Sun Tzu famously wrote “Victorious warriors win first, and then go to war.” The truth about the war in Ukraine is that the entire thing has been one horrible miscalculation, and I’m going to try to make the argument that what the West did here, particularly the US, UK, Ukraine, is what Sun Tzu says in the second half of this widely cited quote, “while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”
A politico headline from this morning, February 15th, 2023, nearly a year after Russia’s incursion into Ukrainian territory, read: “U.S. focuses on training Ukrainian troops to use less ammo. Western nations are growing concerned over their ability to quickly replenish stocks.” A Washington Post article titled “Ukraine live briefing: NATO meetings focus on weapons production; U.S. general says Russia ‘lost’ also from Feb15 2023 said: “Britain is “delivering for Ukraine the effects they need on the battlefield,” rather than fighter jets, which require months of training…Ukraine’s backers can help faster by providing weapons such as antiaircraft missiles. Kyiv is renewing calls for aircraft…” So there’s what Kiev wants and there’s what Kiev needs, and it’s not up to Kiev to decide what they need, we get to make that determination on Ukraine’s behalf. This while Ukraine is already at a massive firepower disadvantage, with Russian artillery surpassing Ukraine’s at ratios of 10:1 in some parts of the front.
The quote about delivering what Ukraine needs was from Ben Wallace, the British Defense Secretary, and it isn’t the case that he is more aware than the actual AFU of what the AFU’s needs are, this is the British Defense Secretary saying “Ukraine’s going to get whatever we can manage to sling their way.” Late last year the head of Ukraine’s armed forces General Zaluzhniy, was quoted as saying “I need 300 tanks, 600–700 infantry fighting vehicles, 500 howitzers” and then he could be “confident” that he could “defeat the Russian enemy.” So what Ukraine needs is fighter jets, hundreds of tanks, hundreds more artillery pieces, this while we’re training Ukrainian soldiers in Germany, Poland, the UK, even the US. And not just training fresh Ukrainian cannon fodder, we’re also repairing damaged equipment, essentially providing an untouchable rear support network that the Russians won’t hit.
But it isn’t enough, we have put our back into it, and it isn’t enough. We even fought dirty, snatching half of Russia’s foreign currency reserves, blocking access to Russian news and propaganda outlets, uncritically reporting outrageous Ukrainian claims like the Snake Island story, even helping to fabricate outright false flags, like in the case of the now infamous fake Bucha massacre (Associated Press has lost a lot of credibility for their extremely uncritical and journalistically unethical Bucha reporting, then refusing to correct themselves and to apologize for the blatant misreporting once it became clear that the majority of the bodies had flechette and not bullet wounds). It should be okay to say “Yeah Ukraine lied about that one “ but the MSM can’t seem to afford even that. To just waste your journalistic credibility like that, it shows that there can only be one narrative, the one where Putin is a war criminal and the Russians launched an “unprovoked” (ha) invasion into innocent and freedom loving Ukraine.
They say that in war the truth is the first casualty. Both sides lie during war, deception is part of warfare, the war hasn’t gone smoothly for the Kremlin either. Both sides have reason to try to exaggerate how successful their efforts are, and exaggerate the enemy’s losses while misrepresenting their own, it’s war, and everybody’s lying. That being said, the REAL war in Ukraine is going horribly sideways for Ukraine, and by extension, Ukraine’s backers. It’s not that the Russian bear hasn’t had to howl in serious pain a few times, it’s that he’s prepared to do it again and again and again until he wins. There have been some very embarrassing moments for the Russians in this war, but the Russian leadership structure was prepared and willing to actually climb out of the hibernation cave and have a real fight, with real stakes on the line. We had a plan too, it was the sanctions blitzkrieg followed by the overwhelming media offensive, an attempt to cause civil unrest within the Russian Federation, but when the Ruble didn’t “turn to Rubble” as Biden predicted, and Russian populace backed Putin and his SMO, “plan A” definitely failed hard. And from that point on, we’ve been at war first, and engaged in the endeavor to win it after the fact. It was at this point that it should have been clear that the entire thing was going to go belly-up, but instead we’re trying to play this game where we send Ukraine not 300 tanks, but 30, while telling them to waste less ammunition because their entire rear support network literally can’t produce them in sufficient quantity at this time.
What in the hell are we doing? Cut it now, cut the war, it’s going poorly. We can blame the Ukrainian Nazi’s, those graphic war crimes they perpetrated in mass against the Russian and separatist armed forces that energized the Russian citizenry to back Putin instead of peace with their Ukrainian brothers. We can blame Zelensky, we can blame Biden, we can even lay the blame for this debacle at the feet of Nuland, Blinken, Sullivan and the late McCain. Whatever it is, we’ll need to do the scapegoat and pillory thing eventually, let’s do it before we completely wreck what’s left of the world order.