A cura di @Werner58.
Tre anni fa, all’indomani dell’intervento russo in Siria, War on the Rocks (testata a metà fra i think tank geopolitici e i siti di notizie specializzati) pubblicava un “long form” sulla prima invasione dell’Afghanistan in epoca contemporanea, quella iniziata dall’Armata Rossa nel giorno di Natale del 1979. Ryan Evans ripercorre i molteplici errori di valutazione commessi sia da parte sovietica che americana, nel paranoico clima della Guerra Fredda, e li ricollega alle più recenti discussioni sulle intenzioni di Vladimir Putin.
The United States often overreacts to foreign interventions by adversaries, attributing aggressive, expansive designs when, on further inspection, we discover motivations rooted in insecurity, fear, and defensiveness.
How can we better balance our understanding of these interventions? Will historians look back on this period and argue that Putin’s engagement in Syria was not only a decision made out of weakness, but one that was a grand-strategic mistake? Or will they interpret it as many of Obama’s critics do today? It is, of course, far too early to know for sure. Events are still ongoing. Developments such as the recent Turkish shootdown of a Russian tactical bomber and jihadist attacks in Paris have the potential to change the game (although they have not yet). And we do not have the kind of documentary access that future historians will hopefully enjoy. There is, however, a striking historical parallel—another episode when many Americans thought Russia had outsmarted and outmaneuvered a U.S. commander-in-chief similarly accused of being weak and feckless.
This intervention began in December 1979, nearly 2,000 miles east of Damascus, in Kabul. When we revisit Russia’s path to that war and the American interpretations of it, we find many of the same debates we are seeing today about strength and weakness in the Kremlin and the White House. The lesson is simple: Perceived weakness and strength—and especially perceptions of one’s own weaknesses—are often powerful drivers of world events and they are often incorrect. Further, actors tend to conflate a perception of strength in an opponent with good strategy and weakness with bad strategy when, in fact, these are distinct attributes. An adversary can be acting out of weakness and have a good strategy just as he can be acting from strength and executing a bad strategy.
Immagine: Erwin Lux