Posted: 09/04/2017
Our ability to forecast major future pol-mil events is not highlighted by many successes. Witness the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Arab Spring, etc. Or, as Yogi Berra posited, "It is very difficult to make predictions, especialy about the future."This is not a reason for pessimism, just caution. But this also calls into question various claims about this or that analytic tool or intellectual flavor of the month (black swans, smart crowds, etc.) will save us in the end.The one technological trend in which I have confidence for its effect on pol-mil policy making is the speed of communications/news. It is not precisely instantaneous but it is very close. The net effect of this ability, or disability, to know things almost as soon as they happen is that the decision making cycle for senior officials has declined dranatically. There is little time allowed now for deliberation, thought, consideration. Instaneous replies and reactions are expected. This is certainly a phenomenon in the press but it will likely also begin to infect the bureaucracy as the Internet Generation (for lack of a better term) rise in the ranks. They are, regrettably, used to reacting to everything with immediacy. Twitter, blogs, etc. are about ongoing conversations, not thought out resposnes.So, are there mechanisms -- meaning processes -- that can be put in place to serve as a brake on this rush to react? Even if there are, we will likely find that intelligence officers as well as polciy makers are being forced to work at a apce that runs counter to their better instincts.