Part IV: Letters from the Future
by Edder Zarate
This four-part series imagines the possible scenario of a future war between Russians and Western forces. In Part I, these hypothetical events are written in the form of journal entries in a nonlinear timeline, similar to the style of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Parts II and III consist of an analysis of the imagined war while Part IV explains the importance of war preparedness and offers policy recommendations. Each section of this series will be published the subsequent week.
Part IV: Final Analysis and Policy Recommendations
If a successful invasion occurs, what will contribute even more to a Russian comeback is if Allies’ forces began to become demoralized and are not well trained and prepared for war. History has shown that armies can easily invade Russia. Yet, they cannot hold Russia once winter comes. Today, many Western armies remain unprepared to fight in harsh winter climates. Russian’ winters can easily affect the morality of Western forces, but what makes several European-specific-armies vulnerable to morale deficiency is that European culture itself is less prone to war, making their soldiers’ less likely to endure war for a long period. An example that shows how European armies in general are out of sync with war is the fact that Germany’s warfare tools (jets, helicopters, tanks, etc.) are outdated.
The General’s Dilemma
Contemplating this range of choices and decisions of war can be a very difficult task to fathom with when one does not have their strategic pieces set in place before war. Therefore, the U.S. and the West should start paying more attention to their art of war framework before war catches them off-guard.
- Always place a higher priority to alliances than to values. If Turkey’s actions are not aligned with our values, simply call them out behind closed doors, rather than choosing to castigate. The same principal should be applied to all allies (e.g. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan).
- Prepare for war. War is inevitable so it is best to prepare for it. Attempting to avoid a security dilemma only causes appeasement and appeasement only causes regrets, putting us at a disadvantage once war comes.
- Choosing allies does not equate forming as many allies as possible. Instead, choosing allies requires strategic calculation. If Sweden is known to have the will to join the West in case of war, there is no need to form an alliance with her since she has already made her stance clear. Choosing allies indiscriminately can antagonize enemies and lend itself to advantageous war planning for enemies.
- Do not allow your enemies to neutralize key actors or your allies. Revert any policies or actions that are allowing your enemy to exploit the possibility of neutralizing a key actor or key ally. Similarly, where possible, attempt to neutralize key actors.
- European culture should be highly exposed to warfare cinema. If Europeans cannot conceptualize heroic acts, attitudes, and mentalities of war, then it is very likely for them to become demoralized once in the battlefield.
- Do not underestimate the geographical locations of Bulgaria and Romania. A significant number of troops should be placed across the Transylvanian Mountains, Carpathian Mountains, Balkan Mountains, and Rhodope Mountains. Otherwise, enemies can launch counteroffensives from these locations, breaking Western flanks in Central Europe.
- Get Ukraine to start building trenches across its lands. The lack of geographical barriers in Ukraine makes it very difficult to defend for long periods of times. Trenches are a good fortress of defense in the absence of physical barriers.
- Contrary to the rule, “Never attack Russia in the winter,” attack Russia during the winter! When soldiers see that gains can be achieved against Russia during initial stages of war in the winter, then they become unconsciously prepared to fight under harsh conditions. By attacking in the spring, when winter comes later in the year and Russia begins its comeback, soldiers can easily become demoralized.
Edder Zarate is a second-year M.A. candidate at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations. He specializes in Foreign Policy Analysis and International Economics and Development. He is a pragmatist at heart and a devil’s advocate by choice. He currently serves as a Senior Editor for the Journal.