Review: Power & Responsibility–Building International Order in an Era of Transnational Threat

4 Star, Diplomacy, Disaster Relief, Environment (Problems), Humanitarian Assistance, Stabilization & Reconstruction, Terrorism & Jihad, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), United Nations & NGOs
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bubba Book

January 6, 2010

Bruce Jones, Carlos Pascual, Stephen John Stedman

EDIT of 7 Jan 09.  I got halfway through another book last night and now understand the Princeton-based idea that the US has enough power to demand changes and that earlier “balance of power” constraints might not apply.  On the one hand, this is an idea worth pursuing, but if you know nothing of strategy, intelligence (decision-support) and how to integrate Whole of Government and Multinational Engagement campaigns against the ten threats by harmonizing the twelve policies and engaging the eight demographic leaders, then this is just academic blabber.  On the other hand, this is 100% on the money–if the USA were a Smart Nation with an honest government, now is the time to lead–but it's not going to come out of the ivory tower or politicals in waiting for their next job, it will come from the bottom (Epoch B), the poor, and the eight demographic powers (Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and Wild Cards such as South Africa, Thailan, and Turkey, with the Nordics and BENELUX always lurking positively on the fringes.

Original review:

I tried hard to find enough in this book to warrant five stars, but between the pedestrian threats, buying in blindly to the climate change fraud, assertions such as “There is no prospect for international stability and prosperity in the next twenty years that does not rest on U.S. power and leadership,” and the general obliviousness of the authors to multiple literatures highly relevant to their ostensible objective of answering the question “how do we organize our globalized world,” this has to stay a four. It has some worthwhile bits that I itemize below, but on balance this is an annoying book, part cursory overview, part grand-standing proposals for new organizations, and part job application–at least one of these authors wants to be the first High Commissioner for Counter-Terrorism.

Although the authors are familiar with A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility–Report of the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, which was published in 2004, this book does not resonate with the ten priorities set forth there, in this order:

01 Poverty
02 Infectious Disease
03 Environmental Degradation
04 Inter-State Conflict
05 Civil War
06 Genocide
07 Other Atrocities
08 Proliferation
09 Terrorism
10 Transnational Crime

Had the author's actually sought to tailor their suggestions to the above elegant threat architecture, this could have been a much more rewarding book. As it is, it strikes me as a book written around a few ideas:

01 G-16, not G-8 expanded, half old bubbas and half new bubbas
02 UN High Commissioner for Counterterrorism
03 New body to replace what UN Economic and Social Council should be doing, they call the new body a Center for Economic Prosperity [it's at this point I wonder if these guys have a clue about ecological economics, true cost, fortune at the bottom of the pyramid, etcetera.

The best part of the book is pages 197-202, with the following discussed:

Preventive Mediation
+ Coordinate among international institutions
+ Form a joint scenario-planning team
+ Build UN capacity for mediation and political analysis
+ Cultivate “anticipatory” relationships
+ Support information diplomatic capacities

+ Mitigate the shortage of specialized peacekeeping assets
+ Address the lack of strategic airlift for peace operations
+ Improve NATO's ability to mount multidimensional operations
+ Develop an institutional framework for strategic projections and joint planning for peace operations
+ Create a more structured funding pool for AU and other African missions
+ Promote an intermilitary, intergovernmental doctrine for peace operations
+ Broaden the system of standby reserve capabilities for peacekeeping
+ Establish a target for net global capacity of up to 300,000 peacekeepers

+ Create a UN strategic planning capacity supplemented by national and regional capabilities
+ Establish a response corps to run field missions
+ Build an expanded international network of skilled providers to implement programs
+ Ensure $2 billion in predictable funding for UN peacebuilding activities

Minor points worth noting:

+ Nothing of significance on strategy, decrepit intelligence, open sources, etcetera.
+ Regional works better than unilateral
+ NGOs matter, UN needs reform
+ Sweden, Thailand, Chile, and South Africa “get it” on UN reform and are leaders
+ US centric in the extreme
+ Dismisses Venezuela with Iran and Syria as “unsavory”
+ “Responsible States” may sound cool, but totally divorced from corruption, ignorance etc.
+ Confuse democracy with development
+ Recognize that US policy is driving a wedge between US and everyone else
+ No real treatment of culture, religion
+ Limited understanding of a number of literatures including poverty, social entrepreneurship, and collective intelligence to wealth of networks
+ Crummy index

Other books I recommend along with More Secure World (which is also free online):
High Noon 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them
Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025
Peacekeeping Intelligence: Emerging Concepts for the Future
The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State
Policing the New World Disorder: Peace Operations and Public Security
The Next Catastrophe: Reducing Our Vulnerabilities to Natural, Industrial, and Terrorist Disasters
Faith- Based Diplomacy Trumping Realpolitik
The Fifty-Year Wound: How America's Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People

You can access my other 1500 non-fiction reviews in any of 98 categories at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog.

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