In Multipolarity

By Anatoly Karlin, published in his blog on UNZ Review, October 18, 2015

It is in some ways remarkable that there is still no commonly agreed method on quantifying and ranking national military power.

Armed forces personnel, 1989-2013 (image by Anatoly Karlin)

Armed forces personnel, 1989-2013 (image by Anatoly Karlin)

There is one such for economics, for instance. It is called the GDP. You can make somewhat different arguments on relative economic size or living standards based on various ways of measuring GDP – e.g., the eternal debates over whether nominal or PPP is best – but it does make these discussions factually “grounded” in a way that military discussions (at least as they are carried out in the popular press and comments sections) are not. This may even extend to some extent to the US military itself. For instance, here is a short quote from an article by Adrian Bonenberger, who spent 7 years as an infantry officer in the US Army:

This is the greatest risk we face for World War III. Not that Russia defeats Ukraine and moves toward Poland and Estonia, but that Ukraine wipes out the Russians currently in Ukraine, and Putin is forced to take some drastic action to prevent further losses. After all, why should Ukraine not feel entitled to take some of Russia’s territory in return for their lost Crimea? And who will be there to stop them, save demoralized and confused Russian conscripts?

The chances of that happening in the foreseeable future are precisely zero, so awesome is the current size of the military gap between Russia and Ukraine (it approximately doubled from a factor of 4.5 in 1992 at the time of the Soviet collapse, to a peak of 9 by 2013). Even cursory examinations of force structure would confirm it; just the Russian Southern Military District by itself is considerably more powerful than the entire Ukrainian military. Tall tales of Donetsk airport “cyborgs” mowing down thousands of elite Pskov paratroopers to the contrary, on the one occasion in the Donbass War that the Ukrainian military engaged directly with the Russian military resulted in a resounding defeat for the Ukraiians at Ilovaysk – and that despite the Russian military having to maintain plausible deniability and thus forego the use of its fancier toys…

Read the full article (8,000 words) at the weblink above.

 

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