The military crisis in Eastern Europe has shattered the belief that large armies are no longer relevant in the modern era. The notion that war is about stunning and overwhelming the enemy to reduce their technological capabilities is being challenged. Instead, military thinking among major powers is shifting towards the idea that large armies may be necessary in order to achieve victory in a major conflict.
The risk of great power wars is on the rise, and small, mobile forces do not hold significant advantages over larger ones that can mobilize their populations. It appears that a major military conflict between comparable powers will likely resemble historical norms, rather than being highly mobile and technological.
While the virtual dimension and information warfare remain important aspects of military confrontation, they are not decisive. Psychological confrontation and disrupting the enemy’s plans have always been objectives of war, and this continues to be true today.
In order to achieve a strategic victory through armed conflict, the same amount of material resources that have always been required throughout history are necessary. This presents a challenge in today’s society heavily influenced by consumerism, as mobilization becomes difficult for most governments.
Mobilization is a major challenge in the current political and international environment, and it is unclear how countries supporting Ukraine, such as the US, UK, Lithuania, and Poland, would respond to this challenge. Even in Ukraine, where a major propaganda campaign is underway, there are difficulties in gathering conscripts.
However, despite the challenges, globalization has not disappeared and the world remains interconnected. This means that achieving a strategic victory over the enemy solely through military means is impossible. Instead, we are entering an era of perpetual indirect warfare, where victory can only be achieved by undermining the internal vitality of opponents and making them realize that military means will not achieve their goals.
The balance in American relations with China and Russia, for example, is based on the understanding that a decisive victory in a military conflict is impossible. This leads to a system of constant rebalancing and a narrow circle of countries capable of mounting a major conflict.
While war may become the norm in the 21st century, it is unlikely to escalate into a catastrophic nuclear showdown. Rather, major confrontations may resemble the Indo-Pakistani relationship of mutual deterrence and perpetual hostility, where a rapid descent into all-out war is avoided.
In conclusion, the current military crisis in Eastern Europe has forced a reassessment of the role and relevance of large armies in the modern era. The risk of great power wars is increasing, and small, mobile forces may not have significant advantages over larger armies. Achieving victory through armed conflict requires the same material resources as throughout history. Mobilization is a challenge in today’s society, and globalization means that victory can only be achieved by undermining opponents’ internal vitality. War may become the norm in the 21st century, but it is unlikely to escalate into a catastrophic nuclear showdown.