Andrew Davies’ recent post on the possibility of Donald Trump as US President presents an interesting alternative future that could cause a fundamental rewrite of our defence plans. In concluding, he noted Andrew Carr’s concerns that the lack of deep thinking about such potential black swan events suggests our defence thinking is trapped within strongly institutionalised boundaries. There’s much truth in that, but first let’s unpack the matter.

Alternative futures are useful: the future starts here and spreads out into the future cone that most will be familiar with. You just need to decide what aspects of the range of possible futures form the left and right of arc for planning purposes.

The Shell Oil Company was a major early player in the field, and is credited with foreseeing, in the early 1980s, that a seismic change was coming in the Soviet Union. The alternative futures method gave Shell an inkling that something was up, while the vast intelligence agencies of the Western defence establishment missed it because the defence agencies dealt in what was expected to happen not what might happen.

To read the full “ANZUS in Trumpland—should we have seen it coming?” article by Griffith Asia Institute Visiting Fellow Peter Layton, please visit The Strategist.