What Putin Was Up To (2)

One sentence of Paul’s post from this morning stands out for further reflection: “an experienced intelligence hand articulated it to me: If we know the Russians hacked the Democrats, it’s probably because the Russians want us to know.”

This would not be the first time that a seeming anomaly ought to stop us in our tracks, but unfortunately most of the media and analysts have a child’s grasp of the “anomalies” of Russian strategy.

Cast your mind back for a minute all the way to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. That was a huge victory for the U.S. right? John F. Kennedy’s finest hour! The Legend of Camelot tells us so! On the other hand, take in the reflections of my old teacher of strategic studies, the great Harold Rood, from his neglected classic 1980 book Kingdoms of the Blind:

Yet the missile sites [in Cuba] were being prepared and the missiles erected with absolutely no attempt either to conceal the offending activity, or to render its nature ambiguous. The missiles themselves had been identified in military parades in the Soviet Union so that it was impossible to mistake them for anything but what they were. Here was the Soviet Army, past master of camouflage and deception, unable to hide a handful of missiles and their ancillary equipment. This was the same Soviet Army that, in the offensive to liberate Byelorussia in 1944, was able to conceal the concentration o 2.4 million troops, 4,000 tanks, and 24,000 mortars and artillery pieces from the German troops they were about to attack. The same Soviet Army taught the North Koreans how to build bridges underwater to achieve surprise against United Nations troops fighting to defend South Korea.

Even a superficial inspection of the series of aerial photographs taken by U.S. reconnaissance aircraft could hardly fail to reveal the nature of the installations and the identity of the weapons being emplaced. . . Further, no attempts were even made to conceal the necessary support troops.

The nature of the Soviet regime makes it difficult to imagine that the nuclear weapons were merely included by some minor functionary in the inventory of weapons shipped to Cuba. To the contrary, it would seem that the deployment of nuclear weapons in Cuba was decided at the very highest level of government and only after careful review of the possible responses.

There’s a lot more to Prof. Rood’s contrarian analysis, which culminated with the heterodox conclusion that what has always been portrayed as an American victory and Soviet humiliation was in fact a significant strategic victory for the Soviet Union. It takes some imagination to play out the whole scene (keep mind mind, just for one factor, the secret terms of the settlement that involved withdrawing American missiles from Turkey), but the point is a lot of people are making a similar interpretive mistake today, including possibly President Trump himself.