There are plenty of people who study war. In the modern era none of them have actually fought one.
How many of you think you know how to fix a car? How many of you do fix your own car? I do; nobody has turned a wrench on any of my vehicles, other than myself, in about 20 years. I therefore probably know a bit about what I'm doing when it comes to fixing cars.
Would you listen to me if I had never actually turned a wrench on a vehicle, but allegedly knew what was wrong with yours?
That might be sort of stupid, right?
Welcome to today's political and military "strategists."
The last actual war we prosecuted against a real state-based entity with a real military force where our dudes were out there doing it for real was arguably in WWII. You can argue that Korea and Vietnam were "boots on the ground" conflicts as well, but I will note that we "won" neither of those and in both cases while they were nasty wars they were "over there" and not capable of turning into direct American involvement except by choice. Neither Korea or Vietnam had the capacity to blow up Washington DC, New York, Chicago or Atlanta -- or Honolulu.
During WWII Hitler was working on the atomic bomb and was quite close to success. Indeed we poached a number of Germans who were part and parcel of his engineering corps that were building rockets used in the war, and those men were the "seed" that built our space program. Isn't it interesting how the guard at Auschwitz got a noose but the man who could design a rocket engine got a job? Such is politics from time to time, you see.
War is a terrible thing, but like most things you learn from doing it and being told about it, or reading about it, is a poor substitute. Indeed its worse than a poor substitute when national interest and pride is involved because when it comes to military activity in war everyone lies; the first casualty when rounds start to go off is the truth.
In the early parts of WWII we developed a new fuse for torpedoes. These were thought a great advance in that they included both a striking fuse (if you hit the hull) and a proximity fuse designed to detonate when the torpedo passed close under the keel. While a direct hit on a ship will put a hole in it depending on where you hit it one hole may not sink it; if the compartment can be sealed it will still float and may still be able to fight. That's bad. A magnetic proximity fuse allows you to set the torpedo to run under the keel and when it explodes the bubble of gas it creates overloads the keel and the ship splits in two. That will very reliably sink almost anything.
But there was a problem; this new exploder didn't work well with the impact exploder failing to go off on a direct hit. Skippers reported firing straight on the broadside of a ship and the torpedo did not explode! The brass did not believe them for a period, thinking the sub skippers were incompetent and simply missing their targets, until it was conclusively proved. The adaptation skippers adopted was to shoot at an oblique angle shallow enough to hit the hull, and the exploder would reliably detonate -- but that's a much-more difficult shot.
The fact is that our much-vaunted "superior" technology was only superior on paper; in the real world it didn't work as designed and we had never tested it in anger prior to needing to use it because there had been no war in which to test it under actual combat conditions.
Russia had a cruiser that people believed was a nearly-invincible. It is now having a conversation with Davey Jones. While the hull was 40 years old and thus of late Soviet manufacture it had been upfitted with modern weapons, including a three-layer defensive system. Provided you could maintain a roughly 10 mile isolation zone around it (giving the defensive systems time to act) it was believed that any moderate attack could easily be interdicted. Ukraine claims it fired on and struck it with subsonic cruise missiles, causing enough damage that the vessel was abandoned and while being towed out of the area it sunk. We, and likely they, believed that it was well-enough armed defensively that a couple of cruise missiles were no real threat; they'd be intercepted and destroyed. We know Russia believed this or they would never have left it without additional defensive resource where it could be shot at. Assuming the cruiser did not suffer a breakdown or accident (both happen, and if the resulting fire gets to the magazine you're hosed) then the intermediate-range layer of defense failed to fire, with the equivalent of our CIWS unable to complete the intercept. Boom.
Why did that happen?
Because Russia, like the US, has not actually fought a real war since WWII. The Ukraine military, such as it is, likely knew and could analyze the potential failure modes of these systems because they used to be "friends", remember? Their belief was unproved until now, but as it turns out if indeed Ukraine did hit the ship their analysis was correct and ours -- and Russia's -- was wrong.
How many similar errors do we have embedded in our presumption of defenses? Plenty. I'm certain of it. I don't know exactly where they are, of course, but that they're present is a certainty simply because we've never used these weapons in anger against a capable adversary.
If we wind up in a situation where we do use them against a capable adversary we will find out where those errors are -- the hard way.
The first question to be asked in any potential conflict is what is our national interest in the event?
Here there is none. Ukraine and Russia, and indeed that entire part of the world, have a long and complicated history stretching back over a thousand years. Most of what is now Ukraine was Russia; it was the designation of a "special administrative area" under the USSR that led to what is now called "Ukraine" and Crimea, specifically, was purchased by Catherine the Great as Russian property before the USSR was formed by accretion of the satellite land later disgorged when the USSR disintegrated. That the people in this area are ethnically and culturally diverse is not in question, and that several of those groups hate each other isn't in dispute. The USSR recognized this, which was part of the reason for the "special administrative area" -- to try to calm things down somewhat.
Post dissolution of the USSR the former satellites assumed their own governmental authority. But note well: This does not change the fact that Crimea, specifically, was Russian property -- not by conquest but by voluntary purchase prior to the USSR's formation. It also doesn't address the fact that there still were and are warring factions within what is called Ukraine. Maidan, in fact, occurred for that very reason and post-Maidan the "winner" of that event continued to kill and otherwise generally persecute citizens on their own land who disagreed with Maidan, including those in Donbas and Crimea. In fact the government of Ukraine has implemented material sets of laws over those years that deliberately punished people based on the languages they speak, never mind other factors.
Do you support a law that if someone speaks Spanish in the United States they are ineligible to work, go to school or even buy groceries? Welcome to Ukraine; if you support Ukraine that is what you are supporting.
Do you support a law that if someone is not vaccinated against Covid-19 they cannot buy food or work? Welcome to Ukraine; if you support Ukraine that is what you are supporting. It is literally the law there to "take this jab or DIE of starvation."
We have no interest in getting involved in this, other than our ever-present desire of certain sectors in our economy to make money, which of course war always stokes. Things that are blown up and expensive make people a tidy little profit.
Never mind the goal. What is it? If the goal is the destruction and replacement of Putin do realize that the entire Federal Assembly stands behind him. If you remove him you likely get someone worse. To prevent that you would have to overthrow the entire Russian government, not one man, and such an event has no available guaranteed outcome or means of securing the thousands of nuclear weapons Russia possesses. Never mind the entire premise of "regime change" -- what gives the United States (or anyone else for that matter) the right to make such a determination and then enforce it through violence? I remind you that our current Administration has directly stated their intent to remove Putin and the Administration did so without a Congressional resolution passing both House and Senate authorizing the use of force -- that is, war -- to accomplish said goal.
Before we, as Americans, take actions that could easily lead us to be directly involved in a European war we should force our politicians to ask the hard questions -- specifically, why are we doing it, what are the actual end points we are attempting to accomplish and how do we bind the limits of our actions to those end points?
If we are going to walk down a road that can lead to a conflict with a real adversary, one that has nuclear weapons and could choose to use them, that is a decision not entitled to be made by the Administration standing alone.
America has a formal process in our Constitution that stands as a mandate when it comes to Acts of War. This is rationally chargeable against any act that is reasonably likely to lead to war, and we, as Americans, must insist that it be followed.
This is not a matter of hot pursuit where Congress does not have the time or capacity to take such debate and an instant decision must be made.
The penalty for failure to have that debate and come to consensus as the Constitution requires has a high probability of leading to your death.
Covid-19 was a virus that killed a few people -- yes, a large number numerically, but in percentage terms it was small, and in healthy children and adults it was vanishingly small. I know someone -- one person - who was to my knowledge healthy and yet Covid-19 "got them" while a huge number of people of similar circumstances got a cold or flu. It tried to get me; I am not talking out my ass in this regard. I lived.
Actions that escalate into a war with a capable adversary threaten to exterminate a quarter or more of the population of this nation, and could easily wind up there accidentally due to miscalculation or tit-for-tat expansion of hostilities until someone decides they're going to lose and uses what they have.
Don't mistake or trivialize the risk here folks. It is real. We twice (once during the Cuban missile crisis and the second during an exercise) have come down literally to one man deciding not to do something and, had they done so, we likely would have wound up with a general nuclear exchange. During the Cuban missile crisis a direct order to fire was disobeyed as concurrence of the three officers necessary had one hold-out who refused. To expect that in every case such a hold-out will be present is unwise; of those three men two of them consented and, had the third, a nuclear torpedo would have been launched.
The path forward from there would have likely led to annihilation.
If that debate is held as required by the Constitution and the outcome is that we are willing to commit our nation and our futures to that course of action then so be it. But that debate has not been held and there is no evidence, in the present tense, of Congressional intent to do so.
For decades we, the people of America, have ignored the fact that The Constitution is not the Ten Suggestions whenever some fancy suits an Administration or some passion flares. This was stupid and yet it has become ingrained into the culture of our Federal Government that they can ignore said Constitution at any time they'd like. We have a runaway debt situation in our federal government due to the intentional and willful refusal to enforce lesser laws, including 15 USC Chapter 1, and most of the death that occurred during the last two years from Covid-19 is directly traceable to that willful and direct refusal to enforce 100+ year old law. Your grandmother and friends are dead, in short, because you refused to force the government and "favored private entities" in the health sector to follow said 100+ year old law.
The entirety of the current inflationary situation is likewise a result of refusal to enforce said laws. All of it. I've documented same on these pages for fifteen years without any meaningful result in terms of public policy. Many have laughed at such being "trite", smug in their belief that this passion or that overrides what the Founders put in place.
Now that refusal, which you, I and everyone else are directly responsible for, threatens the literal survival of a quarter or more of the population of this land and the government itself via a potential nuclear exchange that comes from escalation which thus far has occurred for exactly one reason: The Government has refused to follow the highest law of the land when it comes to war and support of same and you have refused to make them do so.
We have before us what may be one final chance to put a stop to this lawless mess and this time if we don't it is no longer about money -- it's about cities, infrastructure and a huge percentage of all living things in or near same being literally erased.
If we fail to act this time then if we find ourselves at war with Russia we will have earned it.