Planetary Security, or the Subversion of Collapse

On 3 November 2015, the Dutch Ministry of foreign affairs organises the conference “Planetary Security: Peace and Cooperation in Times of Climate Change and Global Environmental Challenges” at the Peace Palace in the Hague. This conference accompanies the worldwide mobilisation for the United Nations summit on climate change (known as “COP 21”), which will take place in Paris, France, from 30 November to 11 December 2015. The peculiarity of this conference lies in the fact that it infuses the idea of security with a political, strategic and societal meaning, while security also remains clearly defined as a moment of exchanges between policy-makers and experts on the threat caused by climate and environmental change. In other words, the very existence of […]

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Energy Transmutation in the Middle East: Egypt and Israel

While climate change is hammering the Middle East, and as Syria and Iraq are engulfed in war (Valantin, “Climate nightmare in the Middle East”, The Red Team Analysis Society, September 14, 2015), Egypt and Israel are going through a profound energy revolution. In effect, since 2011, Israel has discovered two giant natural gas off-shore deposits (Valantin, “Israel, Natural Gas and Power in the Middle East”, The Red Team Analysis Society, April 27, 2015) while in August 2015, the oil Italian company ENI has discovered a mammoth off-shore natural deposit in the Egyptian economic exclusive zone (Anthony Dipaola, “ENI discovers massive gas fields in the Mediterranean”, Bloomberg Business, August 30, 2015). In other terms, these two countries are transforming themselves into a new, […]

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China, Israel, and the New Silk Road

In April 2014, the Israeli President and historic figure Shimon Peres led a three days state visit in China, in order to bolster the growing relationship between the two countries (Shannon Tiezzi, “As China Turns Toward Middle East, China and Israel Seek Closer Ties“, The Diplomat, April 09, 2014). It is interesting to note that the discussions were mainly focused on agriculture, natural resources, environmental protection, education and healthcare. Since then, other talks have been held about defense cooperation (Mercy A. Kuo and Angelica O. Tang, “The U.S.-China-Israel Defense Dynamic: Strategic Common Ground”, The Diplomat, May 11, 2015). Beijing has even proposed its mediation in the Israel-Palestine conflict (Shannon Tiezzi, “China appoints new special envoy to the Middle east”, The Diplomat, September […]

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China and the New Silk Road: The Pakistani Strategy

On 20 April 2015, the Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced a common plan for developing an economic and energy corridor linking the two countries through the development of gigantic infrastructures worth 46 billion dollars (Katharine Houreld, “China and Pakistan launch economic corridor plan worth 46 billion dollars”, Reuters, April 20, 2015). If this announcement is in itself very impressive, it is, in fact, only a part of China’s grand strategy, dubbed the “New Silk Road”. This strategy is defined through the concepts of “belt and road” (literally in Chinese Yídài yílù, 一带一路, one belt, one road) (“Belt and Road Nations account for 26 per cent of China’s trade”, The Beijing Review, April 29, 2015). […]

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“Interstellar” – Strategic Warning and Response Alternatives for the Resource Crisis

 “Interstellar”, the 2014 global blockbuster movie by Christopher Nolan is a feat of intellectual and strategic thinking. The movie follows the adventures of three astronauts whose mission is to find a viable planet for humankind, while people on Earth are struggling with the rapid decay of the biosphere and the increasingly dangerous effects of climate change. In fact, this movie addresses the political and existential issues of what is to become of humanity once the climate change crisis, the biodiversity crisis and the energy and minerals crises will have been firmly and clearly interlocked for two dozens years from now. This nexus of “socio-bio-vital crises” is very smartly used by Christopher Nolan to elaborate a vehicle for a new kind of […]

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Arctic China (2) – The Chinese Shaping of the North

Over the last few years China has been multiplying commercial and political relationships with Arctic countries. Reciprocally, these countries have been deepening their Chinese bonds. For example, on 24 April 2014, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark paid a state visit to China, and was received by President Xi Jinping (Global Times, “China, Denmark eye closer relationship“, 2014-4-25). During this visit, a ceremony was held over the signature of several agreements, “involving maritime technology, energy conservation, and poverty elimination among other fields.” (Global Times, ibid). These new political and economic ties between Beijing and Copenhagen are being developed alongside new relations between China and Greenland (Viviane du Castel et Paulo Brito, Groenland, entre independence et recuperation géostratégique?, 2014), which, today, is partly autonomous […]

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Hyper Siege: Climate Change versus U.S. National Security

In a passage of the “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”, T.E. Lawrence, a.k.a. “Lawrence of Arabia”, recalls that, as he waged a guerrilla war in the Arabian Desert, he was looking for a way to besiege an Ottoman garrison. He then had a kind of military epiphany, understanding that he did not need to do that, because the garrison was already besieged … by the desert. All he had to do was to stay mobile. However, a siege can be a very strong position for the defendant, which, often, can be defeated only from inside, as a long military history shows since the Trojan War. One can wonder if, nowadays, the U.S. national defence and security apparatus is not in the same […]

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Trial by Fire for Foresight: The 2012 Predictions of The Economist

The Economist shows the lead in a courageous yet hardly ever done exercise: going back to our own foresight and assess, in the light of the present, what was right and what was wrong. It provides us with an example of how such lessons learned could be endeavoured, underlines questions that should be asked and key challenges for anticipation, and exemplifies how biases can derail foresight.

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Assessing the “Strategic” in Surprise

Practically applying the idea of “strategic surprise” when anticipating new threats is difficult as soon as one moves away from the general idea, and tries to be more specific about the strategic impact a surprise could have. The surprise part of the concept is relatively easily understood and envisioned. When imagining a threat or danger occurring, we don’t have any problem identifying and explaining the many reasons why this event could happen unexpectedly and find us unprepared. Assessing, estimating and understanding these incriminated causes, then remedying them, is more complex, indeed the raison d’être of strategic foresight and warning and risk management, and the topic of many studies. The strategic dimension, for its part, is more elusive and far less […]

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