Editor's Note (Vol 168 | Issue 7)

Some of the most important questions of our time revolve around the geopolitical, strategic and societal changes that seem to have accelerated in the past decade–as renewed geopolitical competition is reshaping the post-Cold War order in undefined ways. From the live conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East to the focus on strengthening existing alliances and forging new ones, questions abound about how the mid-2020s are going to redefine the world we live in. New technologies–and the small and large private actors that develop and own them, as well as the states attempting to harness them–compound this sense of uncertainty about what the future of international affairs has in store. While it is too early to know for certain what developments will be the most significant and which trends are likely to grow and endure, analysts and policymakers are acutely aware of the need to understand the potential implications of these changes for the future resilience of their defence and security strategies.

This issue of the RUSI Journal includes three articles that offer some initial thoughts on how one of the most talked-about technological developments of the moment, generative artificial intelligence (AI), could affect three areas of defence and security activity. Joe Devanny, Huw Dylan and Elena Grossfeld assess whether generative AI has the potential to significantly alter intelligence work. Ivanka Barzashka examines how wargaming–currently seeing a large growth in attention as a discipline as well as a traditional military activity–could be enhanced (or perhaps supplanted) by generative AI. Patrick Hinton then discusses how military planning–including wargaming–remains, in its essence, a human-centric activity, despite the usefulness of current AI aids.

Technology is on everyone’s minds, but is far from the only tool in the contemporary arsenal of licit and illicit actors: Kevin D Stringer, Madison Urban and Andrew Mackay look at economic statecraft and assess how the examples of the US experience of counter threat finance can provide new tools of gaining strategic advantage.

The RUSI Journal has a long tradition of publishing new and emerging voices in defence debates. In the 2023 winning essay of the Trench Gascoigne Prize for the military category, Joseph Reilly claims that current geopolitical shifts mean that the UK is going to be further removed from conflict fault lines than in previous decades. They can therefore afford a new type of strategic approach. Meanwhile, the winner of the student category, Turner Ruggi, proposes that a new framework for states is needed so that they can develop strategies to counter economic coercion in an era of economic interdependence.

Dr Emma De Angelis
Editor, RUSI Journal


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