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Debate: Modern wars, won

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Is it impossible to "win" modern wars?

Background and context

Modern wars are characterized by two things:

1. By high-level media coverage

2. By a well-equipped army deployed in an extraterritorial conflict fighting against decentralised insurgency groups (like guerrilla or terrorists).

Such wars started with Vietnam and are continuing for instance in Iraq or Afghanistan. Given that a war is not "won" until the declared goals are met (such usually include stabilising the area or promoting the rule of law) and that these goals can't be fulfilled without dismantling the insurgency groups first, then these wars can't be won by the developed countries involved in the conflict.

In other words, the conventional armies are becoming weaker all the time, whereas the less modern counterparts are becoming stronger and stronger.

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Analysis - occupied countries

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Pro

As stated above, insurgency groups are decentralized, therefore very difficult to identify and beat. They benefit from knowing the terrain and as the time goes, their motivation is on the rise. (The more atrocities are commited, the more civilians are killed, the greater the incentives to join those insurgence groups as revenge is a great incentive.)





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Con

Invaded countries find themselves in troubled situation as they usually are fighting on their own, without allies or any form of support (evidence needed). Their "army" does not have a coherent approach and is usually less efficient and worse equipped.





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Analysis - invading countries

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Pro

As stated above, the invading countries are usually developed and democratic. Given the high-level media coverage that is characteristic for the modern wars, the attitude of the people towards the war changes a great deal in the developed world. The more lives are lost, the more soldiers and civilians are killed, the more money is spent, the bigger pressure on government to withdraw the troops. That means that no democratic country can stay long enough in such areas to win the war (=achieve the goals) because the vox populi (the voice of the people) is against the war at last.





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Con

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Instigating chaos

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Pro

Modern wars can't be won because foreign troops instigate chaos that they can't tackle (constantly troubled Afghanistan is an example of this). When chaos is raging, when there is no respect for the rule of law, the goals of the developed country are not fulfilled, and therefore the war is not won.





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Con

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Principle: Can wars - in principle - be won?

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Pro

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See also

External links and resources

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