Times of impossible and inevitable wars

There are very few state leaders and politicians who view what is happening in the world not as some series of events and emerging problems, but as one single process. If the interconnections of events lie on the surface and cannot be ignored, most of politicians react according to the principle:

If you face new problem — find the enemy — save yourself, destroy your enemy — portray yourself as victim or winner, or better, as both.

There are no attempts to understand reasons of events and problems, and that is one of the main reasons why military conflicts are emerging and multiplying in the world, and major powers struggle to take conflicts under control, but unable to resolve them.

Everyone feels that the world has entered new era, but behave, think and act as if no significant changes have taken place in the world over the past four hundred years. As if young and rapidly developing capitalist powers are fighting to divide the world and conquer colonies, as if the West and the USSR continue to fight for the victory of capitalism or communism, as if social relations within states are determined mainly by struggle of two classes, capitalists and proletariat, as if the number of tanks determines the outcome of any war, and a warship off the coast of a distant continent can bring local aborigines into awe and religious admiration, as if Europe continues to be the center around which the world revolves…

But the world has changed radically, and these changes are not just knocking on the brains of politicians, beating them and forcing them to do what previously was unthinkable and looked impossible. Now this impossible often turns out to be inevitable.

Wars have always been the first and loudest manifestations of the emerging new reality. The most striking and tragic events now are the wars in Ukraine and Israel, although it is quite possible that in a few months the current times may remain in the memory as period of calm and quietness.

In this regard, I would like to note down few facts, and let me start with Ukraine…


                       Tanks, drones and women

According to Russian Telegram channels, 70% of destroyed Russian tanks and armored vehicles in 2024, were shot down by FPV drones. In Russia, the war correspondents even came up with a new term — “detanking”, which means that in modern war, more tanks and other armored vehicles are destroyed than can be produced by either side in the conflict.

In 2023, Kyiv irreversibly lost opportunity to recover the loss of armored vehicles and began to transform mechanized brigades into infantry brigades. Ukraine and the West could not increase production and supply of tanks and armored vehicles in the quantities necessary for Kiev, and that means that the process of “detanking” is taking place not only in Ukraine, but also in the West.

In 2022, Moscow realized the trap it had fallen into in Ukraine, and Russia launched and rapidly increased production of tanks by restoring the Soviet military-industrial complex. The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation tries to solve the problem of “detanking” not only by increasing the production of new tanks, but also by modernizing tanks from the Soviet reserves, but struggles to combat “detanking”.

The cost of drones that are used to destroy tanks ranges from tens to thousands of dollars. More often tanks and armored vehicles are being attacked by swarms of cheaper drones. The cost of drones that destroy a tank is hundreds of times less than the cost of any tank or infantry fighting vehicle, even modernized and taken from Soviet warehouses in Russia or transferred to Kyiv from warehouses in Europe.

It is the means of protection of tanks and combating drones that are now being most actively developed. Whoever finds the way to protect armored vehicles and suppress drones will gain significant advantage on the battlefield.

Drone operators have become not only the elite of the army on the front lines, but also the most important target for the enemy. It was the hunt for enemy drone operators that became one of the most important tasks for fighters on the fronts in Ukraine.

At the same time, the majority of drone operators in the Ukrainian army are now women. In second place are young people, including volunteers of pre-conscription age. According to official data, more than 42 thousand women currently serve in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. If at the beginning of the war most women served as nurses and snipers, now the majority serve on the front lines as drone operators. Thus, in modern warfare, Russian fighters strive to find and destroy the maximum number of drone operators, Ukrainian women and youth. This is what the war has become…

The production of drones in Ukraine is carried out mostly by ordinary citizens, individuals and small companies in garages and basements of private houses. In the conditions of the modern war, the important part of the military-industrial complex of Ukraine started developing as a huge, largely legally undocumented the arms production cooperative system.

This production is dispersed throughout the country. That makes it impossible to be destroyed, and with the availability of cheap components from China and other Asian countries, it allows costs to be significantly reduced.

The same process of socialization in the form of cooperation in the production of weapons, equipment, uniforms, various devices for protecting and camouflage of weapons, equipment and people, as well as the delivery of all produced to the front, is actively underway in Russia.

In 2022, after the entry of troops into Ukraine, it became clear to the Kremlin, rather unexpectedly, that the Russian military-industrial complex and the Armed Forces were not ready for the war. Thousands of private manufacturers, voluntarily, at first practically free of charge and even at their own expense, began to produce and deliver to the front what the troops needed. That largely saved the Russian army from great trouble and losses.

The same is happening in the Middle East, where dozens of Israeli Merkava tanks, export price $10 million each, considered one of the best and most protected tanks in the world, fell prey to the Palestinians, who used drones, hand grenades and anti-tank grenades to destroy all those Merkava tanks…


                               The cost of hatred and enlightenment

Very few politicians and political scientists, unlike military specialists, analyze the war in Israel in connection with the war in Ukraine, and if they do, they concentrate on how Israel’s war with the Palestinians and confrontation with Iran could affect financial assistance and supply of weapons by the West to Ukraine.

Here we need to pay attention to one fact. The West and Israel were forced to admit that the cost of the missiles that Israel and its allies spent in one night, on April 14, amounted to more than $1.3 billion to repel the raid of over 300 Iranian missiles and drones, no more than 2% of Iran’s arsenal.

This means that the cost of air defense missiles in one night of April 2024 is comparable to the cost of the same types of weapons used in several previous Arab-Israeli conflicts and wars.

The question arises: how much could the full-scale conflict between Israel and Iran, or between Israel and the Arabs cost in the 21st century for the United States and Europe?

However, we must also take into account that the attack on Israel was carried out not by the Iranian army, but by the units of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and their proxies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. The IRGC and its proxies spent no more than $70 million on missiles and drones, almost forty times less than the expenses of Israel and its allies.

The attack also showed that Israel found itself surrounded by Iranian military proxies, backed by the Muslim world that almost unanimously, with the exception of Jordan, closed its airspace to military aircrafts of Israel, the United States, Great Britain and France. That could not have been imagined a year ago…

So, the first group of questions arises.

How did it happen that Iran’s proxies turned out to be able to carry out massive strikes on the territory of Israel, and to force Tel-Aviv to “show restraint” in response to the attack and to pretend to “retaliate”, trying to cover up the shame with information campaign? That was also difficult to imagine before April 14, 2022…

How did it happen that the Western air defense systems happen to be tens of times higher in cost compared to Iran’s proxy’s offensive weapons? Why, for every drone costing several hundred or few thousands of dollars launched by, for example, Hezbollah, the Israeli air defense missile system, or American and British F-16 had to fire missiles, each costing hundreds of thousands of dollars? Why is Israel forced to shoot down Iranian ballistic missile costing tens of thousands of dollars each with missiles costing millions of dollars?

Moreover, during the Iranian attack, as it turned out, Israel, the USA, Great Britain, France and Jordan, using all their available air defense and missile defense systems in the region, including Space Intelligence, managed to shoot down low-speed drones and old missiles, but were unable to shoot down 9 ballistic missiles that hit the targets.

And apparently these were not Iran’s best missiles. In any case, the Telegram channels, citing Russian and Iranian sources, claim that Fattah-2 hypersonic missiles with the speed of up to Mach 5, were not used in that attack. Iran’s hypersonic missiles were reserved for future strikes.

Also, Iran warned the United States about the attack and the selected targets in advance, 72 hours before the attack, and among those targets were two air bases and one airfield, as well as one Israeli intelligence center that participated in organizing the Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria. In the list, there was also one of the centers for the production of nuclear weapons. All the named targets were hit, albeit without significant damage.

Moreover, Israel is the only country in the world that has full-fledged missile defense and air defense system throughout the whole territory of the country, and the Nevatim airfield is recognized as the most protected facility in the world from ballistic missile attacks. This protection system is provided not only by Israeli air defense, but also by US air defense and space reconnaissance systems.

Thus, by massive attack on the sovereign territory of Israel, Iran revealed and received complete information about location and operation of all Israeli air defense systems, and demonstrated that it could overload all air defense systems of Israel and its allies, force them to use billions of dollars’ worth of weapons in extremely ineffective manner, and at the same time, hitting all targets that Iran chooses in the event of full-scale conflict.

Officially, Israel didn’t officially recognize these facts. The Israeli military announced that it had shot down 99% of missiles and drones, showed photographs of the first stages of ballistic missiles that had fallen to the ground, assuring that these were the shot downed missiles, and tried to prove to the world its success. That was done in the same way as the Ukrainian authorities insisted that they had shot down almost all Russian drones and missiles, including hypersonic ones, and the Russians were able to destroy objects in Ukraine only because the West stopped supplying missiles…

In reality, for the first time, Israel found itself in the situation when its enemy had proven that it could destroy Israel in the event of war, despite the first-class air defense systems and the support from the United States.

This means that neither South Korea, nor Japan, nor Europe have protection guaranteed.


                                          Navy and the new world

In modern warfare, naval forces find themselves in a particularly difficult situation, and Russia was the first to face this reality. The significant part of the Black Sea Fleet was forced to leave its main base in Sevastopol and relocate to Novorossiysk, hundreds of kilometers away from the line of combat contact.

It turned out that the fleet was unable to play decisive role in the special military operation that Russia launched in Ukraine. Landing ships could be destroyed before the landing of Marines, Russian ships do not have freedom and safety of navigation in the Black Sea, and missile strikes on the territory of Ukraine can be carried out without participation of Russian warships.

The war showed that the military and merchant fleet, as well as ports and naval bases located several hundred kilometers from the front, are very difficult and costly to protect from attacks by drones and missiles that can overcome air defense system.

The Navy forces of Israel, the United States and their allies faced similar problems in the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, where the Yemeni Houthis managed to easily block international trade routes.

Reports have emerged that the cost of the US fleet to repel Houthis’ attacks has already exceeded one billion dollars, but the US ships have failed to take control of the straits.

Moreover, the United States faces the threat that the Houthis and their allies could, if the conflict escalates, use drones and missiles worth millions of dollars to hit American ships worth tens of billions of dollars.

Destroying ships and naval bases in the 21st century has become much easier task than it was just few decades ago, when the modern ships were designed and built, and military bases were created. In modern warfare, the functions of fleet change. The fleet must now be given new tasks, formulated in accordance with the conditions of modern warfare, and it will take years to modernize the fleet.

All world powers turned out to be unprepared for modern wars, and it cannot be ruled out that the West turned out to be the most unprepared.


                                          Gorbachev’s legacy

One can have different attitudes towards Mikhail Gorbachev and his perestroika that led to the collapse of the USSR, but it must be recognized that perestroika was caused by objective reasons.

Firstly, it was caused by the understanding that in the development of science and military-industrial complex, the Soviet Union and the United States had reached the point that made the war between them the crime against humanity.

Power and capabilities of strike weapons became so enormous, and the war was so fleeting, that any conflict should have immediately, in minutes, led to the death of billions of people, and possibly all of humanity.

In the USSR, majority in the state and party elite believed that to move deliberately toward that catastrophe was not only crime, but also madness…

Secondly, perestroika was not Gorbachev’s idea. The groundwork for it was created by a group that originated in the early 1960s in the Department of the CPSU Central Committee for Relations with Communist and Workers’ Parties of Socialist Countries, under the wing of Yuri Andropov, Head of the Department at that time.

Andropov called this group “oasis,” and it included those who realized that the Soviet communists had hit the wall of misunderstanding about the path along which socialism should develop further. After Stalin’s death in 1953, the Soviet socialism began to turn into a system more similar to state capitalism. The communist bureaucracy managed and owned state property and wealth, and it looked nearly impossible to overturn that bureaucracy rule.

On the other hand, the clash between the West and the USSR remained real and looked increasingly disastrous in its consequences.

It was in the 1970s that the ideas of creating hypersonic weapons, nuclear rocket engines and space nuclear power plants capable of providing space stations with energy sufficient to allow hundreds of cosmonauts to work and live in space, but also to destroy enemy satellites and spacecrafts, appeared in the USSR scientific centers. It was at that time that neutron weapons and aircrafts were being developed that could fly both in air and in outer space, and nuclear torpedoes capable of creating waves five hundred meters high that could wash away cities, islands and parts of continents in minutes…

However, the science development accelerated and its achievements and knowledge spread throughout the world. That process could not be stopped and would inevitably lead to cheaper production and proliferation not only of nuclear weapons, but also means of delivery.

By the early 1980s, when Andropov took over the leadership of the USSR, it became clear that offensive strike weapons were becoming much cheaper and more effective than defense systems, and, worst of all, more accessible not only to the leading powers of the world, but also for states that were not considered as world leaders, but were actively gaining strength.

During the same period, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, another powerful group that worked in the defense department of the CPSU Central Committee and in the scientific sphere, came to conclusion that part of the huge military-industrial complex and the armed forces of the USSR were becoming unnecessary ballast that need to get rid of.

It became clear that hypersonic missiles will be able to guarantee destruction of warships that cost billions of rubles\dollars\pounds to construct, support and maintain, that need thousands of specialists and officers to operate who are to be trained.

By creating nuclear engines for rockets and space stations, the need for heavy rockets would be dramatically reduced, and space stations of enormous size, including their military units, could be assembled in orbit like Lego pieces.

The new weapons and technologies could ensure advantage of the armed forces of the USSR, but most probably for very short period of time. The uncontrolled competition with the West and the emergence of new centers of power could make nuclear war inevitable and at the same time, impossible. It became inevitable to create a new system of international relations capable of guaranteeing peace and security, and that could effectively resolve emerging conflicts and contradictions.

That was the conclusion that “oasis” and those who joined that group in 1970-s, came to.    

However, huge problems arose along this path. The military-industrial complex controlled more than 80% of industry in the USSR. Reforming the military-industrial complex meant closing or repurposing factories, enterprises, and research centers. Tens of millions of workers and engineers, who were considered the ruling class in the USSR, could be left without work or had to be retrained and reassigned. That kind of economic restructuring could have ruined lives of tens of millions of USSR citizens.

The old communist elite could not explain such reforms to the population and could not decide on them. For them it was ideological and political dead end.

They needed a new leader who would believe in the necessity and greatness of that kind of restructuring project, who could take risks and take responsibility. He had to have enormous talent as organizer, state manager, he had to be flexible, but also tough, strong character, even cruel.

Or this person should really believe in the ideas, want to reform the Soviet military industrial complex, but could have no ability to do this, and if the system breaks down, all responsibility will fall on him.

Mikhail Gorbachev turned out to be the person who was chosen and was ready to lead the reform of the socialist system and take risks. And he went through all this with enthusiasm. However, he was unable to cope with the task.

Andropov began to prepare for perestroika slowly and carefully, according to his scheme: take a step — stop — look at the result — correct mistakes — move on.

For him, the main task was to find and develop ways of reform, to test them by experience, and only on the basis of experience should new ideology and new state system be developed.

Andropov called Gorbachev “a rusher,” and Gorbachev lived up to his nickname. He took the ideas that were popular among the Soviet intelligentsia in 1970-s and the beginning of 1980-s, he designated these ideas as the goals of perestroika, and began to reform the system, and he broke it down.

In the failure of Gorbachev’s perestroika, significant role was played by the believe in inevitable progress, in historical determinism that had been brought by Marxism from Europe to Russia. The progressive will inevitably defeat the outdated, the best will replace the bad…

Gorbachev took decisions that Andropov or any other Soviet leader before in Russian history could never even imagine, such as, for example, the decision to stop the Soviet export of weapons and military equipment. To maintain production facilities Gorbachev “ordered” military plants to find the ways to produce civil goods for internal market. Those decisions dramatically damaged the Soviet military-industrial complex and in one year reduced the Soviet budget and GDP by 30 billion dollars and put thousands of the most developed industrial enterprises of the USSR in crisis.

When it became clear that Gorbachev could not manage the process of reforming the economy and social system, the Soviet elite realized that disaster became inevitable, and bureaucracy used Gorbachev, and later Yeltsin, to collapse the entire system and privatize huge state property, including most of the military-industrial complex.

The group in the CPSU Central Committee and the USSR intelligence services that controlled the defense complex, stepped aside into the shadows. They allowed the collapse of most of the USSR military-industrial complex, but tried to preserve what they believed was necessary for resurrection of military might of Russia. As one of those who was part of this group told me: “We will wait until the one who needs us comes to the Kremlin.”

They waited. The expansion of NATO eastward to the borders of Russia, the conflict between the Kremlin and the White House in early 2000-s, and then the war in Ukraine, made the military-industrial complex not just necessary, but vitally important to Putin, who is yet to find and appoint successor…


                                           The false start of the West

What came as a surprise to many was the fact that in the 21st century, the West began to lose its superiority in armed forces, in weapons and the military-industrial complex, and was unable to provide its allies, in particular Ukraine and Israel, with the military and financial assistance they needed to win their wars.

It seemed that deindustrialization affected only the countries of the former USSR and the socialist camp, but it turned out that deindustrialization also occurred in the West, especially in Western Europe.

In peacetime conditions, many sectors of the economy, e.g. services, information, PR, stock exchanges and banking can ensure GDP growth and compensate stagnation and degradation of industrial production, including the military-industrial complex, especially in IMF calculations that are far from reality. However, in the era of wars, the service sector, stock trading and even the money printing machine become only secondary and auxiliary means.

For the last thirty years, when the world was completely dominated by the United States, the American and Western European military-industrial complex were outside the focus of attention of both Western politicians, finance authorities and industrial corporations that maintained production of only those weapons that were used in low-intensity regional wars against weak opponents.

The wars and special operations of the West in the last thirty years were caused not by external threats, but by desire to support the military-industrial complex and punish those who tried to pursue policies that did not meet the interests of the United States and Europe. This explained the popularity of the theory of “controlled chaos” that made it possible, without serious threats to the West, by creating pockets of minor conflicts and tensions in the world, to ensure the minimum required level of orders for military-industrial corporations and to suppress regional opponents.

The development of new types of weapons was also determined not by threats to the existence of the United States, but by the tasks of maintaining the armed forces with reasonable costs to ensure the world order based on American dominance. It was necessary to somehow support scientific centers and defense enterprises that were half asleep, as well as the financial interests of defense corporations that turned to production of non-military products.

It was the development of non-military industries that determined, albeit indirectly, development of science in defense and new military equipment in the United States and Europe.

This led to the creation of system that was not focused on ensuring victory in forthcoming wars against equal or stronger enemies, or in a global world war, but that made it possible to finance and maintain alive the remnants of the once huge military-industrial complex from the times of confrontation between the West and the USSR.

The result of this process was the deindustrialization of the West in some important sectors, including military-industrial complex. This deindustrialization took place slowly and quietly, in contrast to the landslide deindustrialization of the former republics of the USSR and the countries of the socialist camp in 1990-s.

However, the deindustrialization of the West has led to the fact that in the 21st century the West was not ready for decisive fight against the real threats that had arisen.

When Russia, and then China, which for decades observed what was happening in the USSR, studied the Soviet experience and later,  the Gorbachev’s perestroika, and acted in accordance with Andropov’s method, when both Russia and China realized that confrontation with the West was growing and military conflict was becoming inevitable, they began to secretly increase their military potential and restore their military-industrial complex. This was done especially secretly by the Kremlin that concentrated on the most advanced ideas and developments that had survived from the times of the Soviet Union.

The West, reassured by its dominance and Moscow’s  theatrical readiness to consider itself “gas station with Soviet missiles,” missed the start of new arms race, and that allowed Moscow, Beijing, Delhi, Tehran, and Pyongyang to close the gap and even get ahead of the West in creation of some of the most modern types of weapons.

In 2024, it became clear that Russia, China, Iran, North Korea have hypersonic missiles that the West does not have, and even without the use of hypersonic missiles even the Western opponents can penetrate the most powerful air defense and missile defense systems. That came as unpleasant and unexpected surprise for the United States and its allies.

In present situation, any major conflict has become not only undesirable for the West, but also impossible without the return of decisive advantage.

At the same time, the involvement of the West in small and intense wars has become not only possible, but also increasingly inevitable, because new centers of power that have arisen and those emerging, face temptation to take advantage of the weakness of the United States.

From now on, the world can develop in two directions:

— To start serious multilateral negotiations, including and primarily in the form of non-governmental public dialogue, the so-called Track 2 format, with the aim of finding options that could suit all parties for resolving contradictions and conflicts of interests in each and all specific areas of international relations. The main task of the future Track 2 is to work out ideas and draft agreements on the creation of new system of international relations, based on laws capable of ensuring security for all states of the world;


— To continue rivalry and competition between the world powers, each fighting for its interests, advantages and dominance, for the suppression and destruction of rivals, and that will inevitably lead to the destruction of a significant part of humanity, that is, to what Gorbachev unsuccessfully tried to escape.

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