This got me to thinking how few classic battles have been fought around the world in recent decades, with two armies engaging bravely and competently at a fairly defined location. Much recent warfare has either been a one-sided fiasco, like the first Gulf War, or something, such as in the Balkans in the 1990s, more similar to gang warfare carried out by bullies who like preying on civilians but make themselves scarce when confronted by disciplined troops.
So, when was the last battle in the Gettysburg / Waterloo mode where both armies fought well and the decision hung in the balance until near the end?
It seems like it has become ever more difficult to get two roughly equal armies to show up on a battlefield with both of them primed to fight.
The Egyptian - Israeli fighting in 1973 of 35 years ago probably qualifies as a battle where both sides could look back with some pride, although the Egyptians didn't really have a plan for winning the war. They just wanted to get across the Suez Canal to prove they could do it. But they did it so well that the Israelis, with the exception of Ariel Sharon, were psychologically traumatized. Sharon improvised furiously and turned the tide.
But what would compare since then? Any suggestions?
Some aspects of the Falklands War might compare, but the Argentinean performance (outside of the Air Force) was mediocre at best.
The War Nerd enthuses over Eritrean-Ethiopian battles in the 1990s. The Chechen defeat of the Russian tanks in 1994 was impressive, but this seems like another example of fiasco on one side.
A commenter once suggested that the Rwandan Tutsi army's adventures in the Congo in the 1990s deserved to go down in legend. They sounded kind of like the great escape pulled off by Greek mercenaries trapped deep inside the Persian Empire, as described in Xenophon's book. But I don't know if they ever ran into a worthy opponent.
John Mueller argues that the human race is becoming less warlike. He may have a point.