18 Race & Class 51(3)
possible for the United States to maintain its military advantage for centuries if it remains capable of transforming its forces before an opponent can develop counter-capabilities’.9
Stripped of its anachronistic application of contemporary military jargon, its shallow scholarship and its unproblematic comparisons between the United States and previous empires, this document was essentially a variant on ONA futuristic studies such as Preserving American Primacy (January 2006) and Preserving US Military Supremacy (August 2001). The same objectives are shared by the neoconservative thinktank Project for the New American Century (PNAC) in its 2000 call for US military transformation, Rebuilding America’s Defenses. The PNAC couples a boyish fascination with sci-fi weaponry with a strident insistence on the need to preserve US ‘primacy’, ‘geo-political pre-eminence’, ‘dominance’ and a ‘global security order that is uniquely friendly to American principles and prosperity’.10
This determination to shape, control and ‘dominate’ the turbulent and conflictprone twenty-first century in the foreseeable (and unforeseeable) future is a key component of the new military futurism. On the one hand, military futurism is a by-product of the megalomaniac military doctrine of ‘full spectrum dominance’. At the same time, its predictions about the future express very real fears amongst the US ruling elite that the United States is inextricably connected to a world that may be slipping out of its control. Perhaps not surprisingly, therefore, the new military futurists are often considerably more pessimistic than their predecessors and tend to paint a very bleak future of an unsafe and unstable world that demands a constant military presence to hold it together. From Yevgeny Zemyatin’s We to Brave New World and Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, twentieth-century writers have used dystopian visions of the future as a warning or as a satirical commentary on the often lethal consequences of twentieth-century utopianism. The dystopias of the new military futurists have a very different purpose. The US military often tends to perceive itself as the last bastion of civilisation against encroaching chaos and disorder. The worse the future is perceived to be, the more these dark visions of chaos and disorder serve to justify limitless military ‘interventions’, technowarfare, techno-surveillance and weapons procurement programmes, and the predictions of the military futurists are often very grim indeed.
Dark skies The new military futurism is not universally pessimistic and even its worst-case scenarios are often qualified within a sliding scale of probability. But its determination to leave no possibility unexplored often results in a spectacularly bleak picture of the ‘near future’. Consider the following scenario outlined in Known Unknowns: unconventional ‘strategic shocks’ in defense strategy development, a study published in 2007 by the US Army’s Strategic Studies Institute (SSI):
Threats of context might include but are not limited to contagious un- and under-governance; civil violence; the swift catastrophic onset of consequential