On 17-18 April in Oslo I participated in three meetings; the first a dinner including a Colonel, the second with the editor of Scandanavian Daily, and the third a luncheon previously announced and open to the public. On 19-20 April in Copenhagen I briefed and interacted with mid-career officers from the military, police, and national intelligence elements of the Danish government. I was interviewed by the Ministry of Defence public affairs team, and off-line by DR2 a national television station. A 13 minute video of the first interview, and a 59 minute video of the full briefing to the military audience, are now free online.
Here are my impressions:
01 The two million illegal immigrants stemming from the swath of destruction created by the USA along with France (Libya) and Israel and Saudi Arabia (Syria) has been a wake-up call for the Nordics. While the other Europeans – notably France and Germany – are still in denial about the fact that they helped create this mess, it is now understood by many Nordics that invading Iraq and going along with the USA on other elective invasions and regime change operations has been a huge mistake.
02 The Nordics are acutely focused on the Arctic as the next frontier, and in Norway, which has led the campaign to keep the Arctic demilitarized, there is constructive concern over Russian and American military exercises in the Arctic. The Arctic – and climate change – could be the best initial focus for a new initiative to create a multinational information-sharing and sense-making center and network rooted in Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), but not to the exclusion of secret sources and methods as needed.
03 To my surprise, multiple conversations revealed an acute awareness among Nordics that their current lifestyle is unsupportable going forward, and that my emphasis on the need to create a new economic model that eradicates the 50% waste characteristic of all Western domains from agriculture to energy to health to housing to security to water was essential if future Nordic generations were to be provided for responsibly. Young people I met in Copenhagen were even more sensitive to these truths.
04 With respect to the practice of OSINT, I found general appreciation for the fact that we have gone down the wrong track with our excessive American-led focus on Internet and social media monitoring to the exclusion of all of the information that is not online, not in English, and not generally visible, and interest in getting back to a more holistic concept of OSINT that includes a budget for direct human outreach that does not exist today.
05 It became clear to all that there is no corporate memory in the OSINT communities of the world, and particularly those associated with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). OSINT is being called “collection” and subject to collection legal constraints, over a decade after the Office of the Secretary of Defense ruled, in response to a request from the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) that OSINT is acquisition, not collection.
06 For the first time in my 25 years of doing this, I saw clear recognition of the value of combining the eight tribes approach to OSINT (academic, civil society, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, non-government/non-profit) and a multinational multi-lingual approach to the acquisition, processing, analysis, and presentation of global OSINT to national decision-makers across all policy domains, not only the military domain (national security is now about everything).
07 There was clear recognition by all parties that there are enormous obstacles to achieving intelligence reform, the same obstacles that have kept OSINT from evolving properly since I started this fight in 1988. I was asked to itemize what has changed and had three answers:
- Two million illegal refugees who are the outcome of our destabilizing so many countries from Afghanistan to Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen – headed toward twenty million illegal refugees.
- The Internet and the awakening of the US public as represented by both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, have exposed the hypocrisy and ineffectiveness of the current elite and how they approach world challenges and the decision-making process.
- The larger Open Source Everything Engineering (OSEE) cultural shift is re-validating OSINT as I originally envisioned it a quarter-century ago – some are now seeing the trillions in wasted dollars and the millions in wasted lives resulting from a refusal to be responsible about intelligence reform.
08 The Nordics are very fond of NATO and do not agree with Donald Trump’s dismissal of that organization as out of date and not worth what we pay for it, I personally believe that over time the Nordics will come to see what Parag Khanna articulates so well in his new book Connectography, that militaries are not the solution, both NATO and militaries have to make a sharp turn toward increased relevance to the D3 (defense, diplomacy, development) triad that US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has accepted as worthy of further consideration.
09 I was absolutely delighted to hear an officer stand up at the end of the military session to propose a Nordic working group on OSINT to rapidly develop a collective appreciation of open sources, methods, and doctrine that has not been achieved to date by any one country. The possibility of reviving my international conference (National Security & National Competitiveness: Open Source Solutions), but this time as a working conference focused on creating a living directory of open sources, software, and services as well as collaborative networks on each issue area, and separate conference tracks for each of the other eight “opens” in the new OSEE concept, in now under discussion.
10 A briefing to the Nordic Council has been proposed. It is significant that Henrik Dam Kristensen, a Dane, Social Democrat, and former Minister and member of the European Parliament, is president of the Nordic Council, , while His Excellency Morgens Lykketoft, also a Dane and a Social Democrat, is President of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. As the Nordics grapple with how best to open the Arctic to peaceful sustainable wealth-producing activities; eradicate waste from their own Western economic practices; and create a model to stabilize the South so they do not receive twenty million illegal immigrants in the next five to seven years, my ideas appear to be resonating with some as a foundation for a Nordic discussion followed by Nordic leadership of a global paradigm shift. I found insufficient appreciation of the importance of applying OSEE to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), there is a clear need for a Nordic educational campaign to explain to the public why achieving the SDG is essential to stopping future illegal immigrants and the crime, disease, and instability they bring with them.
11 I pointed out to each of my audiences that an Open Source (Technologies) Agency pre-approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) at $2 billion a year, has been proposed to Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, but timid myopic flag officers and bureaucrats have failed to actually place the memorandum before the principals. My Colonels at the White House, State, and Defense tell me this agency is a “doable-do” provided that Nordic ministers and perhaps the UN Secretary General and the Secretary-General of NATO (a Norwegian) ask their US counterpart principals to consider this initiative for the good of all.
The briefing, two videos, multiple documents, and many links relevant to a Nordic conversation about OSINT/OSEE as means by which to create a vibrant Nordic future centered in a prosperous world at peace, can be found here: 2016 Robert Steele on OSINT – Why and How.
With best wishes to all,
Robert David Steele