Quote of the Day: War

 

“No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.” – James Mattis

We are seeing an application of this in real-time as the war in Ukraine unwinds. Certainly, Russia has learned the enemy gets a vote. Their three-day war has turned into a month-long quagmire (literally in the north, with its Rasputitsa “mud season”). Now the Russians are declaring victory in Ukraine, claiming their goal was to liberate the Donbas and that has been achieved. Of course, the enemy, Ukraine, gets a vote. They have begun limited counteroffensives, and Russia may not find it easy to end the war by declaration as Russia hopes.

It is important to realize Mattis’s aphorism applies as much to Ukraine as it does to Russia. Should Ukraine take the offensive, even if it proves initially successful and Ukraine achieves its objectives, it may find itself as unable to end the war as it hopes. Russia gets a vote in that. It may choose to double-down, reinforce and counterattack. Or even go nuclear.

I suspect the final outcome will be determined by the side more determined to win. Obviously, when one side has a clear military superiority over another will to fight becomes secondary to military might. But when neither side has clear military superiority over the other, the size of the “fight in the dog” really does become more important than the size of the “dog in the fight.”

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Seawriter: No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.

    Not if they’re all dead.

    • #1
  2. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Seawriter: No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.

    Not if they’re all dead.

    Easier said than done. Especially if we are dealing with an area larger than, say, Manhattan Island. And if you try that and fail, boy does the enemy get a vote.

    • #2
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    And if you try that and fail, boy does the enemy get a vote.

    Yeah, and sometimes it brings in more and more powerful enemies who get to vote, too. Still true.

    • #3
  4. Roberto, [This space available for advertising] Member
    Roberto, [This space available for advertising]
    @Roberto

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Seawriter: No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.

    Not if they’re all dead.

    Stop it, you know exactly what he is saying you’re just in a bad mood.

    • #4
  5. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Roberto, [This space available… (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Seawriter: No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.

    Not if they’re all dead.

    Stop it, you know exactly what he is saying you’re just in a bad mood.

    Nah, I just used to hang out with the Mongols a few centuries ago.

    • #5
  6. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Roberto, [This space available… (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Seawriter: No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.

    Not if they’re all dead.

    Stop it, you know exactly what he is saying you’re just in a bad mood.

    Nah, I just used to hang out with the Mongols a few centuries ago.

    I thought you were a Viking like me.

    • #6
  7. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Hang On (View Comment):
    I thought you were a Viking like me.

    I am of Norse ancestry, but I’ve traveled over the years.

    • #7
  8. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):
    I thought you were a Viking like me.

    I am of Norse ancestry, but I’ve traveled over the years.

    I’ve never heard of a stay-at-home Viking. 

    • #8
  9. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Hang On (View Comment):
    I’ve never heard of a stay-at-home Viking. 

    Viking means pirate or raider, although the etymology is uncertain. One doesn’t raid at home.

    • #9
  10. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    War appears to be more of a Democracy than the USA.

    • #10
  11. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):
    I’ve never heard of a stay-at-home Viking.

    Viking means pirate or raider, although the etymology is uncertain. One doesn’t raid at home.

    I can think of lots of people who raided at home. Lenin. Stalin. Mao. Pol Pot. . . .

    • #11
  12. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    War appears to be more of a Democracy than the USA.

    Yeah, but Banana Republic is still better than a democracy.

    • #12
  13. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):
    I’ve never heard of a stay-at-home Viking.

    Viking means pirate or raider, although the etymology is uncertain. One doesn’t raid at home.

    I can think of lots of people who raided at home. Lenin. Stalin. Mao. Pol Pot. . . .

    And Democrats in America.

    • #13
  14. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    So today it looks like Putin will grab the Donbas and declare victory.  It seems to me that the outcome is the Russian military looks ineffective and he has wrecked an already weak economy.  Zelensky can be president for life if he wants, and Ukrainians are now finally united against the Russians.  Europe is unified against the Russian threat, and the Scandinavians want into NATO. The vaunted Chechen special forces look inept.   Putin can try to punish his officer corps but how can he ever trust his conscripts?  He is riding a tiger and can’t get off. 

    • #14
  15. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    So today it looks like Putin will grab the Donbas and declare victory. It seems to me that the outcome is the Russian military looks ineffective and he has wrecked an already weak economy. Zelensky can be president for life if he wants, and Ukrainians are now finally united against the Russians. Europe is unified against the Russian threat, and the Scandinavians want into NATO. The vaunted Chechen special forces look inept. Putin can try to punish his officer corps but how can he ever trust his conscripts? He is riding a tiger and can’t get off.

    Zelenskyy and Ukrainians have given a Trump-style boost to appropriate nationalism.

    • #15
  16. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):
    I’ve never heard of a stay-at-home Viking.

    Viking means pirate or raider, although the etymology is uncertain. One doesn’t raid at home.

    You do when you’re too young to cross the street by yourself.

    • #16
  17. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    So today it looks like Putin will grab the Donbas and declare victory. It seems to me that the outcome is the Russian military looks ineffective and he has wrecked an already weak economy. Zelensky can be president for life if he wants, and Ukrainians are now finally united against the Russians. Europe is unified against the Russian threat, and the Scandinavians want into NATO. The vaunted Chechen special forces look inept. Putin can try to punish his officer corps but how can he ever trust his conscripts? He is riding a tiger and can’t get off.

    You’re drinking the koolaid. Perspective closer to reality.

    Europe is truly, truly screwed. They have cut themself off from cheap fossil fuels. They say they’re going to use LNG from elsewhere. So much more expensive. And it will make Germany’s manufacturing so much more expensive. Advantage China.

    And then there’s food and fertilizer. Totally stupid. Totally screwed.

    Has anyone been looking at Patrick Lancaster on youtube? Interesting interviews with Greeks down at Mariupol. Counter to the narrative in our press.

     

     

    • #17
  18. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):
    I’ve never heard of a stay-at-home Viking.

    Viking means pirate or raider, although the etymology is uncertain. One doesn’t raid at home.

    You don’t have kids, do you?

    • #18
  19. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    So today it looks like Putin will grab the Donbas and declare victory. It seems to me that the outcome is the Russian military looks ineffective and he has wrecked an already weak economy. Zelensky can be president for life if he wants, and Ukrainians are now finally united against the Russians. Europe is unified against the Russian threat, and the Scandinavians want into NATO. The vaunted Chechen special forces look inept. Putin can try to punish his officer corps but how can he ever trust his conscripts? He is riding a tiger and can’t get off.

    You’re drinking the koolaid. Perspective closer to reality.

    Europe is truly, truly screwed. They have cut themself off from cheap fossil fuels. They say they’re going to use LNG from elsewhere. So much more expensive. And it will make Germany’s manufacturing so much more expensive. Advantage China.

    And then there’s food and fertilizer. Totally stupid. Totally screwed.

    Has anyone been looking at Patrick Lancaster on youtube? Interesting interviews with Greeks down at Mariupol. Counter to the narrative in our press.

     

     

    I agree with your description of this in terms of energy supply. This can push greater production output in America to provide some price competition as well as supply security for Western Europe. I don’t see any plusses here for the Leftist Democrats in America. 

    • #19
  20. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Here is a question about the “war” strategy in Ukraine.

    Is Putin’s military force attacking Kiev designed primarily to occupy large components of Ukraine’s military to defend there in order to reduce the ability of Ukraine to defend the eastern areas?

    • #20
  21. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Here is a question about the “war” strategy in Ukraine.

    Is Putin’s military force attacking Kiev designed primarily to occupy large components of Ukraine’s military to defend there in order to reduce the ability of Ukraine to defend the eastern areas?

    The entire plan of Putin was a quick 3 day invasion where they roll over the weak Ukrainian troops,  captured Kyiv decapitate the government, install their puppet Yanukovich as the ” legal government” and carve off whatever parts of Ukraine they want with the acquiescence of said sock puppet.

    Instead they have a month long quagmire that has exposed just how dysfunctional the Russian military is and how determined the Ukrainian nation is to not allow this to happen.   Easy to start a war, hard to end one sometimes.

     

    • #21
  22. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    War appears to be more of a Democracy than the USA.

    Yup.  War is the ultimate weighted democracy.  Despite what people like to think, violence is the only instrument which ever truly solves anything, and there’s nothing more democratic than letting each person decide how bad he wants something, whether it’s ease, economy, freedom, somebody else’s lands, or those people themselves.  Those people are free to make the same vote with their own determination.

    Negotiated, premature settlements to war are the weakness, not the solution.

    • #22
  23. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):
    I’ve never heard of a stay-at-home Viking.

    Viking means pirate or raider, although the etymology is uncertain. One doesn’t raid at home.

    I can think of lots of people who raided at home. Lenin. Stalin. Mao. Pol Pot. . . .

    None qualify as Vikings.  Enslaving your own people is just poor form.  It’s like two brothers having sex to continue the family line — its disgusting and it doesn’t work anyway.

    • #23
  24. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Here is a question about the “war” strategy in Ukraine.

    Is Putin’s military force attacking Kiev designed primarily to occupy large components of Ukraine’s military to defend there in order to reduce the ability of Ukraine to defend the eastern areas?

    I’m sure that’s what he’ll be saying, but the first three weeks certainly put that story to the fire.  Things have been going better in the east because he has been fighting for it for the last eight years, not because he prioritized it.  The south is just plain vulnerable and is paying the price, yet *still* Odessa is free.  Geography and history have conspired there.

    • #24
  25. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    BDB (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):
    I’ve never heard of a stay-at-home Viking.

    Viking means pirate or raider, although the etymology is uncertain. One doesn’t raid at home.

    I can think of lots of people who raided at home. Lenin. Stalin. Mao. Pol Pot. . . .

    None qualify as Vikings. Enslaving your own people is just poor form. It’s like two brothers having sex to continue the family line — its disgusting and it doesn’t work anyway.

    Rather a distasteful analogy, BDB.

    • #25
  26. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):
    Rather a distasteful analogy, BDB.

    He’s right, though.

    • #26
  27. Postmodern Hoplite Coolidge
    Postmodern Hoplite
    @PostmodernHoplite

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    So today it looks like Putin will grab the Donbas and declare victory. It seems to me that the outcome is the Russian military looks ineffective and he has wrecked an already weak economy. Zelensky can be president for life if he wants, and Ukrainians are now finally united against the Russians. Europe is unified against the Russian threat, and the Scandinavians want into NATO. The vaunted Chechen special forces look inept. Putin can try to punish his officer corps but how can he ever trust his conscripts? He is riding a tiger and can’t get off.

    Yes, I agree with your summary here. The problem is that Putin also needs to have a land bridge to Crimea. Simply settling for the Donbas, and not having secured access to Crimea is a strategic loss.

    • #27
  28. Rōnin Coolidge
    Rōnin
    @Ronin

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):
    I thought you were a Viking like me.

    I am of Norse ancestry, but I’ve traveled over the years.

    Haven’t we all.

    • #28
  29. Rōnin Coolidge
    Rōnin
    @Ronin

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    So today it looks like Putin will grab the Donbas and declare victory. It seems to me that the outcome is the Russian military looks ineffective and he has wrecked an already weak economy. Zelensky can be president for life if he wants, and Ukrainians are now finally united against the Russians. Europe is unified against the Russian threat, and the Scandinavians want into NATO. The vaunted Chechen special forces look inept. Putin can try to punish his officer corps but how can he ever trust his conscripts? He is riding a tiger and can’t get off.

    And it’s not “if”, but “when” he gets off, and “who and/or what” replaces him.  

    • #29
  30. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B
    @LillyB

    Agreement is elusive even among friends in the comments section. 

    *******

    This post is part of the Quote of the Day (QOTD) Series, which is one of the group writing projects here on Ricochet. The other is the monthly group writing theme organized by @cliffordbrown, currently featuring musings from members on “Now and Then.” The Signup Sheet for April is here

    • #30
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