Kings Coronation, Victory Day Parade and Perverse Values

king charles coronation

A fact that the arrow of time has moved away from the ‘yearning for peace’, in the past seven decades, to obsession with wars, shows that the lessons from the second world war have been all but forgotten. This perversion in values in the west, is a real threat to the prosperity and peace on the planet.

This May has been quite eventful. Among several international events, the King’s coronation in Britain drew much attention from the media in the west. The elites in that country did their bit by gloating over it endlessly. Their media, which has international outreach, too played it up for world to see this inane extravaganza. Of course, British empire ceased to exist long ago and its monarchy is no longer of any relevance to the rest of the world. But then why envy the Brits if they indulge in little nostalgia in these difficult times.

However, a week later when the annual Victory Day Parade was held in Moscow, the western media came down odiously upon it, mirroring the hostile attitude of its governments towards Russia. A fact that the parade is being held annually since 1945 in commemoration of defeat of Nazis in the second world war, seemed to mean little to them. On this occasion, the revulsion for Russia crossed all limits of decency. For example, Germany’s first public broadcaster, subsequently put out a documentary, titled “Toppling Soviet Statues – How should history be remembered?”

Its subliminal messaging to evoke animus, by eliciting response from the East European commoners, towards Russian historical monuments in their countries, could not have been more malicious than that accomplished in this documentary. However, notwithstanding the liberal gloss in such reporting, in normal times this type of singling out of a community for social rebuke, would have raised phantasmic memories of the past, when Jews faced a similar situation in Europe. But these are not normal times.

Instead of treating the Victory Day Parade, as a somber reminder of the dark clouds that had once descended upon Europe – in fact, the world – and, sincerely examining reasons for arriving at a similar situation now, the western media indulged in recriminations, claiming moral high ground on its side, while vilifying the other side. A recent article penned by the former chief of the staff of the British army, titled, “Kings Coronation or Russia’s Victory Parade: I Know Which One I Prefer”, in a mainstream print media known for its elite viewership, is one of its kind. A clip below from the article, provides an insight into the mindset of the class of its readership.

After describing the pomp and glitz of the king’s coronation in the article, the author concludes: “Compare that (the Coronation) with the pictures to be broadcast on Television of the (Russian) victory parade. We do what we do, because we choose to line the street or gather with our families around our television sets, and, in Moscow, it is another world. I know which one I want to belong to”. Indeed, God Save The King!

That 27 million Russians died (civilians and combatants) fighting the Nazis, seems to have made no difference to this pompous schlemiel. If anything, his article shows, what the elites really care for. The fascist ideology arose as repulsive product of decay of developed imperialism. Once again, we seem to be witnessing the specter of the same.

Of course, the defeat of Nazism, could not have been possible without the joint efforts of the military alliance between British, Americans and Russians. But stitching of the alliance with the Soviets was not easy in the prevailing atmosphere of antipathy towards communism in US. It took the statesmanship of Franklin D Roosevelt, its then President, to seal it. Unlike other politicians of his time in his country, Roosevelt was clear as to who was the greatest threat to the world peace. Using his authority, he made sure that Soviet Union was included for assistance, under Lend-Lease bill before the Congress.

In all, $ 31.4 billion aid went to the United Kingdom between 1941 to 1945 under the lend-lease legislation. Soviet Union on the other hand received $ 11.3 billion under the same legislation, France received $3.2 billion and the remaining $2.6 billion went to other allies. Britain on its part, shipped some of the much-needed war inventory (which included food, armament, as well has clothing), received from the US, to the Soviet Union, through Arctic Convoys to Murmansk and Archangel, in Northern Russia. Besides, it too sent some of its own aid with these convoys, but on a much smaller scale than the US.

Yet the Alliance was not without frictions. After being appointed as plenipotentiary by Hitler in 1936, Goering had mobilized the entire German economy by 1940 for a prolonged war in Europe. In comparison the allied forces were ill prepared, when the war began. As a result of this, the Soviet troops struggled to hold the Eastern Front against Nazis much of the time during the early years of war. This was the situation despite receiving its annual quota of aid from its western allies.

In fact, Stalin had been pleading since 1941 with the US and Britain, to open a second front in France, in order to mitigate pressure on Soviet forces. In response, Roosevelt had (unwisely according to some) agreed to open up the second front in autumn of 1942. Instead, when autumn came, the US and Britain postponed their invasion by 11 months. The US then reduced its commitment to deploy its troops, by more than half. This reduction was undertaken on advice of economists in FDR’s panel of advisors, who had argued that the commitment of a force of 200 divisions was too large and that it could break the US economy, leaving little manufacturing capacity with it to equip and feed his own countrymen, as well as those of its allied forces, who were already reeling under shortages.

Although Stalin only grumbled on this postponement, in the following year, when the invasion was further delayed to May, 1944, he exploded and reproached FDR with: ‘Is America planning to fight the war with American money, American armaments, but Soviet soldiers”. After this altercation, Stalin recalled his ambassadors from London and Washington, giving rise to fears that Soviets might seek a separate peace with Germany.

But these fears were misplaced. Russians continued to fight against Germans, until the victory of allied forces was achieved in 1945. In fact, despite persisting shortages, Russians succeeded in lifting the siege of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in December 1942, after grueling two years under German encirclement. A couple of months later, Russians defeated Germans at Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in February 1943. This was the turning point in the 5-year long war with Germans.

Thus, true to Stalin’s apprehensions, Soviet Union lost 12 million combatants in the second world war. The Americans and the British, on their part suffered losses of little below half-a-million men each on the battle fields. Considering these facts, can one draw any conclusion on the role of each partner in the war? Clearly, the victory over Nazis was predominantly paid for with Russian Blood, though, Americans – and the British to lesser extent – did pump in significant amount of aid in kind to the Soviet Union. But this was by no means adequate against the well-oiled German war machine.

While there has been controversy over whether the Soviet forces could have held on without American aid in the early stages of war, the answer is: probably not. But the Soviet defeat would have given Nazis access to Russia’s vast resources, especially oil. Further, British and Americans wouldn’t have had time they got to prepare for the war against Germans, had Soviet forces not held on for over three years on the Eastern front. The history would then have been different.

Given this background, it is indeed disgraceful that the US and its allies in Europe should now be mocking Russia’s Soviet legacy. Unfortunately, as things stand, the media in the west seems to have given up its independence and become a fervid cheer leader of its government’s policies in recent years; especially its unending wars. Indeed, a fact that the arrow of time has moved away from the ‘yearning for peace’ over the seven decades since the second world war to an obsession for wars in recent times, shows that the lessons from the past have been all but forgotten by the west. This perversion in values, is a real threat to the prosperity and peace on the planet.

Shrikant Modak is a senior financial journalist. He has co-authored five books on renewable energy economics. He lives in Mumbai.


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