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Between 2015 and 2050: Considerations in Negotiating a Date for an Indian Grand Strategy Project

Author: Peter A. Garretson, International Affairs Fellow in India
August 3, 2009
Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses


Security planners often grapple with the question of how far out they should be looking and planning, and it is not a problem to take lightly. Many believe that as the pace of technology quickens and the number of possible interactions in a globalized, flattened world increase, the real horizon of meaningful forecast moves ever closer. But in my view that only forces us to look farther out, to things that seem distant today, but can be anticipated, and to take a longer view.

The job of a security planner is the job of a map-maker, a navigator, and a pilot. Using all our abilities, we chart the territory ahead as far as our tools can assist us, we decide upon a destination, and we chart a course, using time itself as a tool. While the policymaker always has the option to act along the immediate path of least resistance or maximum opportunity in the moment as a last resort, most policymakers look to their strategists for counsel regarding the best path that will offer maximum opportunity and freedom of manoeuvre for the long haul.

Strategists, therefore, do not have the luxury of surrendering to the fog of the future. They must do their best to penetrate it, to draw the contours of the map, however hazy, and to set waypoints that avoid getting trapped in local minima, and maximize opportunity and freedom of manoeuvre. It is the aim of every strategist to resist the natural course of things, and engineer change both within an organization and in its environment. As W. L. Bateman has noted, "If you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll keep on getting what you've always got."

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