Smolensk aircrash – Realpolitik

Second blog post in a row, but the stuff is getting annoying: Smolensk seems to be at the top of everyone’s agenda, with Poles discussing landing trajectories, approach protocols and becoming speedily acquainted with the inner workings of the Severnyj airport. Then, the “evil Russians” do their news conference and present their findings in which they show complete incompetence of Polish flight crew, presence of unauthorised strangers in the cockpit and shock-and-awe everyone with the news about a drunken general that gave orders.
Big trauma in Poland, millions of viewers around the world learning about Polish incompetence, and international observers, analysts and diplomats… shaking their heads and whispering “you mess with the Bear, you get the Claws”.
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As often, I am surprised at the surprise that Polish “leaders”, whom, reasonably well educated should have been aware, that:
1. Russia, even since the Tasrist times was an espionage powerhouse – they created many of the standard spook tactics used throughout the world. The Soviet-era espionage agencies and their leaders delivered some of the coolest “strikes” against various enemies.
2. The Soviet/Russian school of military thought is a world leader and a their doctrines are practical, ruthless and battle tested.
3. The majority of their elites, political, military and intelligence, are still locked deep into the Soviet era (mentally, theory-wise, behaviourally), and when we add to that the persistent myth of “Matushka Rassiya” they have very specific behavioural traits as individual, institutions and as a nation.
4. Comments stating that “little has changed in the administrative bureaucracies of Russia” are correct.
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The funnily sad thing about the MAK report was that the Polish institutions and leadership should have expected such a move by the Russians, as any other rational country would have done the same thing. Poles may have forgotten to study the Russians, retain specialists that understand this great and powerful country, but the Russians have not forgotten about us… Somewhere in a dark office a debate must have occurred during the preparation of the report. In that meeting all the decisions were made and the decision-makers were advised by “Poland specialists” who KNOW Poland, Poles, our institutions and (probably) have detailed behavioural profiles on our leadership. This is how it’s done in the real world.
Official A: “Do we give them any leeway into faults at the airport? Do we admit anything?”
Commentator 1: “You know the Poles – whatever you give them will be used for fifty years by every psycho and right-wing nut to crucify us.
Commentator 2: “Even if their institutions accept the truth, individuals will pursue us with court cases. They are psychotic, selfish and greedy.”
Official B: “Do we need a double-pronged strategy: rational rest of world and crazy Poland?”
Commentator 1: “Use the American shock-and-awe tactic. Flood the meeting with intricate details, highlight incompetence’s, which will impress the world. And, if we could, do a hard emotional assault, which will throw the Poles off the scent.”
Commentator 2: “I agree, let’s make sure the Poles are distracted by emotions. We will create a useful dichotomy: the world will reel from their incompetence while the Poles will obsess about something else entirely, and thus their screams will be incomprehensible to the rest of the world.”
So, the Russians fed the word a detailed second-by-second reconstruction of the final minutes with nice graphs and key mistakes, unseen before outside of the Discovery Channel’s “minutes to disaster” and they dropped the distracting emotional triggers (based on a detailed understanding of Polish psyche) of the last second of flight/crash (screams of pilots) and assaulted the Polish military’s sense of honour (drunken general).
A political adviser from a younger generation, probably educated in the USA in media lobbying (read: manipulation) advised the decision-makers to wait until the Polish Prime Minister was away, so that the release would make the man look foolish and incompetent, furthering the dissolution of the Polish political scene (the conference timing was 99% perfect – to slapstick him any better, Tusk could only have been photographed on the toilet reading a “Bravo 17” teenage girlie magazine). And thus Soviet-era military/espionage doctrine was successfully integrated with modern democratic manipulation in 21st century Russia.
This is as good as manipulation can get.
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But then, the Russians are masters of that particular game. The truly sad thing here is that the Polish leadership:
– should have expected a pre-emptive exposure of the report (if I’ve read the military books, then so have a few others?);
– should have expected “dirty secrets” to be presented (isn’t there a standard “media” question that any leader asks: what have they got on us, and how much will it hurt?);
– expecting the above, should have undertaken its own intelligence operations (bribery is still king);
– should have requested the advice of seasoned professionals of the darker arts, to advise on and against Russia (these guys probably KNOW the very decision-makers in shadowy Moscow rooms, because they attended the same military/espionage academies);
– must have rushed ahead and succeeded with its own pre-emptive strike (even a small one, but important internationally – especially to the aviation professionals who rely on and believe only factual unemotional accounts of crashes and their consequences).
Either way we “got schooled” on Cold War doctrine and its modern application, we came out looking like moronic children in a world where politics has no place for weaklings and incompetent ideologists. And we have confirmed every nation’s perception about our incompetence and illogicality.
Maybe, in 20 years it will be different, but we need this time to get rid of the transformation-era generation of “leaders” (sic!) who still play a childish game of “I don’t like you” instead of professionally managing a nation that is strategically located and could play a much larger role in European affairs. For now, we were shown who the TRUE international masters and players are. Hesitantly and with painful admission, but the Russians must be congratulated for that particular Realpolitic masterstroke.
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How truthful was the MAK report? That is a story for a different evening (dobranocka), but you may want to watch the programme and notice Anodina’s hands hidden behind the table.