This is a pioneering work, easily a decade ahead of other world-class efforts, my favorite being that of (then) World Bank Vice President for Europe, J. F. Rischard, High Noon 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them. It has been largely over-looked, but should gain additional importance, along with the author’s additional book, Critical Choices. The United Nations, Networks, and the Future of Global Governance, now that George Soros is sponsoring the Central European University (CEU), and within that university, the author Wolfgang Reinicke has been appointed the inaugural dean of CEU’s School of Public Policy and International Affairs. In the context of the essay by George Soros, the first 57 pages of The Philanthropy of George Soros: Building Open Societies, and the now hardened disenchantment with the nation-state system for being ignorant, biased, and non-agile (these and other deficiencies are marvelously articulated by Professor Philip Allot of Cambridge in The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State, one can surmise that Dean Peinicke will seek to focus on integrationist endeavors that demand transparency and accountability for multiple stakeholders in return for stability and mutual gain.
This book was written before the UN High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change published its top ten threats to humanity in priority order (poverty, infectious disease, environmental degradation, inter-state conflict, civil war, genocide, other atrocities, proliferation, terrorism, and transnational crime) in A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, Report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change–the latter book is also free online in PDF form. They confirm the author’s focus on the plain fact that the core challenges to business and government are transnational in nature, and not at all amenable to nation-state centric policy making or unilateral militarism.
The author observes that economic nationalism is on the rise, and I should certainly hope so given the predatory immoral nature of most capitalism and especially financial capitalism. Money has committed more crimes against humanity than the US military, and that is both a strong and an accurate statement. Goldman Sachs has destroyed entire countries with its unethical undisclosed conflicts of interest and outright lies. For two competing views on the ugly and the need for good, see Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America and my personal favorite for “good capitalism,” John Bogle’s The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism.
Exploring options the author dismisses defensive government intervention and offensive government intervention as too limited, and settles firmly on the need for a global policy making network that is decoupled from both territories and governments per se. He clearly sees the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as an axis around which multiple stakeholders–governments, businesses, others–can rally, I am not so sure. The IMF economists strike me as out of touch with both ethics and reality, and the World Bank, once Steve Denning left his post as chief advocate for knowledge sharing, has reverted to its old ways. Where I do agree is that regardless of what international bodies are engaged, they now MUST focus on internal matters including (the author’s list) poverty reduction, environmental protection, and internal violence.
In his conclusion (after three case studies) the author states his view that with power should come accountability and transparency, and that we are sorely lacking in political leaders willing and able to affect institutional change. I agree, and so does Lee Iacocca, see his Where Have All the Leaders Gone?.
The author calls for (in the late 1990’s) a global governance audit, and for the creation of a global public policy network that opens permanent channels of communication among like bureaucracies (e.g. departments of agriculture at local, state, and national levels with their counterparts in other like countries); and greater cooperation among international institutions, as well as a concerted effort to nurture cross national structures of interst formation, aggregation, and representation (the author’s words).
At the very end the author points out that democracy is at risk from states that export instability, and I would observe that in the USA, the two-party tyranny in which Barack Obama is actually George Bush for a third time, has failed to be a good steward, with failed states rising from 25 at the beginning of Bush I to over 120 today as we near the end of Bush III.
This leads nicely into my concerns. I have ranked the book at five stars for pioneering and relevance today.
1) No one seems to be willing to call corruption out. It’s all well and good to talk about accountability and transparency, but until we are willing to confront corruption and the lack of integrity that leads individuals such as George Tenet and Colin Powell to actively support 935 documented known lies leading to the elective war on Iraq, we cannot achieve truth & reconciliation. Secular corruption, in my view, is the mother of all threats, and no one–including Transparency International–is serious about getting at this “root” problem. The US Government is as corrupt if not more corrupt than most other governments, they just legalize the crime. It also merits comment that intermediaries are a very large source of corruption–not just governments, but ostensible aid organizations from the Red Cross to Bono that deliver less than 10% of donated amounts and sometimes as little as 1% of donated amounts (Bono). Disintermediation combined with transparency will help eradicate corruption, but non-governmental intermediaries must be subject to as much scrutiny as governments.
2) Intelligence (decision-support) is a major factor that must be understood if we are to achieve global public policy, and one cannot achieve global public policy among all the stakeholders with classified intelligence whose timeliness, relevance, and value is virtually nil–4% “at best” according to General Tony Zinni, USMC, then in charge of the US Central Command. I have spent two decades championing Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), public intelligence in the public interest, and now M4IS2 (originally a Swedish concept, Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing and Sense-Making–just search for M4IS2), and we still do not have this anywhere. The US Intelligence Community spends $80 billion a year on collecting secrets it cannot process, translate, integrate, or share. This is criminally insane.
3) Government and business are only two of the stakeholders. Any global public policy model must integrate what I call the eight tribes of intelligence (qua decision support): academic, civil society including labor unions and religions, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-governmental/non-profit. In my article in 1995 in the Government Information Quarterly I defined a “Smart Nation” as one that integrated all eight tribes and thus was able to harvest and leverage the “distributed intelligence of the whole nation.” No one gets this today, as yet. I gave the idea to Singapore in 1994, they got off to a good start, and then fell prey to US influence and US contractors. The Netherlands and the Nordics try, but are not as structured as they need to be.
4) All governments and all corporations lack both a strategic analytic model for doing holistic “360 degree short to long term” holistic analytics, and they lack any interest at all, much less the ability to create, “true cost” profiles of every product, service, and behavior. Earth Intelligence Network, a 501c3, took the ten high level threats identified by the UN High Level Panel, and added twelve core policies: agriculture, diplomacy, economy, education, energy, family, health, immigration, justice, security, society, and water, and then went a step further to respect the eight demographics that own the future: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and Wild Cards such as South Africa and Turkey and Brunei. It is totally insane to be using water we do not have to grow grain we cannot eat to fuel cars that should either be running on natural gas or not be built in the first place. NOTHING THE US DOES MATTERS **UNLESS** we can deploy this strategic analytic model in a non-zero manner to create a prosperous world at peace. The world cannot afford to have China repeat the profligate and ignorant mistakes of arrogant US policy makers who knew full well in 1974 that peak everything was coming, but whose lack of integrity led them to disrespect the public interest.
I fear that the author will waste the first years of his tenure as inaugural dean trying to do the wrong things righter instead of the right things quicker, as one of my heroes, Dr. Russell Ackoff, liked to observe. It simply is not good enough to get governments and corporations to agree on specific global polices for Matter X, Y, or Z. Everything is connected. Any global public policy system that does not address all ten high-level threats, across all twelve core policies (and many more), across all territories, but with particular respect for the eight demographics, is destined to fail.
With my last two links–and noting in passing that all my books are not only on sale at Amazon but also free online at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog–I single out two minds that along with Russell Ackoff serve as my standard for excellence.
At Phi Beta Iota, under Books in the top bar, are two lists of list of book reviews spanning over 1,700 non-fiction books in the 98 categories in which I read. They are a useful starting point for anyone that wishes a crash course in holistic analytics and the real world.