I have referred to Jacques Baud in the past. He is a former colonel of the Swiss General Staff and specialized in Eastern Europe.
Mr Baud has just written a book, The Russian Art of War: How the West Led Ukraine to Defeat (L’art de la guerre russe: Comment l’occident conduire l’ukraine a la echec). Published in French and soon to be translated into English, Postil magazine has posted the Table of Contents and an excerpt from the first chapter in English.
This is not a puff piece or slick propaganda to justify or praise the Russian effort in Ukraine. His purpose is made clear in one of the early paragraphs of the Introduction:
The problem with the vast majority of our so-called military experts is their inability to understand the Russian approach to war. It is the result of an approach we have already seen in waves of terrorist attacks—the adversary is so stupidly demonized that we refrain from understanding his way of thinking. As a result, we are unable to develop strategies, articulate our forces, or even equip them for the realities of war. The corollary of this approach is that our frustrations are translated by unscrupulous media into a narrative that feeds hatred and increases our vulnerability. We are thus unable to find rational, effective solutions to the problem.
The Russians adhere to Clausewitz’s theory that war is a continuation of politics by other means. The larger goal is clearly understood, and is the basis for whatever operations, strategy, plans, and technology, are developed to achieve that goal. Political goals are always the aim – war, ultimately, is just one means of achieving those goals.
In the West, specifically the US, modern warfare is increasingly only about domestic considerations, with a focus on the newest carrier, missile, or fighter plane; and war is even better when there are sales opportunities for US “defense” contractors. Think about the US wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq – along with the support of Ukraine and Israel, and understand the truth expressed in his paragraph above.
Baud makes clear even that Russia understands that planning for conflict involves the whole of the society – militarily as well as economically, financially and morally. This is something the US has never done – US politics and the role of moneyed interests prevent it.
Mr Baud’s comments about military experts could easily be substituted with so-called economic or political experts, which is my focus in bringing this forward.
Consider one example: the Biden administration’s freezing of $300 billion of Russia’s sovereign reserves (bonds, currencies, and gold) held in western banks. While the US had seized foreign assets before, seizure of sovereign reserves had never been done. This was one part of the Biden administration’s “strategy” for punishing Russia economically – along with closing off its export markets.
The results would have been predictable if the US had made any effort to understand the consequence of its actions and not be blinded by its prejudices about itself (“the indispensable nation” and its “rules-based order”) and Russia (“Putin is Hitler” and the “Evil Empire”).
Closing off export markets forced the Russian domestic economy to take off, and Russians have commented they’re doing better now than before the war.
Freezing reserves has accelerated the efforts by Russia and other BRICS countries to find an alternative to the US dollar for global trade.
The worldwide monetary system based on the US dollar as reserve currency will be coming to an end (at some point) – no country will want its reserves denominated in US dollars, if it knows those reserves will be seized if it does or says something that displeases the US. While likely not an immediate risk due to the size of the global financial markets,long-term trade agreements and binding contracts, and the lack of an agreed-upon substitute – it does seem to me to be inevitable.
Combine the above with widespread doubts about the US given to its declining economic, moral, and military strength, and the future appears even more frightening.
What can be abated is unknown, but certainly nothing will be if our so-called elites, and their “experts” refrain from looking at the evolving global relationships and the aspirations of billions of people in distinct societies. The dogmas and false beliefs of the past need to be let go – and we need to understand the US role and capacity to contribute to this changing world.
While Mr. Baud’s book is soley about the Russian military and its war in Ukraine, it also demonstrates that systematic thinking and plans with a well-established and understood goal needs to be the basis for any conflict or endeavor. As he writes, The Russians see events as a film. We see them as photographs. They see the forest, while we focus on the trees.
You can read the excerpt here.