They are just not serious.
After the end of cold war the West became too relaxed and lazy. It's very continent to pretend that everything is fine now. Because if you acknowledge that there is a problem (e.g. Russia), then, you have to act, to take certain steps to resolve the problem. But the West does not want to leave its comfort zone. Does not want to act.
Also, there are NO personalities any more who are ready to confront those problems. About 30-35 years ago Margarette Thatcher said: " very soon smart young energetic people will not go into politics any more - they do not want to get involved in dirt and scandals which goes along with being elected."
She was right - here we are with pathetic Western " leaders" who are concerned about there own pocket and votes of illiterate low class immigrants. These leaders are selling Western democratic values for oil and gas and votes.
"western military technology and doctrine is being shredded by the Russians even as I write." Seriously? Unless you have a very good pipe to Kremlin, that would be able to filter out their propaganda, I very much doubt this is true. Consider:
It's pretty clear that Russia did not expect Ukraine to resist for a long time. Not only "western" souces say that, Russian military bloggers and others admit it as well now. One of the reasons why Ukraine was able to resist is likely due to the military being trained, as opposed to just conscripted (for most of it). There's a host of tactical blunders by the Russia which are just unbelievable - from the miles long convoy that was just a sitting duck for ambushes, to the infamous river crossing where they lost a brigade (an effing brigade!), it's still (100 days later!) unable to get air supremacy - Ukraine planes and choppers are still, never mind drones, are still up there, blowing up their cruiser, Russian generals are dying (admitted even by Russians) because they are on the front lines doing what colonels should be doing etc. etc. By all rights, if Russian army was semi-competent, it'd roll over Ukraine now. And no, I don't buy the "but they want to limit civilian casualties". Apart from the direct contra-evidence (for example using dumb weapons a lot), no army, literally not a single one, will give a hoot about civilians when it comes to fighting in urban spaces etc. There's zero historical precedent for it, and even more disciplined armies than the Russians will shell positions they consider threatening w/o much regard to civilian casualties.
And in non-urban spaces - which, let's have a look, is like a majority of Ukraine, there are no civilians to watch for.
All evidence is now that Russians are now relying on the good old Soviet doctrine - shell them to hell, and raining arty (classical and MLRS) on whenever they think Ukrainians can resist. Which is effective (as UA doesn't have a way to counter it, with limited arty itself and very limited air strike capability), if costly in terms of ammo.
Most of the mil equipment provided to Ukraine falls into one of the three categories:
- personal one, like the now famous javelins, stingers and NLAWSs. Which of those are being "destroyed" by the Russians? There's a significant evidence that actually those are working very much as-intended, and were shredding Russian armored forces (which, again, is one reason why Russians are reverting to artillery).
- former USSR equipment, such as tanks sent by the Czechs etc. Not a western equipment to start with, never mind that a lot of it is unmodernised.
- newer equipment. Like the M777s, French Ceasars etc. M777 is the newest kit there, at mere 17 years old. None of this though was supplied in any significant numbers - even the M777 was barely scratching 90, which for a front line of literally thousands of km is nothing. Sure, they get destroyed. The question is not whether they do or don't but how much they cost the enemy before. And I don't believe either you or I can answer that, as 90% of what comes out from either side is propaganda (the cruiser Moscow being sent to the bottom by its cook is about as believable as the Ghost of Kyiiv).
The Russian army was crap in the first Chechen war. It was crap, but somewhat improved in the second Chechen war. Except it looks now that the corruption, the eternal plague of the Russian army, came back with venegance - all you have to see is the first-aid kit of a Russian soldier vs Ukrainian, and that's info from Russians, not "western propaganda" (corroborated by the facts that there are well publicized private efforts in Russia to get their soldier better equipment).
Let's be clear - in Syria, only fairly elite Russian forces fought, and on way different terms than in Ukraine, so Syria can't be used to judge Russian army.
Russia lost a tons of weapon exports contracts - and I'm told it's actually now reluctant filling those she kept (because of a need to replenish its stocks).
You write - "war is won by the side that makes fewest mistakes". That's actually not true. The wars are won by the side that can afford to make most mistakes, the one that has the most strategic depth. Both US and Russia in WW2 were making one mistake after another (no other side would have been able to cope with the losses Russia had after Barbarossa), yet because of their strategic depth, it didn't matter in the end.
Russia still has strategic depth in the Ukrainian war, the most important being that Ukraine has (both real and political) only small capability to strike back to Russia's territory. So while Russia is able to hamper Ukraine's logistics (which it didn't start until quite late, another indirect proof it didn't expect a long war), Ukraine has only limited capability to do the same.
I do agree with you that the West has "no plan" - well, at least not any recently.
I would even agree that say Russia and China have a plan. But having a plan, and being able to execute to the plan are two different things. One AH in Germany had a plan from late 1920s. In fact, he got to execute a lot of it - but most of it was riding his luck and incompetency of the others, than the brilliance of his plan. Because he had no strategic depth, and wasn't able to execute the plan fast enough to gain any, he ultimately lost, so clearly, the plan wasn't good enough (one could say that the various race stuff and similar were extreme impediments to the plan).
We see the western politicians first hand, and we know the situation well enough to understand how crap they are.
We do not have anything like this for Russia or China, and most of the information we get is extremely biased one way or another. For example, yes, Putin has a plan. But actually executing the plan is a different story, because - as history shows extremely well - ruling something like Russia is pretty damn hard, and getting it to pull in one direction - as opposed seeming to - is near impossible.
In fact, I suspect that the UE invasion was a small part of Putin's plan, but has, in the meanwhile, blown back in a bad way (NATO discovered it must actually do stuff, shoveling Finland and Swedes - both of which actually have working armies to NATO was very unlikely part of his plan etc. )
Having a bad plan, or being unable to execute on a good plan, doesn't differ much from not having a plan at all.
So I'd be careful, lest one falls into "educated professional saying 'it was all planned'" category on the other side.
Informative writing...and entertaining as hell. I find myself chuckling at things that in reality are terrifying. This writer knows how to write.
Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. As you yourself point out, a long string of predictions of the imminent collapse of Anglo hegemony -- Italy, France, Japan, Korea -- have not come true. The model sector is in computers: I'm sure you can recall how the Japanese, head to head, were set to crush U.S. supercomputers.
Yes, Russia is batting above its weight internationally, and yes, its population is capable of taking discomforts in stride that would lead to electoral disaster in the US and Uk, but -- so what?
The US has strengths which have not disappeared, and it has every prospect f retaining world leadership -- although it is now and will be for the foreseeable future the second-largest economy.
Dear Aurelien, I just discovered your substack. Your penmanship drove me to start reading your other posts. Although I see a talented thinker with a sense of discernment and nuance, I seem to spot some logical fallacies. Foremost is maybe your antropomorphic usage of 'the West'. As if it ever was homogenous and imbued with a unique consciousness and one consequent will. I myself am a proponent of the use of generalisations, as long as they don't become universalisations. But the West can't be depicted as a sovereign man without crippling and invalidating the thinking process. I gather from your musings that you don't want to be associated with conspirational thinkers. I fear that in doing so you might be tempted to accept the idea that there are no conspiracies, which would provide you with a giant blind spot right away. You refer to the elites now and again, which goes to show that you are aware of the complex inner workings of that surmised entity 'the West'. It will surely have come to your attention that said elites have plans of their own, which are not necesserally in the best interest of the rest of us (the West). I must say, when thinking, reading, learning about our history, our power structures, macro economics and geo politics, I find that most often I am tempted to validate the backroom deals and obfuscated inner workings of such elites as conspiracies. I forget who coined the phrase that nothing in politics happens by chance.
You wonder at our strangeness, how the West got devolved. I have been saying out loud that our educational system had been designed to turn us into stupid morons for more than forty years. Nobody listened and everybody carried on and here we are. I for one am not surprised.
Your last paragraph here is telling. It exemplifies the blindness that has befallen you (or that you chose to cultivate). In it you state that the world does not see the unseriousness of the West but you illustrate it with annecdotes which go to show that these third worlders are genuinely informed and do have a coherent vision that relates to reality. It seems to be your unwillingness to consider the reality/possibility of such plans that keeps you wondering. I do not know you but I gather you might be old and wise enough to remember Kissingers candid remarks (in the '70s I guess) about how "They" wished to transfer technology/knowledge to the east (Russia and China) to bolster them and make them great again so as to create worty rivals that would then become cocky so the world could once again be coaxed into a major conflagration. (All this in my words but if memory serves me right that is more or less the gist of it).
I do not have much to show for at the end of the day but I am not surprised at all by the recent turn of events. Mad as hell sometimes yes, but surprised or wondering, no.
Maybe start reading up on eugenicists and on the history (official and apocryph) of our financial systems and elites. It will definitely bring you far out of your comfort zone but if you want insight and understanding in the truth and the reality of the world we are all living in, it is the price you'll have to pay.
You will survive the unease of taking in uneasy truths and might live another day. Our politial caste on the other hand will never change course, whether they are bought and payed for or just stupid useful idiots, because they are all-in. They have everything to lose if or when the plot unravels and the truth gets out.
Our politicians have suicided the West on behalf of the uber-elites and only a major hot war can hope to divert attention of the public enough for them to hope to save face.
The rest of the world has a pretty good idea of where the West is headed and it ain't pretty. The West is beyond redemption at this point. These are interesting times we're living in, for sure.
I subscribed to your substack, so I'll go on reading whatever you publish here and although my opinions differ, I'm interested.
Take care and all the best to you.
convenient - typo
You argue the stupidity over malice view very persuasively but I don't agree with : "NATO enlargement, one of the triggers of the current conflict, was never a real strategic plan: each case seemed to be individual, and had a different set of arguments."
Plausible, yes. Probable, no. And if this is wrong then the incompetence argument is incomplete. I have little doubt there is a mountain of ineptitude riddled throughout with underground tunnels and reinforced bunkers of subterfuge.
After reading this article, I went back and read all your others in one night. Great work!