“Both Russia and the Islamic world have the most sober understanding of the main vulnerability of the West: its political correctness. The West has voluntarily brought itself into this trap, invented by leftists. Political correctness makes the West unable to resist pressure.” Ex-KGB officer Konstantin Preobrazhenskiy on why Russia is not an American ally against radical Islamism.

Agree or disagree?

h/t Bear’s better half

Posted by Jim Dolbow in Foreign Policy

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  • pk

    it appears as though you have hit this very large bridge spike right squarely on the head with a very large sledgehammer.


  • SoldiersDad

    The KGB should know…they supported the US Communist party for decades.

  • Grampa Bluewater

    Hit! MOT.

  • Warrant Diver

    It’s true. When our government can’t resist pressure that mounts whenever they are accused of acting in anything other than a “global” or “inclusive” (insert your leftist adjective du jour here) way you have got to wonder how much longer we can continue to exist as a superpower.
    I also think it is interesting to note that it is usually our own media that is most accusatory toward our government and our country.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Absolutely correct in your post. It is indeed our CG. Used by our enemies at every level of war. The message is loud and clear to all who care to listen. We are hesitant and lack resolve to do what has to be done in what our allies and adversaries know to be a dirty and dangerous world. Our alternative world views have seeped into our strategy, doctrine, and tactics. The results will spill the blood of our Soldiers and Marines (already has), and if carried too far, will spill that of our civilian population in numbers that will make 9/11 seem like a good day.

  • Derrick

    I’m sorry, but I don’t understand why the US acting in a “politically correct” manner, according to the KGB officer, prevents Russia from assisting the US against Al Qaeda and other Islamic extremist terrorist groups.

    Existing as a superpower has more to do with the US government’s financial, economic and military position. Pay off the US debt (of which most is owed to China) and then the US will not be so subject to the whims of foreign countries (especially to those that it owes money to).

    The US is already winning the war against terror. Lots of people in Islamic fundamentalist areas like Pakistan and Afghanistan are drinking Coca-Cola and watching the news from the US point of view…it just takes time. A few extremists with nothing to live for does not mean the entire Islamic community is against the US. There are many superb young men and women wearing US military uniforms that are combatting terrorists who are devout Muslims.


    The statement may be correct, in that the quote speaks of vulnerability and not center of gravity, but the title is certainly false. By the normally accepted definitions, a Center of Gravity is always a primary source of strength. It is never a weakness. Hence the title should be “Is this our Critical Vulnerability?”. In other words, a weakness that can be exploited by a potential enemy to attack or neutralize our Center of Gravity.

  • Grandpa Bluewater


    “I don’t understand why the US acting in a “politically correct” manner, according to the KGB officer, prevents Russia from assisting the US’ “.

    “Existing as a superpower has more to do with the US government’s financial, economic and military position.”

    Yes, you don’t – and – You forgot something which is sine qua non.

    Credibility is all.

    If name calling and asserting the primacy of being offended can derail accurate information flow and reverse key decisions once made, as they do, you are not a reliable ally or an honorable enemy – for the simple reason that your word cannot be trusted. A promise once made has no long term value.

    No pragmatic scoundrel will cut and keep a deal with any person or entity which they believe will not reliably hold up their end of the deal. Particulary when they observe (by their lights)frequent, random fits of childishness.

    They will study your behavior to find obsessions they can use to con you, however.

  • I’m going with USNVO on this one.

    It’s not a CoG, but a Critical Vulnerability.

    That being said, this is a huge problem that is exploited often. Especially when combined with the American Media’s tendency to immediately believe anyone who says the US has done them wrong (i.e. We were just hanging out at a wedding when we were bombed!)

  • KSR

    Absolutely Not. Does anyone really think our leadership has been hamstrung by “political correctness”? The same leadership that institutionalized torture and dragged us into Iraq with faulty intelligence?

    Furthermore, show me the foreign policy decisions that have been made with political correctness in mind. Just because the language declares that measures are being taken for certain reasons doesn’t mean that they actually are.

    In any event, Russia isn’t co-operating with us because it’s better for them if we’re tied down in pointless skirmishes on the fringes of civilization. Why would you help or co-operate with those whom you wish to supplant? Russian interests are best served by a distracted and weakened America. Why change a situation that’s in their best interest?

  • I agree with KSR, but had already composed this response by the time I saw it!

    I have to disagree with this pull quote. “Political correctness” is the rhetorical scapegoat for those who do not believe ethical progression exists. It is the refuge of totalitarian power which chooses not to see moral context, and is the short-sighted, limited perspective which believes its power to be absolute. That absolute power, as the adage goes, corrupts absolutely. Without change, without moral context and the progression of our ethics as a nation, we will be as weak as those who claim to know us so well. But ethical progression is not a trap. It is our weapon.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    I think the CG that Jim Dolbow identifies is an easily-shaped public opinion. The CV is that our enemies understand our desire for political correctness and exploit it. This leg of the Clausewitzian golden triangle has gotten far too long. IMHO.


    Why you may be correct, to be a true CG it must be our source of strength. I would argue that our Strategic CGs (in the currently accepted definition which is somewhat different than Clausewitz’s Schwerpunk)are our deployable military forces and economic power. These are our sources of strength. Without the economic strength and our military, we would be just like Russia (to use a Texan phrase, “Big Hat, No Cattle”). Having said that, the Russians are allied or not with the US solely because it is in their percieved best interest not to be. Just as Democrats and Republicans are allied or not based on their perceived best interests, or you are allied or not with co-workers based on your perceived best interests. All politics is local.

    The quote speaks of the West, and not specifically of the US. Anyone who has visited Europe (generally considered to be a major part of the West) understands that political correctness runs far deeper in other places of the West than in the US.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    “Anyone who has visited Europe (generally considered to be a major part of the West) understands that political correctness runs far deeper in other places of the West than in the US.”

    True, except the US is the ONLY part of the West that brings any kind of world influence to counter any other burgeoning power.

    Yes, a CG is a source of strength, but it is more than that. It is the critical element to success, to be protected as well as leveraged. And from that comes the critical vulnerability. Which is why the Soviets built so many SSNs. To inderdict US ability to project that power. (Remember REFORGER?)


    I agree that the US does most the heavy lifting for the West. As the joke goes, the (insert any non-British European country here) will fight to the last American. I also agree that the CG “..is the critical element to success, to be protected as well as leveraged”. As such, a CG of “an easily-shaped public opinion” doesn’t make sense. It may be a Critical Capability and it may be a Critical Vulnerability. But it is not a Center of Gravity (CG). In the Theater Strategic example you provided, I would say the CG was the US Army (or more accurately the US Army Armored Forces), the Critical Capability was the ability to transport them to, and resupply them in, Europe, and the Critical Vulnerability was the transport ships vulnerabilty to attack. SSNs were a means to exploit the CV (transports) to indirectly attack the CG (armored forces). And yes, I remember REFORGER.

  • Derrick

    Sorry, I’m going to stray off-topic for a bit:

    BTW, what is REFORGER?

    Is the example regarding transport ships to carry the US Army to Europe being vulnerable to SSN attack a real example of a critical vulnerability, or a hypothetical one? I am just confused as I was under the impression that the US Navy negated the threat of any submerged threat to military sea transport/logistics/etc.?

  • Derrick

    I assume REFORGER refers to the NATO training exercises?

  • Byron

    REFORGER was the massive sealift/convoy/airlift plan to get several divisions to Europe during the Cold War in case the Warsaw Pact came tearing through the Fulda Gap. It’s also the backdrop to Tom Clancy’s second book, “Red Storm Rising” (which is far and away my favorite since it was co-authored with Larry Bond)

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    REFORGER was the “big deal” exercise of the logistic contingency plans in support of the Army’s primary mission in Europe – readiness to defend the NATO alliance at the inter-german border against the offensive forces of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact.

    The need for rapid and continuous reinforcement and logistic support of the Army in Europe was the the underlying strategic need for force protection of transatlantic convoys, primarily against the Soviet SSN’s.

    This drove the assignment to LANTFLT SSN’s of the primary mission of ASW and was the reason the majority of USN SSN’s were assigned to the east coast.

    Ditto the P-3 bases in Iceland, Bermuda and the Azores.

    Ditto SOSUS and T-AGOS ships.

    To a lesser degree, ditto the DE’s/FFG’s and Spruances and ASW variant FRAM DD’s. “Lesser degree” because some of them had to screen the ARG’s and CVBG’s (please excuse my ancient nomenclature), which also was the job of the S-3’s and S-2’s and ASW helos.

    We’ll never know how it would have turned out if the Red Army decided to wash its socks in the English channel one weekend, thanks be to God. Everybody trained plenty hard, to be sure.

    All of these assets were also available for deployment and training for all other assigned missions/contingency plans, a bargain for the tax payers.

    Then after 3-4 generations of sailors’ careers,in the blink of an eye, the question became “What Warsaw Pact, what intergerman border, and what Soviet Union”? .

    Then some damn fool started pushing the “we have come to the end of history” nonsense. What was ignored was all the other contingency plans and their requirements, which were more than enough to keep the Navy of 1995 fully occupied. Not to mention the unforseen contingencies.

    So we junked half the Navy, not even bothering to put the 20 year old ships we retired into mothballs. A lot we sold or gave/”loaned” to allied navies, where the ships are (local equivalent) FRAM’ed, and soldier on competently with the expectation of completing a life span of 40 or more years of useful service. More than a few were sunk as training targets.

    Good thing we’ve had men of genius in charge since 1990. That way we could be sure of “right sizing” rather than “down sizing”. So we still have world wide command of the sea, just like we did from 1945-1990.

    Good thing we didn’t waste the priceless advantages we paid for in blood in WWII.

    To have done so would be a crying shame.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    “As such, a CG of “an easily-shaped public opinion” doesn’t make sense.”

    Well, we will have to agree to disagree. I still think democracies like ours (in the end, a government by the people) can be fearsome elements when aroused. But we have a substantial effort on the parts of some to erode that. So, yes, especially in a democracy, it can be considered a CG.

    I would also submit that in the example I cited regarding Cold War power projection, the CG was ALL the elements of power projection. Strat sealift. Strat air. The Navy and air combat power to protect, as well as the US Army capability to fight and hold once they got there. All were a part of REFORGER.

  • JAFO

    “For the past twenty years the most significant training exercise in Western Europe was REFORGER (Return of Forces to Germany), an annual exercise to reinforce NATO.”
    Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1989

    On the whole original topic/question…
    I have to side with KSR and Karaka.

    “‘Political correctness’ is [a] scapegoat..”

    Some of you should simply really say what is on your mind rather than tiptoeing around the issue.

    Political correctness is not what prevents certain ethnic or religious groups from being randomly searched, surveyed, detained, or imprisoned… it is US Law.

    When most people moan and complain about “PC” what they want is a totalitarian state where we can randomly search, surveillance , detained, or imprisoned anyone that doesn’t look, act or talk like them because as we all know if you’ve got darker skin or speak something other than English.

    What happened to that “beacon on the hill”?

  • When most people moan and complain about “PC” what they want is a totalitarian state

    And the institutional power base to remain exactly where it is. Those who have power rarely want to give it up, and recognizing people other than those in power–minorities, women, the poor–is believed to be an attrition of that power. The United States, when it enacts a federal law such as expanding the right to vote for women or mandating desegregation in our national institutions, recognizes that the citizens of this country are not often reflected in the persons who run it. And I think, and always will believe, that this makes us a greater nation, not a lesser one. If the other options are Russia or an Islamic state which turns a blind eye to the internal diversity of its country, well. Give me the US any day of the week.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    The alluding to political correctness by the Russian is not referring to domestic politics, though both JAFO and KARAKA are very wide of the mark there, too. The Russian was referring to a lack of a strong, coherent foreign policy which recognizes certain unpleasant but necessary truths. And this isn’t the first time this has been so. In 1940, FDR (he of the “New Deal”, Social Security, et. al.) was labeled a war monger by several in both houses of congress, and was lambbasted in the press, for instituting a peacetime draft. What would have been the result had he caved to that PC pressure and decided against it?

    As for the idea that those who have concerns with PC want some sort of power-perpetuating dictatorship, I challenge that you find me in the Constitution anywhere where the goal of government is the transfer of power or wealth from one group to another. The Bill of Rights is not in place to protect minorities or special interest groups. It limits and defines the authority that the Federal government has over the INDIVIDUAL. Those who worry about rampant political correctness have legitimate concerns that such a PC approach truncates those individual rights and ignores the limitations of Federal government(First, Second, Fourth, Ninth, Tenth Amendments).

    …nor prohibiting the fee exercise thereof…

    …right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed…

    …against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…

    …construed to deny or disparage others retained by the People.

    …reserved to the States, respectively, or to the People.