Monday, March 14, 2022

The Five Levels of War

You can always detect a fool, for he is the man who will tell you that he knows which side will win in a war. But a war is a fluid situation—it can take thousands of shapes; it can veer off into unexpected directions, creating chaos and conflicts in other areas; it can lead to consequences that no one ever predicted. A war is simultaneously fought on five levels—the propaganda level, the diplomatic level, the financial level, the level of military combat, and finally, the level of the negotiations for ending the war. It is not necessary that the side that wins militarily will prevail during the level of negotiations. If the losing side has shrewd negotiators, they can make important gains for their country at the negotiation table. 

In the ongoing Ukraine war, there are two sides—the Western side (led by NATO, basically America) and the Russian side. The Western side enjoys an advantage in the areas of propaganda (the West controls the global mainstream media and the Internet) and finance (they control the global financial institutions, and they have the dollar, which is the world’s official reserve currency). The Russian side has an advantage in the areas of diplomacy (America has failed to get most nations, including traditional allies like Germany, Israel, China, and Saudi Arabia, to support its sanctions against Russia), military power (Russian military has captured a significant part of Ukraine), and post-war negotiations (if the wars of the last 75 years are taken as a trend, then we find that the Western side generally does not do well in negotiations—after the Second World War, Stalin forced Churchill and Roosevelt to concede all of Eastern Europe, including half of Germany, to the Soviet Union; in the conflicts in South Korea, the Middle East, and Afghanistan, America was forced to make significant concessions during the negotiations).

The Ukraine war could continue for a few weeks. While the Russian troops advance on the ground, the negotiations between the two sides are going on. The negotiations could go on for more than a year, and lead to significant geopolitical shifts, especially if other powers—like China and the Middle Eastern powers—decide to get involved in the negotiations.

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