Draft evasion, escalation of military operations and other highly topical subjects in today’s Russia
My good friend and “comrade in arms” in the anti-war community, Ray McGovern, yesterday published an article on how The New York Times is stoking the war in Ukraine and goading the Biden administration to be ever more aggressive and irresponsible. Ray went on to remind us of the ignominious role played by NYT news reporters and their editorial board in promoting the Vietnam War, from the Tonkin Gulf Resolution that heralded the start of the real US engagement to the bitter end, all without a word of apology or regret in later years.
As a member of the Vietnam War generation in the USA, mention of that war brings up for me two words of great importance in the Russia that I see around me on this three week visit to St Petersburg: draft evasion and escalation.
It would be no exaggeration to say that the “partial mobilization” that was announced by the Kremlin in the past week is the number one item of news and discussion in the social networks here as well as on radio and television broadcasting. As I mentioned a day ago in my coverage of the national radio station Business FM, there is extensive examination on air of the implications of the call-up to military service for business and society in general.
A great deal of attention is directed at exemptions from service for various categories of the population, primarily, by relevance of their work to national defense and technological sovereignty. In this regard the most widely discussed industry is IT. The public is being told that software programmers are absolutely needed in their present workplaces to further the import substitution program. But does that extend to individuals and companies developing software for video games? And what about the owners-managers, the finance directors, the legal department heads of IT companies that do serve the defense industry and/or technology more broadly? As we hear on air, these other members of staff are also critical to the viability of the companies and so to the national interest. Without them the companies in question just fold.