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.

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"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.

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I don't pretend to know what the Russian plan is, and I don't have the technical military knowledge, especially knowledge of Russian doctrine, to talk authoritatively about what's going on. From looking at the daily summaries from different sides and from the briefings of the Pentagon and others, it's clear that the Russians are making progress against their announced objectives. Whether it's a fast as they, hoped, expected etc, I have no idea and neither does anybody else. The tone of western commentary has become markedly more sombre in the last couple of weeks, and western governments now seem to be pinning their hopes on delivering more arms so that a peace agreement will be less unfavourable to the Ukrainians than would otherwise have been the case. We'll see.

But my point is that the West simply doesn't understand what's going on at a deeper level: witness the obsession with tactical detail at the expense of any idea of operational level considerations. The Russians do have a long-term strategy, and like most such strategies, it's simple in concept. The West has tactical-level sanctions decided on in a panic and implemented in a haphazard and often counter-productive fashion. That's the difference.

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Want to be clear on one thing - I absolutely do agree that there's "no plan" in the west, that as you say, the West is not serious. In fact, I'd even say that West as an entity is too vague, and not really nearly as united as it may seem from the outside, in which case there never can really be a plan. But even if you go for many single states, say the US (never mind the UK), there's no real plan anymore, and the lack of "seriousness" is, well, serious.

An example I'd give there is the good ole Polish plumber coming to the UK. I was there when they came, and let me say that the _main_ reason why the UK plumbers were unhappy because the Poles did a much better work, in less time, and for less money. Because the Poles, then, naively thought that the West is still about "capitalism" as they saw, it, i.e. you have to do the best thing you can to get ahead, not just enough to pass by.

That has, by the way, changed, once they realised they could do worse jobs and ask for more money.

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I'm not a military pro, but that still doesn't mean one can't see that Russian plan is unlikely going the way they would want it - unless we accept that they knew from the start their military would perform woefully.

Because the items I singled out (still no air supremacy, lack of logistical strikes, lack of force coordination especially at the start, losing a missile cruiser etc.) do not presage a well trained and capable army.

Yes, Russia is making progress - TBH, anyone who thought they would not was deluded (and there were plenty of those in the western press), because they had two options to them which would make their victory more or less guaranteed, short of a massive scale intervention from some one else.

- massive arty bombardment. Which was a standard Soviet doctrine (and a Russian one) from at least WW2. But let's face it, it's a brute-force slow annihilation of your opponents, nothing exciting. It's basically going to WW1 even, except UA doesn't have a way to retaliate in the same way. For avoidance of doubt, a handful of equipment that the west sent will not make much of a difference, unless used in a very concentrated way, say to use the fact that Russians likely transferred some troops from Kherson to Donetsk, and using it to make a difference there.

- or, if they want fewer casualties, but have time (you have watches, we have time strategy), they can just send a missile now and then to Ukraine, keep destroying their economy. Ukraine will collapse then - it may take 6, or 12 or 18 months, but it most certainly will.

It looks like they want the former, even if it's much costlier.

I saw your point - but I believe you're overestimating (at least) Russians the same way your other audience did with the US, ultimately.

Because even if Russians have a plan - which they well could - there's little evidence it's working the way they expected it, and plenty of evidence they were surprised by many developments:

- financial sanctions on the level they did

- stopping carbohydrate exports. Gas, which is a big issue in Europe, is actually a much smaller revenue spinner for Russia than oil is, and oil will be embargoed. Yes, they will sell to India and China, but there's substantial capacity limitation, because the existing infrastructure is Europe-centric, and new one takes quite some time to build.

- Finland and Sweden joining NATO

- NATO becoming more, than less united around this, although who knows how long it will last, so this could be moot - but if NATO will revert to type, then I full expect Poland to try acquire nukes, and general ramping up of militaries in the region.

If nothing else, I don't believe (of course I don't know) that Russia expected this level of escalation this fast - because I don't believe _anyone_ did, even people on the other (NATO/US/EU, let's call it the West) side.

I believe it's very likely that Russia expected some sanctions, some noises, but not much different from when they occupied and annexed Crimea and supported the separatists. Because that was the behaviour more in line with what the West behaved like.

Re sanctions - I'd be careful in evaluating them yet, for a number of reasons:

- yes, ruble is stronger now than ever before. But that's because it basically doesn't trade, except in the weird carb related transactions. But paradoxically, this also means that Russia has fewer rubles coming in.

- carb sanctions had an impact on carb prices, so right now, even if Russia sells less, it makes as much or more money. Question is, will it last?

- China is careful in what it sells doesn't sell to Russia - say Huawei started closing shops in Russia just yesterday.

- tax takings ex carb revenues plummeted. Right now, carb revenues make > 60% of the income vs ~40% before the invasion. Of course, we all know that you don't need to tax to spend, but there's a different problem

- which is that most of the Russia's industry runs on western (German and US) equipment. Which will start being run down w/o the parts. A classic example is that the re-invented Lada car will not have ABS nor airbag, because they are components that Russia cannot make at the moment (and making them is not trivial). We have discussed this a lot of time - you can't just "take" manufacturing and order it to be so, it takes time to be good. Hell, Uralvagonzavod, the only factory manufacturing tanks in Russia, isn't able to get a proper production run of Armata, despite being given literally billions of rubles repeatedly. Russian fleet depended on gas turbines manufactured in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, and struggle getting their own capabilities.

- we say that US outsourced its important stuff to China/Taiwan etc. Sure. But Russia needs a lot of western sourced parts (which China can only partially, and in some cases not at all) for their weapon systems.

So IMO you can't really judge the sanctions three months in. Even Russian CB said that they expect them to start having impact (mostly via my last point) this summer, when the stock of the spare parts will run down.

Again, I don't disagree that Russia has a plan. But the evidence to me is that they miscalculated with it, and hence I don't believe we'd judge it right now - any more than when people claimed how Ukraine would be overrun in a week, because Russia is running a Blitzkrieg.

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"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."

This is all seen through the eyes of Western supremacist wishful thinking and recency bias. Especially after one month has passed since this comment has been made, the picture has become clear. The Russians have blundered little. The convoy was not attacked and the Russians could feel secure enough about it being safe, such was the dilapidated state of the Ukrainian forces only a few days into the war. Air supremacy is not part of the Russian doctrine, watch the brilliant YouTube channel Millenium 7 to get that explained to you. Russian generals did die but officers leading from the front is standard Russian procedure. Besides, far fewer Russian senior officers have died than the Ukrainians have claimed and, also, Ukrainian senior officers have been killed in droves by Russian cruise missiles. Most importantly, it's abundantly clear that Russian forces did and are still going out of their way to avoid civilian casualties in street fighting. Otherwise, they could simply use their Tu-22's to level apartment blocks used as firing positions by the Ukrainians. Yet they aren't doing that. The damage that occurs comes from ground fire, which makes the point.

" massive arty bombardment. [...] nothing exciting."

For the Russians, it's about winning the war, not about exciting Western armchair generals. This comment implies that Western ways of fighting would be more effective but Western forces have not won against any peer adversaries all the way since WWI. WWII was won by the Soviets and the Korean war saw US forces being thrown back by Chinese forces (which were augmented by a few Russian forces), which had inferior equipment.

As for the economies, it's crucial who will come out stronger over the crucial period into next year. It's becoming ever more clear that Russia has the stronger hand over this time frame. The sense of panic in the West is palpable.

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I don't see what Russia would get from conquering all of Ukraine. Back in imperial days, it would be a question of imperial honor and repute, but those days are gone. Just as China needs Russia to keep the US off its back, and will not allow Russia to lose the war, so Russia needs to take up some frontier space to keep the US off _its_ back while it waits out the oncoming American collapse. A slow, meandering war seems like the best option for them at the moment, far better than some grisly urban struggle with the poorly organized but devoted home team. (I'm assuming the stories about the Ukrainian side are more or less true.) The way things are, both sides can claim victory and rest on their tattered laurels.

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>Ukraine planes and choppers are still, never mind drones, are still up there

...Ukraine is managing 3 sorties a day. Compared to the Russian's 300. Your argument is made of stupidium.

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Informative writing...and entertaining as hell. I find myself chuckling at things that in reality are terrifying. This writer knows how to write.

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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.

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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.

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convenient - typo

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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.

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I stand by that comment since I was there for (much of) the time, but I don't mean to suggest either that the whole thing was haphazard and no thought was ever given to it. The fact was that NATO needed to find a role, that there was the risk of a security vacuum in central Europe with unforeseeable but potentially nasty consequences, and that several central European states, worried about their security, were trying to cultivate closer relations with NATO. After a time, yes, it did become a coherent policy, mainly to give NATO something to do, but it was never a long-term strategic plan, still less a conspiracy.

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Thank you for your reply. I am a new reader here so forgive me for not knowing your background. That said, if you do know how the NATO sausage gets made, am sure many of your (hopefully growing!) readership will, like me, be most interested to learn more.

In my imagination, have been assuming for years that along with excessive managerial inertia such as you well describe, there is some sort of top level strategic oversight charting the main courses, and that most of these fly above the altitude of mere elected politicians which explains why very little of substance - especially viz. financial, foreign and military affairs - changes from election to election in just about every Western jurisidiction. Maybe this is over-simplification and all we are dealing with is institutionalized stupidity but....

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I wouldn't say you're wrong, so much as that you can have a very high level of homogeneity among ruling elites, to the point where strategy, as such, doesn't need to be discussed. There will be nuances, differences and so forth, but there's a massive set of shared values: almost a strategic and financial collective unconscious. To vary the metaphor, it's like joining a club with an unwritten but well-understood set of general rules. So pretty much all of the western strategic/financial class takes the same general set of rules for granted, and thus has implicitly much the same set of objectives. I'm pretty sure that no-one in the EU or NATO ever said "let's start a war with Russia", but I'm equally sure that decision-makers were so much prisoners of consensus and shared world-view that in a sense no such decision was necessary. They found themselves carried towards the crisis by the inertia I describe, and were sufficiently prisoners of groupthink not to realise it. We very seldom perceive a crisis as a crisis until it happens, and then it's too late.

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Thank you. Interesting. So sounds like your article's take is generally right, though maybe one could say 'collective stupor' rather than collective stupidity!

Group think is a very real, and little acknowledged, thing because it is hard to quantify like all mental phenomena. I suspect it tends to coalesce around ideas or parameters - like social classes in particular milieus - which, once attuned, are resistant to change because this would be like fighting the convergence of frequencies that constitute what binds the group think dynamic together. Indeed rather than change it might take reboots or resets to establish essentially new paradigms as the old spells are no longer attuned to what is happening. Or something...

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Could you explanin how your desription above is compatible with Messrs Jeffery Epstein, Jean Luc Brunel and Robert Maxwell? 'Reminds me of a statement by Auric Goldfinger about the number three...

Ishmael Zechariah

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After reading this article, I went back and read all your others in one night. Great work!

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Thank you!

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