06 September 2011

Brit Think-Tank Looking Forward

British think-tank RUSI has some interesting thoughts on "The End of Twentieth-Century Warfare".

The great power wars of the twenty-first century will be fought by special forces: specialised in combat against pirates, terrorists and global criminal networks; in focused search and rescue and search and destroy missions; and in civilian protection units capable of disabling but not destroying an enemy. They will be fought by cyber-warriors, skilled in manipulating unmanned weapons and in deterring and responding to system-wide cyber-attacks. And they will be fought in multilateral coalitions aimed at stopping the wars that criminal governments wage against their own people and bringing individual leaders and their coterie of high-level supporters to justice.

Many readers will shake their heads and think how short is historical memory. 'Never again' has as little impact on the decisions to mobilise armies as it does on the decisions to stop genocide. Reasons always exist to send in the troops; it is just that war-weary, broke, frustrated Americans confronted with their crumbling domestic human and physical infrastructure have temporarily forgotten or forsworn them. Perhaps. But as two American military officers argue compellingly in a twenty-first­ century sequel to George Kennan's 'Long Telegram' (the X article), the world's greatest military power, near the height of its military dominance, is confronting a world in which control is giving way to credible influence (Mr Y, 'A National Strategic Narrative', 2011). No country, however mighty, can direct or determine global outcomes (it never could, but the illusion was good enough for government work). The best it can hope reflections on the 9/11 decade for is to influence others - governments and societies alike - in shaping events and adapting to a continuous stream of changing challenges. In this world we will not 'win wars'. We will have an assortment of civilian and military tools to increase our chances of turning looming bad outcomes into good - or at least better - outcomes.

By: Brant

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