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Lt-Gen Durieux: "We need to think about the war in Ukraine, to avoid being surprised by a new tipping point in the world".

Everyone remembers that moment on 24 February 2022 when they heard the news of Russia's attack on Ukraine. Someone told you or you looked at your phone, but whichever way, you were gripped. You could hardly believe it.
IHEDN | Le GCA Durieux : “Il faut réfléchir à la guerre en Ukraine, pour éviter d’être surpris par une nouvelle bascule du monde”

THIS WAR WAS NOT UNFORESEEABLE

Before 24 February 2022, who would have imagined that, one year later, in Europe, several hundred thousand people would be killed and wounded, cities destroyed, dozens of fighter planes shot down, warships sunk and even threats of the use of nuclear weapons made or at least implied? Who would have imagined that four Member States of the European Union would be bordering a country at war, under attack, itself a candidate for membership? Who would have imagined that we French would actually have war on our borders if we took the European idea seriously?

It was improbable and yet, we can agree, it was not unforeseeable. A strategic surprise is not something we failed to foresee. A strategic surprise is something we didn't want to see.

We don't want to see it because, often, the decision to go to war seems irrational to us and yet it is taken by an actor whose rationality escapes us. We don't want to see it because we ourselves are prisoners of our passions, our prejudices and our interests. To see war for what it is, a phenomenon that is not very rational and rarely linear, you actually have to be extremely rational.

We've been surprised once; if we don't want to be surprised a second time, if we don't want to be surprised by a new world upheaval on an even greater scale than that of 24 February, we have to take note, we have to study, we have to think, we have to deduce.

FRANCE'S CAPACITY FOR STRATEGIC THINKING IS UNIQUE IN EUROPE

For a year, this is what the officers of the Ministry of the Armed Forces, generals and captains alike, civilian researchers, doctors and professors, the doctrine centres of the three armed forces, the Strategic Research Institute of the Military Academy (IRSEM), the war colleges, the Centre for Advanced Military Studies and the Institute for Advanced Studies of the Ministry of the Interior (IHEMI) have been doing. These organisations represent a strategic thinking capacity that is unique in Europe.

And for the past year, they have been observing the unfolding of events, comparing analyses, exploiting open sources of intelligence as well as more confidential information; for the past year, they have been interacting with French and foreign researchers, taking part in international conferences with our partners and allies. For the past year, they have been interacting with French and foreign researchers, and taking part in international conferences with our partners and allies. For the past year, they have been examining, each in their own speciality, this sprawling event in its tactical and strategic, civil and military, European and global dimensions.

And this is at the heart of the IHEDN's mission: "To understand in order to act, to understand each other in order to act together". We invite you to reflect on this conflict to avoid being surprised by what is taking shape before our very eyes.

Your opinions, analyses and thoughts count. National defence, in other words defence in all its civil and military dimensions, is everybody's business. So get involved, express yourself and keep thinking. Because this war is also a war of ideas.