Two years later

Diplomatists and statesmen should note, than when I recommend a war in these columns, it is likely to end badly. In my own much-needed defence, I would insist that — starting with Vietnam, in the last century — these wars were not fought in the manner I put forward. For instance, the frequent American resort to saturation bombing self-defeats many objects in a good war, and may complicate arrangements for peace, later. War is a craft, not just a technology.

Still, one could apologize too much for heavy bombing. “Shock and awe” has its place in any offensive strategy. And it is important to convince a ruthless enemy that we can be more ruthless, by a factor of many times.

Most important, the war should be over relatively quickly. This is especially important if one is saddled with the rule of a “democracy,” in which your own people will whine and go peacenik, when they get bored. For unlike chess, a poorly projected war can be interminable. A civilized, defeated nation, such as Germany, Italy, or Japan, will benefit from temporary occupation, but among the desert savages of the frontier (Iraq, Afghanistan) it is best to leave promptly, after smooshing them.

The Romans knew this.

But there are wars that can’t be won, given the vastly superior arms, and implacable will of an enemy. This does not mean they are not worth fighting, of course. When Stalin’s troops invaded Finland, on 30th November 1939, the valiant Finns resisted. They taught the Russians many painful lessons, but by mid-February the Russians had begun to learn. In March, the Finns “bit the bullet,” and ceded their eastern districts to the lumbering bear. They did not have to cede their middle, however.

The Ukraine war has now gone on too long for anyone’s advantage or comfort, and if the NATO allies want the best possible result, they will insist that Ukraine cede her eastern districts. The rest of the country has now fought nobly for its independence, and the intention should be to win the peace.

Moreover, the allies should learn from the nasty experience that stockpiles are necessary. For if anything like this should happen again, we mustn’t again be running embarrassingly short of ordnance and munitions.