02 April 2022

What can we learn from the Present Russian Ukraine War? (Art of War in Action - Part 2)

 Continued from  What can we learn from the Present Russian Ukraine War? (Art of War in Action)

#7 Winners compute first and only choose to fight the war they can win. Losers start a war first and then try to figure out how to win it.

The secret of "hundred battles and hundred victories" is very simple 

 --- "Only fight the war you are sure to win".

Putin must have done extensive calculations, gone through many scenarios, made many preparations (such as the deployment of forces first, movements to deceive others that they are returning), made contingencies plans (such as signing long term contracts with China, etc), a good grasp of others responses (such as the US said they would not send troops to Ukraine. Ukraine said Russia will not attack) and finally boldly gave the order to attack after he was very sure that he could win. The US counter actions of sanctions including kicking them out of SWIFT were all taken into consideration. He even has the last resort plan of using Nuclear weapons if things don't go as planned.

The US also planned well to "force and lure" Russia to attack Ukraine. Sending out intelligence on Russia impending attacks. Even giving specific dates. Who will act on others' predicted dates? Recalled that #5 Warfare is deception". So each one is trying to fool the other. Unfortunately, Ukraine committed #6 Hoping that the enemy will not attack.

So, as the war is ongoing, it is not surprising that Russia is having the upper hand. Russia had the real physical oil, gas, foods, and rare earth that Europe needs. Europe and the US could only sanction things that Russia could find alternatives to. 

EU is most affected by the war and yet does not seems to have any strategy or influence on the outcome. Russia had what the EU needed. The Ukraine refugees are flocking into the EU. All they are doing is sending more arms and aid to Ukraine. They may have studied the Art of War but they do not seem to apply the principles to strategize well for the war. There is likely to be some miscalculation and misestimation of the forces at play to be caught in such a bad situation. But it is never too late to work out a better plan for their own interests. 

Russia is able to predict the US & EU actions and have countermeasures. But US & EU seems only to press further on sanctions and aid which Russia had countermeasures already. If the countermeasures are effective, then the outcome of the war seems certain. This brings us to the next principle of comparative analysis. How to tell we can win against the enemy?

#8 知彼知己,百战不殆 Know Others and Know Self, then a hundred battles are without danger.
This is the first half of a winning principle. The second half to complete the strategy is #9.

How strong are we does not depend on how big or strong we are. It depends on the enemy we choose to fight. Is the enemy bigger and stronger than us is the key criteria? 

Inside-Out thinking is the worst error one can make. This is likely to be the US error, thinking that they are the one and only superpower and no one dare or can even fight them. Trump thinks the US alone is powerful enough. Biden is more humble and clearer in thinking to want to use the strength of alliances. But the error is thinking and seeing from one's biased and prejudiced perspective. It will only cause us to see what we want to see and miss the very important thing that we should have seen. It explains the death or decline of once giants like Nokia(phones), RIM, Motorola, Kodak, etc.
(see The Sun Zi's Art of War that even the experts may not know #3).

Sun Zi teaches us to do "Outside-In" thinking. Know the enemy first and then compare him with yourself. We may have 10,000 men. If our enemy is 1000. Then we are stronger. But if our enemy has 100,000 men, then our 10,000 men are relatively weak. Our strengths or weaknesses are dependent on the enemy we are going to fight. 

#8a What to Know about Our Enemy and Us? Who will Win?
Sun Zi gives us The Five factors - 道天地将法

  1. 道 Dao - The philosophy, mission, vision, values, beliefs of a nation and the engagement,
  2. 天 - the seasonal trends and weathers factors.
  3. 地 - the terrain characteristics, the battleground, the routes, etc.
  4. 将 - the capabilities and characters of the commanders.
  5. 法 - the methods, organizations, logistics, weapons, communications, command, and control.

Russia thinks that its security is under threat supported by the 5 times expansion of NATO despite promises made. Ukraine is a key and next-door terrain. It is their last line of defense. (note: what we think is not the issue. It is what they think that determines their actions.) They think if NATO and US are sincere in not wanting to attack Russia, they should give their promises in writing. Since they took a long time without any action, Russia thinks their intention is clear. Russia believes they are fighting for their survival in the long term. If they don't do anything now, it would be too late to act in the future when missiles are located in Ukraine. Its mission is to ensure security for Russia now and in the future. Russia is fighting for survival.

Ukraine also wants security so they want to join NATO. They are fighting for their survival now.

To the US, the war is just an expansion of its influence and more sales of weapons and others, more demand for US currencies, etc. Extra good benefits for its economy and inflation at home. It is not a matter of life and death like the Russians and Ukrainians.

EU is concerned with the expansion of Russia? But they have NATO as a security pack against Russia.
It is best for the EU to have peace as before. Peace is good for EU nations.

The beliefs and values (the Dao) give us the motives and the morale to fight and even till death. The motivations of Russia and Ukraine are high. But not as high for the US. The EU should be higher than the US but does not seem to be so. If peace is so important to the EU, they should be encouraging peace more than just giving aid and inciting to fight the war.  This is puzzling.

We will cover factors 2 & 3 in the next principle #9.

We can compare the commanders' capabilities of Russia and Ukraine. Russia had fought many wars and from their actions, they seem very capable. Ukraine needs training from the US and others indicating they are weaker. But Ukraine is fighting on the home ground vs Russia on foreign land. So they have better ground knowledge.

The fifth factor is about Methods, Organization, Weapons etc.
You can decide who is more capable.

There is left Principle #9 for them to predict or for us to predict, who will win the war. We will cover this in the next post.

Lim Liat (c) 2 Apr 2022

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