Join us for this in-depth discussion as we examine the escalating intensity of the battlefield, with increased use of artillery and drones becoming the norm. We analyze Russia's territorial occupation and the challenges Ukraine and NATO face in formulating effective strategies. We examine the high casualty rate among engineers clearing minefields and question the relevance of NATO doctrine in this context.
We also discuss the transformative nature of the war in Ukraine, its implications for the international system, and the role of the United States. We criticize the reluctance of the United States to send arms to Ukraine and to provide adequate support. We emphasize the importance of the Ukrainian resistance and its impact on the balance of power in Central and Eastern Europe.
The discussion further explores the possible outcomes and threats in the Ukraine-Russia conflict, the economic impact on Ukraine, and the uncertainty of peace guarantees. We propose the idea of Ukraine joining NATO and the potential changes this could bring to the power dynamics. We also touch on the possibility of countries like Sweden, Finland, Poland, and Ukraine developing their own deterrents.
We take a critical look at the efforts of the new German government and the need for NATO to focus on direct defense, escalation, and deterrence. We discuss the US focus on the West and the Pacific and the importance of increasing its presence in Europe to deter war. We also address the cultural dependence of European countries on the U.S. for security and the need for a change in leadership.
We propose a new concept for a military force that can operate independently or as an adjunct to the US. We discuss the importance of forward defense, escalation, deterrence, and American strategic engagement in dealing with Russia. We also examine the possible redeployment of NATO air forces in Sweden to hide aircraft and complicate Russian planning.
Finally, we address China's strategic goals and the evolving U.S. posture toward China. We emphasize the importance of allies and the futility of defending those who will not defend themselves. Join us for this illuminating conversation as we explore the complexities of the current geopolitical landscape.
Okay, hello, it's Jacek Bartoszak speaking. Welcome to Strategy and Future with me is Dr. Philip Carber from the Potomac Foundation and Albert Świedziński from Strategy and Hello, gentlemen. Okay, another episode between three of us. Formerly, Philip Carber was talking to Albert about the strategy at NATO Eastern Front with all details. And we discussed between three of us that we will be continuing this subject. But before we jump into the strategic part, I really want to start with the question that is really, you know, sort of a burning, burning my mind recently.
What's the problem with the breaching operation of the Ukrainian arm? Is it so that the NATO standards that were trained onto the Ukrainian soldiers is obsolete, maybe because of the detection levels that are much higher than during the, you know, the late Cold War, and the way that the NATO troops were trained, the situation awareness of the Russian army is much better. So, you know, you're detected, and you have like two minutes as opposed to 10 minutes, maybe 25 years ago to leave the place. So what is your opinion? What is your opinion? There is a lot of complaining in the US press about Ukraine is not doing breaching properly.
You know, their accusations even, while here in Poland, we sort of tend to think that maybe it's sort of the NATO doctrine is rather obsolete. And the battlefield has changed in that respect. What do you think? Well, first of all, the intensity of the battlefield has changed dramatically. When I did the report for General McMaster on lessons learned from Ukraine in 2015, I argued that we'd been shocked when we realized it in the Yom Kippur War, artillery usage had gone up by a factor of three over our planning factors. I now I would say it's at least a factor of five.
When I wrote about drones, people kind of laughed, oh, the Carver's dreaming me about masses of drones flying around. Well, you know, I said, but they're here. I'm not an astronomist. But I don't think we should be as shocked at what's happening. If people had been paying attention to what has happened, you know, nobody comes paying attention to Ukraine. For the first seven or eight years, all of a sudden, the war now everybody's an expert, right? And most of them have never even been there or been to the front.
I think the first issue, as it reminds me of the conversation Eisenhower had with General Zhukov when they met, I think it was in Berlin or outside of Potsdam. And the first question Eisenhower asked Zhukov was, how do you cross minefields? And Zhukov's response, famous response was as if they weren't there. Now, in essence, he was willing to commit. And his argument is he was willing to take the hits and people and equipment in order to get through them fast. Because that in the end actually saved equipment and lives. But it seems barbaric. So I think one of the issues is, well, let's start with the fundamental issue.
Russia has been occupying that territory now, in anticipation of a break for eight months at least, going on nine. They have prepared defenses. They've been sitting there with nothing else to do other than dig trenches and put in minefields. So it is a massively developed defense in depth. Not like the old German one line and two lines. I mean, you got three and four lines. Now, whether they will be able to handle the retrograde under pressure once the first line goes or not, and it's taken some losses, that's another story. But up to now, they've been sitting there. The second issue goes to the Eisenhower-Zhukov plan.
Ukraine doesn't want to sacrifice 10,000 guys automatically going through, say, charge and go running ahead. I was talking to General Clark the other day, my colleague, former SACEUR, and long time friend. We've done the first reports on Ukraine for the Congress in 2014 together. And he was saying, and he was saying, you know, Ukrainians ought to get a whole bunch of vehicles and just have some kind of rudimentary way to control the steering and just have the vehicles driving cross fields and they blow up. Big deal. You at least know the track as far as that one got is now cleared and you have the next vehicle go around until it gets blown up.
In other words, literally doing a mass effect, which is an interesting concept. I haven't convinced anybody to try it yet, but it is an interesting idea. But it gets to the point of the loss rate. So if you're going to take it the other side and you're going to try and do it carefully, then you're exposing your engineers to by hand crawling through these things. If they're doing it at night, it's even more challenging. And to try to get it uncovered, and then they get picked up and they get hit with indirect fire. That's the second issue. I'll come back to the NATO thing in a second.
The third challenge is I've interviewed members of the general staff, some who I've known a long time, and been in operations with them. And a number of times when they finally get an opening, now their mechanized equipment for the exploitation is sitting back in hide. So now you got to go, hey, diddle diddle, let's get going. So people start pulling out, driving down the road. And the next thing is you get hit by some long range Ka-52 missiles. And then you have some ZSU-25s overhead, even if just dropping iron bombs from 20,000 feet, but they're just shooting or scraping the column. And all of a sudden, that comes to a screeching halt.
You have a couple of vehicles lost. And that even small tactical exploitation gets stopped in its tracks. So now let's talk about NATO. I interviewed some Ukrainians who had been through the NATO training on breaching. And they went through and they were complaining, and the breacher said, well, just find another area that has less density, because they can't mine everywhere. That comes from 20 years of NATO experience in low intensity conflict, very slow tactical operational cycle against people who don't have high tech or drones or an air force. Yeah, or mass artillery. And mass artillery.
And so I think the NATO training has been useful at a low level, but when you start getting up to tactical operational issues, this environment is so radically different than what anybody in NATO has experienced. But it's very dangerous or very problematic to draw lessons from that. If anything, NATO ought to be sending teams there learning. So now the question is, what do you do about it? Well, let's take them in reverse. How dare critics, particularly from the United States, because we're one of the biggest drags on this, critique it when we are denying them aircraft to at least offset the aerial intervention on the battlefield.
The United States Army would never, ever, ever try to launch an offensive operation in which the other side had air superiority, which we didn't have air superiority, let alone the other side having it. You can't find an operation that we've done that in, except maybe Bhutan. It's crazy. And it's so unfair, so easy. And again, most of these criticisms are from people who've never been there. Or there are some retired Lieutenant Colonel who's CNN's expert and again, doesn't know the situation in Ukraine. With respect to the drones, we have to develop a mechanism to counter the drone.
What is the drone's major vulnerability? Well, one of it is the linkage between it and its parent home. And so electronic warfare is a way of breaking that linkage. But modern designers have now have the drones essentially operating on semi-autonomously, or at least generally with sporadic intervention, so that the danger or their vulnerability to electronic warfare interruption of the command signals is much, much less. What's the other vulnerability? Well, their major source of target acquisition is a video, Jane, right? A camera. What works against cameras? Well, in the 1970s, when I was on the Army Science Board, we had developed, explored and looked at counter optics lasers.
So you can have a laser, low level laser, and it is scanning. And if it hits an optical train, that is like a scope, it goes through the first lens, the second lens, and that gives you a refraction back. And that will tell you that somebody is looking at you with an optical device. You can look at windows, glasses, anything, but it has to be an optical train to get that effect. They got so they could scan a 30 degree arc very quickly and then pick out where the opposing optical trains were. Then it was no big deal to either automatically or manually go back and zap them.
What I mean is that when we increase the laser x-fold and it creates heat between the two lenses and it pops the lens. Yes, if a human being was looking at it through a scope, it's not very attractive either. We actually had one mounted on a Bradley and a M1 and brought them into Desert Storm. But the decision was made by the Bush administration that it was inhumane and we didn't need it. So they were pulled out and the development of them, in my view, I may be wrong, it may be some hyper classified program, but my impression is the whole development of that basically kind of disappeared because of lack of interest.
There's no reason why you couldn't apply that to something that's looking up rather than looking at a distance. Look up vertically rather than horizontally. Yes, back then it required substantial power, but you have plenty of power on an M1 tank and probably most armored vehicles today. I think we need to get creative technologically in taking advantage of that vulnerability of the drones. Is that going to solve the. . . This war may be going on in 10 years from now. So we'll find that is actually an answer, but that's obviously not the short term answer. A particular smoke on ours for the Ukrainians.
So smoking your own positions with particular smoke that reduces the visibility is a smart play and there's a number of them. I think the solution is to work. . . The only viable solution is to work backwards. That is, you start in the rear with attack them and you drop the Kursk straight bridge and you start dropping every bridge that leads to the front. Yeah, of course. The perfect remedy would be to do both. Operate in depth, in deep strike, trying to weaken their logistical. . . But I'm talking about moving. . . It starts in the back, but you keep moving up to the bridges 10 kilometers behind.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And bridging operations at the same time with heavy intensity and professionally executed. I would like to see somebody try General Clark's thing where you take 30 or 40 trash vehicles. Some of them are farm tractors, some of them are just used cars and have them run down roads. Imagine 30 vehicles running across the field. Boom, boom, boom, boom. Some of them are going to make it and that's going to be a free path. I think it requires some thinking outside the box. Yeah, but at the same time, the Ukrainians didn't reach even the third line of defense and the Russians have reserves and artillery as well.
Again, if you beat up the ability to move forces laterally, so as you get a penetration, then it's much harder for them to throw in reserves and move them from one sector to another. So it's a synergistic effect. I think two things. One is people say, oh, well, it takes so long to train pilots. There are a lot of pilots and ground crews with F-16 experience all over Europe. The Ukrainians have an international legion. Why can't you have a flying tiger group? I mean, a half dozen F-16s would be enough to intercept enough times when it's most critically important. But anyway, I'll get off my soapbox.
Isn't this still a problem of air defense as well for the Russians? They still have capable systems, right? And sufficient numbers. Well, it is. If they're flying their air over the battlefield, then generally the Russians will have time-space separation for their air defense. It doesn't always work. They shoot their own planes down. But generally, so they say, okay, in this time period, in this sector, you do not have weapons free. You have to then on-site verify and use IFF to make sure that you're targeting. When you have weapons free, then you can just basically engage anything in the sky.
Just having F-16s flying around and having a standoff-aimed missiles, the Russian planes are going to do what everybody else is going to do. They're going to drop their bombs and run home to mama because they don't want to get in a dogfight against the superior fighter. So it's not like you have to hang around that area a long time. So in a way, this isn't something new because right now it seems that defense has, you know, there is a substantial advantage to defenders, right? When it comes to jamming, when it comes to, you know, properly prepared defensive line. And the way to break it is air power, right? The superiority in the air. Well, so.
. . The question is how to. . . It's air, firepower, and enough mass at the point of, at the sphere, to the point of penetration to be able to take your losses and get them done. But to be able to concentrate to mass, you need, you know, you cannot be attributed constantly, right, by artillery. So you need to. . . Yeah. So again, I'm not proposing this, but if you took, you know, a brigade has, say, 120 armored vehicles.
And if you take a full brigade and your typical Ukrainian fields are a kilometer, two kilometers wide by two kilometers to the next, to the next wind, tree line, and usually that's where the dug in guys are. Also, you take 120 armored vehicles across the Dune. Okay, you may lose half of them, but you get to the tree line. So this also begs for remote controlled ground vehicles, right? Sorry for. . . Exactly. That's what Clark was talking about. You don't even have to have armored vehicles. Sophisticated, yeah. Just send them through, right? Right.
I mean, a smart player would take a farm tractor, put a, what looks like a plastic M1 or Bradley on top of it. What do they know? Yeah, exactly. You know, just moving towards the strategy. So at the moment. . . But so, yes, a point I'd like to address to you, because I apologize, I've been talking too much. But let's say the Ukrainians are not able to get a serious breakthrough before now in November. So what's going to happen? What do you think? You're the European, you're the strategist. Okay.
So we have a hunch here in Warsaw that the Western countries, especially in Europe, will try to push the Ukrainians for some truce. I mean, I'm sorry for interrupting, but I. . . Oh, no, it's good. Albert, join the fun. Jump in the pool. I'm going to be honest with you. I think the current out. . . I mean, you know, you've heard Secretary Blinken state that Russia has already lost. And this could be read as, you know, just diplomatic talk, but I don't think it necessarily is. I think in many ways, the current outcome, like the current outcome of the war is satisfactory for the United States in many ways.
I understand that there is a significant risk that Russia will regroup and repeat its offensive or, you know, its belligerent behavior. We call it reloading. Yeah, it will double up and go again. But in many ways, you know, the U. S. And this is another thing. And again, I'm not speaking here as a Polish person. I'm trying to look from the U. S. perspective. And I think and I hate to say it because everybody in Poland and Ukraine criticizes how slow the rate of delivery of, you know, different equipment was and how constrained the U. S. was in its actions. But this criticism is valid if you assume that U.
S. war goals, war plans or goals really for the desired outcome is the same as Ukrainian outcome. And it's not. The risk associated with really breaking Russia. It may not be. I don't think you can say it's not. It may not be. There's a working hypothesis. And in this sense, in this sense, you know, the how U. S. managed the escalation with, you know, those small steps, incremental testing of very absurdly, you know, high Russian red lines, which, you know, were clearly fake. Well, success in a way, if you define success as not being entrapped directly in the conflict, minimizing the risk of use of nuclear weapons.
Again, I think that's a very unlikely. But Americans, I can see how they they look at that risk differently. You know, the White House, to be precise. Yeah. At the same time, you know, we think that it has been a masterpiece of strategy on part of the United States in a way. You know, there is a symmetrical war between peers close to the heartland of Russia. You know, a nuclear power in its direct vicinity. Which Russia saw as a, you know, rollback, not even a containment strategy, a rollback strategy in its former Soviet Republic. With almost direct engagement of the United States in the conflict, with artillery and everything.
I think it didn't happen during the Cold War. That's why this is the most transformative war since the Second World War in terms of the how the international system operates. Because, you know, with the end of the Second World War, there were red lines clear where Soviet troops stationed. There was a red line. You know, there was no rollback. What do you think? Well, first of all, I don't think that whole, unfortunately, most of our Cold War history is written, people know, is from memoirs or from histories that were done reasonably contemporaneously with the event.
If you go through the classified material on those, you'll find in many of those cases, a depth that gives you a completely different story. I did that, I ran the four nation nuclear history project, the data collection for that project was France, Germany, US and Britain. And each country declassified a lot of material. And I ran the database that was all volunteer to put all that together. And I came up with like 20 crises that starting with the 48 Berlin crisis up to the 58 Berlin crisis, 61. Just take those three, for example.
And the public, popular thing, what's going on is completely, would change dramatically if that material had been, was released and systematically gone through, I would argue. So, I think there was a lot more of that than, it wasn't nearly as clean as people would like to say. Including during the Berlin crisis, running our cavalry units up to Berlin. At the same time in the fall of 61, we introduced 500 Davy Crockett in the cavalry units. So, the Russians all of a sudden are thinking every convoy with one of the cavalry units and jeeps headed to Berlin with canvas on the back may have a Davy Crockett and its launcher.
There was, I actually had- A nuclear device. Small, small, small. It was a very tiny nuclear device. It's a 20 tons. It's sort of explosive equivalent of the two planes hitting the world prison. But by the way, we had access to, when I was doing this, the JCS reports to the National Security Council, the daily sit rep, and the Russian general staff reports to the Politburo. And it was fascinating to look at the day by day activity. Who saw what, who was doing what over a nine month period. And that was not a paragon of stability. So, but let's go back for a second.
Because I don't want to, like Albert, I'm trying to take my national hat off. I'm not trying to be defensive, but I'm just trying to give a little bit different perspective. The US hesitancy, sending weapons, was set in motion by Obama. Clark and I made the argument for TOTU and for Javelin missiles, anti-missiles, in a report to Congress on the 27th of July, 2014. It took four or five years later for Javelin to actually show up. And even then, we had all kinds of restrictions on it.
So we have been, a great story when Poroshenko comes to Washington in the fall of 2014, and he wanted to give a lecture, a speech to the US Congress. But the Republicans who were trying to get a bill through had said no way, and they were adamant. So the White House tells Poroshenko, the White House did not want him doing a national televised speech. But they used the Republicans as an excuse, oh well, if it was us, we'd be okay with it, but the Republicans are stopping us, so you can't do it. Well, about three days before he arrives in the US, the Republicans said it's okay. So Poroshenko ends up having a speech.
So Obama meets with him before the speech, and he has some statements in that speech which were highly critical. And he's desperately asking for counter-battery radar. So Obama says, okay, we'll give you some counter-battery radar. He goes, he gives a speech, goes home. Counter-battery radar arrives, and it wasn't the counter-artillery radar, it was counter-mortar. We didn't include the software, and we didn't include the cables. And the conclusion was it would take the Ukrainians, if they figured it out, six, nine months before they even get that working. Within 60 days, they had it at the front working, and they were able to actually use that radar for counter-drone detection, something we'd never done.
Oh, and they extended the range by almost twice. But the point is that we have played this game over and over and over. I don't like it. I think it's disingenuous. Now, and we don't, because it does not want to, you know, it's easy to say, oh, well, you guys just don't want to, you're scared of nuclear weapons. Well, the United States is the only country in NATO with nuclear weapons that would be used. I mean, yes, the French and the British have nuclear weapons for their national deterrence.
But when people talk about, oh, the Russians might use a nuclear weapon, they don't turn and say, oh, where's the force of the problem? Because they're non-existent. Yeah, it's only the United States. It's the United States. We're the only country in the alliance that is willing to put our cities at risk to try to save allied cities. Nobody else is doing that. Yeah. I mean, that's at least the formal, you know, understanding and the message that the United States is sending. Not all of allies believe in this. That's why the goal decided to- Yeah, it's like, yes, it's like it's channeling this inner shadow, which I agree. More power to them.
It's the French warheads. I don't care where they put them. Let's go. This is a valid discussion these days at NATO Eastern Front, because we sort of tend to believe in the United States nuclear deterrence to hold, while we completely disagree with Macron's arguments that sometimes are voiced here, that the French will deliver and we're going to have European strategic autonomy. And because the French are trying to sell this story, you know, to the people here around.
For at least the fifth time, the European- So every time the French raise it, I'm not anti-French, by the way, but ask them, say, whatever happened to the European Union joint brigade, the French-German brigade? Because that was the first, that was a test case. It was finally disbanded after a miserable 30 years. Of course. So, you know, if they could- Believe me, there's nobody in the United States who wouldn't applaud the Europeans doing more. Help yourself, guys. The war in Ukraine proved that nuclear deterrence is held by the US. That's obvious. And what surprised many, but not us, in the strategy in the future, that conventional deterrence is also held because of the United States.
And that was a surprise to many across the European continent. And it turned out that there are no capabilities in the continental countries of the Western Europe. So keep that thought. And now let's go back to your comment earlier, that there are likely a growing number in Europe who would argue that to have a ceasefire in place or something like that. Yeah, yeah. Listen to what the Pope is saying. Yeah, of course. Oh, the South Africans. If we do that, then I don't want to ever hear the word deterrence in NATO discussions, because you essentially have legitimized a strategy of incremental attack. Of course.
But Philip, don't you think that what was agreed in Vilnius at recent NATO summit was in line with what you just accused, theoretically accused NATO of? That Ukraine was denied the access, quick access to NATO and even the future plans of access to NATO, which was basically the objective of Putin to start the war, to make sure that Ukraine is not part of the West. And now the West is saying that you're not going to be part of that, guys.
And I will tell you, however this war ends up, and I'm speaking now as an American, we are going to be really sorry of the way we've handled it, because there are going to be millions of Ukrainians who said, we made the decision to go with the West. Exactly. We got turned down in the EU. We made the decision to try and join NATO, and we were turned down. Exactly. And I firmly believe that people say, you know, oh, it's nice of you to support Ukraine and so forth. And I go, well, I'm not doing this out of the goodness of my heart, and I'm not Ukrainian.
But having those 190 days at the front was a life experience to see people, free people, rising and trying to defend themselves against very, very, very bad odds. And secondly, I firmly believe that Ukraine is the center of gravity for NATO. Not only the southern region, but the stability of the center. And if we let that go, we have no one to blame but ourselves. But I don't ever want to hear the word deterrence. Exactly. Let's follow in that vein, Philip. So, you know, what happens, you know, the reality of life is that if you do not adapt, you die, yeah, you perish.
So how about NATO? It's a fact that Ukrainian military is creating a balance, it's a factor in the balance of power in Central and Eastern Europe. You can't deny that. Until, you know. . . So NATO has to. . . I don't deny that, but wait a sec, that's not a given. Okay, you go all the way back to Thucydides. Democracies do not do well in long wars. They either lose the war or they lose the democracy or they lose both. There is a finite time that Ukraine can fight with the kinds of limited help it's getting at some point. Exactly. So fear of implosion is hanging in the air.
I mean, when you spoke of, you know, how much of a shame it would be if Ukrainians would have fallen, I mean, you know, 20th century is riddled with histories of peoples who have risen against oppression and the Hungarians, the Czechoslovaks, and fallen badly. And, well, I have two, actually, I have this conversation, my question could go to two parts. Maybe I will start with the one that Jacek alluded to, because let's assume, you know, this offensive Russian breakthrough operations are still ongoing. They might still succeed. They might go on to autumn, late autumn. But assuming that it doesn't succeed, it's a. . . I'll fetch myself some water.
Really? So the question is, what happens in three places? In Ukraine, in Russia, for example, what are the threats to Ukraine? Not just militarily, but in societal terms, for one. In Russia, what is Russia's reaction? Russia might not want to terminate the war, or it might. That's the question. And in the West, including the United States. Maybe let's start with Ukraine. Are you asking me? Yes, sir. So what happens if the offensive fails in Ukraine, in societal terms? The Russian or the Ukrainian offensive? Or both? The Ukrainian offensive, the current Ukrainian offensive. So we go into the winter, and Russia is taking larger intakes, and they're changing their draft laws and so forth.
Their loss rate is declining because they're not on offensive operations, and they're basically in prepared positions. They will get enough ammunition eventually for basic 122, 152 and MLRS. From North Korea, China can pass it along. So they're not going to run out of ammunition. They have raw materials, they have money. T-62 tanks with 115mm high velocity, and stabilized around, it's pretty lethal. Okay. Maybe it won't go through a leopard on the front, but I'm not sure about the side. The longer it goes on, I think you will see the Russians reconstituting the forces that got decimated. It won't necessarily be new technology, but it's still going to be, they themselves are learning.
And I think you talk to Ukrainian officers in the field, and do they make a lot of stupid mistakes? Yes. Are they making less? Yes. Are they more aware of the mistakes that they're making, even if they don't know how to quite handle it? And they think so. It was interesting, and I still don't understand the whole Wagner opera. But he showed a vulnerability of Putin, and then the whole thing kind of got, you know, Washington's a rug. It took a turn nobody could predict.
I think if the Ukrainians start, have a successful breakthrough, if they are able to basically isolate Crimea, logistically, you'll never stop it completely, there's too many small ships and stuff. But 90% of the heavy equipment company, and they make the air bases and the port facilities essentially unusable, which is not a big target number, by the way. It's less than 100. And they're making progress in the southern offensive. I think there's going to be a difficulty in Moscow. If it's just stalled out, I think they are going to play the waiting game. But if I could interject, Kiev is right now 25 million people, maybe, largely reduced to pastoral state.
Apparently, well, that's a rumor, but I've heard a rumor that Kiev was days from being evacuated in December due to problems with electricity supply. The Russians have been targeting the power generation like crazy. What's interesting is they almost succeeded, and then they, I don't know why, they shift the target a little bit like the Germans in the Battle of Britain. They were very, very close. And it isn't just the housing and the power, it's the power for the railroads, which are 50% have electric locomotives on. And when fuel is tight, you don't have the electrical system, all of a sudden, the whole logistics system starts breaking down. It's a self-fulfilling spiral.
But then the question is, are you concerned in any way that there could be collapse, not just militarily for Ukraine, but in societal political terms? Should the offensive take a really bad turn? Well, so I think there's a difference between the offensive not succeeding and it taking a very bad turn. To me, a bad turn is you go in and all of a sudden you have 20,000 guys surrounded, you know, it's Deng Xianfu. Well, you know, the Ukrainians had Ilya Vyskin, and that was only a couple thousand, but it was still a deep, deep scar on Ukrainian morale. Well, I'll give you one, throw in more meat for the grinder.
By rough calculation, Ukraine lost an entire year of GDP last year. It's likely that the same level of costs will now happen in 2023 if they're not successful. Maybe a little more, maybe a little less, but so that's two years of GDP. The most optimistic economic projection for growing out of disaster would be a 10% growth. So you're talking about 20 years worth of just to get back where you were. Where's that money coming from? And how investable is going to be Ukraine if the conflict can really be resolved? And how investable is going to be Ukraine if the conflict can reignite anytime, right? And there is a global downturn economically.
And even more importantly, Phil, imagine you're a Ukrainian commander or a politician, commander in chief of the Ukrainian army. You know, the Ukrainians will not accept the truth without any guarantees. Well, and what I would argue. And what guarantees can you give them? I want to see the guarantee, okay? Because I don't believe it. Anything that would be given. So, I mean, you'd have to be a complete idiot to have signed on to Budapest agreement and then everybody pretends that it didn't mean what they convinced you it meant, even though the words were parsed, right? Guarantees. Exactly.
If they're not willing to give you aircraft and attack us, for Christ's sake, to only fly and hit targets in your country, what kind of guarantees you have? Exactly. And how long was it? It lasts for one American administration, so in two years, all of a sudden, you get some idiot. And again, I'll let you pick which idiot, because we've had a number of them in successive rows. It's crazy. It's crazy. So what do you think? So what kind of guarantees can be given to Ukraine to make sure that there is some sort of a truth? What sort of balance of power can be shaped? So I would reverse the argument.
You know, the argument, oh, we can't have a country that's in conflict with NATO, which is the ultimate hypocrisy, right? Germany was occupied, right? Of course. With five Russian armies, okay? And nuclear weapons. If that's not a conflict, I don't know what is. I fully agree, especially as a Pole. I fully agree in practical terms, it's a NATO country already. But now reverse. So think about it. If, as long as the war is going on, Ukraine can't join NATO, that gives Putin an incentive to keep the war going. If you turn around and put Ukraine in now, all of a sudden, his whole set of calculations are become very, very suspect in terms of what he's likely to achieve.
I agree. So, and then this is important to ask, who's blocking it? And what could be done about it? That's the thing that brings us to your paper, really. And Klausowitz and three centers of gravity, including the very foundational one, which was ideological cohesiveness. And united common threat perception. And I think this is the difference that you want to escape today. No, let's call it like it is. Okay. You have one country, and Jacek, when he was going through the list of Cold War efforts, a country that was the first country, as a country with a leadership, to try and oppose and break out of the Warsaw Pact. I'm hungry. Heroic exercise and effort.
I mean, yeah, you could talk about the Czechs, but the Czechs didn't fight. And the Poles ended up basically figuring out a way to keep from fighting. But anyway, they actually fought. I guess, yeah, they got their ass kicked, but they fought. And now you have this guy who is Putin ally. He has said that the United States is in his top three enemy list. He has also lusted after some Ukrainian, which the Russians have promised that if they win in Ukraine, they will give him the Ukrainian provinces where there are some Hungarian overlap, you know, historical. Okay. So this then is not an alliance of three democratic countries.
It's an alliance with one member that is rogue. So you say, okay, what do we do about it? Well, we can't figure out a way. We have to end the unimunity. No problem, because you don't have to have unimunity to dissolve the alliance. So on Monday morning, you dissolve NATO. On Tuesday morning, you reestablish NATO. All the same facilities. One guy got left out in the recombination. But it's not just about the Hungarians. It's about the Germans. It's about the French. It's about the Dutch, the Belgians, the Spaniards. The threat protection is different to Cold War. Yeah, in Cold War, United States was capable of uniting them, of keeping them in one herd.
And Russia capable of invading. Yes, and the Russian threat was palpable. So they were scared. So they were, you know, under your umbrella. And this time around, they don't, they're not afraid of Russia. They wanted Russia to be part of the economic system of Europe. Well, that was then, this is now. We can argue that maybe taking care of Hungary is not enough. But I guarantee you, a number of people are going to have second thoughts. When Hungary is identified as a rogue member of the alliance. They do not deserve to be part of NATO exercises. They do not get NATO intelligence. We don't want anything from them. They should not get EU loans.
They want to play this game. You want to be blown down? Go ahead. Go ahead. All right. Yeah, but they don't matter. I mean, this is a tiny country with no relevance. They don't matter. Okay. I think other tiny countries who you mentioned, who are less than enthused, can be convinced. If in fact, rogues can be dealt with. And if they can't, then we might as well start throwing the show. You know, coming back to the question of how to end the war in a way to keep the cohesion of NATO alliance, to make NATO adapt to the new situation, new balance of power with the Ukrainian army being a factor in the balance of power.
Both Ukrainians and Poles and Swedes and Baltic states creating containment barriers. Against the Russian influence and European peninsula. And the United States as an offshore cornerstone balancer of this containment alliance. So I think, so now we're sort of. . . But we need to keep Ukrainians in this and how to make NATO adapt to it. So the way you end the war is you win it. And you win it by driving or having the Russians finally pull their forces out. And that is doable if we would release, stop being so silly about some of these restrictions.
And it's amazing how many restrictions we had that we've now allowed to go in, right? I mean, a year ago, I said, oh, I really doubt whether it's going to be Patriot in Ukraine. Well, we've certainly got two batteries. So it's just, it's always too slow and too late. So we need to be decisive and give them some decisive assets. You know, attack them, as we say in the paper. If the Ukrainians agree to not deploy the attack, north of the 40th parallel and east of the Dnieper, they can cover all the targets that they need to cover, including the Kerch Bridge and not endanger Russian territory. So give it to them and keep it the same.
By the way, they've operated with similar restriction and been absolutely clear about it when using high marks. So this isn't like it's an unproven concept. But anyway, how do you end the war? You win it. I don't put the survival of the NATO alliance as higher than that. The survival of a cadaver, you know, it's like the survival of the League of Nations. There was a point it was very useful and there was a point where it basically became an artifact, its own artifact. I'm not in favor of it, I'm not anti-NATO. But and they say, well, what could replace it? And you don't have to end NATO to have some alternatives developed.
For example, you can have the Intermarium Alliance. Finland, Sweden, Baltic States, Poland, Ukraine. You don't have to be all members of NATO. Maybe a couple of us will want to join. I'll bet you most of those countries would come in. What good does that do? Well, you can do joint planning, you can do joint. Sweden was one of the few countries that was a few weeks away from having a nuclear weapon. Yeah. Ukraine had several thousand and its scientists worked on stuff. Between those three countries, there is enough fiscal material and enough scientific. So you guys want to develop your own deterrent? You could. My only advice would be don't do what Saddam Hussein said.
Don't brag about it until you got it. Build them, build lots of them, put them in the tunnels in the Carpathians. When you decided you want to unveil it, then you bring them out. It sounds like a lesson learned from war in Ukraine and the failure of the Budapest Memorandum. And basically the failure of the deterrence. The war broke out because of the failure of the deterrence. Especially if Russia is able to achieve some of its goals, because then you have a nuclear state losing conventional war and the war is over. Nuclear state losing conventional war and then backstabbing it with nukes, right? This kills the counter-proliferation system. Well, it should.
But in reality, and I've talked to a number of countries, leaders, they go, NPT? Yeah, right. All they have to do is point to the Budapest agreement. Russia, you know, Article 6 of the NPT, a nuclear power will not attack a non-nuclear state who's a member. So what good is that paper? Nothing. So I'm not arguing for the United Arab Emirates, I'm not arguing for a nuclear United Arab Emirates. I'm just saying, I think it's time to be much more direct in terms of the alliance. And say, you know, there is a, this is a crisis. It is one of the most severe crisis the alliance has faced since, it has shown itself adaptable.
Yes, it's hard to get 30 some guys to all agree. It was hard to get 13 to agree. Well, okay, it's like herding cats. But you have to act decisive. And there are a number of ways to act decisive in terms of both American leadership, which we have not shown, particularly by having all these weapons restrictions, by the intramural states getting together. You know, it's interesting. You go around the United States, particularly states that are, can go either way in elections. So they can go Republican, you're going to go Democrat now. Have you asked the congressmen and senators in those states whether they, whether supporting Poland, or a given Baltic state, or Sweden is popular in there? Universally it's not.
Why? Because it was in the old industrial belt where immigrants have come. So it is popular, by the way, in the United States in critical areas. Yeah, you know, speaking of this, you know, the intermarium concept, you know, Poland has basically devised this concept a long time ago. Then the Commonwealth was the sort of epitome of this concept as a system of balance of power in Europe. Now, Polish society is basically supporting this concept. Polish government is pursuing this concept. The problem is whether the United States will endorse it, because in order to endorse it and make it material, you know, materialize, and this for this to materialize, we need to have proper guarantees for Ukraine.
And the Poles might be willing to provide guarantees or military alliance with mutual assurances if there is an offshore balancer who has the skin in the game as well. And I see no reason why the United States will do it. Yeah, and also the US would have to do it. Nuclear, at least with the nuclear deterrence, maybe not conventional, but nuclear at least. At least. And then the US. . . We need a proper balance of power. And then the US would also have to divorce its long-held belief that when you build something in Europe, you build it with the Germans. Yeah, that's another thing.
Yeah, I mean, we appreciate that this is what you feel judging from your face now, but basically this is what the Germans are thinking, and that's how they message us. Yeah, right. I think that to the extent that existed, it went away with the German commitment to its economic partnership with Russia. And with China, and with China, you know. You know, everybody's late to the party on China. So, but I don't think their relationship with China, which is still kind of budding, had nearly impacted their relationship with Russia, and their reluctance to get rid of it. Now, they have, you know, and they have a new German government. And I've talked to many of them.
I know some of their most senior general officers, and some of their politicians from the party in power. I think that they are trying. They got a long way to go. But I see positive trend, not negative in Germany. Now, let's go back for a second. A couple of years ago, the issue came up of deploying land-based nuclear weapons back in Europe, land-based missiles in Europe that were dual capable. The Europeans turned it down. Yeah, I know. I know.
So, but that issue could be raised again, particularly if important members of the But what bothers me is we're talking about all these, jumping from big issues, you know, Ukraine's survival in the future of the alliance, down to, you know, anti-drone technology. I think it's worth laying out. NATO does not have a military strategy. NATO has a military strategy. I think it's worth laying out. NATO does not have a military strategy right now. In any meaningful sense, do we have lofty statements? Not yet. Yes. And some of them, particularly the ones about deterrence, conventional deterrence in particular, and assurance have been somewhat indicted. So, I think the key is to push for the development of a coherent military strategy.
Sackhurst argued that the center of gravity is moving east. He didn't define it. He didn't go more yet. But I think that that is the beginning issue. Okay, where is that center of gravity? Where are those centers of gravity? What do they need? How do they be supported? And then you basically are going to come up with three issues. Direct defense, having a covering force that is sufficient so that people can't make a quick grab, having a main defense force, if you have a reasonable covering force, then some of that can be, a good part of it can be reasonably short-term reserves and an active force. And then an option for offshore reinforcement and territorials as a backup. Third issue.
Okay, that's direct defense. Then you have escalation. NATO is not an entry, unlike the Cold War, where we were saying we were going to use nuclear weapons to offset conventional threat. Now we're in the reverse. We don't want to see them used. So, it's a lot easier to deter, to deter nuclear uses, but to have, as long as you have a capability. Now, if you are outmatched 2,000 Russians, just 300 are bombs, and with reloads, there's a hell of a lot more on the Russian side.
That's not much of a, but if you have a roughly comparable, I'm not saying it has to be quantitatively equal, but a reasonably comparable tactical and theater nuclear capability, you have an enormous incentive to the other guy not to start playing that game. There are two problems here, I suppose. One is at which point in time the US will do its homework when it comes to effective deterrence, you know, during the Cold War. But the other question is, again, whether the difference in stakes that is currently, you know, that exists between now and the Cold War will mean that the US will be willing to do this, you know? So, I kind of disagree with your premise.
I don't think that I understood it. Mm-hmm. Which one? Your beginning premise. So, my point number one is that the US, especially when it comes to nuclear strategy and deterrence, this branch of knowledge sort of attrited over, you know, the end of history. That's point number one. And you could see how difficult it is to effect change from outside. Like, South Koreans had to threaten nuclear weapons and entrapment at the same time for the US to do something. Albert, let me maybe explain what Phil is asking, I guess.
It's just, you know, given the evolution of the battlefield, the long ranges and, you know, the importance of C2, C4 and, you know, all those enablers that the United States is providing. And also, the relative weakness of Russia compared to China, for example, and the focus on the West and Pacific. I think the United States might think that it's good enough to create conditions for shaping the anti-hegemonic coalition, anti-Russian coalition in Central Eastern Europe without the United States boots on the ground. Well, wait a second. Wait a second. There are United States boots on the ground. All right? And they happen to be, by the way, in Poland.
OK, so it's not two corps like we had in Germany, but it is beginning. The trend is going in the right way. And what you really want from America is not more, you know, yanks on the ground. What you want is American air power, right? This is how you think, because you are thinking about winning the war and we are thinking about deterring the war. I don't. So let me be really clear. I don't believe in the word deterrence, at least in terms of non-nuclear. Because I don't think it works. But listen. Deterrence is an inhibition in the opponent's mind. It is not a material. You can count up all the troops you want.
The material is not what's. . . You can have a crazy guy who's not intimidated by anything. But if you had 300,000 troops in Western Germany with families, wives and kids, you know, the stakes were equalized, at least to the maximal possible extent. So the Soviets could really think that Bonn is worth New York, exchange with New York, in a way, because the Americans will be dying on minute one. And this is because of the rotation, you know, the small size of the US Army these days.
So air power, you know, the long range fires that the United States can these days, you know, influencing the situation on the battlefield because of all those space, C4, you know, all those sophisticated assets. You simply do not need to bring the numbers, especially in Europe, to really change the balance of power in favor of the Atlantic community, because it will be Poles and Ukrainians and, you know, Swedes. And that's good enough because Russia is weak, as opposed to Soviet Union that was on the verge of, you know, controlling Eurasia and Europe. So, you know, this is what we are afraid of.
I mean, we are happy that they are not that strong, but it still does not deter the war. Right. And that's why we would like to see the United States in numbers to deter war. And that while you don't want it because you're focused on Western Pacific and because you have the new philosophy of using Europe. And that will only work up until the moment when the Eastern Europeans take stock of US credibility and decide that they cannot trust it. Right. And then they look to accommodate or turn to West. So you can talk yourself into it. OK. But I think I really strongly disagree with the whole logic. OK.
When I said NATO needs a strategy and I started out with forward defense. OK. And then you have counter escalation and then you have the. OK. OK. So let's do it. So you don't you don't have to have 50 percent of the forward defense being American troops. I understand. So we're not. OK. Let me realize the reality is wake up. You're not going to get it because we have other. How many Polish troops are defending Eastern Asia? OK. You see, I understand. So let's talk about defense. So why there is no sufficient numbers of NATO troops in Baltic states right on the borders where it's a defensible terrain. Why? I've been arguing. I know. I know.
I've witnessed it myself when you were trying to convince General Hodges and the officials. I saw it with my own eyes back in 2015 and 16. I saw it's true. Why did it happen? Well, because at that point, there wasn't the sense of threat that there is today. OK. So Hodges should have gotten a four star. It was an abomination that McMaster should have been rewarded for his efforts. Breedlove should have had it as sort of extended. The people who stood up and fought and it wasn't just Ukraine. It was recognizing the Western and American strategic interest in this conflict.
You know, is having your career ended earlier or not getting promoted suffering? OK, on a relative scale, probably not. But they did make some personal sacrifices. OK. And they knew it. They knew it. They knew they were pissing off authorities who didn't want to hear anymore. General Clark would go to the Democratic presidential candidate. He was finally banned by the Obama White House because he'd go in there and kept trying to have them realize it. Well, that wake up has now happened. OK, at least in the United States. The biggest mistake Putin made in this war was was not the aggression itself, was the utter brutality of it.
And, you know, there's an old saying Americans love to be loved and Russians love to be feared. And so, but I guess that comes natural to them. He gives a hero award to the guy who did his troops did the butcher. That's a Korean torturing. Yeah, you there is an element in an American psyche. That when that Rubicon is crossed, it doesn't go back easy. OK, and we're not people are it's not red man, it's cold, cold and and and resolved. So I'm not a big defender of this administration. I don't like their their enemy, but they have done a phenomenal amount.
And when they say that they want to see Ukraine get its territory back, Albert, I disagree with you. I don't think they're they're lying. But they also don't want to cross certain thresholds. Which is more important, Doc. More important is not crossing the thresholds at the end of the day, which means the secondary objective, which is which is reasonable because, you know, it's my no, I don't like the world. War. Yeah, opposed to make sure that you are easily winning. I just wrote a fat paper on it. Absolutely. And that's why I think ultimately the way they manage escalation, despite how unsatisfactory it is for the Ukrainians, is understandable and has been successful. That's the that's the thing.
And I hate to say it. The objective is to avoid the objective is that's the primary objective. Avoid entrapment, direct involvement in this war, which could then result in uncontrollable escalation. Objective number two is preventing Russia from succeeding in this war, but not necessarily Russia losing to the extent that the entire stability of the state is at stake. While, you know, Phil, while the Poles and Ukrainians would like to see the collapse of Russia, you know, tomorrow, tomorrow. Right. And, you know, you were talking about the threat perception. So you see that there is a divergence within NATO, even between close friends like US and Poland. What is the end game here? Well.
There's a difference because there's a difference in depth of the threat perception. OK. Poland, I don't think, sits down and worries about a divided Russia and who's controlling ICBMs that can take out half of the United States. We think it's a hype. I mean, this threat is a hype, we think. It's a risk worth taking. You're welcome to do it, but it's not your cities that are being targeted by their ICBMs. Good point. Good point. Good point. True. And so.
And I believe that the administration's logic is that the fastest way to end the war is for the Ukrainians to inflict, to push the Russians back with high losses, but have somebody in Moscow who is there, who started the thing, realize that he has to call it quits. That may be a bad assumption. Exactly. I think that is the assumption. They would rather have a known antagonist than. This is brilliant. Phil, this is brilliant. That means that you need to wage the war within the set rules of engagement inherently agreed upon between Russians and Americans in a way. And moreover, it's a separate front, which is even more important than kinetic exchanges on the battlefield.
It's in the daily political maneuvering. And more importantly, at certain moment of time, the Americans will have to convince the Russians so that they accept that they are losing within the set rules of engagement, which is quite a tough set. The only thing I disagree with is I don't think those rules are set. The rules that existed in 2014 don't exist today. The rules of 2022 don't exist today. Each side plays with them. Fluid, but manageable fluid. Launching a war, the largest war, the first interstate war since the end of World War II in Europe was a blow through the rules of engagement.
Which again, which again points to the US having, there is a couple of factors. One, Russia was very careful not to really set up a clear red lines, which is understandable. They want to deter the US from being too brazen, right? So they didn't do this. The US did. I don't know if you remember, Doug. I'm sure you remember better than me and Jacek as well. Before the war started, the US really delineated what it's going to do and what it won't do. It said it won't send troops. It said it won't allow for targeting Russian targets within Russia proper by Ukrainian forces with US provided munitions.
You may be right, but I don't remember us saying those things before the war. I don't remember. It could be either at the cusp of war. Let's put it this way, very early on. And then they also- That I agree with. In March of 22, I agree with that. And then there was- Not in December and January. I think they said they won't fight the war. They won't be the only ones put on the ground. And then, well, also Biden personally said was that the goal is not to depose Vladimir Putin. Yeah, no regime change. No regime change.
So they set up, the US had to set up the parameters for itself and also guess the Russian parameters from crossing the red lines, for crossing the red lines, which is a handful. Well, other people are more than welcome to cross the red line. Just don't then come running to mom and say, oh, gee, I crossed the red line and now I got my fingers burned and I need help. You guys can do whatever you want. I mean, I'm absolutely- But don't come crying when it doesn't work out so well. Yeah, it is true. But coming back, just coming back to the lack of NATO strategy, forward defense.
Yeah, it's in Poland's interest that it be a strategy by denial, not by punishment and some counteroffensive that might happen or might not happen. So when I talk about forward defense, I am not using words like denial and punishment. Those are fabrications. And if you're defending, you're sure as hell going to need to have a counterattack, a counterforce. And by the way, in Don Starry's war plan in 1985, US corps were going to drive all the way to the Frankfurt, not Frankfurt on the Rhine, but Frankfurt on the Oder.
OK, so NATO itself, once it got the strength, I felt like it had the strength to try to do that, was not sitting down having a passive- Oh, active defense, you're meaning active defense in a way, yeah? Yeah, an inactive defensive defeat. Yeah, exactly. And there is a debate in Poland now whether we should adopt the military strategy called active defense that entails, you know, selective targets in Belarus and Kaliningrad. And, you know- So my argument is, NATO members, and if I was writing MC slash four, I would say that NATO members have the right to attack, to launch attacks where attacks are coming from, to the depth that the attacks have been launched.
And this is between the NATO strategy- If Russia wants to launch an ICBM and aim at Warsaw, then if Warsaw has an ICBM, we can hit them back. Exactly, exactly. We concur. But I think that Poles should sign some sort of a protocol of understanding of proportionality. It's always a discussion of what is proportionate, you know, in response. So, again, I think that's the wrong word. I think the right word is reciprocity. Reciprocity. Which is different. Proportionate implies some kind of abstract thing that people have to have in their mind. So Herman Kahn was a, I wouldn't say he was a friend of mine, but I knew him.
And one time we were talking about escalation and it was actually a meeting and he had a bunch of army colonels in there and he loved to just shoot these guys up, like, cut them up like filleting a fish. I said, well, you know, okay, so if you get hit with X, what's the response? You know, is it two times? Is it three times? Is it five times? And people are jumping all over the place. And he says, no, it's eye for an eye, tooth for tooth. And he called it the Talmudic response. Yeah, yeah. So, and that's why the second component of a NATO strategy, in my opinion, needs to address escalation response.
Yeah, but not within the collective response, but it should be authorization to the countries themselves, right? Every country. So if people agree that you can respond to attacks from a country to the depth that they launched on you, right? So Belarus hits you with some MLRS, okay. And they were 30 kilometers behind the line, a submersion or something. Okay. Proportionally or reciprocally, you're going back to that depth. Kaliningrad, where are they fired from? Kaliningrad is open season, right? If Russia is firing Iskanders from Western Russia, but then Western Russia is within the range.
I think the members, particularly the frontline members, if they are providing the forces and are unified in their approach for forward defense, then they have every incentive to have escalation disincentive. I don't want to use the word deterrence because it implies that we know what's in the other guy's mind. So you want to keep the other side from escalating. And the best way of doing that is having them know that whatever he does, he's going to get it back. Mm-hmm. I understand.
But the question is whether within this escalation control that the United States is really crazy about, and rightly so, one might claim, what Poles with this new military that we are fielding now will be allowed to do still maintaining the cohesion of NATO and all mechanisms and mutual trust? Because, people don't want to be dragged into the total war, right? Well, wait a second. I think you can get. . . This is the real center of gravity, by the way, endorsing its role, so to speak. Yeah.
So what's interesting, if you start with the concept of centers of gravity, and then you go to a NATO strategy that is based on forward active defense, escalation denial or escalation reciprocation, and yet still has the Armageddon tied to it. And then inside that strategy, individual countries, if in the strategic concept under responsive escalation, so you get hit with a conventional weapon, you have the right to hit the other side to the same range that that weapon was fired at. It's inherently common sense. There are no restrictions on it. It's your own sovereignty at stake. Yeah, but you know what? The problem is. . .
If you were using a nuclear weapon, are you talking about F-35s going and flying? There is a cultural thing, you know, and sort of this patron and, you know, in the country that is dependent on security upon the patron. So, you know, when you have a patron, it's like in the classroom, you know, when an attack from another class, the Russian tag is attacking you and you're weaker, you're going to your friend who is the strongest in the class, and you hide behind him. This is what all countries in Europe do with the United States. They try to drag you into the brawl, right? They try to hide behind your back.
For two reasons, not only because they feel inferior to the attacker, which might not be the case in the near future in case of Poland, but also because there is sort of this proper management of conflict, okay, by those bigger boys, so that there is sort of a balance, stability in this. You know, and this is an instinct. I don't like it in our leadership, in Polish leadership. I want this to change, and I would like those people to follow what you were saying that is within the, you know, the sovereignty of the country to follow this.
This is not culturally adopted yet, you know what I mean? So if you take these issues as they've been presented here, A, you're not likely to get resolution even in your own country, and it's sort of an endless debate. If you end up putting them in the context of a coherent strategy, all of a sudden it makes sense. It just, it just, You're right. altogether. You know, and I would say that, you know, let's say you're engaged. So first of all, people want to make sure the United States is in it. Yeah, exactly. I'm sorry, the United States is in it, and we've been in it since 1947.
So stop this crap about is the United States in it or not. If it's a NATO member, we're in it. Yeah, but even the, you know, Chancellor Schultz. . . There are no nuclear weapons in Poland. We're a second grade member at the end of the alliance. There is no permanent presence. It hasn't changed. Those parameters were set up in 1990s. Russia, Russia, NATO act is the Germans think it's still valid. And the US did nothing to, you know, rescind it. Well, let's, let's, well, it rescinded itself. Okay.
And I think several, several people have already said that in administration, but how can you say that nothing has changed? I mean, no, thanks. You have American forward defense units, you have American equipment accelerated, delivered. I, I, if you want, you know, it's very easy if you want to, to find reasons to bitch and complain. Okay. I'm not saying that the glass, I'm not saying that the glass is half, is full, but I sure as argue that taking approach that says it's half empty is the loser. I agree. But for some reason, Germans were blocking the, the American deployment into the East, but, you know, speaking again, I believe it's still coming.
I haven't seen it rescinded. Along those lines, you know, the Poland is, you know, about to feel the new military. Do you think it should be a sort of a military that is an auxiliary force of the US or a self-standing force that can use the American enablers, long range enablers, but be a self-standing effective force by itself. And this is a completely different concept. What do you think? I think there's a third way. First of all, I think it's crazy for a sovereign country to play big brother, little brother. Oh yeah, we're just two tall guys. I would never argue for that.
On the other hand, we take on everybody, we don't need anybody. It's also a loser. I think what you right now, you're in a catbird seat. You're in the most important strategic position in the alliance because you are the center of gravity that also links the other two centers. Everybody recognizes that, in terms of the United States and Britain, right? But right now, I don't give a damn what the Germans think, because they couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag and they know it. And Macron can make all the little statements he wants, but it doesn't change, it has no material effect. So let's look at it.
So you're a member of NATO, very important. The United States is putting and investing not only assets, but also troops and deployment pattern into Poland. Could it be more? Yes. I mean, in Germany, we started the reforger system with a couple of brigades. It ended up being four divisions and a thousand aircraft in 10 days, right? And the NATO reinforcement plan, because we had three position equipment and because the host countries were providing dispersal fields and protection for airfields. So I'm not saying we're going to get that magnitude, but we have done that before. We know how to do it. We tested it. So I think Poland is on the right track.
If it was me, I'm going to admit I'm not Polish, but if it was me, I would be the number one flag carrier saying, we want a coherent military strategy, at least as coherent and publicly rational as was flexible response. And the alliance isn't worth a damn as a military alliance until we see it. And what it should look like? Those three steps, forward defense, escalation, disincentive and American strategic commitment. And this disincentive, what kind of tool should be used to disincentivize the Russians? The Talmudic response. Talmudic response. So full reciprocity, you know. Right.
And in my view, 40 or 50 F-35s and a couple of hundred gravity bombs are not a sufficient capability for a Talmudic response to the Russians. So I think there should be land-based missiles in Europe. And I think they should have both conventional and nuclear capability. And just like we trained people in the Cold War, you know, the Belgians, we had a whole training program for nuclear security. No reason that can't be. I would like the British and the French to contribute to that. One way or the other. If it's not weapons, then maybe they can do other things. But in any case, the alliance, it's a necessary step.
And the fun fact, the Corps has just stood up a land-based tomahawk battalion, USMC, Doc, your beloved. They have land-based tomahawks now, you know, to be deployed in the Pacific Contingency. But they have them and they can launch SM-6s. So, you know, half the job is there. Done. Okay. So we have the, we come back to the strategy. Forward defense with, you know, active defense. Escalation disincentive. Escalation disincentive. And the third tier, what? Is American strategic commitment. American strategic commitment, both nuclear and conventional, that is being signaled all the time. All the time. Every day, every day there's an American submarine tracking some Russian boat.
There are American surveillance aircraft circling Russia. There's satellite coverage. Those first two tiers can be fielded mostly by the, you know, countries in the area, basically. The warheads for the missiles, if you're going to do a land-based missile, would presumably come from the United States. Well, you know, you can go back to the old MLF concept where you have actually a NATO stockpile, but I think realistically, at least in the near term, they're going to come from the United States. Yeah, but in terms of conventional, like, you know, forward defense properly situated. Properly situated. So, wait a second. So, I'm not saying, counting out American forces.
For example, if on the northern flank, I would not be surprised at all to see U. S. Marines in North Norway. And now that Sweden and Finland are part of it, there's no reason why they can't go through that corridor into northern Sweden and cross even into Finland. Our ships and planes are in contact with the Russians all the time. If that balloon goes up, they're going to be fighting around the world with Americans, okay? You have the U. S. Army and the U. S. Air Force stationed in your. . . I don't know how to say it any other way. Okay. Okay, sounds solid. It sounds solid.
Well, I think it's. . . The reason I'm taking this, I'm not Pollyannish, right? I'm not, you know, oh yeah, this is the best of all worlds, but I just think it's extremely dangerous for the intermarium countries in particular to now go through hand-wringing and the U. S. supported Finland and Sweden joining. U. S. is supporting Poland more than I think anybody would have projected. And we've given a lot of help to Ukraine, even if they're not in NATO. I think it's a bad time. I'm very worried about at some point the Ukrainians are going to feel abandoned.
But their sense of abandonment will be accelerated by NATO countries going, well, you can't trust the United States. Oh, well, obviously, unless you have troops around you, they have no deal. I think it is time. It doesn't mean you can't be critical. It doesn't mean you can't offer creative solutions. But this sort of talking yourself into it, I think it's a huge mistake. And also putting your, even when you're thinking about your own force structure, putting it into this draconian bifurcated set of options. Take the middle road. You're in the catbird seat. Try it. Exploit it. Have fun. The next decade belongs to Poland.
Poland in many ways. You know, we are discussing, for example, the employment of troops into Lithuania. I mean, sort of to bug them up because they feel vulnerable. So I did an interview this morning with Estonian television. And they were asking me about the Słowacki gap. What can be done? Well, you can't defend the Słowacki gap. I mean, it's too narrow. There's no depth to it. And you could get from you get hit coming and going from both sides. So the only way to defend the Słowacki gap is have a force powerful enough to counterattack and destroy whoever's trying to close it.
And you need to drive all the way up to the Neman, the river line of Lithuania. And if you look at all the Russian exercises, 2017 Zapad in particular, they had a sort of cascading effect. So they hit southern Estonia, which is not really defended heavily by the Estonians, which compromises or keeps the Latin forage fence. Then they add the forces coming in from east and then they hit Lithuania in the center. And all of a sudden you have a goddamn tank army linked up with Kaliningrad. Yeah. But putting brigades, not battalions. So NATO is planning to increase the contributions. So I'm not against having symbolic things.
But let's face it, if Russia's going to war, they don't give a damn whether it's Spaniards in Estonia. They're going to go do the job they need to do. Because they know they're already taking on the alliance. So this idea about, you know, we have to have a, make do military sense, make it happen. You know, these composite organizations, yeah, in a slow moving counterinsurgency stabilization thing, okay. It still doesn't work very well. But you need to have coherent combatant units that are high state of readiness. And you don't get that by having company here, company there. It doesn't mean you could have a tank battalion from one.
But it needs to be a lot, the purpose is not symbolism. The purpose is combat capability of those forward brigades. As I also said, you know, it is worrisome about what's going on in Belarus. And also about, you know, Wagner guys are now opposite Slovakia, all 200 of them. But we should also recognize that Russia pulled out, was it the 11th Corps out of Kaliningrad? Most of it, 70-80% of it, leaving a cadre. And got it destroyed. There's nothing left. I mean, so you got to lose manpower, you got a couple pieces of equipment I mean, they lost an entire Corps. It's going to take them a while to replace.
Okay, let's say it takes them a year to build up and take kind of worst case back to Kaliningrad. Well, that gives, instead of sitting back on our hodges and going, oh, yeah, well, we'll wait until the threat appears. Now we have the opportunity to do the planning and put the forces in place to make whatever they put in there relevant. Sure, but this is a revolutionary thought, you know, here. And because of those all factors that I mentioned before. I don't, I don't, I don't think, I don't see what's revolutionary about it. We're putting the brigades in.
I remember talking to Sackur, and I was trying to convince him to put in an airborne brigade for the defense of two of Latvia's forward cities. I said, I won't do it because they'll be overran and I can't get to them. Well, now with brigades, if you can get into Lithuania, you can then get to Latvia, all of a sudden, it starts making sense. The whole thing comes together. Another thing is just like, it's like mind blowing. If you think about the contribution of Finland and Sweden. So you essentially could close the St. Petersburg channel. Yeah, of course. In terms of the sea, the guys are closed.
But also the Svobodny Gap is not a gap anymore. Basically, there is a, you know, connection by sea to all places in the Baltic Sea. But if the Russians want to get to Kaliningrad, they got to come out of either through the Danish Straits or through the same thing. And you combine the Swedish and Polish Navy with their respective air forces, that Russian fleet or force in the Baltic is dead meat. Exactly. I bet you they won't go out of port. And also, you know, the Swedish airspace is creating such a, you know, pivotal change to the geometry of the battlefield and transport.
So I was saying, you know, the Baltic Republics don't have any, don't have any air force. So NATO has a symbolic air force. Again, symbolism. But four airplanes are not going to provide air support and coming from one base is going to be destroyed in the first 15 minutes of campaign. But Sweden, not only the Swedish air force, but the bed down for NATO air force in Sweden is phenomenal. Yeah, that's true. Phenomenal. Poles could redeploy prior to hostilities to Sweden, you know, to conceal planes and complicate the Russian planning. So if we just, if we don't take it for granted, and remember, Sweden and Finland are new to the alliance.
And I'm not saying, you know, they're babies, but we need to work with them and with the Baltic Republic and with Poland to create this link between the center and the northern center of gravity and do it. And the same principles will apply to everybody. Yeah. And we get that one right, and we can turn our attention to the south. I agree. I agree. You know, since we've been already two hours and talk, we will be, you know, navigating towards the end and, you know, changing the subject a bit.
There are so many voices now in DC, according at least to the newspapers, you know, generals, retired generals, some, you know, secret memoranda to the air force, etc. etc. Blinken talking about it, about the, you know, the inevitability of war with China in the Western Pacific or, you know, quote, unquote, inevitability. What do you think? What do you make out of it? Well, I think the war, Russia's, so let's just think about it in terms of the current war in Eastern Europe for a second. Prior to the Russian invasion, China was the largest purchaser of land in Ukraine. They were buying up land like it was no tomorrow. So they saw it as a potential breadbasket.
They in Ukraine back in 99, 2000, Ukraine had supplied the Chinese with plans for the rail based ICBM and also for the cruise missile modified. So Ukraine had played that game in reverse against agreements that they had signed. It was all under the table. I actually talked to the designers at USMOSH and we were sort of forced out of them, not by me. China, it was very clear. I don't know what happened in the conversation, but it is very clear that Putin and Xi, it is important to the Chinese not to have a war going on while they're hosting the Olympics.
So Putin delays, I believe, and I think we had talked about this, I believe, and I think we had pretty strong evidence that the Russians had an earlier date for the invasion and that got postponed and the most logical reason for postponing it is the Xi request. And Xi approved the invasion. And we shouldn't forget that. Now some people say, oh, the Chinese are restraining their aggression. Well, maybe I haven't seen it. Oh, the Chinese would never add a gift. The Chinese are supplying stuff to Russia, but they are doing it very, very surreptitiously and very carefully to third parties.
So China is in a way as much a contributor to Russian capabilities as the US is to Ukraine, one way or the other. Maybe that's an overstatement, but they are playing that role. Xi and Putin both from about 2017 on consistently talked about a strategic alliance, about ending American unipolarity, about the value of tripolarity, which means basically a two-on-one. There is Russian technology that the Chinese want. They still haven't been able to manufacture a first-rate aircraft engine. And there is a lot of stuff the Russians could use from the Chinese. Moreover, they both have kind of the same strategic ambition.
In a sense, it's a grandiose revanchism, but Russia wants to go back and recreate the height of the Russian empire as a new czar. And Xi wants to, quote, unify China. Every leader has said that since 1948 or whatever. The Chinese clearly have been developing a force to take on, and as a strategic principle, they want to break out of the First Island Chain. First Island Chain runs through the South, the Caribbean, the Philippines. They thought they had it in the Philippines when the Philippine leader was anti-US and playing games. I was in Davao when his daughter, who was the mayor, broke the chief of police's nose.
But that's another story in front of me. And now she's the vice president. They have been trying to build a force to have the ability to break out of the First Island Chain. Taking on Taiwan is a hard nut to crack, but not necessarily an uncrackable nut. I think the Chinese are going to have a fairly high attrition rate on ships and a lot of drowned sailors.
But, and again, how long can the Taiwanese hold out, and who's coming to their aid, and how much aid will that be, and how effective will it be? Does that then mean it's a wider war? If the US is flying out of, this is our, you know, our Chinese long-range missiles going to be taking out, hitting the airbases and so forth.
And where does it stop? So I think China hoped that Russia's speedy success, and you can see when you see the photos of the two, of the meeting, that last meeting prior to the war with Xi and Putin, and Xi's sort of sitting there, kind of like, you know, the godfather, right? And Putin is leaning toward, I got this cool plan, it's all going to work out really well. Okay, well, if you delay it, I mean, if you just put the words in their mouth, it is a body language now, it's my imaginary fun. But anyway, it didn't work out so well.
Now, is that inhibiting China from doing more against Taiwan? But then the question is, has the outcome of the war in Ukraine inhibited Taiwanese from actually going, you know, going hard on the defensive plans that they would need? Because, you know, it's total defense. And total defense means, and then remember that the entire, you know, the Taiwan is around the same square kilometers that a single oblast in Ukraine, 30,000 square kilometers. I mean, Chinese have a lot of missiles, a lot of artillery, like, you know, if the Taiwanese would want to defend themselves, they would have to take into account that they get raised to the ground.
And mind you, the Americans themselves said that, you know, the Taiwanese should have contingency plans for destroying semiconductor factories that are on the island, which is kind of painful, because then you're left with pineapples and orchids, you know, or this is the other. And you don't want to be in such a situation. You don't want to, you don't want that. I think the Taiwanese are going to say if we're losing that, then we'll let you take out the semiconductor. Why would we do your dirty work for you? The, but, but it is a, so, in the United States, which will be your question, the attitude of the United States, I think the positions have been evolving.
There was, by people who, there was sort of a bifurcation, which was sort of typical in the Trump administration, about China is an economic threat, and maybe a military threat, and we can get along with Russia. Now, not everybody, but I think there's a confluence now of people saying, at a minimum, uh-oh, we got, we got two problems. And some of those people will say, well, the China problem, the Asia problem is more important than the European one. But some of that crowd are saying, the issue is strategic tri-polarity. And that's the issue that we have, we and our friends and allies have to face. And the United States needs its allies.
We are not Uncle Sugar of sitting back and just going to dole out the stuff for people who don't want to defend themselves. I think we have finally learned the lesson. You can't do nation building if the nation doesn't want to be built. And you can't defend people who won't defend themselves. Yeah, exactly. So, there are, and this is why I think it's so important for the, particularly for the front-line states in Eastern Europe, to be united and not get caught up in, in, in, in whining and bitching. Put together, take the lead in creating a strategy for NATO. Make the arguments, be constructive.
I think you'll come out way ahead in the game. Okay. So let's end now, after two hours. This was supposed to be a debate. Yeah. It's 2. 30am in the morning in Warsaw. Albert is. . . I'm just starting my day. Yeah, starting his day. I'm in the middle of my work. And that has been a marvelous conversation, Doug. Thanks to you. And, you know, we appreciate your time and for sure we will, you know, back with you very shortly, if you don't mind, of course. I always enjoy it. Yeah. Thanks a lot. Thank you. Dr.
Philip Carver, the chairman of the Potomac Foundation, Albert Siedziński and Jacek Bartosiak, both from Strategy and Future. And that has been a conversation about Ukraine and strategy. Thanks. Thank you, gentlemen. .