Future Wars in Light of the Past Experience

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2022-66-11-101-114
Moscow State Institute of International Relations, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (MGIMO University), 76, Vernadskogo Prosp., Moscow, 119454, Russian Federation.

Received 11.05.2022. Revised 01.06.2022. Accepted 23.08.2022.

Acknowledgements. The author expresses gratitude to Evgeny Nikitenko, Nikolay Silaev and Dmitry Stefanovich for their valuable commentaries on earlier drafts of the article.

Abstract. The rise of international tensions revitalizes discussions on potential scenarios of military struggle. The related literature focuses primarily on the evolution in the armed forces and suggests contradictory conclusions on possible developments. One approach focuses on the rising costs for generating a modern force, which encourages states to be cautious regarding its deployment. The other concentrates on the growing lethality and precision of long-range weapons, increasing the tempo of operations. The article seeks to place these competing claims in the context of political aims of the adversaries. It also highlights the role of negotiations with local elites in consolidating gains on the battlefield, underappreciated in recent debates. Using the qualitative comparative analysis, the article reviews the record of military campaigns conducted by Russia and the U.S. since the Cold War. It seeks to acquire lessons from these past engagements for potential armed standoffs in the future. The analysis demonstrates that common expectations of rapid military is applicable only to the instance of confrontation pursuing limited political aims. In many cases, states engage in warfare with decisive political aims. Outcomes on such conflicts critically depend on the ability of the winning side to legitimize its rule through deals with powerbrokers on the ground. Meanwhile, the technical dominance plays limited role in defining military and political success. It is often compensated through asymmetric means available even to backward actors. The record of recent decades also emphasizes the growing role of city guerilla, used by a weaker side to shift fortunes in confrontation.

Keywords: war, armed conflict, USA, Russia, revolution in military affairs, rapid dominance concept, professionalization of the military force, precision-guided weapons, technological dominance


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For citation:
Istomin I. Future Wars in Light of the Past Experience. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2022, vol. 66, no. 11, pp. 101-114. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2022-66-11-101-114

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