I'm just reading an article and I see this sentiment expressed:
Ukraine has been let down by a US-led reluctance to supply Ukraine with the weapons it needs, meaning Kyiv lost a golden opportunity to strike earlier before Russia had built its defences.
The article elaborates on this sentiment further, but I'm going to give the idea a name for the purposes of this question: strategism.
It's the idea that advantage is gained in war by acting in a more and more anticipatory way ahead of time, and making more and more material preparations for war.
I see this sentiment expressed often, that if only action had been taken sooner or more quickly, the result would have been more decisively favourable.
What this thinking doesn't seem to account for, is that the enemy can similarly engage in strategism. They too can seek to prepare earlier and act more quickly and decisively, including acting against their opponent's build-up itself (that is, they can attack the strategist simply for building-up and engaging in strategism, with a view to later advantage, even before a specific grievance has arisen that would trigger war in non-strategist circumstances).
The apparent trigger for the Ukraine war was a refusal, when demanded, of the Zelensky regime to desist from the strategism of joining NATO, or of NATO to give a guarantee that any application would be rebuffed.
Therefore, Russia struck against Ukraine before it could conclude its strategist logic of joining NATO. The reason it struck is because NATO membership is seen as a manifestation of strategism - a build-up of strength that would assist Ukraine in a later confrontation.
If there had been more preparations for war sooner (including an earlier application to NATO), then the demand for guarantees may have been lodged by Russia sooner, and the fighting may have commenced sooner (for example, if that demand made even earlier were rebuffed in the same way).
Similarly in WW1, relatively small events triggered general confrontation because all sides knew that strategism would then begin, and it was best to conclude the hostilities under the status quo rather than waiting for anyone else to dig in.
Question: Is there any analysis available, whether looking at historical events or looking at the logic, that this "strategism" actually conveys any advantages to its adherents?
Historical events seem to me to suggest this logic regularly fails. Usually, it touches off war, as the opponent responds in equally strategic terms - either by building up in a way that deprives the strategist first-mover of any additional advantage, or by immediately commencing war before any build-up is achieved by the first-mover.
Therefore, those who wish to engage in strategism, would probably do better to consider it synonymous with an immediate declaration of war (i.e. it will lead to an immediate commitment to fight war with whatever preparations and resources they currently have), rather than a hedge or deterrence against war, or an opportunity to build up against their opponent.