Losing? The West and Modern War

From 16/9/2020

Professor Sten Rynning founded the Center for War Studies at SDU in 2011 and headed it until 2019. He is the former president of the Nordic International Studies Association (2011-2015) and currently serves on several boards of academic institutions and journals, including the Danish Institute for International Studies and the editorial board of the European Journal of International Security, International Affairs, the Journal of Strategic Studies, the Journal of Transatlantic Studies, and the Scandinavian Journal of Military Studies.

His research focuses on NATO and modern war.

Why is it that the West is good at fighting wars but poor at winning them? From Bosnia over Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq to Libya the fact that the West consistently prevails in combat operations but loses the peace raises questions in regard to the West’s political and institutional ability to manage war. These questions go beyond the inherent difficulty in fighting any war successfully and to the heart of the West’s ability to act strategically—that is, to employ force for political purpose. In this lecture, Rynning examines historical roots of tensions in strategy as practiced by Western governments and how characteristics of modern war exacerbate them. The lecture concludes with an assessment of current trends and the likelihood of a continued crisis of strategy in the West.