A century has passed since the 1914 outbreak of World War I, yet the potential for such a conflagration remains. To explore the question of how the next “Great War” might begin, the Art of Future Warfare project’s recent war-art challenge sought fictional news accounts similar to front-page stories filed from the outbreak of a future global conflict.
The winning entry, “Coffee, Wi-Fi and the Moon,” is from Nikolas Katsimpras, a lecturer at Columbia University and a former Hellenic Navy officer. His story delves into how seemingly minor technological vulnerabilities can be exploited for grand strategic gains on the global stage and beyond, with devastating results.
The series of submissions revealed the vulnerabilities, more than strengths, that will be decisive in the outbreak of what could be the next “Great War.” Communications, sensors and networking that are taken for granted in peacetime become liabilities, either in lightning-strike attacks or through gradual escalation where the momentum of disaster only seems to increase by the hour. The Asia Pacific region was a frequent focal point of a potential conflict involving China, while Europe also emerged as the setting for a very dark tomorrow. Katsimpras added another potential theater of operations altogether with his unique entry. Confusion and uncertainty will be the norm, giving even the most basic of information its own strategic gravity, according to these authors. The submissions were judged by the Art of Future Warfare project and War On The Rocks.
During the next week, the Art of Future Warfare project will also feature selected standout entries from the contest to delve further into the origins of the next “Great War,” and what can be done to avoid it.
Image: NASA, John R. Lowery, 1988