Summer has been over for a while, but I’m only now finding the time to do a post. It’s going to be short – just an update to a couple of my previous posts on reading for strategists (like Geopolitics and Investing and How to Think Like an Intelligence Analyst).
White & Red – Five Forces!
The not-so-subtle idea underpinning those posts is that much of what is called business or investment strategy “literature” is intellectual popcorn: fun to eat, temporarily satisfying, but with no long-term nutritional value. Eat only popcorn, and you’ll starve to death. (Here I could criticize business schools for serving mostly intellectual junk food to their students, but that’s what happens when you let kids create the menu!)
Posted in Methodology & Tools, Resources, Uncategorized
Tagged China, climate change, empire, Geoffrey Parker, Geopolitics, grand strategy, nuclear weapons, Philip II, sovereign wealth funds, strategy, uses of history
Joseph Nye, an eminent political scientist at Harvard, wrote a book about “soft power” a few years ago. He followed that volume up by devoting a chapter to the concept in last year’s book The Future of Power. So what is “soft power”?
According to Nye, whereas “hard power” grows out of a country’s military or economic might, soft power, “Arises from the attractiveness of a country’s culture, political ideals, and policies.” In the Future of Power Nye examines what it means to be powerful in the twenty-first century, and how the US might set about retaining its place in the world. He thinks soft power will be an important part of the mix, and I tend to agree.
But while I’m generally optimistic about the future of America’s place in the international order , one historical parallel related to soft power disturbs me: the degree to which the threat of terrorism has led the US to create embassy buildings that appear to cower before contemporary threats.
Today I was reminded of the perils of forecasting while reviewing a Department of Defense document, the Joint Operating Environment 2010.
“JOE 2010” as it’s called, is designed to provide the various branches of the US Armed Forces a joint perspective on likely global trends, possible shocks and their future operating environment. If you’re interested in geopolitics and strategy, I recommend that you take a look.
Apart from its inherent interest, JOE 2010 opens with a defense planning timeline that business and financial strategy practitioners – and anyone who consumes their work – would do well to bear in mind. I have reproduced it verbatim here:
1900 If you are a strategic analyst for the world’s leading power, you are British, looking warily at Britain’s Age-old enemy, France.
1910 You are now allied with France, and the enemy is now Germany.
Posted in Case study, Theory
Tagged black swan, China, Defense Planning, DOD, forecasting, France, Geopolitics, Germany, grand strategy, Internet, JOE 2010, Korea, NATO, non-predictive strategy, prediction, strategic autism, strategic surprise, strategy, UK, USSR, Vietnam