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Strategic underperformance

The West and three decades of war

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Strategic underperformance

The West and three decades of war

Rechten:

Samenvatting

War is, alas, a constant in international affairs. A single look at the news
reminds us daily of various conflicts and wars around the world, often persisting
for decades. On average, there are 14 UN peacekeeping operations
in progress annually involving 110,000 people and around 50 other peace
operations carried out by regional security organizations. War is never far
away. In fact, cloaked in euphemistic labels such as peacekeeping, humanitarian
interventions or stabilization operations, the West has been engaged
in three decades of war since the ‘outbreak’ of peace on 9 November 1989
(the fall of the Berlin Wall). While often stunningly successful operationally,
the West has also been repeatedly surprised by the complex operational
dynamics
it encountered. Despite military superiority political strategic
success has often
eluded Western military efforts. It struggled to understand
the character
of contemporary wars.
This chapter aims to explain this paradox, starting with a sketch of the recent
Western strategic history. It canvasses in Part II the variety of reasons
explaining this strategic underperformance such as the denial of war resulting
from a limited understanding of war and the prevailing European strategic
culture. Unfounded optimism in the application of new untested concepts
and institutional amnesia in the armed forces also played a significant
role.
In that, however, there is also a paradox as Part III shows; there has been
no lack of scholarly interest in modern war often producing strategically
relevant pointers that could have and perhaps should have informed strategy
and operational planning at the time. Part IV resolves the paradox of
this disconnect. Western militaries have been confronted with an expanding
array of mission-types that governments could not have expected. Such
defence policy fluidity and continued defence spending reductions, hamper
organizational learning. Part V concludes with a retrospective mosaic of
five images of contemporary war which serves as a warning for thinking
about future war and defence policy. While many defence analysts harp on
uncertainty,
the past three decades actually contain sufficient information
to offer a rather sound and prudent perspective on what, as a minimum,
Western militaries can expect and should be prepared for so as to avoid
another three decades of strategic underperformance.

Toon meer
OrganisatieNederlandse Defensie Academie
AfdelingFaculteit Militaire Wetenschappen
LectoraatKrijgswetenschappen
Gepubliceerd inThe Conduct of War in the 21st Century : Kinetic, Connected and Synthetic
Jaar2021
TypeBoekdeel
ISBN978-1-003-05426-9
TaalEngels

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