Go to home page

This transcript appears in the April 28, 2023 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

[Print version of this transcript]

Lt. Colonel Ralph Bosshard (ret.)

The Ukraine War Is an Indicator and Accelerator of the West’s Decline

This is the edited transcript of the presentation of Lt. Colonel Ralph Bosshard to Panel 1, “The Growing Danger of World War III Underlines the Necessity for a New Security Architecture,” of the Schiller Institute’s April 15-16 Conference, “Without the Development of All Nations, There Can Be No Lasting Peace for the Planet.” Lt. Colonel Bosshard is a retired officer of the Swiss Armed Forces and a consultant in military-strategic affairs. Watch the entire conference here.

Subheads have been added.

View full size
Schiller Institute
Lt. Colonel Ralph Bosshard (ret.)

Many thanks for having me in your conference today.

The ongoing war in Ukraine is probably an indicator, and at the same time an accelerator, of the decline of the West. The political importance of Western Europe is shrinking. We can see this in the fact that the Global South is rebelling and can afford not to vote according to the wishes of the West, for instance, in the UN General Assembly. We can see the declining economic importance of the West from the fact that in nine years of steadily tightening sanctions, the West has not succeeded in forcing Russia to change its behavior, particularly with regards to Ukraine.

Today, the sanctions are only part of an effort to harm Russia. They no longer serve a positive objective. The West is also showing itself to be disunited, and the Biden Administration is hardly succeeding in uniting its allies and friends by stoking fear of Russia.

The disunity is not only evident in Europe, but also in the Far East, in the form of the disagreements between France and the AUKUS countries. Macron’s visit to China also revealed fundamental differences within the Western bloc. Macron’s thesis on the strategic independence of Europe possibly received so much attention because it was one of the few areas where there was unity between Macron and Xi Jinping. The Chinese leader’s words about a multipolar world were probably a soothing balm on Macron’s wounds.

Various European countries are pursuing their own geopolitical ambitions. Poland, for instance, wants to implement its Intermarium conception of the 1920s, and perhaps even recreate the medieval Grand Duchy of Lithuania. France wants to continue playing the role of the Grande Nation in the world, while Italy dreams of its enlarged Mediterranean [empire] which, by the way, is stretching from the Gulf of Guinea to the Sea of Azov and the Indian Ocean; and other European countries pursue nationalist policies. And they all want to make use of the resources of the whole of Europe for their own purposes.

This is also true for Ukraine, where nationalists are trying to use the resources of NATO to give free rein to their hatred of Russia, and to reconquer territories whose inhabitants never wanted to be Ukrainian. Every day, the West is putting weapons into the hands of all those who are ready to fight Russia. This has nothing to do with Ukraine’s security any longer. Rather, the country is being devastated even further every day.

But with its arms deliveries, NATO is trying to polish up its image of a loser, which has been attached to it particularly after the Kabul disaster in August 2021. NATO is no longer a tool to guarantee the security of its member states, but a safe haven from which these countries can pursue their geopolitical ambitions.

The Failure of Unilateralism

These are all unfavorable conditions for the desired creation of a supra-regional security organization that punishes so-called rogue states with unilateral actions worldwide without waiting for corresponding mandates from the UN Security Council, which may never come. With its unilateral actions in Iraq, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, the West has itself damaged important organizations and mechanisms for conflict prevention and conflict resolution.

All Western states contributed to this. I myself witnessed the misuse of the so-called Vienna Document for security and confidence-building measures by the U.S.A., but also by Germany, when [I was] working for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, based in Vienna. And in their messianic sense of mission, the NATO countries are now exerting pressure on neutral countries and weakening even the last potential bridge-builders in Europe. It almost looks as if the West wanted World War III at any cost.

The years of the Cold War were characterized by direct confrontation between the blocs in one of the most densely populated regions of the world, which is Central Europe, and by the permanent threat of nuclear war. The fall of the Berlin Wall put an end to this uncomfortable state of affairs.

Today, direct confrontation takes place on a much longer border, from the North Cape to the Black Sea, and we are even playing with the option of the use of nuclear weapons, and thus basically with fire. Unlike the West, the Soviet Union, and today Russia, believed and continues to believe that a nuclear war cannot be confined to one world region but must inevitably become global. I hope that no one will be stupid enough and try to find out whether this is true.

In the West, There Are No Brains

Meanwhile, the military importance of the West is shrinking as well. The fact that Ukraine could not achieve decisive success despite massive military aid from the West, and that various African countries prefer to hire the private military company Wagner Group rather than allow Western troops into their countries, tells volumes. The world’s oceans and airspace are no longer under the unrestricted control of the U.S.A., which is no longer the undisputed leader in weapons technology.

After the end of the Cold War, total military dominance of the West prevailed. This belief manifested itself in the air war doctrine of Colonel John Warden with his five rings—you may know about it, in the conception of the Ship-to-Objective-Maneuver of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, in the Prompt Global Strike program, and others.

We are so convinced of our “good guy” status that we are incapable to understand that other countries might consider us as a threat. A Russian joke says “сила есть—ума не надо,” which means “power is available, so there is no need for brains.” This is exactly how the West is behaving today. The West’s armed forces need to be adapted to the West’s declining political and economic importance. Otherwise they will only become the helpless expression of a highly militarized foreign policy that replaces strength of argument with weapons effectiveness.

Of course, the politicians of the West know about it—I hope they know about it—but resist the recognition that the power of their countries is shrinking. They all say to themselves “not on my watch,” and try to postpone the point in time when the next military disaster occurs. And they are all prepared to use military force to prevent that. If the West does not come to its senses, it will become a danger spot in the world itself. The West’s self-righteousness is becoming a problem.

This is all a brief summary of the reasons why I think that a new system of global security is required. We can elaborate on individual elements of this or on the basic features of such a system a wee bit more in detail later in the discussion.

So, thanks a lot, and hope to be hearing from you.

Back to top    Go to home page