Between institutional continuousness and adjustment pressure: mentalities and attitudes concerning present-day power projection

Holger Alisch/Stephan Maninger

In the beginning of the 1990ies, the book „War and Antiwar“ was published, prognosticating dramatic power shifts caused by entering the era of technology, that „third wave“ of human development which followed the agricultural and then the industrial revolution. Keeping up with the technological progress, with the Western armed forces the „revolution in military matters“ began, resulting in an undisputed dominance of the USA as the solitary superpower. This development, however, has continued and has slipped out of national influence for some time, as dual technologies as well as non-governmental actors soften the national monopoly on legitimate violence. Which defence- and security-political measures will be taken in future will be determined mostly by the approach and attitude of the decision-makers. For this reason, this essay deals with the old quest for the kind of future power projection under the special circumstances of exponential technological changes. The exponential technological progress outpaces the capabilities of national security architectures, because there is no realistic view on security. The reaction to changes is basically an expression of the socially prevailing mindset. The ban of the crossbow in the Middle Ages (1139), or the intellectual „Maginot-Line“ of a recent decision-maker, reflect an inclination towards the backward-oriented perspective of security policy. Beforehand, too, the Maginot Line itself had only be an attempt of the French military command and control at fighting the war, which had just been contended 1914-1918, with the same methods and means once again. Fundamentally, especially among experts and the regular military, there was and is a tendency to repeat „the latest war“, and this is more or less comprehensible from a human point of view.Every latest conflict is certainly an example for learning the lessons necessary for avoiding slips made before. Nevertheless, security structures strive for anticipating the future conflicts and behaving correspondingly. How applicable the cognitions and scenarios are depends on to what extent the identified determining factors were concurrently discerned, assessed, and rated. If the analysis contains intellectual and denomination interdictions, distortions of affirmations, or information deficits, this will reduce the validity, strength, and value of the designs. In this respect, security authorities prospectively will have to overcome their mental inhibitions, to develop multidisciplinary approaches, to practise unharboured and realistic planning of scenarios, and to internalize a creative, resilient, „one team, one mission“ (Fussel) cooperation – for otherwise, they will become obsolete.