'Ukraine can win this war if armed properly..' - Prof. Phillips P. O’Brien

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'..the administration’s “de-escalation” world view which Ive argued is disastrous as it assumes the US can control things it cant. I wrote about that earlier.'

'What I could not decide at the time was whether the way Ukraine was being armed was the result of an old-fashioned (and flawed view) of how wars are won or whether they were a deliberate decision to limit what Ukraine could do out of a fear of the Russian response. In an odd way I would have preferred the former—as that meant that Ukraine’s partners (particularly the USA) actually wanted the Ukrainians to win the war—they just didn’t fully understand how that would be best achieved.

And btw, if you response, “how could the Pentagon not understand the best way to win a war”?—you only need to look at the catalogue of failure on this question over the last few decades. The US lost the most expensive war in US history (Afghanistan) and at the same time had no idea how the Russian invasion of Ukraine would develop (they really did think Kyiv would fall quickly and Ukraine would be defeated conventionally). So, to be frank, the Pentagon has been one of the worst places in understanding how wars are won—even when it possesses the most powerful armed forces in the world. It was thus perfectly conceivable to me, that they were arming Ukraine out of a mistaken understanding of how wars are won.

However, I wonder now whether the real answer was “no”, the US administration really doesnt want Ukraine to win the war. They want Ukraine to survive, with most of its territory intact, but they also want Putin to have a face-saving peace which gives him a claim to victory. It fits very well into the administration’s “de-escalation” world view which Ive argued is disastrous as it assumes the US can control things it cant. I wrote about that earlier.

So, with this in mind, what we really need to know is does the Biden administration actually want Ukraine to win and liberate its territory? Their rhetoric (at times) says yes but the way Ukraine is being armed says no. The arming says its more important not to antagonize Russia too much than it is to help Ukraine to win. If that is the answer, then the administration will simply continue to feed those who believe the war is a stalemate.

Ukraine can win this war if armed properly (I think I will write a mid-week substack about that soon), however if its armed in the weird way it is now (defensive weapons and weapons that force it to make battlefield attacks) it will be a much longer, more difficult war. The US administration cant micromanage the war the way that they think—but they absolutely can make it worse (and seem to be).'

- Prof. Phillips P. O’Brien, Weekend Update #55 Ukrainian Forces Across the Dnipro, November 18, 2023


'..Ukraine still does not possess enough long-range strike (ATACMS, Taurus) etc..'

'..destroy [Russian] equipment before it reache(s) the battlefield..'

'History teaches that persistence and strategic patience have been the key to victory..'