Consider–a global superpower, with massive military resources and nuclear weapons, imagines that one of its puppet states is threatened by a rival superpower and its hated ideology. It sees this potential takeover as a strategic disaster, a chink in its defensive armor, its fortified perimeter if you prefer, and a threat to its philosophy and global prestige–its very way of life. It meddles in the country’s domestic politics, even engineers a coup, but the threat persists.
So a program of military action is initiated, training, aid, support, an attempt to remove the existential threat by force. The superpower’s rivals, of course, respond with military, material and diplomatic aid, and the rebel forces fight with ferocity and unexpected skill and determination. The war drags on, the civilian casualties are horrific. Carpet bombing of civilian targets and devastation of the landscape results, all with little effect on the small country’s resistance.
In spite of massive technical, human and material resources, and air and naval superiority, the superpower cannot bring about a victory. Its infantry is bogged down in an endless morass of raids and ambushes and small unit actions. Massive applications of artillery and air power do not resolve the stalemate, but they produce endless casualties and churn up the land and the towns. The enemy cannot be dislodged, and there is no victory. Back home, in spite of a massive propaganda campaign, the civilian population starts to tire of the lies, costs and body bags and public resistance to the war starts to increase. The nation is divided, politically and culturally, a division that will persist for decades. The failure to achieve a quick victory is blamed on traitors, backstabbers, and unpatriotic elements. The youth refuses conscription, many leave the country altogether. Somehow, the troubling little war, although never a threat to the aggressor’s territory, becomes entangled with other, much more important domestic issues, with their resolution postponed indefinitely and somehow conflated with them so that the nation is divided, and true progress and freedom made contingent on saving face in a foreign land.
Isn’t it amazing how great nations never seem to learn from their mistakes, or even from each other’s mistakes?
Same as it ever was...