2011 The Ultimate Hack Re-Inventing Intelligence to Re-Engineer Earth (Chapter for Counter-Terrorism Book Out of Denmark)

About the Idea, Articles & Chapters
Robert David Steele Vivas
Robert David Steele Vivas

UPDATED 2011-09-07  Chapter As Published (PDF)

See Also the Original Briefing with Notes:

2009 The Ultimate Hack: Re-Inventing Intelligence to Re-Engineer Earth (Denmark 27-28 October 2009)

Full Text (Translatable) Below the Line

The Ultimate Hack: Re-Inventing Intelligence to Re-Engineer Earth

Robert David Steele

It is for me a huge honor to be invited to deliver the counter-balancing view within this distinguished gathering of counter-terrorism experts.[1]

Let me begin by emphasizing what I consider to be the “three strikes” or in international terms, the “side-out” of government counter-terrorism thinking today.

STRIKE ONE: Terrorism is a symptom, not a root cause or threat. Going after Al Qaeda has nothing to do with the more threatening fact that a corrupt Saudi monarchy embraces infidels at the same time that it is destroying its own commonwealth and sponsoring Wahhabism world-wide.

STRIKE TWO: No government is trained, equipped, nor organized to understand, much less defeat, terrorism in detail. Although the United Nation has recently discovered Coherence, with the implementation meme of “Deliver as One,” and the US Government claims to be interested in Whole of Government operations, neither is actually real (yet).

STRIKE THREE: Earth is at a tipping point, with multiple catastrophic possibilities, all of them interacting in complex unpredictable ways. In this context, terrorism is the canary in the coal mine, not the lethal atmosphere itself.

I will review these, and then outline a strategy for all of us that address all ten high-level threats to humanity within which terrorism is but number nine, and then only because of a potential mass destruction event.

STRIKE ONE: Symptom not Root Cause

Consider, please, the below illustration and the short story that accompanies it—terrorism is a boil, nothing more.

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Figure 1: Terrorism is a Boil—A Symptom

  • A man is driving a car with a boil on his arm; he refuses to stop the car, so his wife goes to lance it with a needle while he is driving.
  • However, she does not have a needle, only a rifle, so she decides to shoot the boil off after having the man open the car window (we want to avoid collateral damage).
  • The pain of the bullet killing the boil surprises him and he drives the car off the road.  The car is destroyed, all of the passengers are injured, and the trip is interrupted at great expense.
  • Who is to blame: the boil, the rifle, the wife, or the man?

I was inspired to develop this example after interviewing Steven Carmel, a senior executive with Maersk Line Limited, who pointed out to me in an interview for my latest book,[2] that most terrorist or piracy events were in effect a minor traffic accident, and that it was the terrible decisions of the U.S. Government that were costing the shipping industry billions of dollars.

STRIKE TWO: Politicized Ignorance, Institutionalized Incompetence

Below is the first of two graphics on this shortfall. We simply do not have access to, nor the ability to understand, most of the available relevant information necessary to achieve good governance at all levels.

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Figure 2: Missing Information

  • The above graphic is adapted with permission from my friend Steve Arnold,[3] I have added a depiction of how Google’s programmable search engines can show you not what you need to know, but what someone else is paying for you to see. Still and all, even with the best of intentions and the application of all available technologies, we see a fraction of the relevant information—most of it unpublished or analog and in languages we do not read or understand.
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Figure 3: Global Intelligence Collection Failure

  • The second slide, created in the 1990’s, is still valid today, and shows the degree to which secret sources and methods fail to capture all of the relevant information in many foreign languages. Back then we focused on 29 languages and then on 33 languages, as well as twelve distinct versions of Arabic. Today the essential number is 183, with growing awareness of the urgency of capturing historic indigenous knowledge of sustainable agricultural and water conservation practices we have ignored for centuries.
  • My second graduate thesis[4] captured the essence: the average Embassy accesses roughly 20% of the relevant information, and in the process of sending it back to their varied home agencies, spill 80% of that—Washington—and other capitals—are operating on 2% of the relevant information.
  • This politicized ignorance and institutionalized incompetence is tolerated because political ideology, not reality-based policy, is the dominant governance paradigm.

 Before proceeding to discuss STRIKE THREE, we must first elaborate on STRIKE TWO, as political ignorance and institutionalized incompetence are condemning nation-states to bankruptcy, separatism, and internal strife.

Our political pathology consists of several related pathologies:

  • Political segmentation within a two-party tyranny
  • Disconnect between revenue (means) and ways and ends
  • Stovepiped perspectives enabled by both of the above
  • Fragmentation of knowledge across all disciplines & domains
  • Persistent data pathologies and information asymmetries

Political segmentation within a two-party tyranny

The United States of America (USA) is in my view no longer a full democracy, but rather a hybrid regime in which a corrupt Federal Reserve serves as the front for a corporate state that has captured both Congress and the legislature. The USA is a two-party tyranny that no longer abides by the principles of the Constitution. Below is one depiction.[5]


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Figure 4: Political Segmentation in a Two-Party Tyranny

Disconnect between those revenue (means) and ways and ends

The failure of Congress, when combined with the failure of the Executive, has created a government in which the taxes that citizens and small businesses pay are earmarked by a corrupt Congress toward equally corrupt corporations—how the USG spends money has little to do with the public interest and all to do with perpetuating a two-party tyranny that feeds a corporate regime practicing unilateral militarism, virtual colonialism, and predatory capitalism—in effect, a global reign of terror in multiple forms.[6]

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Figure 5: Global Terrorism in Perspective

Perspective stovepiping enabled by both of the above

This global reign of state-based and corporate-driven terrorism is made possible by the concentration of wealth after it leaves the public’s pockets, and by the fragmentation of perspective and knowledge. We have lost all perspective including the all-important moral perspective. Here and on the next page are effect and cause.

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Figure 6: Empire of Illusion[7]

Fragmentation of knowledge across all disciplines & domains

Here are illustrated the cause of our impotence as citizens, not just in the USA, but around the world: the poor are illiterate while the rich are ignorant.

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Figure 7: Web of Fragmented Knowledge

Above was created by Kevin Boyack in partnership with Dick Klavans and Brad Ashcroft, themselves pioneers in citation analysis, scientific & technical forecasting, and commercial intelligence.[8]
Persistent data pathologies and information asymmetries

The fragmentation illustrated above, in combination with corrupt governments that allow ideology to displace intelligence and technology to displace thinking, leads to multiple data pathologies and information asymmetries below, all of them very costly to the public and the Earth.

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Figure 8: Data Pathologies & Information Asymmetries

I devised this modest typology based on the illustrated works by others, and have recently added Forgotten Knowledge.

All of the above prevent clarity, diversity, and integrity from achieving sustainability—they create lose-lose rather than non-zero outcomes for most.

Now, finally, we come to STRIKE THREE. It is in the context of the multiple potential catastrophes that face the Earth that it is easiest to see that terrorism—and therefore counter-terrorism—are minor isolated and largely cosmetic symptoms of a system failure so large, so pervasive, and so imminent as to render completely irrelevant all efforts to “do” counter-terrorism. In this context, trying to do counter-terrorism is the equivalent of trying to design a better race car by focusing only on oil leaks. Below is a general depiction.

Figure 9: Map of World Conflict & Human Rights Violations

Created by Berto Jongman (NL), this map is no longer updated annually but remains one of the best single depictions of the complexity and fragility of the human condition around the globe. It is a useful context for thinking about high-level threats to humanity.

STRIKE THREE: Earth at Tipping Point, High-Level Threats to Humanity

Ever since Lakhadar Brahimi (AG) led the Panel on UN Peace Operations (2000), the UN has been evolving. Two other panels have been especially important: the Panel on High-Level Threats, Challenges, and Change (2004), and the High-Level Panel on System-Wide Coherence (2006). Prior to the 2004 report from the UN High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change, no one had ever put together a credible list of the top threats to humanity, nor placed them in any sort of priority order. This panel did both, and the fact that LtGen Dr. Brent Scowcroft, USAF (Ret), was the participant representing the USA, may help explain both the coherence of the report, and the lack of US ideological interference with the findings.

I list the ten high-level threats to humanity here in their original priority order:


Infectious Disease

Environmental Degradation

Inter-State Conflict

Civil War


Other Atrocities



Transnational Crime

Figure 10: Ten High-Level Threats to Humanity

This is not the place for a detailed discussion of these threats, other than to point out that “terrorism” is on this list solely because of its potential to cause mass casualties with nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological weapons—something the USA corporate state does on a daily basis.[9]

Taken together, the three endeavors represent the evolution of the UN away from a Member-dependent body for consultations, and toward an intelligence-driven body for harmonizing spending and actions in the field by both the UN and by others. Now here is a Coherent view of the ten threats combined with twelve core policies and eight demographic challengers.[10]

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Figure 11: Strategic Analytic Matrix for Achieving Coherence

In this context terrorism is no more than one-tenth of the threat. Coherence demands that the UN, Members states, and all other parties not only understand the “true cost” of every course of action (and spending) under consideration, but that they understand this in a systemic context.

As Robert Ackoff has taught us, and Buckminster Fuller would heartily agree—what is good for one part of the system may be very bad for another part of the system. It is all about balance, and balance cannot be achieved without both understanding by all parties, and harmonization of spending and behavior by all parties. Below in one means of seeing the Whole Earth.

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Figure 12: Coherence Circle for Planning & Operations

As with Figure 11, a red circle shows where the counter-terrorism investment is in terms of both relevance and scope. It is both excessive in cost within the USA—and negligible to counter-productive in relation to all else. It is helpful to appreciate the time-energy-cost of each alternative option.

There are just a few points that need to be made as we flesh out the context within which most counter-terrorism plans, programs, budgets, and operations are next to worthless in terms of achieving sustainable outcomes.

Keeping this at a very high level:

  • Changes to the Earth that used to take 10,000 years now take three.       Education, Intelligence, & Research (EIR) must move as quickly as possible toward real-time science and real-time policy.[11]
  • Catastrophic accelerators are everywhere—from paving over the wetlands to storing chlorine in massive rusted tanks above super-highways; from cow shit into our spinach to cow methane into our atmosphere; from toxins and vaccines to new forms of resistant bacteria—we have created a petri dish for human extinction.[12]
  • Nothing the USA does in the next twenty year is going to make a difference unless it decides to be serious about EIR, and foster a global environment in which every person has a cell phone, call centers educate the poor one cell call at a time, and the emphasis is on helping the eight demographic powers create infinite sustainable wealth, achieving the non-zero solution.[13]

What Is To Be Done?

The UN, despite its being an unhinged bureaucracy[14], is on the right track. Intelligence is still a dirty word and most UN “elements” (none of them under the effective ”command and control” of the Secretary General) would prefer to avoid any semblance of Coherence. One third of the UN staff is comprised of individuals hired under a nepotism-patronage system, and one third of the UN staff appears to be professional intelligence officers whose invitations to lunch are always welcome, but whose incompetence at their cover jobs places a further burden on the remaining one third of the UN staff that is the “real deal.”

HOWEVER, significant progress has been made in three areas.

First, the value of intelligence as decision-support is now understood by the more serious and committed among the UN leadership. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) is the most serious of all, moving forward in the aftermath of the many constructive initiatives undertaken while MajGen Patrick Cammaert, RN NL (Ret) was Military Advisor to the Secretary General and then Force Commander, Eastern Congo. The Joint Operations Centres (JOC) and the Joint Military Analysis Centres (JMAC) are now standard. The Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and the Department of Safety & Security (DSS) are beginning to hire analysts, but they do not fully understand the intelligence process[15] and they especially do not understand how to maintain the integrity of the intelligence human, technical, & analytic processes.

Second, the Department of Field Support (DFS) has been split off and enhanced to the point that every element of the UN System that is in the field can rely in the future on world-class communications, computing, and logistics support. Eventually this should mean that the United Nations Open-Source Decision-Support Information Network (UNODIN) should be integral to every UN office at every location.[16]

Third, and for the first time, the UN has created a hybrid organization, the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). It is a hybrid organization because it was chartered to be an arm of the government it is supporting, with extraordinary intelligence and counterintelligence powers to include full access to human and technical sources, and also the unique right to polygraph all personnel, both international and local, both assigned to CICIG and within the government, so as to assure the integrity of the mission.[17]

It is my view that the Swedish military, long in the forefront of peacekeeping and peacekeeping intelligence, has put forth the correct solution: the future of international peace and prosperity is a hybrid future, in which the Swedish concept, as modified by EIN, provides the Coherence: Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing and Sense-Making (M4IS2).

Creating the World Brain & Global Game

Terrorism, to use another analogy, is a cancer within the body of humanity. Pursuing that analogy, below is an illustration of the four distinct aspects of health.

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Figure 13: Analytic Strategy for Health & Public Information

Not to belabor the obvious, our approach to counter-terrorism, as with our approach to health or any other topic, is not just fragmented, it is perversely focused on only one of the four critical aspects of achieving a healthy body or a healthy body politic. Our approach to counter-terrorism focuses on the surgical removal of the “cancer” while ignoring the more fundamental holistic aspects of creating a prosperous world at peace: the nurturing of educated citizens; the elimination of toxic dictatorships; and alternative paths to health.

Whole Systems & M4IS2[18] Information Exploitation

The balance of this contribution will focus on how to eradicate terrorism, along with the other nine high-level threats to humanity, by using a Whole Systems approach, and the new M4IS2 concept for harmonizing how all relevant actors spend and behave across the twelve core policies. I list them below for emphasis. This is a minimalist approach, a simple beginning.













Figure 14: Core Policies for Information-Enabled Harmonization

Here are the elements of the World Brain & Global Game that the collective minds of the 26 co-founders of EIN have developed:[19]

  • Universal Strategy
  • Information Operations Cube
  • Four Quadrants from Knowledge to Intelligence
  • Fifteen Slices of Human Intelligence
  • Six Bubbles for Digital Information Exploitation
  • Global to Local Range of Needs and Gifts Table
  • Intelligence Maturity Scale

Universal Strategy

Ethics—the heart of what Will Durant addressed in his 1916 doctoral thesis and seminal work, Philosophy and the Social Problem,[20] is how civilization can evolve with each generation learning from the past at less cost of blood, treasure, and spirit. Morality, he and Ariel Durant tell us in Lessons of History,[21] is a priceless strategic asset. The “Golden Rule,” common to all religions, can be universally implemented in a non-zero manner.

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Figure 15: Strategy to Create a Prosperous World at Peace

Information Operations Cube

Earlier we addressed the pathologies that have to this day concentrated wealth while fragmenting knowledge.   The catastrophic separation of the sciences from the humanities,[22] the retardation of the social sciences, the vanishing of history, and the proliferation of data pathologies and information asymmetries must all be reversed if we are to implement the strategy. Below is one way of looking at how we must respect all information in all languages all the time.

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Figure 16: Information Operations for World Prosperity & Peace

Four Quadrants from Knowledge to Intelligence

Appreciating the importance of accessing and exploiting all information in all languages all the time,[23] we now turn to the four quadrants, each representative of a stage of modern civilized information management.

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Figure 17: Knowledge Management to Organizational Intelligence

Most organizations are in Quadrant I, avant guarde individuals in Quadrant II. Very few are deeply into Quadrant III, and virtually no one is in Quadrant IV.

Fifteen Slices of Human Intelligence

The on-going dialog over creating Whole of Government capabilities that can apply “soft power” is at root about integrating all human capabilities and enabling the sharing of all information across all human slices. From an expeditionary or “terrorism-prevention” point of view, here are fifteen slices of Human Intelligence (HUMINT) that are not being harnessed in tandem today because we have governments focuses on turf and things rather than on “making sense.”

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Figure 18: Achieving “Full Spectrum” Human Intelligence

90% of more of what can be known and shared in not federal, not expensive, and not secret. I will not bother to cite my many publications in this regard.

Six Bubbles for Digital Information Exploitation

Inspired by the UN High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change, I funded and organized EIN to reflect on how to change the information and intelligence paradigm so as to achieve full-spectrum understanding. We concluded that the cell phone, not the laptop, was the device of the future, and that RapidSMS and Twitter were promising signs of the future of information sharing and sense-making. We can build this today.

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Figure 19: Connecting All Humans to All Information

Both oligarchs and governments are fearful of this, not realizing that their current wealth is insignificant and not worth redistributing—only the creation of infinite wealth sufficient for all will do—this does that.

Global to Local Range of Needs and Gifts Table

One insight that we achieved in the process of studying data pathologies and information asymmetries as facilitated by fragmented knowledge and pathological political arrangements, was that corruption and intermediaries are virtually synonymous—corruption here refers to both witting and unwitting misallocation of resources. We concluded that enabling intelligence-driven micro-giving and ad hoc social networking focused on “one gift at a time,” was the way to create a prosperous world at peace.

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Figure 20: Intelligence-Driven Harmonization of Gifts & Spending

At the same time, we realized that for lack of transparency, major investments by the eight tribes of intelligence suffered for lack of harmonization.

Intelligence Maturity Scale

Our final insight was based on the realization that secret intelligence is very immature as well as very wasteful—in the USA $75 billion a year produce “at best” 4% of what the President and a tiny handful of others require in the way of decision-support. Here we capture the needed change of perspective.

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Figure 21: Intelligence Maturity Scale

Using the ten high-level threats to humanity, all associated with terrorism as a symptom, and our own knowledge of the possibilities for multinational, multifunctional information-sharing and sense-making, we conclude that the US Government is “out of control” in how it spends and that the public desperately needs to understand existing waste and imminent opportunity.

CONCLUSION Part I: Information Arbitrage

Long ago I coined the term “Information Arbitrage,” along with “Information Peacekeeping,” and I have focused for over two decades on how to use information to create a prosperous world at peace. Although we have a good ways to go, the plane of change is no longer flat—we are at the beginning of an almost vertical trajectory of positive change.

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Figure 22: Five Billion Poor, Ancient Ways, New Means

Denmark specifically, and the other Nordic nations combined with Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg can make a difference. I recommend this center be expanded to focus on counter-terrorism as a symptom not a threat, while establishing a World Brain & Earth Game to address the Whole Earth.

CONCLUSION Part II: Arcs of Crisis & Collaboration

Although I have not spoken as much as I would have liked about Buckminster Fuller and Robert Ackoff, they are present in my every breath. It is not possible to address terrorism without addressing the whole—isolated endeavors against terrorism alone are unaffordable and thus unsustainable. We must achieve economies of both scale and holistic understanding. I will end with this view of the Earth, one that I observe is essential to planning for the delivery of clean water, free electricity, and a sufficiency of food and shelter to every human being on the Earth.

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Figure 23: Rescuing the Arc of Crisis with Information-Collaboration

With “tough love,” I must conclude that this center has promise, but only if you expand your thinking to include all ten threats across all twelve policies.

[1] The original briefing as delivered with words in Notes format, can be found at www.tinyurl.com/SteeleDK5. A longer earlier version for engineers as delivered at the University of British Columbia can be found at www.oss.net/HACK.

[2] INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability (Earth Intelligence Network, 2010); free online at www.phibetaiota.net under Books.

[3] CEO of Arnold IT, and author of the three investment firm analytic studies of Google. His substantive works have made him one of the top three contributors to Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog (www.phibetaiota.net).

[4] For the University of Oklahoma MPA program, it focused on what could be known, became known, and then was lost by the Country Teams (all agencies) within each of the three Embassies where I served as a Vice Consul and Political Officer (Third Secretary), with additional responsibilities. A digital copy is at www.phibetaiota.net.

[5] Adapted with permission from Michael Crane, The Political Junkie Handbook (New York, NY: S.P.I. Books, 2004). See also Theresa Amato, Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny (New York, NY: New Press, 2009).

[6] My 1,600 non-fiction book reviews are easily accessed at www.phibetaiota.net. I believe that morality is a substitute for insufficient knowledge of how to achieve non-zero outcomes, and the means by which civilizations advance in peace.

[7] Cf. my own book, ELECTION 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (Oakton, VA: Earth Intelligence Network, 2008), and the book by Chris Edges, EMPIRE OF ILLUSION: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (New York, NY: Nation Books, 2009).

[8] Cf. http://www.sandia.gov/news/features/mapping_science.html# and also see http://scimaps.org/maps/map/maps_of_science_fore_50/.

[9] Report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change, A more secure world: our shared responsibility (New York, NY: United Nations, December 2004).

[10] As devised by the 26 co-founders of the Earth Intelligence Network (EIN), a 501c3 Public Charity, at www.earth-intelligence.net. Its front end is www.phibetaiota.net.

[11] I cannot find the specific book, and since George Mason University accepted my entire library as a gift when I joined the UN, I am at a loss. I was influenced by Stewart Brand’s Clock of the Long Now (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000).

[12] Cf. Charles Perrow, The Next Catastrophe: Reducing Our Vulnerabilities to Natural, Industrial, and Terrorist Disasters (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007). His book, especially, relegates terrorism to the minor league in comparison with what our own nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological industries do every day.

[13] I am indebted to Tom Atlee, author of both The Tao of Democracy and of Reflections on Evolutionary Activism—his mentoring changed my life. Among the books he guided me toward, one in particular, this point is made by Robert Wright’s Non-Zero: The Logic of Human Destiny (New York, NY: Vintage, 2001). See also the books on Wealth of Networks, Infinite Wealth, Wealth of Knowledge, and Revolutionary Wealth.

[14] The Secretary General has little meaningful authority over anything, and no authority at all over the Specialized Agencies (SA) that comprise the bulk of the UN. The UN “management system” is mostly about moving internal information (inputs and outputs), not about managing and certainly not about forecasting & adapting.

[15] Requirements definition; collection management; source discovery and validation; multi-source automated and human fusion; application of human expert judgment; visualization; and compelling timely actionable presentation. Cf. the various handbooks available at Phi Beta Iota (www.phibetaiota.net).

[16] As discussed in INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability (Earth Intelligence Network, 2010); free online at www.phibetaiota.net under Books.

[17] As the US prepares to abandon Afghanistan, one book, Surrender to Kindness (forthcoming) posits a UN hybrid International Reconciliation & Reconstruction Agency (IRRA) staffed almost exclusively by Muslim experts on detail from Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Turkey. Such an organization, as an arm of the Afghan government but empowered with the polygraph and able to control corruption while avoiding the inevitable baggage of “infidels,” would be the new model for addressing failed states, and readily adapted to the needs of Haiti, Somalia, Yemen, and others. What has become clear is that neither governments nor non-governmental organizations such as the Red Cross can be relied upon in isolation. Coherence demands a hybrid approach that enables intelligence-driven harmonization of effort by all parties, while also providing the integrity protection of counter-intelligence.

[18] M4IS2: Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing and Sense-Making.

[19] Earlier summaries include the EIN brochure at www.earth-intelligence.net, and the chapter “World Brain & EarthGame™ in Mark Tovey (ed), COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace (EIN, 2008); pp. 389-398. EarthGame™ is trademarked to EIN co-founder Medard Gabel, Global Game is a more generic term.

[20] Will Durant, Philosophy and the Social Problem (Promethean Press: Frisco, TX, 2008)

[21] Will and Ariel Durant, Lessons of History (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2010)

[22] Cf. E. O. Wilson, CONSILIENCE: The Unity of Knowledge (New York, NY: Vintage, 1999).

[23] Cf. INFORMATION OPERATIONS: Putting the “I” Back Into DIME (Strategic Studies Institute, February 2006) and INFORMATION OPERATIONS: All Information, All Languages, All the Time (OSS, 2006).

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