Historical Mindedness is a form of reasoning that deals with historical material and present-day problems and it is woven throughout the U.S. Army War College curriculum. It doesn’t predict the future or provide all the answers to modern international situations, but it does arm strategic thinkers with the right questions to ask of the dilemmas they face. Alexander Mikaberidze is in the studio today to look at how historical mindedness can inform our understanding of Russia’s war in Ukraine. He joins Michael Neiberg to discuss his newest book Kutuzov: A Life in War and Peace for this episode in our On Writing series. Alexander argues that the current conflict has its roots in the 18th century and the behaviors of the House of Romanov. He notes that the Russian and Soviet governments have cast historical figures such as Field Marshal Mikhail Golenischev-Kutuzov in different ways, both positively and negatively, to suit their own purposes.
Putin famously stated that the collapse of Soviet Union, in his mind was the greatest political catastrophe of the 20th century, and I think that is the core around which the narrative was constructed of the past two decades. That Russia is the successor to the empire, to the Soviet Union, and that neither the Empire nor Soviet Union have done anything wrong.
Alexander Mikaberidze is Professor of History and Ruth Herring Noel Endowed Chair at Louisiana State University in Shreveport. He has written and edited some two dozen titles on military history, including the critically acclaimed The Napoleonic Wars: A Global History and his newest book Kutuzov: A Life in War and Peace, which garnered the 2023 Distinguished Book Award from the Society for Military History.
Michael Neiberg is the Chair of War Studies at the U.S. Army War College.
The views expressed in this presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Army War College, U.S. Army, or Department of Defense.
Photo Description: The coat of arms of Russia depicts a golden two-headed eagle on a red background. Above its heads, there are three crowns, symbolizing the sovereignty of the Russian Federation and its regions. The scepter and orb, which the eagle holds in its claws, personify state power and a unified state. On the chest of an eagle, there is a horseman who slays a serpent. This is one of the ancient symbols of the struggle between good and evil and the defense of the Motherland.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of pxhere.com