War planning and US elections

Joe Biden
Joe Biden

In one of my previous columns, I mentioned that, given the dynamics of changes in the balance of power in the international arena, the United States is leaning toward the so-called "1.5 theaters of war (TOW)" doctrine

This means that the United States will be able to wage a full-scale conflict in the Pacific region (with China in case it attempts to seize Taiwan) and ensure the achievement of strategic goals by providing extended assistance to selected (reliable, capable) partners in their wars (resolving armed conflicts) in other parts of the world. A year or six months ago, it was Ukraine, for which the United States spent a certain amount of its resources.

The question arises: who is most unhappy with this doctrine? That would probably be the one the United States sees as its main potential adversary – China. It would be logical for the latter to try to reduce US capabilities by pulling its forces out of the Pacific theater and focusing more attention and resources on other conflicts; "the more the merrier." This goes to the question of who benefits from conflict in the Middle East.

Of course, there are no direct reasons to blame China for this – everything is done through second and third hands: the hands of Iran and Russia (China's proxies) and their proxies (Hamas, Yemeni Houthis, etc.). The principle of "look for who benefits" holds. It is not a fact that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the last of what fits into a "0.5 TWA" category.

It is also no secret that proxies are most effective when interests coincide. It is in China's interest to consolidate its influence along the entire length of "The Belt and Road" and to eliminate its competitor (India) in the corridor war. It is in Russia's interest to divert the West's attention and resources from helping Ukraine and raising oil prices by destabilizing the Middle East. Iran is interested in disrupting the process of concluding an agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, encircling Israel with a ring of unfriendly (or better yet, hostile) countries, and ultimately destroying the Jewish state. It is in the interests of all these states to weaken the United States and the West as a whole and to deplete their resource base.

The United States is leaning toward the so-called "1.5 theaters of war (TOW)" doctrine

Ukraine is already feeling the changes in the situation. Look at what is happening, in particular, in the US Congress. The Republicans have already demanded that Israel be given priority aid as a condition for preventing a shutdown and extending assistance to Ukraine. The Republicans' criticisms of the Biden administration can be viewed in two ways. First, it procedurally delays the process of assisting Ukraine. Secondly, the Republicans are seeking greater transparency in this process: defining what Ukraine's victory means, defining a more explicit strategy for achieving it, providing information on how many weapons were and were not delivered at Ukraine's request and how this affected the situation at the front, what is happening with sanctions, why they are not working, and how they affect the United States itself. Sounds reasonable? Logical? Absolutely.

Interestingly, Ukraine is seeking similar certainty. But it requires balanced, wise diplomacy to avoid becoming a factor in the inter-party struggle. Perhaps it would be advisable for Ukraine to answer all these questions on its own, inform delicately, and prevent the deepening of differences between Democrats and Republicans on the Ukrainian issue during the election process.

This brings us smoothly to next year's US elections. It is clear that during the election campaign, Biden will be criticized for any reason: considerable aid to Ukraine is a diversion of funds from solving domestic problems, aid does not service US foreign policy interests, etc. There is only one way to "interrupt" such criticism: Ukraine's victory.

However, both domestic and foreign experts have repeatedly pointed out that a purely military victory for Ukraine cannot ensure its security in the future. What is needed is the breakdown of the Kremlin regime as such, which is impossible without depriving it of its economic levers of power. Some experts believe that military spending and the impact of sanctions mechanisms will be felt in early 2024. If so, it seems (at the level of speculation) that the Biden administration is trying to align the time series of the military, economic victory over Russia, and the US election process to win the election as well.

The expectation that Ukraine's receipt of aircraft, a sufficient number of long-range missiles, and other weapons early next year will enable it to turn the tide and achieve victory by mid-year is misguided. Russia will not sit back and wait to be defeated. It can once again take advantage of the respite to restore its capabilities and build a robust defense system, as it did at the end of last year and the beginning of this year. For victory over Russia to be possible next year, all the weapons that Mr. Zaluzhnyi is talking about are needed now.

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