November 18, 2023

A Tale of Two Wars

Lance Sjogren

One thought about the Ukraine war- not on the politics but on the mechanics.

Early on, Russia went on a massive offensive, trying to reach all the way to Kiev, and they got their butts kicked.

More recently, Ukraine went on a counteroffensiv e to retake territory occupied by Russia, and they got their butts kicked by Russia.

So it seems to me the most prominent characteristic of this war has been that offensive warfare has mostly failed, while defensive warfare has succeeded.

Moving on from that nonpartisan observation to a more partisan perspective, I think that fact ought to be encouraging for those who believe the war needs to be settled by peace negotiations. I think the lessons that ought to have been learned by the parties involved is that Russia would pay a big price if it attempts to make further territorial gains, and Ukraine would pay a big price if it makes further attempts to regain territory that Russia has occupied.

My other thought on this is, what if the same principles apply to a war launched by China on Taiwan? My conclusion is that this may bode well for Taiwan. By nature, a war on Taiwan will inevitably be predominately defensive for Taiwan and offensive for China. It seems to me that most likely there will be little or no combat on the Chinese mainland. In fact, the US will probably draw a red line against warfare on the mainland the same way it drew a red line on military action on Russian territory in the case of the Ukraine war. (What's the purpose of these red lines? Presumably a big part of it is trying to avoid the war escalating to WW3 in which the entire world gets demolished.) There are some wild scenarios that might not conform to this template, like if Taiwan is in dire threat of a full-scale occupation by China, they might launch missiles in an attempt to blow up the Three Gorges Dam. I think it's unlikely that it would ever come to that. (but I'm glad that threat exists because it ought to serve as a deterrent for China to think twice about invading. If that dam blows up it would produce absolutely massive destruction of many of Chinas major cities.) How serious is the threat of blowing up the Three Gorges Dam? Some commentary I have heard is that the Chinese would be able to knock out the missiles. But I have my doubts. There is so much corruption in the Chinese military that I tend to side with the school of thought that the Chinese military is more in the direction of a clown show than one of the most formidable armed forces in the world. (However, it is always best for an adversary to err on the side of assuming their enemy is strong, because the last thing you want is discover in a war that your enemy is stronger than you thought.)



Tim  adds:
The Russo-Ukrainian war should never have happened in the first place; it could have been addressed diplomatically before the fighting started. Biden wanted that war to hide his many failures. The military/industrial complex wanted it to sell more arms and ammo. The internationalists wanted it to bankrupt Russia and force the old bear to open up to the international banks and become a colonial vassal of the New World Order.

Had Biden tried to get oil prices down instead of driving them up with his green fantasies he could have defunded Putin before this thing ever started. Putin was and remains flush with oil money. (BTW the U.S. has been buying Russian oil in spite of the boycott https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2023/11/14/russian-oil-sanctions-us-greece-turkey/)

I agree; even now it could and should be settled diplomatically.

It is an old maxim that Russia isn't good at wars of conquest but great at defense. Ukraine, being separated brethren, are apparently no better.

The Ukraine has proven far more difficult to move mechanized war equipment into and out of, I might add.

At some point the bloodshed must stop. All that we are doing is hardening both Russians and Ukrainians and making what will be a wound that will last for decades if not centuries.

As for China and Taiwan, it's a bit of a different story. China has far, far more troops and can afford to lose them. China also has the air power and navy to move an invasion force by sea - in many ways an easier proposition than schlepping them cross-country.

That said Taiwan is very mountainous; 22.369 miles square miles of high-mountain terrain. As everyone knows mountain fighting is some of the hardest. And Taiwan is also tropical, hence jungle fighting will have to be done too. It's a daunting task, to put it mildly.

And while China has become an economic superpower she is suffering from a series of economic downturns that are threatening the ruling regime. And since China is basically still a command economy a war won't have the lifting power it would in a truly capitalistic society. But it will exhaust a lot of resources.

Will China invade? My guess is no, unless they were certain they could win it. China can ill-afford the loss of prestige that a loss, or a stalemate, or even a bad showing will entail. Unless they are sure of a quick win they will not do it, methinks.

But they could blockade Taiwan and are probably assured the U.S. won't take action. Biden probably wouldn't risk war with China. And as America and the West are so deeply tied economically to China it would threaten our own prosperity.

Of course we could default on our debt to China. But that would hurt us almost as badly.

My guess is China will take Taiwan diplomatically, as they did Hong Kong.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 11:11 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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