Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The American President That Understood Russia

Updated July 2017

Remembering that John Kennedy actually fought in the Second World War and lost a brother, Joseph, who was killed in action in August 1944, this speech given at the American University commencement on June 10, 1963 is particularly pertinent given the increasingly loud beating of the anti-Russia war drums in Washington:

Here is one of the most interesting excerpts from the speech, particularly since this speech was eight short months after the Cuban Missile crisis took the world to the brink of nuclear war:

"Among the many traits the peoples of our two countries have in common, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of war. Almost unique among the major world powers, we have never been at war with each other. And no nation in the history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union suffered in the course of the Second World War. At least 20 million lost their lives. Countless millions of homes and farms were burned or sacked. A third of the nation's territory, including nearly two thirds of its industrial base, was turned into a wasteland--a loss equivalent to the devastation of this country east of Chicago."

Let's look at some statistics to help us better understand President Kennedy's empathy for the Soviet nation.  Looking back at history, according to the National World War II Museum database, here is a country-by-country listing of deaths during the Second World War:

The Soviet Union's losses of at least 24 million people which included between 8.8 million and 10.7 million military deaths and between 13.3 million and 15.2 million civilian deaths puts them into first place, just ahead of China which lost a total of 20 million people, 16 million to 17 million of which were civilians.  Here is a graph showing how the war impacted the population of Russia between 1920 and 1990:

The Soviet losses of at least 24 million people compare to 418,500 total deaths for the United States of which only 2000 were civilian over the entirety of the war.  There was a significant gender bias to Soviet deaths; within the first six months of the 1944 invasion, an estimated 5 million Red Army soldiers were killed and the nation lost territory equal to the size of the United States between the East Coast and Springfield, Illinois.  A 2007 study by Elizabeth Brainerd at Williams College estimated total Soviet war deaths at 27 million or nearly 14 percent of the nation's total prewar population.  The war had a massive impact on the nation's sex ratio, particularly in the 20 to 29 year-old age group; the prewar ratio (in 1941 prior to Hitler's June 22 invasion) was 0.91 men to one woman, dropping to 0.65 men to one woman in 1946.  Here is a graph showing how the sex ratio varied by year of birth:

Besides the massive loss of military and civilian lives during the war, there was a significant negative impact on the birth rate; in 1940, the Soviet birth rate was 34.6 per 1000 population, falling to 26.0 per 1000 population in 1946 as shown on this graphic:

This means that an estimated 11.5 million Soviet babies were not born during the war years alone who would have otherwise been born 

As Ms. Brainard puts it, this is another uncounted cost of the Second World War on the Soviet Union.

It is fascinating to look at history and see that, despite his very significant conflicts with the Soviet Union, President John Kennedy was still able to put the Soviet suffering during the Second World War into context, enabling him to at least have some degree of understanding regarding the Soviet world view.  The mainstream media's current obsession with Russia reflects the views of a significant portion of the American ruling class, particularly those who are connected with the military-industrial-political complex.  As I have said before, should hostilities break out between the United States and Russia, you can be assured that the ruling class and their children will not be on the front lines, it will once again be Main Street America that will be making the sacrifice.

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