The Problem With Yes-Men

Written by SK Ashby

For reasons I can't necessarily explain, when over 100,000 Russian soldiers were positioned outside the borders of Ukraine I assumed they would take control the country relatively quickly. I expected to see the Ukrainian military put up stiff resistance but ultimately fall to overwhelming force.

But that hasn't happened and it increasingly looks like it never will. I -- and apparently no one else -- believed Russian forces would be so unprepared and incompetent. I didn't expect they would perform so poorly. No one did.

Even Vladimir Putin himself did not know his forces would be so inadequate according to western intelligence reports. British and American intelligence sources say Putin's top military advisers misled Putin about their strength and then covered up their poor performance after the war began. Only now is the situation becoming clear to Putin.

Addressing the Australian National University on Thursday, Jeremy Fleming, director of GCHQ, Britain’s intelligence, cyber and security agency, said: “We believe Putin’s advisers are afraid to tell him the truth, what’s going on and the extent of these misjudgments must be crystal clear to the regime.”

“It increasingly looks like Putin has massively misjudged the situation. It’s clear he misjudged the resistance of the Ukrainian people. He underestimated the strength of the coalition his actions would galvanize. He underplayed the economic consequences of the sanctions regime. He overestimated the abilities of his military to secure a rapid victory,” Fleming said.

The director of British intelligence went on to say that Russia’s military leadership has descended into chaos, and that Putin’s campaign is “beset by problems — low morale, logistical failures and high Russian casualty numbers. Their command and control is in chaos.”

Referring to classified intelligence he has apparently reviewed, President Biden also stated that Putin may have sacked his top advisers and placed some of them under house arrest.

Reading these reports, I could not help but compare Vladimir Putin to Donald Trump who also surrounded himself with people who were either too afraid to tell him the truth or were incapable of knowing the truth. And that was by Trump's design just as it has been with Putin. Both men are egomaniacs who only want to be told how great everything else. Putin did not want his generals to tell him anything except that a swift victory was guaranteed.

Throughout this entire conflict I have been reminded of our own invasion of Iraq and how the Bush administration promised a swift victory that never came. That's obviously not a one-to-one comparison, but this is the problem with yes-men. This is what happens when a government is only concerned with blowing smoke up its own ass. Millions of people have paid a price for Putin's belief in his own greatness.