The Resilience Doctrine

Alex and I have a new article published  today by World Politics Review, as part of their special on risk and resilience in a globalized age. The other piece is by John Robb of Global Guerrilla’s fame.

In The Resilience Doctrine (also available in our library here), we argue that globalization is both unstable and inevitable, and that governments have little choice but to build collaborative platforms to manage risk. We conclude with a dozen guidelines for building an international system fit for the 21st century.

  1. Develop a doctrine with resilience at its heart, using it to create a unified narrative about how to manage the risks the world will face between now and 2030.
  2. Start with the ultimate objective of building and protecting global systems, cultivating a new constitution for the society of states.
  3. Create incentives for connecting to the international system and increase penalties for exclusion. Avoid disrupting the global order for short-term gain.
  4. Focus on function (what systems need to deliver in order to manage risk) over form (the organogram that devotees of international politics obsess over).
  5. Build the global institutions (rules, norms, markets, organizations, etc.) needed to deliver these functions. Aim for a shared operating system capable of managing each key risk.
  6. Invest in mechanisms that create, analyze and debate solutions, delivering the shared awareness that underpins successful reform.
  7. Build shared platforms on which state and non-state actors can work together to re-engineer systems. Sustain them over the long periods needed to battle for systemic change.
  8. Use open standards to foster interoperability, allowing networks of organizations to work together and achieve elevated rates of innovation and learning.
  9. Develop a theory of influence tailored to the modern age and use it to bind together all the instruments of international relations (diplomacy, development, military).
  10. Apply a rigorous principle of subsidiarity, devolving responsibilities to regional, national and local levels where possible, thus maximizing resilience throughout the system.
  11. Use the opportunity to reform national governments, increasing their openness, while reducing the scope of their mission so that they do less, better.
  12. Be accountable for outcomes, using shared metrics and external assessors to report publicly on whether resilience is increasing for those risks that will mean most to the future of our civilization.

John Robb on resilience

A few weeks back I interviewed John Robb, the military futurist and author of ‘Brave New War.’  We discussed the irruption of Latin American drug gangs into West Africa. Robb sees this as symptomatic of a broader push by “global guerrillas” – armed transnational criminal organisations – to take advantage of weaknesses in the global system:

We have a global market system that is subverting the nation state, so gaps where local control is lost are going to spring up all over the place, even in relatively developed states. There will be lapses where non-state groups like global guerrillas take control. If they’ve found a hole in West Africa, there are no barriers to their expansion.

Although they are drawn to “hollow states” like Guinea-Bissau, however, contrary to dire warnings of instability from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime the South Americans are unlikely to want to shake up the status quo too much. According to John Robb:

They don’t want warfare in West Africa – they want the maximum level of corruption and to be left alone, with bureaucratic apparatus geared towards helping them to do business. Almost across the board you’ll see that non-state groups are not trying to take over the national government. They don’t want that burden – it raises the profile, puts you on the international radar screen and leads to economic blockades. If there’s a nominal government in place they’ll keep the infrastructure up – they’re parasites off the infrastructure.

I asked Robb how Africa might deal with the problem, which got him talking about resilient communities: Continue reading

The Boyd Conference 2008

46°14′00″N 63°09′00″W Prince Edward Island, Canada.

I’m taking part in a roundtable on community resilience, 4&5GW and the decline of the state. The aim of the roundtable is to bring together individuals from a range of backgrounds to challenge current thinking and assumptions in our present political and societal systems.  Two presentations which I’ll be live blogging on will be Chet Richards on Mindsets and Character and John Robb on Community Resilience. There is no set agenda for the conference. This afternoon we will be running a series of open sessions… one of which is likley to be on community resilience.

If you have a question for Chet or John send me a tweet. Update: Thanks for the questions – answers will be tweeted soon. 

Update: Notes from John Robbs’ presentation after the jump + MP3 of Chet.

Continue reading