Future threats

(I wrote most of this IIRC in 2013 without publishing it. I do stand by it even despite the events since.)

There appears to be a wide-spread interest in future threats among security policy-interested people. Such crystal ball actions usually result in the citing of trends and in highlighting countries or governments one doesn't like.

Honestly, I've never felt that this way of doing business is useful. It's not just the relatively poor track record that should put a question mark behind the approach. It's not the uninspired language , the fear-mongering or the consensus-theme if done by committees. All these issues should irritate as well, but another one is the knock-out problem:

Those future threats from such studies are usually no threat, but it's still possible to enter a brawl with them if one insists on it.*

This reminds me somewhat of ministries or departments of defence that should be called "war ministry" instead.
_ _ _ _ _

I'm trying to turn this into a constructive critique, of course. That's easy, for I will simply lay out how I approach these things, on the example of Germany:

Step 1: Look at a map.
Step 2: Think.

Seriously, I would never come up with the idea that some loudmouth government from thousands of kilometres away could turn into an actual threat. We can get into a brawl with them, but that's because we would be a threat to them.
No, primitive ballistic missiles of somewhat long range don't change this, and errorists are a problem for lightly armed bureaucracies (police), not for heavily armed ones (military).

So from a German point of view, I think of six possible threats, and I am glad to say that all of them are to date utterly unrealistic.

(1) European civil war

(2) Russia with more allies and much different economy than it has today

(3) Turkey with very different allies than it has today (relevant to European allies, not to Germany directly)

(4) Arabs

(5) Israel (enforcement of an embargo, for example)

(6) United States of America (naval conflict only unless the UK sides with them)

As mentioned before, all of them sound utterly ridiculous today and that's just perfect.
Great times.

For some reason, many other people interested in security policy have an intrinsic need for an enemy. They cannot really bear to have no real threat, and consequently hype up no-threats.
I think I am missing this intrinsic need and also believe said need is really something that psychology researchers should educate the general populace about (if they understand it themselves).

My approach has an additional benefit; it narrows down climate and terrain to relatively familiar types. There's no need to be concerned about Korean hills if you don't feel that North Korea should be taken seriously as a threat to your country. Nor do you need to be bothered by the Climate in the Arabian Peninsula.

*: Australians should let sink this in.

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