From the always-interesting Edward Luttwak in Harper's. It begins:
Modern armed forces continue to be structured for large-scale war, but advanced societies whose small families lack expendable children have a very low tolerance for casualties. Even supposedly warlike Americans gravely count casualties in Iraq that in three years have yet to reach 3,000—fewer than were lost in many a single day of battle in past wars. Fortunately, this refusal to spill the blood needed to fuel battles diminishes the likelihood that advanced societies will deliberately set out to fight one another (pas des enfants, pas des Suisses, pas de guerre) unless they are somehow able to convince themselves that a war could be entirely or very largely aerial and naval. Such wars, however, are difficult to imagine, except when islands are involved, as in a China-Taiwan war, which is very improbable for its own reasons. Air and naval forces can certainly be employed advantageously against any less advanced enemy incautious enough to rely on a conventional defense, conducted by regular forces, but in that context as well there must be severe doubts about the continued usefulness of the ground forces of advanced countries that are intolerant of casualties. It is easy enough to blockade the enemy, to successfully bomb all the right nodal points and shut down electrical, transportation, and communications networks. Air strikes can disable runways and destroy both sheltered and unsheltered aircraft, ballistic missiles, and nuclear installations. Air power can also sink warships, or rout any mechanized forces deployed in the open, as the United States did with Iraq in 1991 and partly in 2003, and as it could do with Iran. No real role would remain for ground forces except to dislodge the enemy from any territory he had occupied, or to occupy his own territory. That, however, is bound to cost casualties that might not be tolerated; it is also bound to provoke an insurgency.
Insurgencies understand this very well. A thoughtful piece. Read the whole thing. As we always say at Maggie's Farm, "Hope is not a plan." Neither is hopelessness, of course.