How can America adapt to a new world? A conference about national security lights the way.

As the post-WWII era ends, America’s public policy must adapt to a changed world, with new domestic and international challenges.  Where will we find the necessary new ideas? 

Can our current institutions innovate on this scale?   Our “think tanks” have evolved to serve their patrons with exquisite sensitivity, unfortunately with the loss of much creativity and awareness.  The government has  talent in its ranks, but locked into a bureaucracy like something from “Dilbert” (on its good days, like something from a Kafka story on its bad days).

A solution

  1. Meetings of small groups of people
  2. who have a wide range of training and occupations,
  3. organized around a specific analytical method or perspective,
  4. with a broad but clearly defined subject or focus.

 This encourages both clear communication and the clashing of views, both prerequisites for intellectual progress.  Conferences with two or three of these factors are common; all four are rare.  Here is one example, well-worth considering:

The Boyd 2008 Conference/Colloquium
4GW, Resiliency, and the Decline of the State.  How Boyd’s ideas can help.

This is a short, intense seminar on the applicability of Boyd’s ideas, particularly operating inside the OODA loop and grand strategy (sustaining our own morale and attracting the uncommitted).   How can we apply these concepts to conflict in the post-Iraq era, and more specifically to the diffused, networked, “open source” armed conflicts?  The Conference will also exploe solutions, such as the role of “resilient communities” (RC), for countering them. As Oil and food prices have climbed and the mortgage crisis has grown, the need to think more about Resilient Communities has become more urgent. We may have to re-invent our world!

The keynote speaker will be John Robb, author of the acclaimed book, Brave New War, which makes a compelling case for increasing resilience at the local level.

Hopefully the results from this Conference will help shape the policy agenda in the first year of the new administration.

Details:  To be held  on the weekend of December 6-7 at the University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PEI. Canada.


By Chet Richards, posted at Defense and the National Interest:

As co host Rob Paterson explains, John is one of the most respected resources on the concept of resilient communities. People have been talking about increasing local resilience for years, although in the past, economies of scale often trumped the need for resilience. With the advent of large-scale non-state conflict, sometimes called “fourth generation warfare,” however, the concept of relying on large and efficient but potentially vulnerable single points of failure must be re-examined.

Some of the most innovative work on local resilience has been done on Prince Edward Island, which is logical, given its geographical location. As our other featured guest, we will have John MacQuarrie, who is the Deputy Minister for Environment, Energy and Forestry for Prince Edward Island. Rob explains the significance of Mr. MacQuarrie’s background and initiatives for all communities going forward.

The purpose of the conference is to explore the latest concepts on the future of conflict that could affect local communities and to share ideas for and experiences with implementing measures to deal with them. If you are in any way involved with community resilience efforts, please join us on PEI for this ground-breaking conference.

See the Conference website for more information.


If you are new to this site, please glance at the archives below.  You may find answers to your questions in these, such as the causes of the present crisis.  I have been writing about these events for several years; since November 2007 on this site.  As you will see explained in these posts, the magnitude of the events now happening is beyond what most Americans have — or can — imagine.

Please share your comments by posting below.  Please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

For more information

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  The following are esp relevant to this post:

A related question concerns grand strategy.  Does America need a grand strategy?  If so, what should it be?  Answers to these questions illuminate many of the questions hotly debated about foreign policy and national security.

  1. The Myth of Grand Strategy , 31 January 2006
  2. America’s Most Dangerous Enemy , 1 March 2006
  3. Why We Lose at 4GW , 4 January 2007
  4. America takes another step towards the “Long War” , 24 July 2007
  5. One step beyond Lind: What is America’s geopolitical strategy? , 28 October 2007
  6. ABCDs for today: About Blitzkrieg, COIN, and Diplomacy , 21 February 2008
  7. America needs a Foreign Legion , 18 April 2008
  8. Militia – the ultimate defense against 4GW , original September 2005; revised 30 May 2008
  9. How America can survive and even prosper in the 21st Century – part I , 19 March 2007; revised 7 June 2008
  10. How America can survive and even prosper in the 21st Century – part II , 14 June 2008
  11. America’s grand strategy: lessons from our past , 30 June 2008  – chapter 1 in a series of notes
  12. President Grant warns us about the dangers of national hubris , 1 July 2008 – chapter 2
  13. America’s grand strategy, now in shambles , 2 July 2008 — chapter 3
  14. America’s grand strategy, insanity at work , 7 July 2008 — chapter 4
  15. Justifying the use of force, a key to success in 4GW , 8 July 2008 – chapter 5
  16. The world seen through the lens of 4GW (this gives a clearer picture) , (10 July 2008 — chapter 8
  17. Thoughts on fixing America’s national security apparatus , 11 August 2008 

5 thoughts on “How can America adapt to a new world? A conference about national security lights the way.”

  1. One such conference, that has been around since 1957, is the Pugwash Conference.


    The purpose of the Pugwash Conferences is to bring together, from around the world, influential scholars and public figures concerned with reducing the danger of armed conflict and seeking cooperative solutions for global problems. Meeting in private as individuals, rather than as representatives of governments or institutions, Pugwash participants exchange views and explore alternative approaches to arms control and tension reduction with a combination of candor, continuity, and flexibility seldom attained in official East-West and North-South discussions and negotiations. Yet, because of the stature of many of the Pugwash participants in their own countries (as, for example, science and arms-control advisers to governments, key figures in academies of science and universities, and former and future holders of high government office), insights from Pugwash discussions tend to penetrate quickly to the appropriate levels of official policy-making.

    The Pugwash Conferences take their name from the location of the first meeting, which was held in 1957 in the village of Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Canada, birthplace of the American philanthropist Cyrus Eaton, who hosted the meeting. The stimulus for that gathering was a Manifesto issued in 1955 by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein — and signed also by Max Born, Percy Bridgman, Leopold Infeld, Frederic Joliot-Curie, Herman Muller, Linus Pauling, Cecil Powell, Joseph Rotblat, and Hideki Yukawa — which called upon scientists of all political persuasions to assemble to discuss the threat posed to civilization by the advent of thermonuclear weapons. The 1957 meeting was attended by 22 eminent scientists (seven from the United States, three each from the Soviet Union and Japan, two each from the United Kingdom and Canada, and one each from Australia, Austria, China, France, and Poland).

    From that beginning evolved both a continuing series of meetings at locations all over the world — with a growing number and diversity of participants — and a rather decentralized organizational structure to coordinate and finance this activity. By late 2002, there have been over 275 Pugwash Conferences, Symposia, and Workshops, with a total attendance of over 10,000 (there are now in the world over 3500 “Pugwashites”, namely individuals who have attended a Pugwash meeting and are hence considered associated with Pugwash and receive our newsletter). The Conferences, which are held annually, are attended by 150 to 250 people; the more frequent topical Workshops and Symposia typically involve 30 to 50 participants. A basic rule is that participation is always by individuals in their private capacity (not as representatives of governments or organizations).

  2. Nice to see so much relevant activity in the neck of the woods I happen to live in. Who’d have thunk it given that the Maritimes seem so far removed from big geopolitical dynamics…

  3. Speaking of resilience, you all might be interested in what Prince Edward Island is doing to achieve energy independence. Rob Paterson, co-host of the Boyd Conference, has a post on that subject today: “PEI – Energy Independence – Progress“, 17 October 2008.

    The tie-in to Boyd, who never wrote anything on energy independence, is two-fold. First, it’s a great example of harmonized, bottom-up initiative and second, it represents a group of people who are trying not just to survive but to survive on their own terms (Patterns, 10).

    Hope to see some of you at the conference.

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