March 22, 2018, 4:11 am
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The Far Times: Forward

HISTORY changes. If I could know one thing about the world a hundred years from now, or have access to one train of information, I think I’d want their history of our time, because not only would it tell me a lot of things that I can’t know about our time, but it would tell me everything I needed to know about their time, like what they’re willing to believe.” [Across the Border to Spook Country: An Interview with William Gibson. Courtesy of]

It is the future that we are discussing and how history recorded people’s projection of their tomorrows.

America’s Pentagon, for example, envisions a world of hybrid wars combining conventional combat, guerrillas and insurgents, cyber-conflicts plus terrorism and transnational criminal syndicates. Grunts, robots, viruses, militiamen, battle-cars, rockets, commissars, trained animals, drones, and death rays in melee.

New weapons. Rogue One regardless, Malloy Aeronautics and SURVICE Engineering Company has been producing the Joint Tactical Aerial Resupply Vehicle for the United States Army. Call it a Hoverbike, or flying motorcycle, or quadcopter, or Star Wars-style speeder. New ideas. A post-Cold War Big 5 of (1) Optimizing soldier and team performance, (2) Developing adaptive institutions to operate in complex environments, (3) Ensuring interoperability, (4) Building tailorable combined-arms formations, and (5) Leveraging technologies to maintain capability overmatch. [Gen. David G. Perkins, “Army Operating Concept: Delivering the Future”]

Current conflicts heating up: “there are signs the future of warfare may already be here. Just as the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and the 1973 Arab-Israeli Conflict were harbingers of future conflict, we may be at the juncture where events from Eastern Ukraine to Syria and Iraq signal how warfare is likely to evolve and shape the world of 2030 to 2050.” [Parameters 46(2) Summer 2016]

Yes, new weapons. A nuclear-armed long-range standoff weapon. One megawatt High Energy Laser. Long-Range Strike Bomber (B-3). Plasma rail-gun. Combat Survivor Evader Locator. Mirror proton stealth kit. Long-range and semi-autonomous anti-ship missile. Submarine drones. Rock-em-sock-em-robots. Hypersonic cruise missile. Aurora / SR 72.

A non-American view. “The centre of gravity of global economic power is continuing to shift, away from North America and Europe, towards Asia, resulting in a change in the balance of power and an increasingly multipolar world. While the US is likely to remain the world’s leading military power in 2035, its military advantage is likely to be reduced and challenged increasingly by China. Other rising powers, such as Brazil and India, will take a strategic interest beyond their own regions in pursuit of resources.” [UK Ministry of Defense, Future Operating Environment 2035]

A non-Western view (Igor Popov and Musa Khamzatov, Voyna budushchego: kontseptual’nyye osnovy i prakticheskiye vyvody. Ocherki strategicheskoy mysli, Moscow, 2016): the experience of the Great Patriotic War will continue to be relevant, but Russian officers must implement fundamentally different approaches with appropriate new technologies. [

New threats (robot apocalypse, World War Z, vampire pandemic) and old hatreds revived (Sino-Russian War over Siberia, Indo-Pakistan nuclear exchange, Beijing Spring/Jasmine Revolution).
Scenarios. “When last contacted, Air Force Two, with the vice president of the United States aboard, was flying high over the Philippine jungle. On board was not only the vice president, but the ‘football’ that gave him the power to initiate nuclear war. For in Washington, D.C., the U.S. President lay dying. At the newly reconstituted Clark Air Base, the orders went out: Air Force Two, aloft or downed, had to be found.

The vice president, alive or dead, had to be brought back. The hunt was on. The race against time and the ultimate terror had begun.” [Strike Eagle by Doug Beason,]

The past as present as future. “The world is now a better place for a common man than ever it was before, the spectacle wider and richer and deeper, and more charged with hope and promise. Think of the universal things it is so easy to ignore; of the great and growing multitude, for example, of those who may travel freely about the world, who may read freely, think freely, speak freely! Think of the quite unprecedented numbers of well-ordered homes and cared-for, wholesome, questioning children! And it is not only that we have this increasing sea of mediocre well-being in which the realities of the future are engendering, but in the matter of sheer achievement I believe in my own time.” [Herbert George Wells, New Worlds For Old, 1912]

A long-run perspective: “It is conceivable, too, that some pestilence may presently appear, some new disease, that will destroy, not 10 or 15 or 20 per cent of the earth’s inhabitants as pestilences have done in the past, but 100 per cent; and so end our race. No one, speaking from scientific grounds alone, can say, ‘That cannot be.’ And no one can dispute that some great disease of the atmosphere, some trailing cometary poison, some great emanation of vapor from the interior of the earth, such as Mr. Shiel has made a brilliant use of in his ‘Purple Cloud,’ is consistent with every demonstrated fact in the world. There may arise new animals to prey upon us by land and sea, and there may come some drug or a wrecking madness into the minds of men. And finally, there is the reasonable certainty that this sun of ours must radiate itself toward extinction.” [H.G. Wells, The Discovery of the Future (A Discourse Delivered at the Royal Institution), 1913]
Prophecies. Regarding the third part of the secret revealed at the Cova da Iria-Fatima, on 13 July 1917: “it should be kept in mind that prophecy in the biblical sense does not mean to predict the future but to explain the will of God for the present, and therefore show the right path to take for the future. A person who foretells what is going to happen responds to the curiosity of the mind, which wants to draw back the veil on the future. The prophet speaks to the blindness of will and of reason, and declares the will of God as an indication and demand for the present time. In this case, prediction of the future is of secondary importance. What is essential is the actualization of the definitive Revelation, which concerns me at the deepest level. The prophetic word is a warning or a consolation, or both together.” [Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Theological Commentary”]
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