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New technological advances emerge every day. AI and blockchain are familiar and increasingly permeate everyday life, thanks, for instance, to the algorithms used in streaming platforms or even cryptocurrencies. Few of us stop to consider what these technologies will be able to do, potentially with only minimal investment or effort. This does not, however, stop even the general public from having strong opinions – positive or negative – on how these technologies should be developed or deployed. Talk of a new arms race driven by rapid technological advances generates even more views. Two of the articles in this issue of the RUSI Journal aim to dispel some of the confusion, misconception or fears surrounding new technologies and their application in defence and security. Peter J Phillips and Gabriela Pohl examine the use of AI in intelligence and counterintelligence; and Duncan McCrory examines how Russia’s use of electronic warfare and cyber operations demands that NATO enhance its ability to counter this threat.
From the latest technologies to history, this issue of the Journal also contributes to the current debate on the role and future of military history as a subject of academic research – as Louis Halewood and David Morgan-Owen discuss how history can make a fundamental contribution to professional military education. At the other end of the spectrum, R D Hooker, Jr looks at potential future scenarios to assess whether NATO would be ready to meet a Russian attack on the Baltic states, should this ever come.
The much talked about technological race, however, should not divert attention from more traditional ways in which non-status quo powers seek to increase their influence and reach. Andrea Ghiselli and Maria Grazia Erika Giuffrida assess China’s attempts to weaken US power in the Middle East and North Africa.
Decision-making structures are often a key factor in understanding a country’s policy choices. Vinay Kaura meticulously dissects the bureaucratic politics at play in the creation and evolution of India’s National Security Council.
Finally, in the 2020 winner of the Trench Gascoigne Essay Prize, William D James delivers a SWOT analysis for the UK in light of the international challenges it faces in the next decade. A longstanding RUSI tradition, the prize has been encouraging new thinking on defence and security since 1874. For the past two decades, it has been run by Michael Codner, who will be retiring in April after a distinguished and eclectic career as a seaman and academic with interests ranging from military doctrine to strategy, philosophy to military history. We look forward to picking up the baton from him and continue to make the prize a successful conduit for new and original voices in defence and security.
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