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WAR IN THE MODERN WORLD

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Most of the papers here are from my studies at King's College London in an online "programme" for mid-career British Army officers called War in the Modern World. About half were indeed British Army, including a captain who deployed to Afghanistan midway through the four years. (Alas, upon his return he dropped out of the course, left the army, and began to study law instead.) The rest of us were from militaries and civilian life, from a Danish pilot to an assistant to the prime minister of Singapore. I learned a great deal, and this website is to share it more broadly.

From Dan Ford's blog:

How not to win a war

[July 25] "The West is so far providing Ukraine with enough weapons not to lose but not enough to take back its territory from Russia," says the Wall Street Journal today. "The fastest way to a settlement is to convince Russia that the costs of war will keep growing and that it can’t outlast the West. That means Russian military defeats on the ground."

It's increasingly obvious that "the West" has no such ambition. The whining began in Paris and Berlin: we mustn't "humiliate" Putin, as French president Macron likes to say. Why not, for crying out loud? As for the Germans, they've done almost nothing to keep the Russian bear from moving west, just as in 1939 the French and British did nothing to keep the Germans from moving east. Hitler then, Putin today: dictators always depend on inaction from the democracies. As for Washington, yes, certainly, we'd love to send more sophisticated and longer-range missile systems, and maybe even warplanes, but unfortunately "it's complicated." And London, which has been punching above its weight all along, is about to see Boris Johnson step down, and his successor is unlikely to match his brio. Few leaders could.

What fun Putin is having! One day he solemnly signs an agreement with Ukraine and Turkey and the United Nations to open the Black Sea for the export of grain to a food-short world, and the very next day he sends missiles crashing onto the Ukrainian ports from which those cargoes would have to depart.

On the ground, meanwhile, five more foreign volunteers have given their lives for Ukraine: Tomasz Walentek from Poland, Luke Lucyszyn and Bryan Young from the United States, Emile-Antoine Roy-Sirois from Canada, and Edvard Selander from Sweden.

A 'Frozen War'

[July 11] Gotta give credit to Putin -- he has invented a new form of warfare. Sending his Little Green Men into the Donbas region of Ukraine in 2014 was similar to what Hitler played with in the 1930s, when covert invaders were known as a "Fifth Column." But the invasion of Ukraine took an odd turn thereafter. The Ukrainians proved tough enough and agile enough to stop the Little Green Men and their local proxies from advancing, though not militarily strong enough to throw them out. So Putin kept the war going in a minor key, which the West began to call a "frozen conflict." That went on for more than (count them!) seven years!

After bleeding Ukraine during the administrations of three American presidents -- Obama, Trump, and Biden -- Putin launched a full-scale invasion in February, which he termed a "special military operation." He and almost everyone else thought that Kyiv would fall in a few weeks, if not a few days, but already five months have passed. Ukraine proved far tougher than anyone expected, and the NATO alliance proved to have more guts -- though not enough to end the war, just enough to keep Putin from winning it. So now we have the phenomenon of the Frozen War, a worthy heir to the Cold War of 1948-1989.

The essays (in more or less chronological order)

Other good stuff to read

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Poland's Daughter

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