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The history of predictions about the course of war is a collection of false by Stefan Laurin predictions

The history of predictions about the course of war is a collection of false predictions

The RAND Corporation was founded after the Second World War and since then has been advising the US armed forces on strategic issues, among other things. A study by the institute is currently attracting attention. In it, authors describe that Ukraine is unlikely to be able to reconquer all of the territories occupied by Russia and that it is in the US interest to bring the conflict to a speedy end rather than to permanently advocate for Ukraine's territorial integrity.

Both skeptics from the democratic camp, who consider the military support of Ukraine by the West to be an expression of exaggerated idealism, and outspoken opponents of the West see themselves confirmed by the study.

Anyone in Europe who refers to the current work of RAND overlooks the fact that it is exclusively about the interests of the USA. And they are not necessarily identical to those of Europe. Since the First World War, the USA has repeatedly had to intervene in European conflicts in order to save the democracies in Europe. That was the case in the two world wars, in the Yugoslav war and even in the fight against the Islamic State. The democratic European powers have not been able to guarantee their existential security for over 100 years. They prefer to spend their money on social benefits and eco-dreams, see themselves as a force for peace, like the European Union, and ignore the fact that democracy also has to be secured militarily. Even wars against small states like Serbia or Islamist terrorist gangs like the Islamic State could not be waged without massive support from the United States.

This is no different in the Ukraine war: Without the massive arms support from the USA, Ukraine would have fallen to Russia long ago. RAND is not in favor of handing over the entire country to Putin, but sees it in the interest of the USA to urge the two warring parties to reach a compromise, i.e. to leave part of the loot to the robbers. The institute considers a complete military victory for Ukraine to be unlikely.

This is understandable from the US perspective: The country sees China as its main opponent for the coming decades, and for good reason. For the Americans, Russia is a regional power that has nuclear weapons but cannot pose a military threat to the United States in the conventional field. In the fields of technology and economy, as an emerging country that lives almost exclusively from the sale of mineral resources, which the USA hardly needs, it doesn't play a major role for America anyway.

For the Europeans, however, the situation is different: a strengthened Russia would be a major threat in the east, especially for countries like Moldova, Finland and the Baltic states, which for the imperialists in the Kremlin like Ukraine and Belarus are “Russian soil”. who need to be reintegrated into the Reich. The US could live with a Russia weakened but not victorious. For Europe it would be a constant threat. Within a very short time, the European states would have to massively arm themselves not only to deter Russia, but also to be able to defeat it in a military conflict.

It is in the interest of the Europeans to keep the US in this conflict. If Europe were finally to pull itself together to arm itself militarily, there would be an argument that it had learned its lesson and was prepared in the future to help the United States and to take care of its own security to a large extent.

In addition to the different interests that become clear in the RAND study, the prognosis of the future course of the war must be questioned. How a war develops is difficult to predict. The only thing that is certain is that the war will be won by those who can compensate for their losses. So if Ukraine gets enough arms and ammunition, it has a chance. When the Russian armaments industry plays out its theoretical potential, things don't look good. But Russia is not good at upscaling its production. Many of the weapons currently in use date back to the time of the Soviet Union. Sure, the country has excellent engineers, but its industrial operations are not run by capable managers. Friends of Putin are in charge there.

Beyond the issue of logistics and supplies, on the battlefield, it gets even more complicated. The history of predictions about the course of wars is a collection of false predictions: During the First World War, Germany assumed that it would be able to advance quickly through Belgium to France. His troops were slowed down by the resistance of the Belgian forts.

During World War II, many experts assumed that France's army was excellent and could beat the Wehrmacht. France surrendered after five weeks. In the Winter War of 1939 against Finland, Russia was at times on the brink of defeat. Nobody had foreseen this. When Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941, many in the Allied camp also expected a victory for the Wehrmacht. She was crushed.

The only thing that is certain is that Ukraine has a chance of surviving against Russia if it can access the potential of the western armaments industry. They finally have to be booted up. There is a model for this in history: The Lend and Lease Act of the USA in the Second World War, through which its allies were supplied with weapons and raw materials. If Putin looked at the history books, he could see that the US supply of the Soviet Union was one of the main reasons for its defeat of Germany and the Axis powers.

The West can help Ukraine defeat Russia, and Europe should do everything it can to become an equal military partner with the US. Also to be able to relieve the USA in future conflicts. A friendship is always mutual.

By Stefan Laurin

This article was first published at Ruhrbarone and translated by the FTN editorial.