Monday, April 4, 2022

Has the Ukrainian War Taught Us the Truth About War?

What's odd, is that this war has quietly changed expectations about war that Russia, China and America all need to learn.

It has taught us about the Russian war machine, but there is more. In both Russia and America, our citizens have been told, repeatedly, that failures in war are a symptom of cowardice or lack of resolve. Americans believed this in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. Russians tend to think the same thing about Afghanistan and Azerbaijan. 

And so, in Iraq and Ukraine, the overwhelming use of power was the answer for both the US and Russia. In neither place has it worked long term. In both Iraq and Afghanistan, we won the wars, but were not able to control the country. We suffered from coordinated but individual attacks county wide.

In Ukraine and Iraq the local populace has fought back in an asymmetrical war. Sure, their populations are motivated; but more than that, the locals have learned that defense of the homeland and guerrilla tactics can throw off the best militaries (and the Russian military does not look like one of the "best").

Not only is it asymmetrical, but world powers have weapons that they cannot use. Using nuclear weapons against other nuclear powers is unacceptable, and using them against lesser powers would bring world wide condemnation. AND a loss of prestige, trade partners and resulting economic consequences from outraged countries.

Of course, this will not stop the most unhinged and / or missionary of leaders to go to war. However, it does teach that war is pretty  much a zero sum game - at least for those of us that will learn.

One of these countries watching this closely - and maybe learning that "losing" isn't the result of lack of manpower or desire - is China. Russia is bogging down in a war with Ukraine, obviously a much weaker power and newer nation. China's lesson seems to be more restraint with regard to Taiwan. Taiwan is much better equipped that Ukraine with more planes, a better navy and a long history of self-rule. 

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About sums it up