Disaster Zone

Interdependencies as an Advantage

A National Strategic Narrative has given me a new perspective.

by Eric Holdeman / May 21, 2012

On a rare occasion you will read a document or a book that gives you a whole new insight into a topic and changes your thinking dramatically.  This is what A National Strategic Narrative has done for me.


There is preface to the document by Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter that sets the stage for the paper itself.  She begins with pointing out that we need a narrative, a story if you will, for where we are headed and why.  This piece is significantly missing in our current political environment with the yearly ups and downs of grant funding and shifting priorities.  


She goes on to point out that our focus needs to be internal and not external.  How we need to invest resources domestically first in order to set the stage and prepare ourselves as a nation for the significant changes that are upon us now and ever-more-so in the future.  We need to move from a control focused system to one that is based on credible influence of an open system.  What we want and need is influence since we will not be able to "control" outcomes like we did in the last half of the 20th Century.  This concept fits our emergency management system of operating to a Tee.  


In the paper itself we have this focus of going from control to influence to adaptation and a position of strength by using interdependencies to our advantage.  Now this last statement is what got me thinking.  I've always thought of our interdependencies as a problem, not a strength.  However, in a world that is completely and utterly interdpendent it can be a real strength for America due to the inherent strength of our systems and our innate ability to adapt to changing situations.  Yes, we are interdependent, but so is everyone else.  We need to use this to our advantage and outwit, out coordinate, out collaborate those who would oppose us.  


This then is another issue we have.  The idea of the nation states being in conflict with one another is old thinking.  I've said previously, there can't be a World War III because of our inter-connectedness.  There will be regional conflicts and more of them as nations fight for scare and dwindling resources, but the big one is off the table.  Everyone loses in a WWIII and economically we can't survive such an event--on both sides of the conflict.  Instead we will compete in the business world and for trade.  Instead of nation states we will have stateless organizations that spring up that can do significant damage to our economy and livelihood if we are not resilient and adaptable.  


The paper is a wonderful read.  It focuses on how we need to prioritize what we work on and the education of our children and modernizing our workforce is one of the key ingredients for future success.  


Wendy Walsh sent me the link to the narrative.