Q&A with geostrategist and Pentagon guru Edward Luttwak

Q&A with geostrategist and Pentagon guru Edward Luttwak. By David Samuels. Some excerpts from a refreshingly interesting but long article that covered many topics:

Putin, and Russian, European, and American intelligence, all misjudged the Ukraine war badly:

What they forecast for the war was: The Russians move, Zelensky escapes, the government dissolves, and the Ukrainian army left without orders doesn’t fight.

That was the estimate of both the U.S. intelligence community and of the FSB, because in Moscow, they gave the intelligence responsibility to the FSB on the fiction that Ukraine is part of Russia, instead of the SVR [Foreign Intelligence Service].

Now, the fact is that the Americans and the Russians had exactly the same estimate. OK. Exactly the same estimate. Indeed, Biden notoriously offered to evacuate Zelensky. …

The military intelligence advisers both on the Russian side and the American side all belong to the same church. This church preaches “fourth-generation warfare,” hybrid warfare, postmodern information warfare—all new stuff, praised as nonkinetic. Kinetic is the term for war fought by blockheads, just people shooting people. …
They believed this nonsense. I have gone to war games until basically I got kicked out. .. I guess you flew by helicopter, over Iraq or Afghanistan …. None of you guys have been in combat, because you have only fought people who had no artillery, no armor, no air power. And you don’t know what you’re talking about. …

The Russians believed it too. The Russians were also hybrid warfare enthusiasts in their war colleges and war games, and so on.

So now, this is absolutely not new. In August 1914, when the fighting started in Europe, on the allied side there were Belgian officers, most of whom had fought in the Congo. There were French, who had fought in Indochina, but also in Africa. And British, who had fought everywhere. On the other side were Germans who were completely virgin, had no combat experience, because the only German colonies were Togo—which was very small, and where there was almost no fighting at all—Cameroon, and Pacific Islands. In Tanganyika there was a famous multiyear war but only after 1914. So the Germans had no combat experience, whereas the allies had combat experience that completely misled them.

It took six months or so for the allies to realize that any officer who had combat experience in the colonies was a menace and should be sent back to do logistics and stuff like that, because they have no idea what it means to fight a drilled European force. Right? So this has happened before. …

People were smarter when they smoked:

Q: Why do educated people believe in obvious stupidities like the crushing power of hybrid warfare in such a herdlike way? A big reason of course is class interest—they are getting rich off it. Now there is also the role of Twitter and other networked social platforms in reinforcing the dominance of the mass mind, and punishing dissenters from the consensus from which everyone else is making money.

Q: A reason that is less well-explored, I believe, is the West’s war on nicotine. The massive brain outages we see throughout the West, and particularly in America, are in no small part due to the war on smoking, which both makes people smarter and kills them before they become senile.

Absolutely. One book I’ve never written, is “The Impact of the Arrival of Nicotine and the Scientific Revolution.” A big jump in intellectual achievement that took place among Europeans, all of whom smoked. The social history of nicotine begins with the sharpening of the brain. I stopped smoking long ago but still I miss it.

So what’s your solution?

Q: Nicotine patches. You may not like it aesthetically, and I agree, but it actually does give your brain the fix that it needs. Take away my nicotine patches, and I am immediately 5-10 IQ points stupider, which I can’t afford.

Are you on them now?

Q: Yeah. I’m permanently addicted to nicotine patches, which have the advantage of not causing a slow, painful death from lung cancer.

I have been thinking about that. An easy remedy for the stupidity of mankind is to go back to nicotine. …

How do you expect this Ukrainian war to end?

Well, how I would like it to end is with a weak and contemptible compromise.

I would like it to end with the Russians being offered the opportunity to have a properly supervised plebiscite in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, and may the best man win. Putin can turn around and tell the Russian people he won a great victory, the right of plebiscites for the poor Russians. If he loses the plebiscites, so be it.

To have a plebiscite you have to have first a negotiation, which requires an armistice. To have an armistice you have to have a cease-fire. The moment there is a cease-fire, you lift all the sanctions, so that the Russians have a reason to respect the cease-fire. Lift them all at once. And that’s how we get out.

Q: Now there is a victory party here in Washington that wants the Ukrainians to first kick out all the Russians, and then Putin will fall, and then maybe we will put the Russian generals on trial for their crimes.

I don’t want any of that stuff. I’m completely opposed to it. They need to have a dirty, contemptible compromise.

hat-tip David Archibald