Major General (Ret.) Robert H. Latiff is adjunct professor with the John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values at the University of Notre Dame and research professor at George Mason University. Future Peace is the eagerly awaited sequel to his critically acclaimed book Future War: Preparing for the New Global Battlefield. Here is a book trailer video for Future Peace (available on March 1, 2022).
When did you first get the idea to write this book?
During the writing of my first book, Future War, it became apparent that artificial intelligence would be a major area of technology for the military and that command and control and decision making would be heavily influenced. In Future Peace I wanted to explore countries’ too-frequent decisions to resort to violence and the impact technology has on those decisions.
Certainly these are unprecedented times in the United States and internationally where the U.S. maintains the largest active troop presence abroad of any country in the world. What can readers find in your book that will resonate with them today?
My hope is they’ll begin to see that the resort to war and the intentional killing of other humans by humans is insane when the climate and world-wide pandemics will ultimately do it for us. I hope to impress on the reader the utter wastefulness of such enormous arms expenditures and preparations for war and caution against being mesmerized by new weapons technologies.
How did you research Future Peace?
I consulted numerous sources, old and contemporary, government publications and public documents, political, philosophical, and sociological books and papers. I benefitted greatly from interaction with other faculty and experts and had a superb research assistant.
What did you learn while writing it?
I learned that the fascination with high-tech weaponry is not just a current phenomenon, but has been with us for centuries. Also, I was stunned and saddened by the way in which people who argued against war have been vilified and persecuted throughout history.
I remain interested in the enormous importance of literature, the arts, and popular culture on attitudes about war and violence.
In what way is the book you wrote different from the book you set out to write?
I set out to write a book about the role of a specific technology (AI) in war decision making and ended up writing more than I anticipated about the role technology in general plays in leaders’ decisions to resort to war.
Who is the biggest influence on you and your work?
As far as contemporary writers are concerned, I very much enjoy reading Andrew Bacevich. Historically, I focus on the work of Reinhold Niebuhr and Bertrand Russell.
What is your writing schedule like?
I start my day very early, writing all morning and doing research in the afternoon. I always made time for exercise at the end of the day.
What advice would you give to a writer who wants to start a book?
Create an outline and a story-board. Just keep writing. An author can always edit out text, but must put the thoughts on paper to build the story. An idea that is only in the author’s head benefits nobody else.
Who would you like to read Future Peace and why?
I would like military and geopolitical decision makers, the general public, and students to read my book.
What book(s) are you currently reading?
Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club
Eric Frank Russell, Wasp (1957)
What book or project are you working on next?
A story of the frightening reality of Cold War Germany as seen through the eyes of US and Soviet officers who faced each other across the infamous Fulda Gap.