In this article, first published in the United States War College Quarterly (2008 2009) Winter Edition, Colin Gray discusses the dilemma facing Defence planners: how to effectively prepare for the future even though that future ‘cannot be predicted in any useful detail’.
First, Dr Gray discusses the importance of planning for the future and embracing the uncertainty and complexity that are inherent in those considerations. He argues that ‘the future has not happened, and no amount of planning can make it visible to our gaze today’.
Second, Dr Gray outlines his assertions about future conflict:
- The 21st century will be another bloody century
- War and strategy will continue as ever, albeit in new guises, characters of warfare, and unique strategies
- The insecurity or security narrative of the century will be amply explainable with reference to the genius of Thucydides’ reasoning on why states go to war: ‘fear, honour and interest’.
Finally, he outlines the principal features of the 21st century security environment and the implications of that environment for the military.
Although written nearly a decade ago, Dr Gray’s pragmatic thinking is very relevant to the future planners of today.