Giant's Plight

Alan Cai

August 26, 2022

Throughout the course of the Cold War, the chief advantage of the Soviet Union was its strength in numbers. The enormous country extensively pushed its numerical advantage across its industrial and military sectors. The weakness of this strategy is its reliance on a consistent supply of resources. In order to support an army of millions strong, not only do millions of fighting-age people need to be present, but the country also needs enough food, equipment, clothes, and weaponry to suit the force. Any deficiency in these areas will result in an embarrassing and often catastrophic failure in mobility and efficiency.

Rising from the ashes of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation inherited the tradition and mentality of its former government without the same resources. Russia continued to extensively use its Soviet-era MiGs and Sukhois until recent new models from both aerospace companies. Russia’s military still distantly resembles that of a developing country. Its relative lack of airpower and naval projection mirrors the militaries of North Korea, Iran, and other less technologically advanced countries. The three countries similarly make up for this deficit by heavily relying on ground-based artillery, rockets, and other weaponry. These systems are relatively unchallenging to manufacture and require lower levels of maintenance and training.

The ongoing war in Ukraine highlights Russia’s apparent lack of stable weaponry and personnel supply. Recently surfacing news indicated that Russia was purchasing drones from Iran which numerous foreign policy writers note may stall and muddle Iran nuclear talks. Reports have also arisen acknowledging Russian president Vladimir Putin’s plan to “replenish” Russian forces by upwards of one hundred thousand. Russia’s military-industrial complex is evidently crumbling in front of the world’s eyes. However, one must not forget that a bear is most fierce when at bay.

The world may be on the brink of another major war. The abundance of separate sovereigns increasing hostilities toward their neighbors with whom they once did not have a border with is causing serious and boiling crises globally. Russia invading(and thus far, not succeeding) Ukraine may be only the trigger for antagonism between China and Taiwan, the two Koreas, Somalia and Somaliland, and perhaps even the two Sudans. Only time will tell which of these rise to a flashpoint. As German philosopher, Freidrich Hegel observed, “The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.”

The risk of a potential Prohibition-Era repeat is also not a threat in this scenario. The Food and Drug Administration did not choose to terminate the entire electronic-cigarette industry. In fact, it did not even permanently stop Juul from making its products, the order was merely an order asking Juul to temporarily halt its sale of products pending further investigation. The threat of a growing illegal market for Juul products is also minimal, as plenty of companies, ranging from startups to established tobacco companies have already started emulating Juul products. The Truth Initiative observes that 90% of Juul purchases have been made in “brick and mortar stores”(as opposed to online or other forms of commerce). Thus the temporarily-halted FDA order has an extremely low likelihood of jumpstarting a massive black market for Juul products. Additionally considering the fact that the majority of Juul users are minors, a supposed pivot toward illegal marketplaces would be all but realistic.

The role of the Food and Drug Administration as stated on its website is to be “responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices.” A temporary halt on Juul product sales is in no way a violation of this purpose and reaffirms the administration’s commitment to public safety protection.