Long Wars & Forever Wars

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As the nature of conflict changes, so too does its periodicity and duration. There have been many long, nearly forever, wars - The Reconquista, 774 years; Roman-Persian Wars, 681 years; The Germanic Wars, 588 years; Arab-Byzantine Wars, 400 years; The Ottoman Wars, 573 years; The Philippines Revolt, 377 years; Mexican Indian Wars, 414 years. Many wars continue today, especially civil wars, e.g. Myanmar from 1949, Afghanistan from 1978, Somalia from 1991, Syria from 2011. Some would argue that in modern warfare the use of overwhelming force by major states precludes long-term conventional conflict. Others would argue that chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats encourage long-term conflict. Cyber aggression, terrorism, and piracy are perennial, but arguments abound that somehow these are not ‘real’ wars.

In order to explore this topic with a view to gaining insight into when a conflict is due to be short, or when a conflict is likely to persist, CityForum and Z/Yen have assembled an unusual panel of a Vice Admiral, former Chair of NATO Parliamentary Assembly, and a wildly-popular speculative fiction author, along with a City economist and scientist. The exploration will centre on trying use insights to gauge the likely duration of the Russo-Ukrainian war since 2014. Here, our speculative fiction author will provide an unusual perspective, that of narrative from an alternative universe featuring the continuous Crimean War.

The historic Crimean War, so named as most of the fighting took place on the Crimean Peninsula, was waged from 1853 to 1856. It began when Russia's Czar Nicolas I, claiming to be protecting Orthodox Christians, took advantage of a demonstrably weak Ottoman-Turkish empire and invaded the principalities of Moldavia and Walachia in July 1853. In October the Ottoman-Turks retaliated by declaring war on Russia. Austria was concerned over its economic lifeline, the Danube River, which flowed through and terminated in the occupied provinces. Britain was concerned over its trades routes through Turkey into India. France simply wanted revenge for its sound defeat at the hands of the Russians in 1812. It wasn't long before they were drawn into the Russo-Turkish conflict. The war fighting raged for several years, and contained the famous "Charge of the Light Brigade" which ended the Battle of Balaclava on 24 October 1854. Over the winter of 1854-55 the allied French, British and Turkish forces were joined by the Italian kingdom of Sardinia, who wanted British and French support in expelling Austria from Italy. The Treaty of Paris, signed 30 March 1856, ended the war. Among terms of the treaty, Russia was forbidden to sail a fleet on the Black Sea, the Turks had to promise better treatment for their Christian subjects, and the territory at the mouth of the Danube was returned to Turkey. An overwhelming majority of casualties in the war died from disease and poor medical care. Florence Nightingale played a big role with a more scientific approach to nursing. The war was the first to employ armoured warships, submarine mines, intercontinental telegraph, and war photography. It gave rise to the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest award for military valour. But what if the Crimean War continued? In Jasper Fforde’s Nextian Universe, the Crimean War never ends, continuing for some 168 years, spanning some seven books, The Eyre Affair, Lost In A Good Book, The Well Of Lost Plots, Something Rotten, Thursday Next: First Among Sequels, One Of Our Thursdays Is Missing, and The Woman Who Died a Lot.


Madeleine Moon represented the Bridgend constituency at Westminster from 2005 to 2019. She joined the Defence Select Committee in 2009. She chaired sub-committees reporting on the safety and welfare of military personnel on training and exercises, the use of Remotely Piloted Air Systems and defence in the Arctic. Madeleine was a member of the UK Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly from 2010, serving as a member of the Defence and Security Committee. She was elected President in November 2018. Since leaving Westminster Madeleine has continued to work in defence facing organisations including City Forum and also joined the European Leadership Network.

In a 41 year naval career from 1961 to 2002, Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham had four sea commands - Beachampton, Ashanti, Nottingham and Ark Royal (when he commanded the first RN Task Group off Bosnia). Ashore he filled important staff appointments including Commandant of the Royal Navy Staff College, Director of Naval Plans, Director General Naval Personnel Strategy, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff, Deputy CINC Fleet and was the first Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Capability), being a key player in the implementation of the Smart Acquisition Initiative, a major change programme. On leaving the RN in 2002, he spent three years with EADS, as UK Country President, before becoming an independent consultant. He is Chairman of Sarnmere Consulting Ltd, of Atmaana plc, Deputy Chairman of CondorPM, and was Chair of the Blackheath Conservatoire of Music and the Arts from 2000-2007. He was a Non-Executive Director of Airbus Helicopters UK form 2007- 2016 and has been an advisor to several medium and small companies; he is a former member of CDS’s Strategic Advisory Panel. He was a Vice President, Trustee and Associate Fellow of RUSI between 1996 and 2010, Editor of The Naval Review from 2002 -2017 and is a frequent writer on defence, strategic issues and international affairs including acquisition, in many publications and newspapers. He has frequently given evidence to the House of Commons Defence Committee. He speaks and chairs regularly at conferences in UK and abroad, lectured for twelve years in Public Management at Kings College London and was an external examiner at Kingston University. He holds an BA First Class Honours degree in history and philosophy and a Masters degree in Classical Studies and is an active member of the Association of Business Mentors. He is a Spanish Interpreter and is currently learning Afrikaans. His leisure pursuits include music and opera, walking, travel, cricket, reading, theatre and general writing.

Jasper Fforde is a bestselling British novelist and the author of Thursday Next series. Before his writing career, London-born Fforde worked as a focus puller in the film industry. His first novel The Eyre Affair was published in 2001, starring the literary detective Thursday Next. It was followed by a further six in the series, including The Well of Lost Plots, which won Fforde the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Writing in 2004. His other series include Nursery Crime Division and the young adult fantasy series Chronicles of Kazam. Brimming with boundless imagination, linguistic dexterity and exuberant humour, Fforde’s fiction plays with traditional genre conventions, joyfully blending elements of comic fantasy, satire and metafiction.


Professor Michael Mainelli FCCA FCSI(Hon) FBCS, Executive Chairman, Z/Yen Group, is a qualified accountant, securities professional, computer specialist, and management consultant, educated at Harvard University and Trinity College Dublin. Michael gained his PhD at the London School of Economics where he was also a Visiting Professor of Innovation & IT. Michael is Emeritus Professor, Fellow, & Trustee at Gresham College where he created the London Finance initiative asking “when would we know our financial system is working?” His third book, The Price Of Fish: A New Approach To Wicked Economics And Better Decisions, won the Independent Publisher Book Awards Finance, Investment & Economics Gold Prize. Michael is an Alderman and Sheriff of the City of London 2019-2021.


Marc Lee read History at Oxford, and afterwards spent a period of time at the United Nations, writing a book on UN peacekeeping and editing a second volume on the same subject. This was followed by an appointment as a Defence Lecturer at Southampton University, where he worked for several years in Military Service education before being head-hunted by the Financial Times where he undertook roles as Conference Director, Managing Director of FT Business Enterprises and later worked as an adviser. During a twenty-year career he travelled the globe, developing and opening FT global events, leading training programmes as well as working in a high-level advisory role. In 1990 he set up Cityforum and devised and hosted the Adam Smith Bicentenary celebration for the Scots and has ever since been engaged in top-level forums and analysis of political, economic, defence and security and wider public policy questions. Cityforum works on a continuing basis with government departments and agencies and with private sector companies in the UK and abroad, developing practical, outcome-focussed round table discussions and undertaking bespoke advisory projects and 'candid friend' functions.

Friday, 15 July 2022

11:00 - 12:00 BST


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  • Madeleine Moon
    Madeleine Moon
    Associate; Former Chair NATO Parliamentary Assembly
  • Sir Jeremy Blackham
    Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham
    Former Deputy Commander-in-Chief Fleet: Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff
    Royal Navy
  • Jaspar Fforde
    Jasper Fforde
    English Novelist
  • Marc L Photo Conference 08.10.19 - Amended.jpg
    Marc Lee
    Founder & Chairman
  • michael Mainelli.png
    Professor Michael Mainelli
    Executive Chairman
    Z/Yen Group