When it comes to future conflicts or present-day war games, they have all the advantages and we have none! Or as Eric Edelman, a former undersecretary of defense for policy, told CNN recently, “Russia and China are playing a home game, we are playing an away game.” And mind you, we’re talking about a home game that could stretch from the Baltic Sea and the Arctic regions of Eurasia to the South China Sea. Those two “near-peer rivals” (as the U.S. military has taken to calling them) seem to have all the luck. I mean, count on one thing: imagined future flare points for conflict — “a fictional global crisis erupting on multiple fronts” in those war games — won’t be in the Caribbean, off New York City, or near the Baja Peninsula. As a result, the U.S. will have to be fully prepared, at staggering expense, to deploy and support forces thousands of miles away for the future conflicts the Pentagon is now imagining.
Fortunately, that military is, it seems, planning ahead for just such a future. As CNN’s Barbara Starr recently reported, this summer it’s going to engage in highly classified computer war games with two near-peer enemies with fictional names. No one, however, should doubt for a second that they will be China and Russia. This will happen just as the next Pentagon budget is being set in place and, in a recent exercise gaming out a future conflict against such adversaries, an anonymous Defense Department official confirmed to Starr that “we found the Blue Team, the U.S. and allies, kept losing.”
Uh-oh! And expect similar results again this summer — especially since, if the U.S. military budget, already larger than that of the next 10 countries combined, is to grow even bigger, it will obviously be helpful for that military to look needy. As Dave DeCamp of the invaluable Antiwar.com wrote recently, “The results of the war games could have an impact on troop numbers around the world and could be a factor in making decisions on military budgets.”
In this way, as retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, historian, and TomDispatch regular William Astore reports today, that military, after almost 20 years conducting a disastrously unsuccessful war on terror across much of the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa, is heading back to the future. It seems increasingly intent on returning to a Cold-War world its commanders remember oh-so-well from an era that, though almost 30 years gone, may now seem strangely consoling to a military that has been at sea (even when on land) for so long. Tom
Why 2021 Looks So Much Like 1981 — And Why That Should Scare Us
The future isn’t what it used to be. As a teenager in the 1970s, I watched a lot of TV science fiction shows, notably Space: 1999 and UFO, that imagined a near future of major moon bases and alien attacks on Earth. Movies of that era like Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey envisioned colossal spaceships and space stations featuring international crews on mind-blowing missions to Jupiter and beyond. Who’d have thought that, 20 years after Kubrick’s alternate reality of 2001, we humans would effectively be marooned on a warming “sixth extinction” planet with no moon bases and, to the best of my knowledge, no alien attacks either.
Sure, there’s been progress of a sort in the heavens. Elon Musk's Space X may keep going down in flames, but the Chinese now have their very own moon rocks. As the old-timey, unmanned Voyager probe continues to glide beyond our solar system, Mars is a subject for research by new probes hailing from the United Arab Emirates, China, and the U.S. Meanwhile, the International Space Station continues conducting research in low-earth orbit.Read More