May, 2014
Web Log - April, 2014
Web Log - March, 2014
Web Log - February, 2014
Web Log - January, 2014
Web Log - December, 2013
Web Log - November, 2013
Web Log - October, 2013
Web Log - September, 2013
Web Log - August, 2013
Web Log - July, 2013
Web Log - June, 2013
Web Log - May, 2013
Web Log - April, 2013
Web Log - March, 2013
Web Log - February, 2013
Web Log - January, 2013
Web Log - December, 2012
Web Log - November, 2012
Web Log - October, 2012
Web Log - September, 2012
Web Log - August, 2012
Web Log - July, 2012
Web Log - June, 2012
Web Log - May, 2012
Web Log - April, 2012
Web Log - March, 2012
Web Log - February, 2012
Web Log - January, 2012
Web Log - December, 2011
Web Log - November, 2011
Web Log - October, 2011
Web Log - September, 2011
Web Log - August, 2011
Web Log - July, 2011
Web Log - June, 2011
Web Log - May, 2011
Web Log - April, 2011
Web Log - March, 2011
Web Log - February, 2011
Web Log - January, 2011
Web Log - December, 2010
Web Log - November, 2010
Web Log - October, 2010
Web Log - September, 2010
Web Log - August, 2010
Web Log - July, 2010
Web Log - June, 2010
Web Log - May, 2010
Web Log - April, 2010
Web Log - March, 2010
Web Log - February, 2010
Web Log - January, 2010
Web Log - December, 2009
Web Log - November, 2009
Web Log - October, 2009
Web Log - September, 2009
Web Log - August, 2009
Web Log - July, 2009
Web Log - June, 2009
Web Log - May, 2009
Web Log - April, 2009
Web Log - March, 2009
Web Log - February, 2009
Web Log - January, 2009
Web Log - December, 2008
Web Log - November, 2008
Web Log - October, 2008
Web Log - September, 2008
Web Log - August, 2008
Web Log - July, 2008
Web Log - June, 2008
Web Log - May, 2008
Web Log - April, 2008
Web Log - March, 2008
Web Log - February, 2008
Web Log - January, 2008
Web Log - December, 2007
Web Log - November, 2007
Web Log - October, 2007
Web Log - September, 2007
Web Log - August, 2007
Web Log - July, 2007
Web Log - June, 2007
Web Log - May, 2007
Web Log - April, 2007
Web Log - March, 2007
Web Log - February, 2007
Web Log - January, 2007
Web Log - December, 2006
Web Log - November, 2006
Web Log - October, 2006
Web Log - September, 2006
Web Log - August, 2006
Web Log - July, 2006
Web Log - June, 2006
Web Log - May, 2006
Web Log - April, 2006
Web Log - March, 2006
Web Log - February, 2006
Web Log - January, 2006
Web Log - December, 2005
Web Log - November, 2005
Web Log - October, 2005
Web Log - September, 2005
Web Log - August, 2005
Web Log - July, 2005
Web Log - June, 2005
Web Log - May, 2005
Web Log - April, 2005
Web Log - March, 2005
Web Log - February, 2005
Web Log - January, 2005
Web Log - December, 2004
Web Log - November, 2004
Web Log - October, 2004
Web Log - September, 2004
Web Log - August, 2004
Web Log - July, 2004
Web Log - June, 2004

Copyright © 2002-2021 by John J. Xenakis.