2016 Region 2 Spring PMI Leadership Institute Meeting –Day One


Both today (Friday, April 22, 2016) and tomorrow morning the Project Management Institute (PMI) is holding a Leadership Institute Meeting for Region 2 (Midwest US and Canada) in Oak Brook, IL, a northwest suburb of Chicago.

First, let me start by saying why I went to the meeting.   I am the Director of Executive Council at the Chicagoland chapter of PMI.   Although this is the third year I’ve been a Director at PMI Chicagoland, it is the first time I’ve gone to a regional Leadership Institute Meeting.   Although membership is not my primary focus at the chapter, I was excited to see “Member Value and Growth” as the topic of the Region 2 LIM because my previous position as Director of Certification was one where I could see my direct connection to the membership experience of new members of the chapter.

In my new position as Director of Executive Council, executives, and not new members, were my “customers”, and I didn’t see how relevant I was to the membership situation at my chapter.   What this conference did for me was to a) to show me how wrong I was, that EVERY position ties in with membership either directly or directly, and b) to excite me about the potential value I could add to the organization.

Let’s first by saying what Region 2 is:    it c0nsists of 21 chapters in the following states or provinces:

  • Saskatchewan, Canada
  • Manitoba, Canada
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Minnesota
  • Iowa
  • Wisconsin
  • Illinois
  • Indiana

After the meet and greet opportunity in the morning, the keynote speaker was Mark Levin, who spoke on “Making the First Year Memorable:  10 Things Your Chapter Can Do to Bring Members Back for a Second Year.”    Mark Levin has served for over 20 years on the faculty of the Institutes for Organization Management, a continuing education program sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and has helped tens of thousands of volunteer and staff leaders improve their associations with the programs he has given worldwide.

The situation is this:  the first year of membership is the most likely year for a member to drop out.   If you get them to sign up again for a second and, hopefully, a third year of membership, you will have someone who is likely to stay in the club on a permanent basis.   So it is not just about getting new members, but helping retain the members you DO have.

What we did in the afternoon, was have breakout sessions where we first of all listened to all of those who had similar roles in the 21 chapters of Region 2, in particular for those practices which helped attract and retain members.

Then in the following session, those who attended the earlier breakout session gathered together with members of their own chapter to decide which of the ideas presented by other chapters they would adopt.

Of course, there were so many ideas thrown out there that chapters had to prioritize, so we put the ideas in three categories:

  1. No-brainers:   ideas that could be implemented on a short time-scale of three months or less that would not involve the Board because they were required a minimal budget to implement
  2. Medium-term:  ideas that could be implemented on a medium time-scale of up to the end of this calendar year, which would involve the Board in terms of coordinating the various roles that would be involved in the implementation of the idea.
  3. Long-term:  ideas that the chapter would like to pursue in the next calendar year, but which are too complex to implement at present

Afterwards, each chapter presented their menu of chosen action items to the entire group.

The next part of the conference was a choice of topics, and I chose the topic of leadership development in the chapter.   This was facilitated by David Barrett, a project manager who is also a professional speaker.    This was a whole presentation on advice for Directors and Vice Presidents on how to improve their own leadership skills and to nurture the skills of others.

I am looking for to tomorrow’s half-day session!

 

Driving Forces of International Security–Part 2


In the past week or so, I have done several posts on the first part of the Global Risk Report 2016, which came out earlier this year from the World Economic Forum.

The report is, to a large extent, similar in format to those created in previous years, which makes for an excellent way of checking up on recent trends of global risks.

One feature that was specifically commissioned for the Global Risk Report 2016, however, was a survey of the International Security Outlook for 2030.   International security is defined as “measures taken by state or non-state actors, individually or collectively, to ensure their survival and integrity against trans-boundary threats.”

The consensus in international relations that was achieved in the first 25 years after the Cold War created social, p0litical and economic progress for people in many countries around the world.  However, shifts in political and economic power are threatening the international security order, and these are being accelerated by:

  • technological innovation (see previous post on Global Technological Risks)
  • social fragmentation
  • demographic shifts

The two shifts that have the potential of destabilizing current international relations are:

  1. Frail or weakening states–these open up space for the rise of armed non-state actors (like ISIS) in the global security space, and present themselves as alternatives to state-based governance structures
  2. Return of strategic competition between strong states with conflicting interests–this can be seen in the competition between the BRIC  countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) on the one hand and US and NATO countries on the other.

The first part of this second section of the report showed examples of the first shift,  where frail or weakening states create a power vacuum which is being filled by terrorist groups or criminal enterprises.   The examples given were Daesh in the Middle east, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Boko Haram in Africa, and drug cartels in Latin America

The second part of this section of the report on international security deals with the second of the two themes above, the strategic competition between strong states with conflicting interests, rather than the problems caused by weak states.    The examples given to illustrate this are the security issues dealing with China and Russia.

The next section deals with the seven driving forces of international security:

  1. Technological innovation
  2. Natural resources, climate management and security
  3. Efficient governance
  4. Geo-strategic competition
  5. Demographic shifts
  6. Social cohesion and trust
  7. Hybrid and asymmetric threats

TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY

The biggest wave of technological revolution at present is the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which takes the computerization developed in the Third Industrial Revolution, and applies to the manipulation of matter, giving us cyber-physical systems and the following phenomena.

  • the Internet of Things
  • the Industrial Internet
  • robotic process automation
  • autonomous vehicles
  • artificial intelligence
  • 3D printing,
  • connected wearable devices.

TO BE COMPLETED 4/23 (I have a regional conference I’m attending on 4/22) and won’t be able to complete the post until then …

Driving Forces of International Security-Part 1


In the past week or so, I have done several posts on the first part of the Global Risk Report 2016, which came out earlier this year from the World Economic Forum.

The report is, to a large extent, similar in format to those created in previous years, which makes for an excellent way of checking up on recent trends of global risks.

One feature that was specifically commissioned for the Global Risk Report 2016, however, was a survey of the International Security Outlook for 2030.   International security is defined as “measures taken by state or non-state actors, individually or collectively, to ensure their survival and integrity against trans-boundary threats.”

The consensus in international relations that was achieved in the first 25 years after the Cold War created social, p0litical and economic progress for people in many countries around the world.  However, shifts in political and economic power are threatening the international security order, and these are being accelerated by:

  • technological innovation (see previous post on Global Technological Risks)
  • social fragmentation
  • demographic shifts

The two shifts that have the potential of destabilizing current international relations are:

  1. Frail or weakening states–these open up space for the rise of armed non-state actors (like ISIS) in the global security space, and present themselves as alternatives to state-based governance structures
  2. Return of strategic competition between strong states with conflicting interests–this can be seen in the competition between the BRIC  countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) on the one hand and US and NATO countries on the other.

The first part of this second section of the report showed examples of the first shift,  where frail or weakening states create a power vacuum which is being filled by terrorist groups or criminal enterprises.   The examples given were Daesh in the Middle east, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Boko Haram in Africa, and drug cartels in Latin America

The second part of this section of the report on international security deals with the second of the two themes above, the strategic competition between strong states with conflicting interests, rather than the problems caused by weak states.    The examples given to illustrate this are the security issues dealing with China and Russia.

The next section deals with the seven driving forces of international security:

  1. Technological innovation
  2. Natural resources, climate management and security
  3. Efficient governance
  4. Geo-strategic competition
  5. Demographic shifts
  6. Social cohesion and trust
  7. Hybrid and asymmetric threats

TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY

The biggest wave of technological revolution at present is the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which takes the computerization developed in the Third Industrial Revolution, and applies to the manipulation of matter, giving us cyber-physical systems and the following phenomena.

  • the Internet of Things
  • the Industrial Internet
  • robotic process automation
  • autonomous vehicles
  • artificial intelligence
  • 3D printing,
  • connected wearable devices.

TO BE COMPLETED 4/21

The Seven Driving Forces of International Security


In the past week or so, I have done several posts on the first part of the Global Risk Report 2016, which came out earlier this year from the World Economic Forum.

The report is, to a large extent, similar in format to those created in previous years, which makes for an excellent way of checking up on recent trends of global risks.

One feature that was specifically commissioned for the Global Risk Report 2016, however, was a survey of the International Security Outlook for 2030.   International security is defined as “measures taken by state or non-state actors, individually or collectively, to ensure their survival and integrity against trans-boundary threats.”

The consensus in international relations that was achieved in the first 25 years after the Cold War created social, p0litical and economic progress for people in many countries around the world.  However, shifts in political and economic power are threatening the international security order, and these are being accelerated by:

  • technological innovation (see previous post on Global Technological Risks)
  • social fragmentation
  • demographic shifts

The two shifts that have the potential of destabilizing current international relations are:

  1. Frail or weakening states–these open up space for the rise of armed non-state actors (like ISIS) in the global security space, and present themselves as alternatives to state-based governance structures
  2. Return of strategic competition between strong states with conflicting interests–this can be seen in the competition between the BRIC  countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) on the one hand and US and NATO countries on the other.

The first part of this second section of the report showed examples of the first shift,  where frail or weakening states create a power vacuum which is being filled by terrorist groups or criminal enterprises.   The examples given were Daesh in the Middle east, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Boko Haram in Africa, and drug cartels in Latin America

The second part of this section of the report on international security deals with the second of the two themes above, the strategic competition between strong states with conflicting interests, rather than the problems caused by weak states.    The examples given to illustrate this are the security issues dealing with China and Russia.

The next section deals with the seven driving forces of international security:

  1. Technological innovation
  2. Natural resources, climate management and security
  3. Efficient governance
  4. Geo-strategic competition
  5. Demographic shifts
  6. Social cohesion and trust
  7. Hybrid and asymmetric threats

The report goes into depths in only two of these areas, the first two listed.   I will blog next on what the report has to say in these areas, and see if I can come up with research on the remaining five after that …

International Security Outlook 2030–China and Russia


In the past week or so, I have done several posts on the first part of the Global Risk Report 2016, which came out earlier this year from the World Economic Forum.

The report is, to a large extent, similar in format to those created in previous years, which makes for an excellent way of checking up on recent trends of global risks.

One feature that was specifically commissioned for the Global Risk Report 2016, however, was a survey of the international security outlook for 2030.   International security is defined as “measures taken by state or non-state actors, individually or collectively, to ensure their survival and integrity against trans-boundary threats.”

The consensus in international relations that was achieved in the first 25 years after the Cold War created social, p0litical and economic progress for people in many countries around the world.  However, shifts in political and economic power are threatening the international security order, and these are being accelerated by:

  • technological innovation (see previous post on Global Technological Risks)
  • social fragmentation
  • demographic shifts

The two shifts that have the potential of destabilizing current international relations are:

  1. Frail or weakening states–these open up space for the rise of armed non-state actors (like ISIS) in the global security space, and present themselves as alternatives to state-based governance structures
  2. Return of strategic competition between strong states with conflicting interests–this can be seen in the competition between the BRIC  countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) on the one hand and US and NATO countries on the other.

The last posts showed examples of the first shift,  where frail or weakening states create a power vacuum which is being filled by terrorist groups or criminal enterprises.   The examples given were Daesh in the Middle east, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Boko Haram in

The next part of the report on international security deals with the second of the two themes above, the strategic competition between strong states with conflicting interests, rather than the problems caused by weak states.    The examples given to illustrate this are the security issues dealing with China and Russia.   In the East and South China Sea.    Territorial disputes are far from solved, as control over the area essentially gives control over the economic trade that is increasing in the region.    To meet this security bottleneck, China is expanding its armed forces, including its air force.

US and the NATO alliance would like to contain Russia’s economic and military power, but this conflicts with the attempt to rein in the threat of Daesh in Syria, where cooperation with Russia is essential.    It is possible that as Russia is contained in the West, that it may be pushed into greater cooperation to the East with China.

The UN can serve as a meeting place to forge multilateral cooperation, but if security arrangements are achieved, it has no power to uphold these agreements.    There needs to be an overhaul of the institutional relations which underline international security arrangements, and to that end, the Global Economic forum has identified 7 Driving Forces of International Stability, which will be covered in the next post.

 

7 Tips for Putting on a Division Contest


I am the Assistant Division Governor for the South Division of District 30; I was an Area Governor last year and an Assistant Area Governor the year before that.   This year the Division Director, LaShonda Milton, put on a Division Contest that was very successful.

For those of you who are in Toastmasters, here’s what I recommend if you have to put on a Division Contest.

1.  Have a project plan

As a project manager, I feel it is important to have a plan when creating an event like a Division Contest.    When you make the plan, however, have an internal deadline and a deadline which you tell everyone else.   Many people will respond on time, but some are stragglers and you need to be able to make sure they don’t delay what needs to be done.

The people you should have on board even BEFORE you finalize the project plan are a) the contest chair and b) the chief judge, because they will be controlling the preparations with regards to the contestants and functionaries, respectively.    Get their input, or even better, sit down with them and create the project plan together.   If they are just shown it, they won’t own it!

2.  Use the rifle, not the shotgun, approach when asking for volunteers

Sending out e-mail blasts acting for volunteers is not an effective use of your time.   For each role, you should be targeting at least two people, one for your primary and one as a backup.   Send each person a separate e-mail, asking them to volunteer and explaining in particular why you thought they would be good for the role.    You will get more positive responses from this approach, the rifle approach, than the “e-mail blast” or shotgun approach.    When I say “rifle” and “shotgun” approach, I am, of course, speaking metaphorically–just in case those Toastmasters who live in “open carry” states in the United States are reading this post.  😉

3.  Get the paperwork done beforehand

I have had contest chairs come in with a stack of forms and try to organize them at the conference.   Mistake!    While you are trying to get organized, everybody is coming at you from multiple directions with questions.  Instead, get large envelopes and put each person’s forms in an envelope.   For the contestants, this is helpful because you can use this to determine speaking order.   Simply put a card with a number from 1 to whatever on it, and then when they randomly pick an envelope, they are also determining their speaking order.

For the functionaries, separate envelopes for specific people and roles are a must.   Then they can fill in the forms and turn them back into you and you don’t have to worry about mixing up forms of different types.

4.  Wine ’em and dine ’em

Well, again I am speaking metaphorically about serving wine.   I mean have refreshments for the guests between contests, as well as beverages that they can have even before the contest begins.    Having them eat and mingle during the break allows them to be entertained, while you as the Division Governor are left free to “hover” and make sure all of your functionaries are set for the second half of the contest.

5.  Keep the contest chair and toastmaster roles separate

We have had a contest chair come up and try to give an entertaining performance before they introduce the Master of Ceremonies, aka the Toastmaster.    Just remember, there are three stages to becoming a Distinguished Toastmaster.

  1. When you are afraid to get on stage
  2. When you are afraid to get off stage
  3. When you know the right time to get on and the right time to get off stage

The contest chair doesn’t need to draw attention to him- or herself by doing an entertaining show of his or her own.   It is their job to let people know who they are, so they know who to go to if they have questions, to introduce the Toastmaster, and to help with the award announcements.   That’s it.   The rest is done by the Toastmaster, who can add to the script with entertainment as time allows.

6.   The scourge of cellphones

You have the Toastmaster make an announcement about keeping cellphones quiet.   You remind people when they return from breaks.   And yet, in our Division Contest yesterday, we had one person who had a cellphone go off during a speech.   And naturally, the person had it on the LOUDEST setting, because they were hard of hearing, and they had it buried in the DEEPEST part of their bag, so it took the LONGEST time to dig out and turn off.   The person on stage giving

Rather than just give an announcement to turn off the cellphones, or say jokingly that the cellphone will be confiscated if it will go off (which everybody knows is a bogus threat), say that if someone’s cellphone goes off during the contest, that person and their cellphone will be ejected from the contest.    That rule needs to be stated up front by the Toastmaster.   Also, the Toastmaster needs to state up front that, if the person speaking is interrupted by a cellphone, the speaker gets 30 additional seconds on the timing clock.   So, if a person in the audience who is a friend or relative of another speaker gets it into his or her head to try to sabotage the rival speaker by turning on his or her cellphone, they will know that they are instead HELPING the rival speaker to additional time.

The temporary embarrassment of having one’s cellphone may be an incentive to make sure it is off, but the embarrassment of having to leave the contest PERIOD is a much bigger embarrassment, and is therefore a much bigger inducement for people to take responsibility for their own actions

7.   Parting words

I have seen Toastmasters or Contest Chairs introduce the International Speech Contests, the second half of the Spring Speech Contest after the Table Topic or Evaluation Speech Contest of the first half (depending on your district), by saying, “and now, we have saved the best for last!”   Please don’t do this–what kind of message is it saying to the Table Topics Contestant:  that their contest has less value!

Also, thank ALL of the contestants, MOST of whom will go away disappointed that they haven’t won.   You need to congratulate the winners, but you must also make sure that people who haven’t won don’t consider themselves losers!

If you follow these tips, your Division Contest is bound to be a well-presented, well-received, and all round entertaining event!

Diversity Dinners–A Cross-Cultural Institution


On Thursday, April 14th, my sister Nora and I attended a wonderful event called Diversity Dinners.  Diversity Dinners began more than a decade ago in the South Suburbs of Chicago.   Since then, close to 15,000 people from over 40 communities have shared dinner at host homes.   Diversity Dinners promote cross-cultural communication and understanding for better, stronger communities.

Through the years, Diversity Dinners has helped break down barriers that separate people and build better relationships among neighbors and communities. Many participants, young and old, have gained mutual respect and forged lasting friendships. Many people look forward each year to meeting old friends and making new acquaintances.

My sister and I found out about Diversity Dinners through a mailer that came to our house.   She, my brother and I live in the house my parents lived in, and the mailer was addressed to my mother, who had passed away years ago.    My sister opened it up, and she remembered having a conversation with my mother about what a wonderful time she had at the event.   My mother had always been a positive force for encouraging cross-cultural communication and my sister decided that she wanted to honor her by attending the event herself.   She asked me if I wanted to attend as well, and I agreed.

There were about a dozen of us.   As far as race is concerned, we were about half white, half African-American, and one of the three college-age students were mixed race.    We were representatives of Christian and Jewish religious backgrounds, and we ranged from college age to retirement age.    The dinner itself was catered, and after sharing our meal together, we started our conversation, which was directed by the host couple.

The two questions were:   how does diversity strengthen our community?    The surprising answer we got from many people was that by embracing diversity, it allows us to see what we have in common.    This, in turn, helps us to cooperate in terms of helping our communities weather the economic storms that are increasing in frequency and severity as our middle class is under siege.    Compared to when I was in college age, millennials who are of college age face an age of diminishing expectations rather than expanding ones, and the real possibility of the creation of a new form of indentured servitude.

Celebrating diversity goes beyond mere tolerance.   Tolerance is a passive, or sometimes even, passive-aggressive posture towards those who are different.   The embracing of diversity VALUES those same differences and even seeks them out, like we all did when we signed up for the Diversity Dinner.

The second question was:   what specific actions do we recommend people take in order to promote the celebration of diversity in the NEXT generation, as represented by our three college age students.   My answer is Toastmasters, which accepts people of diverse backgrounds who all have one thing in common, that is, the desire to improve their speaking and leadership abilities.

As an example of how this promotes diversity, Charles Brooks, an African-American who was the District Governor about a dozen years ago, proposed creating “seed” clubs in areas that had been hitherto underserved:   the South side of Chicago.    He contended that Toastmasters had been seen as a suburban phenomenon by the African-American community, and did not see how it had anything to offer them because there were no clubs in their neighborhoods.

So Charles got to work creating 5 seed clubs in neighborhoods like Englewood that were considered “rough” neighborhoods.    Now, more than a dozen years later, some of these clubs are the stars, not just of their neighborhoods, but of the entire Division which they are in, like the Wrightwood-Ashburn Overcomers, or WAO, club, which has consistently produced champion speakers and leaders who have gone on to be the real powerhouses of the Division and indeed, of the District itself.

My goal in this next year is to see how we can serve, not just the African-American community in Chicago, but the next largest minority group, Hispanic-Americans.    Our goal at Toastmasters should be:

We don’t care what color your skin is; we only care about the color of your ambition!

International Security Outlook 2030–Governance Challenges


In the past week or so, I have done several posts on the first part of the Global Risk Report 2016, which came out earlier this year from the World Economic Forum.

The report is, to a large extent, similar in format to those created in previous years, which makes for an excellent way of checking up on recent trends of global risks.

One feature that was specifically commissioned for the Global Risk Report 2016, however, was a survey of the international security outlook for 2030.   International security is defined as “measures taken by state or non-state actors, individually or collectively, to ensure their survival and integrity against trans-boundary threats.”

The consensus in international relations that was achieved in the first 25 years after the Cold War created social, p0litical and economic progress for people in many countries around the world.  However, shifts in political and economic power are threatening the international security order, and these are being accelerated by:

  • technological innovation (see previous post on Global Technological Risks)
  • social fragmentation
  • demographic shifts

The two shifts that have the potential of destabilizing current international relations are:

  1. Frail or weakening states–these open up space for the rise of armed non-state actors (like ISIS) in the global security space, and present themselves as alternatives to state-based governance structures
  2. Return of strategic competition between strong states with conflicting interests–this can be seen in the competition between the BRIC  countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) on the one hand and US and NATO countries on the other.

The last post showed how these two shifts are interconnected by using the example of the challenge that Daesh (aka the Islamic State In Syria or ISIS) poses to the Middle East region and eventually to the entire world.

This post will discuss other examples of frail or weakening states creating a power vacuum which is being filled by terrorist groups or criminal enterprises.

  1. Afghanistan–Gains made by US-coalition forces have been lost to resurgent Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters.    For more background, see the book Taliban by Ahmed Rashid.
  2. Africa-violent and extremist groups like Boko Haram are at work in  parts of the Sahel, Northern Nigeria, the Horn of Africa, and the Central African Republic.   The security and social concerns brought about by these groups have had a dampening effect on economic growth in Africa.
  3. Latin America–organized criminal gangs have gained influence over a steady stream of drugs that continue to flow from the region, thus fueling further expansion of their activities.

All of these security concerns brought about by criminal and/or terrorist activity have a common source in the failing governance of the states they were formed in.    Terrorist groups get support from the local populace to the extent that the people are disenchanted with the services they get from the government.    These groups sometimes offer services to the people in order to gain their loyalty, although the people often find that these services come at a high price in other ways.

The next part of the report on international security deals with the second of the two themes above, the strategic competition between strong states rather than the problems caused by weak states.    The example given to illustrate this are the security issues in the South China Sea.

The International Security Outlook 2030–The Challenge of Daesh


In the past week or so, I have done several posts on the first part of the Global Risk Report 2016, which came out earlier this year from the World Economic Forum.

The report is, to a large extent, similar in format to those created in previous years, which makes for an excellent way of checking up on recent trends of global risks.

One feature that was specifically commissioned for the Global Risk Report 2016, however, was a survey of the international security outlook for 2030.   International security is defined as “measures taken by state or non-state actors, individually or collectively, to ensure their survival and integrity against trans-boundary threats.”

The consensus in international relations that was achieved in the first 25 years after the Cold War created social, p0litical and economic progress for people in many countries around the world.  However, shifts in political and economic power are threatening the international security order, and these are being accelerated by:

  • technological innovation (see previous post on Global Technological Risks)
  • social fragmentation
  • demographic shifts

The two shifts that have the potential of destabilizing current international relations are:

  1. Frail or weakening states–these open up space for the rise of armed non-state actors (like ISIS) in the global security space, and present themselves as alternatives to state-based governance structures
  2. Return of strategic competition between strong states with conflicting interests–this can be seen in the competition between the BRIC  countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) on the one hand and US and NATO countries on the other.

This second section of the Global Risk Report shows how these two shifts are interconnected by using the example of the challenge that Daesh (aka the Islamic State In Syria or ISIS) poses to the Middle East region and eventually to the entire world.

The reason why Daesh poses a challenge to the entire world is because Daesh does not just recruit locally; it exploits the resentment and disillusionment of young people and recruits them from over 100 countries.    What are the causes of the formation of ISIS?

First of all, the invasion of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein in the naïve attempt to create a democracy in the Middle East.   Naïve not because the people of the Middle East are incapable of creating a democracy, but that such a democracy is not just a form of government; it requires institutions to support and nurture the growth and sustaining of this culture.   To put this into the terms of Spiral Dynamics, which classifies societies in terms of developmental stages, Iraqi was under the authoritarian rule of Saddam Hussein, which should be considered as the third or RED stage of development according to the model (the colors are arbitrarily assigned to make the model more accessible).    The fourth or BLUE stage of development which is based not on one-man authoritarian rule but what might be considered a feudal series of relationships.    It’s the stage where monarchy balanced by an aristocracy is a very common form of government.   The fifth of ORANGE stage of development is where representative democracy becomes possible with different branches of government.   The US, for example, is somewhere on the continuum between the fifth ORANGE stage and the sixth or GREEN stage of development, which is when more the individual is even more empowered, such as through social media, having a direct voice rather than just a representative one.   What the Bush administration wanted to do was leapfrog Iraqi society from the third or RED stage all the way to the fifth or ORANGE stage without creating the institutions that are required for this development.   A makeshift stock exchange was created with the magical thinking that this would somehow jumpstart a capitalist economy in this war-torn area.    Institutions like the Iraqi army that would have provided stability from one stage to the next were dismantled.    The result:   rather than going up stages of development, Iraqi societal development devolved from the RED or strong-man authoritarian rule back down to the second or PURPLE stage of development, where there is competition between tribes or in this case sects.   This is the state Iraq found itself in under the sway of sectarian strife between the Sunni and Shia.

When the Shiites took control over the country through the democratic process, they used their power not to create a government that would serve all constituencies in the country, as an ORANGE level democracy would do, but they started to use government powers to go after the Sunnis in the same way that the Shiites had been persecuted under Saddam Hussein, essentially using a democratic form to advance one tribal affiliation over another.   This caused a Sunni insurgency in the West of Iraq which spilled over into its neighbor Syria to the East, and contributed to the formation of ISIS in that country.

What is clear from the summary in the Global Risk Report is that whatever went INTO creating Daesh or ISIS, it will not be defeated simply by “bombing them out of existence” as some US presidential nominees have suggested.   In fact, you could say that ISIS to a certain extent has been bombed into existence, in a way that the Khmer Rouge were created as an unexpected byproduct of the bombing campaign in Cambodia and Laos during the Vietnam War.   Bombing campaigns may erase individuals among the Daesh leadership, but their create enough chaos because of collateral damage that they merely extend the vacuum in which a terrorist group like Daesh thrives.   Rather, Daesh can only be defeated if the civil war in which it is embroiled is ended.    However, major regional and global powers have been unable so far to be able to put aside differences and pragmatically find a political settlement.    It can only be suffocated socially and economically, not militarily or at least not SOLELY through military means.   For more concrete proposals for meeting the challenge of ISIS, I recommend the book ISIS:  The State of Terror, by J. M. Berger and Jessica Stern.

This requires a reversal of the second trend above, increasing cooperation between strong states, if the first trend, that of the rise of non-state actors like Daesh or ISIS, is also to be reversed.

Global Risk Report 2016–The International Security Outlook for 2030


In the past week or so, I have done several posts on the first part of the Global Risk Report 2016, which came out earlier this year from the World Economic Forum.

The report is, to a large extent, similar in format to those created in previous years, which makes for an excellent way of checking up on recent trends of global risks.

One feature that was specifically commissioned for the Global Risk Report 2016, however, was a survey of the international security outlook for 2030.   International security is defined as “measures taken by state or non-state actors, individually or collectively, to ensure their survival and integrity against trans-boundary threats.”

The consensus in international relations that was achieved in the first 25 years after the Cold War created social, p0litical and economic progress for people in many countries around the world.  However, shifts in political and economic power are threatening the international security order, and these are being accelerated by:

  • technological innovation (see previous post on Global Technological Risks)
  • social fragmentation
  • demographic shifts

The two shifts that have the potential of destabilizing current international relations are:

  1. Frail or weakening states–these open up space for the rise of armed non-state actors (like ISIS) in the global security space, and present themselves as alternatives to state-based governance structures
  2. Return of strategic competition between strong states with conflicting interests–this can be seen in the competition between the BRIC  countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) on the one hand and US and NATO countries on the other.

Although these two phenomenon may seem different on the surface, the Global Risk Report 2016 says they are linked.   The first category are “asymmetrical” threats and the second category are classical threats.   However, the instability of states such as Somalia, Afghanistan, and Syria have led to the rise of both types of threats simultaneously.  For example, in the case of the Syria, the weakening of the Assad regime’s control over the country not only to the rise of non-state actors like ISIS (one of the asymmetric threats), but to increased competition between the United States and Russia to influence the situation.

The “battlefield” in Syria, if you can call it that, has blurred the distinction between zones of war and zones of peace, as well as the distinction between legitimate combatants, non-traditional adversaries and the civilians in the areas that are undergoing conflict.

Because the two categories of threats above are linked, one conclusion to be drawn is that ISIS (aka Daesh) cannot be defeated as long as civil war rages in Syria, and major regional and global powers will need to find a political settlement.

The detailed recommendations by the World Economic Forum in the Global Risk Report 2016 to defeat ISIS will be described in the next post.