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American military strategist in Budapest: Wars are still fought on the battlefield, the cyberwarfare is overvalued

Wars are still fought out on the battlefield by masses of soldiers trained for large-scale operations, not in cyber or information spaces.

The power of a country is defined by how many of its citizens are ready to defend it, beyond the quantity of its weapon systems – said Edward Luttwak, warfare expert, military strategist at the event of the Danube Institute on May 10th, where he held a discussion after his lecture with John O’ Sullivan, president of the Institute and Dr. Balázs Mártonffy, director of the Institute of American Studies at National University of Public Service. Luttwak is an Arad-born expert, who held various key positions, among them working with the Pentagon. One of his books, “Coup d’Etat: A Practical Handbook” was made into a movie.

According to the American strategist, the outbreak of the war in Ukraine is due to the misinformation that were fed to both U.S. and Russian decisionmakers before the onset of the conflict. The intelligence services in both countries predicted that Kyiv could fall in 5 days. Nobody counted on the Ukrainians to actually take up the fight. Moreover, the German leadership did not make it clear in time, that a potential Russian attack on Ukraine could end Russian-German economic cooperation. He stated that the outcome of the Russian-Ukrainian War cannot be predicted yet, because both the Russians and Ukrainians are building up operational reserves for an offensive right now, and these big attacks are expected before October 2023.

Luttwak pointed out: the Russo-Ukrainian War, like all military conflicts, is full of paradoxes. As an example, he mentioned that Putin dared to attack Ukraine because NATO was weak. However, NATO seemed weak because it didn’t have a real enemy. After the Russian attack it has changed, and NATO strengthened. The other paradox is the role of nuclear weapons. According the Luttwak, the problem with nuclear weapons is that they are “too powerful to be useful”. Now Russia has a problem, because it built a nuclear-oriented air force which is not useful on the battlefield.

On the multipolar world order and the fate of Russia, he said: Russia's main, natural enemy is China, which is craving for its Far Eastern territories. China, though, has its own problems: it has serious conflicts with all of its neighbours, and it actively prolongs them at every opportunity. According to him, all discourse of a multi-polar order would end when a U.S. president similar to Ronald Reagan would enter the White House and makes use of U.S. advantages in global great power competition. In his perspective, the main problem of President Biden is that his trusted men are not active any more because of their age, so others occupy key positions in his administration, which leads to U.S. foreign policy mistakes.

Danube Institute