Small Wars Journal

The Grim Future of Urban Warfare

The Grim Future of Urban Warfare by Darron Anderson - The Atlantic

Proxy and civil wars will continue to flourish, as will conflicts on the peripheries of power blocs. The danger of inadvertent escalation is high. The planet has already survived the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, the Soviet false alarm of 1983, and the Norwegian Black Brant nuclear-rocket scare of 1995. Eventually our luck might run out, and when it does, cities will likely be ground zero. The world’s city-dwelling population exploded from 746 million in 1950 to 4.2 billion in 2018, according to the United Nations (which expects that total to increase by another 2.5 billion by 2050). To dominate a nation has come to mean dominating its population centers.


There are reasons that coming wars will be more, not less, deadly. As weapons systems become increasingly accurate through satellite positioning, surgical strikes on military targets will seem more viable. But the blood-soaked history of “smart bombs” show that they have only been as smart as the intelligence used to deploy them. In 1991, laser-guided missiles entered the Al-Amiriyya bomb shelter in Iraq through a ventilation shaft, killing more than 400 civilians. In 2008, an air raid obliterated a bridal party at Haska Meyna. Such “aberrations” likely will increase in frequency…

Read on.


Given my suggestion of a New/Reverse Cold War -- one in which the U.S./the West has been doing "expansion" and Russia, China, Iran, the Islamists, etc., are now doing "containment" and "roll back" -- let's see if we can find where, more specifically, these such urban conflicts will take place.

In order to do this, let's first look at this item from Charles Krauthammer in 2015; herein, talking about the Old Cold War, and something he wrote about same back then:


And I did a lot of writing in foreign policy. And I remember saying in one of the editorial meetings, “There’s something very peculiar going on.” For most of our lives there were guerrilla movements around the world, and they were invariably national liberation, and they were Communist or Soviet-supported, or Chinese-supported, Vietnam, Cuba. I mean, that was the norm.

And then I said, there’s an interesting counter-development, we have anti-communist guerrillas in Nicaragua, Angola, Afghanistan – of course, this was the Mujahedeen, and we’re backing it – I wonder what it means? And one of the people at the meetings said, “Well, you ought to write that.” I wasn’t actually thinking of doing it. So I put that together.

And I basically came to the conclusion is what had happened, the Soviets had overextended their empire, and they were getting what the West had gotten with its overextended empire decades before a reaction, they got a rebellion, they got resistance. And the Soviets were now beginning to feel it, and the genius of Reagan, although I don’t think they had a plan in doing this is he instinctively realized that one of the ways to go after the Soviets was indirect, and that is you go after their proxies, you go after their allies, you go after their clients, or even in Afghanistan you go after them directly.

So that’s what I called the Reagan Doctrine, it was sort of the opposite of the Brezhnev Doctrine, which was whatever we control we keep. And Reagan was saying, no you don’t.


Today, with the "over-extension of empire" by the U.S./the West post-the Old Cold War(?), we -- much like the Soviets described by Krauthammer above -- have gotten negative reactions, rebellions, resistance, etc.; this, re: our efforts, post-the Old Cold War, to expand market-democracy outward -- toward "freedom's new frontiers."

If we consider, in this exact such context, that now individuals such as Putin -- much like Reagan before him (see the second to last paragraph by Krauthammer above) -- has realized this and, accordingly and much like Reagan, has decided:

a.  To after the U.S./the West indirectly,

b.  To go after our proxies,

c.  To go after our allies and

d.  To go after our clients, etc.

Then, based on this such suggestion, where do we believe that it is most likely that these such new urban conflicts will take place?  (And, accordingly, where we should build such things as "resilience?")