by Richard Martin

Here is my assessment of the information front. I’d appreciate you commenting to get alternative viewpoints or amplification.

General Public:

  • Most people seem to openly support Ukraine and Ukrainians and to have a negative view of Putin and his Kremlin gang. Most appear to distinguish the “Russian people” from the Putin and his henchmen. Is this what others are seeing?
  • Still some holdouts of the “Russia has legitimate security concerns” variety, but I’m not seeing much of them. Maybe it’s because I’ve blocked or unfollowed them on my social media feeds? Need more confirmation.
  • In the USA, where it probably counts the most, there appears to be strong sentiment in support of Ukraine, or at least the Ukrainian people, with abhorrence of Russia’s indiscriminate bombing and killing.
  • On the other hand, there is a strong “isolationist” current in the US, mainly in financial and/or economic circles. I could be wrong, so correct me if my assessment is wrong.

Traditional Media:

  • Superficial war coverage, at least 12 hours behind the curve in written media (mainly corporate media sites).
  • Written media is mostly big headlines with empty articles, a few pictures, some quotes from “experts” in think tanks and universities, as well as government talking points from various countries.
  • Written and visual media (mostly TV) are full of human interest and humanitarian coverage. There is also a lot of hand wringing and apocalyptic reportage. “If we cut off Russian oil to Europe, they will all freeze.” “What if Chernobyl blows up?”
  • Lack of in-depth strategic and operational analysis, much less understanding of real issues. Talking heads with either an axe to grind or little/no actual military experience at the tactical, operational, or strategic levels.
  • Probably more like 24-36 hours delay on network TV news, due mainly to the restrictions of the medium and fixed scheduling.
  • I don’t know about the 24-hour news channels because I can’t stand them. I occasionally watch a bit of Fox News on You Tube, mainly to listen to Gen. Jack Keane’s interventions. Not because I necessarily agree with all his points, but he’s less objectionable to me than all the others. If someone has the stomach to watch the 24-hour news drivel, I’d appreciate your insights.

Social Media:

  • All the above, but with some wheat among the chaff.
  • The best coverage of the war on the ground from an operational, technical, and logistical standpoint is on Twitter. The best sources are the most widely shared.
  • Lots of commentary that doesn’t add much to ground truth.
  • We need people with the operational, tactical, technical, and logistical expertise and experience to template Russian and Ukrainian moves. I’m seeing a lot of that here, but I think we need more of it.

Please add to this picture and feel free to comment or to provide a different (informed) POV.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was infantry officer in the Canadian Army. He is now an entrepreneur, trusted strategic advisor, and information warrior focusing on extracting valuable lessons and signals from chaos and noise.

By Richard Martin

Fascism is the worldview, the Weltanschauung, that sees the grassroots, deeply felt social solidarity and cohesion of nations as both a model and a threat. Fascism is thus an attempt to recreate the same level and type of social cohesion as what reigns seemingly naturally and effortlessly in liberal democracies, but from the top down, rather than the bottom up and laterally between individuals.

Similarly to socialism, fascism sees independent centres of social solidarity, cooperation, and community as threats to this top-down cohesion. Both are inherently collectivist in nature, but in different ways. Whereas socialism and its revolutionary incarnation, communism, see these threats and the need to united authority and control in terms of transnational classes and other categories (e.g., gender, sex, race), fascism sees the nation or people (e.g., German Volk) as the basis of top-down control, authority, and cohesion.

German National Socialism (i.e., Nazism) and Italian Fascism were the primary incarnations of “small f” fascism in the 1st half of the 20th century, with the disastrous consequences of World War 2 as main effects.

Current Russian nationalism, let’s call it Putinism, is a variety and instantiation of “small f” fascism. When I say, “small f,” I specifically mean that it stems from the same worldview as Italian Fascism and German Nazism of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. That worldview interprets Western power and, especially, success, prosperity, and cultural attractiveness as a threat to the solidarity, cohesion, and security of the Russian nation, defined in a wide sense to include White Russians (Belarusians) and Little Russians (Ukrainians) in addition to Great Russians (Russians proper).

From this perspective, Putinism is an ideology of resentment, envy, frustration, and anger. It views all Western influences as subversive of Russian purity and security. The military doctrine of Russian “hybrid war” (gybridnaya voyna) tries to distill the secrets of Western success and cultural magnetism as encroachments and offensive manoeuvres. It identifies a “Western playbook” for world hegemony, particularly from the American perspective, and tries to apply the same playbook to Russian defence and counter-encroachment.

Western observers who say that Russia’s concerns vis à vis NATO, the United States, Europe… and Ukraine, fall into the trap of accepting Kremlin claims of being surrounded and under foreign domination and threat of invasion at face value. Just like Russian fascists and other Putinists around the world, they are blinded to the basic truth that Western, and especially American/Anglo-Saxon cultural, political, social, and economic “hegemony” stem from the inherent attractiveness and magnetism of Western values and civilization, not from any master plan for world domination. (That would also include those in the West who fear the World Economic Forum.)

This article is just a first installment of what is proving to be a fundamental metanoia for me. It is a journey of “seeing through the world.” I hope you will accompany me on this adventure.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was infantry officer in the Canadian Army. He is now an entrepreneur, trusted strategic advisor, and information warrior focusing on extracting valuable lessons and signals from chaos and noise.

By Richard Martin

I am now amending the 7th point of my previous posting. That’s what happens when there are indicators of a potentially evolving situation.

There are good reasons to believe that a ceasefire or truce could be on the horizon. There have already been talks between the Ukrainian government and Kremlin representatives near the Ukraine-Belarus border in the last few days.

It appears that a Russian presidential command plane was/is on its way to North America. Last night, a US C3I aircraft was in the air and using the callsign “Truce18.” This may be an indicator of high-level negotiations forthcoming between the US and RU with a view to ending the conflict or declaring a ceasefire or truce.

This is important for several reasons, but the main one is that the invasion of Ukraine is not going well for Russia. Ukrainian resistance is much stronger than anyone anticipated before the war, including the Russians. We don’t have a clear picture of what is happening operationally on the ground, especially west and northwest of Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.

May be an image of outdoors
Destroyed Russian MTLB

The Russians need a truce to buy time to reorganize and resupply their forces in Russia and Ukraine. This a well-known tactical manoeuvre to create an operational pause so the Russian forces can attempt to regain or solidify the initiative. The side with the initiative is the one that is on the offensive.

A ceasefire would also be advantageous for Ukraine and for essentially the same reasons, though with a different implementation. An operational pause for the Ukrainians would provide them with the opportunity to shore up defenses, bring in reinforcements from outside the country, and rebuild combat stores, mainly ammunition and weapons.

This would also be an opportunity for NATO and other Western nations to supply much-needed aircraft and more advanced weapons systems to the Ukrainian forces. NATO has made it crystal clear that it has no intent of declaring a no-fly zone over Ukraine to provide air cover.

A NATO no-fire zone would escalate the conflict and the Russian nuclear threat is a major deterrent. This does not mean, however, that there couldn’t be delivery of highly capable weapons and combat aircraft which could give the Ukrainians a massive boost in firepower, manoeuvrability, survivability, and accuracy.

Moreover, Ukraine is already recruiting foreign fighters to assist in its war effort. I believe that many of these foreign recruits have the knowledge and experience to operate and man high-tech weapons systems.

I readily admit that this may be wishful thinking on my part. But if I can see these possibilities, then others can also. The greatest danger at this point is to confuse wishes and hope for real possibilities. Are these feasible courses of action for Ukraine? I invite your comments and discussion.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was infantry officer in the Canadian Army. He is now an entrepreneur, trusted strategic advisor, and information warrior focusing on extracting valuable lessons and signals from chaos and noise.

By Richard Martin

1st Falsehood: Russia has legitimate security concerns about its borders and NATO encroachment. Wrong! Russia would have less security concerns if it weren’t constantly threatening, badgering, or bullying its neighbours.

Highly detailed physical map of Russia,in vector format,with all the relief forms,regions and big cities. (c) bogdanserban

2nd Falsehood: The United States/West/NATO caused this crisis by wanting to expand to Russia’s borders, thus threatening the latter. Wrong! The reason NATO has expanded since the end of the Cold War is that Russia’s neighbours felt, and continue to feel, threatened by Russian aggression and expansion.

3rd Falsehood: The Russians are just like us; they want freedom and democracy with a free market system. Wrong! There is little or no evidence to support this assertion, at least since the end of the Cold War. There have been attempts at economic and political reform, but the Russian people have remained relatively quiescent and followed the official ideology and worldview.

4th Falsehood: Ukrainians are just a part of the Russian nation. Wrong! That’s like saying the Flemish and Dutch; Austrians and Germans; Czechs and Slovaks; or even the French and Quebeckers are unitary nations. They’re not. Ukrainians and Russians speak closely related languages and have intertwined histories. But they are different nations, and this has been asserted and realized to varying degrees over hundreds of years.

5th Falsehood: NATO and non-NATO countries not at war with Russia. Wrong! Russia has been conducting what it calls “hybrid warfare” against the U.S., Canada, U.K., and other NATO nations since at least 2016, and one of the main theatres is cyberspace, where Russia has been conducting continuous cyber and information warfare to disrupt communications, infrastructure, military, and financial networks.

6th Falsehood: Economic sanctions and financial restrictions are sufficient to bring Russia to heel. Wrong! Only military defeat of the Russian invasion either by Ukraine acting alone (though with foreign support) or outright foreign involvement will force Russia to leave Ukraine.

7th Falsehood: A negotiated solution is in the offing. Wrong! Everything indicates the exact opposite. Putin and the Kremlin appear determined to solve what they perceive as the Ukrainian problem once and for all. Even if there were a negotiated withdrawal, Russia would only do that to buy time, just like Saddam did after the expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was a career infantry officer in the Canadian Army. He now plies his trade as an information warrior and strategic advisor to leaders and decision-makers. He focuses on extracting valuable lessons and signals from chaos and noise.

by Richard Martin

There are 100s of videos of RU prisoners, and it is clear that many, if not most, are poorly trained, poorly led, and have no knowledge of the true purpose of their being sent to Ukraine.

Russia has lost 100s of tanks and armoured vehicles mostly destroyed, but also captured and now being repurposed by the Ukrainian forces. I’ve read estimates that 60-90% of Russia’s total ground forces have been or are being committed to the campaign. Equipment is being redeployed from the Far East districts to the western district.

The Russian AF (VKS) is not dominating the skies, and this has many analysts wondering what is happening on that level. Also, much of the Russian communications are on commercial platforms and equipment. Again, a bit of a mystery as to why.

The attack on and capture of the Zaporozhya nuclear station has 2 effects, one intended and the other probably unintended. Intended: Russia will be able to shut it down to cut power to Ukraine. That is probably why they wanted to capture Chernobyl at the start of the campaign also.

The unintended outcome is that it is misdirecting outside media coverage. There appears to be an operational pause to the west of Kyiv. This gives RU cover to do something there. The intent is to surround Kyiv (and other major cities, e.g., Kharkiv). They’re having a very hard time of it though.

The WSJ had a write up this morning about the initial RU attempt to seize the major Kyiv airport at Hostomel. It’s changed hands several times since then. The intent appears to be to seize major airfields near the capital to airlift in “élite” VDV airborne forces.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was a career infantry officer in the Canadian Army. He now plies his trade as an information warrior and strategic advisor to leaders and decision-makers. He focuses on extracting valuable lessons and signals from chaos and noise.

by Richard Martin

man looking at a tentacle monster that destroys the city, digital art style, illustration painting (c) grandfailure

There is a widespread belief that poverty and inequality are causes of war and aggression. It’s the other way around. War is the cause of poverty, famine, pestilence and misery.

War is caused by people who are unwilling to create valuable products and services to trade for other people’s valuable products and services. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Maduro, etc. never worked a day in their lives.

Aggressors are thieves and bullies. They prefer to steal and murder to create their own prosperity for themselves and their supporters. Everybody else can go to hell as far as they are concerned.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was a career infantry officer in the Canadian Army. He now plies his trade as an information warrior and strategic advisor to leaders and decision-makers. He focuses on extracting valuable lessons and signals from chaos and noise.

by Richard Martin

We live in a Hobbesian world governed by force and counterforce. I believe it was Israeli diplomat Abba Eban who said that the UN was nothing more than a continuation of war by other means, or words to that effect.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) on engraving from the 1800s. English philosopher.
Engraved by J.Pofselwhite from a picture by Dobson and published in London by W.Mackenzie.
Copyright candyman

The UN was formed in 1945 to prevent future wars, especially on a global scale. There was supposed to be a combined command and military staff. The Security Council was supposed to issue orders and direct military operations against transgressors. War was outlawed and declared an illegitimate means of resolving international disputes. There is a World Court (or something like it) along with a whole raft of international treaties, protocols, and institutions. There are financial structures to ensure no one runs out of money so the banking systems in each nation don’t collapse. The non-security bodies were supposed to alleviate poverty and suffering under the assumption that they are the fundamental cause of war and aggression. It’s all mismanaged and it’s a mess.

The dirty secret is this. Aggression is caused by aggressive, violent people, 99% of whom are men. Most crime is attributable to young men. Wars of conquest and domination occur when overly aggressive men in gangs gain control of the state apparatus and decide to use the instruments of internal coercion to attack other nations. The only effective means of countering aggression at the international level, where reigns a state of nature, is through credible armed forces, defensive alliances, democratic governance of nations internally, mild taxes, security of person and property, and free markets and open trade.

Nations must build credible alliances to deter and, if deterrence fails, counter aggression and conquest. NATO is one such alliance. We see the limits of this means of deterrence and defence when an aggressive, powerful neighbour — Russia — threatens nuclear retribution against what it perceives as hostile encroachment on its sphere of dominion and geopolitical influence and interest. If Ukraine were in NATO, the invasion probably wouldn’t have happened, at least not in the way it is happening now. Conversely, if Russia had no effective nuclear capability and the invasion had occurred, NATO would be bombing Russian forces as we speak.

This is why nuclear proliferation is such a threat to world peace. Up to now, the United States, the UK, France, India, Pakistan, Israel, and China have been reasonably responsible with their respective nuclear capabilities and have kept them as purely defensive deterrents. Even the USSR was deterred throughout the Cold War. Russia under Putin is manifestly not deterred, and is in fact using Russia’s nuclear capabilities to threaten retaliation against direct military intervention in support of Ukraine. Now, imagine if North Korea and Iran had significant nuclear capabilities with reasonably accurate and effective delivery vectors. Right now, they seem to have ballistic missiles of varying ranges and accuracies under development and trial. From what I can gather, their bombs have all fizzled. But what happens when they no longer fizzle?

In sum, dreams of world government are just that, dreams. Global governance is a pipe dream. That’s a good thing, because if it existed it would be a technocratic nightmare. We need force to counter force, deterrence to counter threats. That’s the lesson of history and human nature and the signal in the noise.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin served as a career infantry officer in the Canadian Army, and is now an author, educator, and trusted advisor. He focuses on extracting valuable lessons and signals from chaos and noise.

by Richard Martin

The Russians are racking up casualties, including senior officers, formation commanders, chiefs of staff. Hospitals in Belarus are full and civilian authorities are saying “leave them on the battlefield.” 

For someone like me who has studied the Russian front in Ww2 I am starting to understand how the Red Army could stack up such massive casualties. There is little concern for the rank and file. There are multiple sources indicating officers abandoning their units the closer they get to the front. The Russian units with solid officers appear fairly effective though.

The manoeuvring appears to be limited, with poor coordination of fires and mutual support. The RU air force is much bigger than the UkAF, at least on paper. However, there are limited numbers of precision guided munitions and Russian pilots are poorly trained. They are also having a hard time coordinating ground based air defence for columns. Fuel shortages and logistics deficiencies are massive. Command and control is disorganized and most of their radio comms are in the the open, and easily picked up by civilians.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainians appear to be disappearing into built up and wooded areas. They are using ambush tactics and destroying tanks, light armour and trucks with antitank weapons like the US designed Javelin and British NLAW. These are fire and forget missiles that basically only require a safety briefing to operate with a high kill probability. The scenes of civilians filling sandbags and making Molotov cocktails in Kyiv and Kharkiv look like pictures of the defence of Moscow in November 1941.

The drones also are very effective, but they appear to be using them mainly against air defence systems and command vehicles. Some of the footage shows RU vehicles in open leaguers as if they were on parade. They come under attack by drones without seemingly any awareness that they are being sighted. It’s incredible.

That massive RU traffic jam in the north is a choice target. A squadron or two of A10s would wipe it out in a day.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin is a Canadian Army veteran, thinker, educator, and trusted advisor. He focuses on extracting valuable signals from all the noise.

By Richard Martin

There are those times in life when we get a revelation, and a great truth appears in a flash of insight.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine started on 24 February, I’ve been having about 3 of those a day. This morning though (March 1st), I had the biggest one of all, as intimated by the title of this article. In fact, my worldview has altered significantly in the last few hours. In a nutshell, Russia was the threat all along!

I know, that sounds idiotic. “What do you call the Cold War?” True enough, but my realization goes deeper than that. The Soviet Union was Russia garbed in an attractive to some (many), and not just Lenin’s “useful idiots.” And this on a global scale.

The end of the Cold War and the dismemberment of the USSR ended the Marxist-Leninist fiasco that had threatened freedom and peace around the world in 1989-91. Western countries, the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond, we all greeted Russia with open arms into the community of nations.

We assumed that, with the Communists out of power, Russia would become a “normal” country again. Leningrad reverted to its old name, Saint-Petersburg. Former Soviet Socialist republics were left to their own devices for a few years. Western countries extended friendly relations and offered credit, investment, and relatively free trade. The United States scrapped its remaining space shuttle and entrusted its astronauts to the Soyuz rockets of Roscosmos flying from Baikonur. We built a massive international space station with key modules and components from Russia. The United States even allowed critical launch providers and rocket builders like United Launch Alliance to put Russian rocket engines in Atlas V rockets, many of them used to put American defence satellites on orbit!

But Russia claims to be surrounded and threatened by Europe, NATO, and especially, the United States. The goal is to reconstitute a Grossrussland consisting of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, the cost be damned. After that, will the Baltics, Moldova, and eastern Poland be next?

I was an infantry officer in the Canadian Army for 21 years (1985-2006). I served with Canada’s NATO brigade in Germany from 1988 to 91. I was there when the Wall came down, when Ceausescu and his wife were murdered, when German Chancellor Helmut Kohl rolled the dice and integrated East Germany, reuniting Berlin in the process. I was there when Soviet hardliners staged an attempted coup in 1991 and Boris Yeltsin rose to the occasion. And I was also there when the Soviet Union dissolved itself in late 1991 and Ukraine affirmed its independence in a national referendum.

And now it dawns on me. NATO has always been a defensive alliance against Russia, not the Soviet Union. The latter was the Russian bear in Marxist-Leninist garb. If you can, watch or listen to Jordan Peterson’s interview with Prof. Frederick Kagan on Russia’s history and designs. It is a sobering reminder that Russia has been fearful of its neighbours for centuries.

To this you can add a video by Peter Zeihan of a briefing last year to US Army officers. He explains the geopolitical and strategic situation clearly and succinctly, complete with pictures to reinforce the point.

We need to realize that World War III has started. It’s not unfolding the way any of us expected, especially after watching the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the poverty and corruption of Russia since 1991. A clique of murderous psychopaths and exploitative oligarchs is running Russia, and they very well take Eurasia down their country in this last-ditch reckless gamble.

At this point in the rapidly evolving situation, I consider that the probability of escalation is high. At some point, NATO and like-minded countries in Europe, Asia, and the Americas will be drawn into the fighting. Right now, this is limited arms shipments, and war on the moral plane: economic/financial sanctions, cyberwarfare, psychological operations, information warfare. Ukraine needs serious air power right now, and it can only be provided by NATO and the United States. When that happens, all bets will be off. It can happen, and the odds are high.

I don’t mean to be alarmist, but that’s what I see right now.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin is a veteran, thinker, educator, and trusted advisor. He focuses on extracting valuable signals from all the noise.

by Richard Martin

Another idea that must be countered. If we come to the aid of Ukraine, where will it stop? We don’t try to stop all the despots and bullies in the world, do we?

Actually, we do. At least the more threatening ones. Moreover, what we’ve done in the past about other threats, potential or actual, has no bearing on whether the west and NATO helps Ukraine now. One of the things we learn in financial analysis is that sunk costs are irrelevant to evaluating whether further investments are beneficial. By analogy, past actions supporting or resisting particular aggressions are irrelevant to future “investments” in defence and security.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin is a veteran, thinker, educator, and trusted advisor. He focuses on extracting valuable signals from all the noise.