What could be worse than a “Ghost Fleet” scenario?
When the US Congress, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of the Navy schedule to be briefed in real time about a sci-fi book, you have to assume that the situation is real serious. And this is the case with the new techno-thriller novel “Ghost Fleet” in which World War III scenarios are presented by defense and international security experts Peter W. Singer and August Cole.
In the aspect of real-world military technology, the contents of the book is not something that is impossible to evolve in a real battle, regardless of who is attacking whom.
But exactly for this same extreme complexity of real time military technologies as featured in the “Ghost Fleet”, there exists one very essential issue: predictability of military conflicts assessed on intelligence about numbers of soldiers, horses, artillery, tanks, ships, warplanes or missiles, is not valid any more in 21st century. That makes the outcome of any future full scale global nuclear conflict practically unpredictable, and it would be unrealistic to presume that contemporary nuclear power countries are not fully aware of the unpredictability factor. All of the major advanced countries, no matter if new history or old civilization, already have too much to lose in an eventual global nuclear conflict. That would make any of them highly demotivated to initiate WW III.
Having said that, I find no ground to feel optimistic about international security prospects.
Following precisely the same techno-thriller line of “Ghost Fleet”, its nightmare can be logically expanded into an even worse scenario: a technologically advanced country or organization, not possessing any weapon of mass destruction itself, could get in position, through sophisticated interaction of high edge space and cyberspace electronic warfare and communications, to simulate a nuclear attack from one nuclear power country on another nuclear power country, thus triggering a real full scale global conflict. In the circumstances of currently achieved velocity of intercontinental ballistic missiles and the deepening international distrust – factors that take both the verification procedures and the “red button” decision making process to a critical point, it would take just seconds to get hundreds of nuclear warheads on their pre-programmed trajectories.
This type of danger, which in terms of probability is orders greater compared to one big power attacking another big power, can be crucially minimized by upgrading security cooperation among the big powers. But for this to get materialized, there is another huge obstacle to be overcome: the primitive atavistic drive to dominate the world.
Finally – technology is not everything. You have the people with their attitudes and human life values who care about the future – theirs, and the future of their children and grandchildren.
And if you really love good sci-fi, I would recommend the depths of civilizational thinking in the novels of the Strugatsky brothers (Arkady was born on this day, ninety years ago).
“Hard to Be a God”, for example.