Review: Using Data Sharing to Improve Coordination in Peacebuilding: Report of a Workshop on Technology, Science, and Peacebuilding

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Andrew Robertson and Steve Olson (eds.)

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent First Step, Four Disappointments, January 2, 2013

This is one of the more useful reports to come out of the US Institute of Peace and its collaborative effort with the National Academy of Engineering and I highly recommend it for either free reading online at the National Academies Press (individual) or for library purchase for the information, intelligence, diplomacy, civil-military, stabilization & reconstruction, and decision-support sections.

The goals are worthy but overly scientific & technical (the cultural part always comes first): to apply science and technology to the process of peacebuilding and stabilization; to promote systematic communications among organizations across political and other boundaries; and to apply science and technology to pressing conflict issues. La di dah. I just want to know if there is a dead donkey at the bottom of this particular well.

Secondary and equally ambitious goals that their current staffing model cannot support:
1. Adopt the agricultural extension services model to peacebuilding
2. Use data sharing to improve coordination in peacebuilding
3. Sense emerging conflicts (at least they realize the secret intelligence world does NOT do this)
4. Harness systems methods for delivery of peacebuilding services.

FOUR STRONG THEMES MAKE THIS BOOK VALUABLE:
1. Data sharing requires working across a technology-culture divide
2. Information sharing requires building and maintaining trust
3. Information sharing requires linking civilian-military policy discussions to technology
4. Collaboration software needs to be aligned with user needs.

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Review: Homeland Earth

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Edgar Morin and Anne Brigitte Kern

5.0 out of 5 stars Six Star Keeper – Joins Durant, Fuller, Ackoff,July 1, 2012

This is a PHENOMENAL book, a joint effort by Edgar Moron, whose life’s work includes Method: Towards a Study of Humankind, Vol. 1: The Nature of Nature (American University Studies Series, No. 5, Philosophy, Vol. 3). Today I am ordering Seven Complex Lessons in Education for the Future (Education on the Move). The translators Sean M. Kelly and Roger LaPointe merit recognition — this is as fine a translation of a complex mind’s work as I have ever encountered.

I donated my entire library to George Mason University when I joined the United Nations in 2010 (little realizing the depth of the corruption I would encounter — and soon leave in the same year). Among all my books, I kept back three: Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition, Lessons of History 1ST Edition, and Ideas and Integrities: A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure. This book joins that august group.

If I were president of a university, these four books would be required reading, along perhaps with High Noon 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them and Designing a World That Works for All: How the Youth of the World are Creating Real-World Solutions for the UN Millenium Development Goals and Beyond.

Since Look Inside the Book is not provided for this extraordinary work, I will list the 9 chapter here (each with over ten sub-titles not listed here):

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Review: Keeping Watch – Monitoring Technology and Innovation in UN Peace Operations

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Walter Dorn

5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal Contribution to UN and to Literature,August 13, 2011

Professor Walter Dorn is the de facto dean of the small number of scholars who study the specific topic of peacekeeping intelligence, or intelligence support to United Nations (UN) operations. Since his pioneering early studies of UN successes in the Congo in the 1960′s to his more recent articles on the introduction of the Joint Military Analysis Centre (JMAC) in Haiti, he is both the closest academic observer, and the most well-written in this area.

I read this book with great interest. It is the first comprehensive look at technologies that are directly applicable to the fulfillment of UN mandates, the design and security of multinational forces, the effective management of tactical campaigns, and of course being technical, it is the first and last word on surveillance technologies vital to peacekeeping and peace enforcement across vast regions.

Pending the “Inside the Book” feature being available for this just published book, here is the table of contents from my own copy.

1 Introduction
2 The Evolution of Peacekeeping
3 Monitoring: The Constant Need
4 Survey of Technologies
5 Aerial Surveillance: Eye in the Sky
6 Traditional Peacekeeping: Cases
7 Modern Multidimensional Peacekeeping: Cases
8 Current UN Standards: Starting from Near Zero
9 Challenges and Problems
10 Recommendations
11 Conclusions

I recently attending a conference on the history and future of UN Air Power, and in both my own presentations and those of others, “Peace from Above” was a recurring theme. The importance of assuring that UN elements have the best possible human and technical surveillance technologies cannot be understated–for modest investments–including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles–the UN can save lives, money, and time–on the latter point, Colin Gray, in Modern Strategy, observes that time is the one strategic variable that can neither be purchased nor replaced.

A word on pricing: as those who follow my reviews know, I will occasionally single out extraordinary books that are so grotesquely priced as to dishonor the entire publishing world. This book is perfectly priced, close to my standard of page count with one decimal. I salute the UN Press for bringing this book into the world. It should become a standard volume, not only for UN training classes, but for all war colleges as well as for commercial security training and operations.

See Also:

Peacekeeping Intelligence: Emerging Concepts for the Future

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Review: Who Governs the Globe?

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Deborah Avant, Martha Finnemore, Susan Sell (editors)

5.0 out of 5 stars Pioneering work too slow to be published,July 24, 2011<

This is a very fine book that is also available free in conference form (search for <Who Governs the Globe conference>), but of course not paginated, formatted, indexed, and generally edited, all values of the book form.

I personally missed this book when it came out, just as I missed two other pioneering works, Global Public Policy: Governing Without Government? in 1998 and Critical Choices. The United Nations, Networks, and the Future of Global Governance in 2000. It was the appointment of Reinicke to be the dean of the school of public policy at the Central European University, and George Soros’ essay “My Philanthropy” (the first 57 pages in The Philanthropy of George Soros: Building Open Societies that focused my attention.

Although I have been a student of revolution my entire life, it was not until 2003 when J. F. Rischard, then Vice President for Europe of the World Bank, published High Noon 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them that I started to focus on hybrid governance, and it was in the same year that Dr. Col Max Manwaring edited The Search for Security: A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century, a book that began my deeper questioning of the lack of authenticity and legitimacy within the U.S. Government.

The book should have been brought to market much sooner–three years in this modern era is very disappointing, especially when combined with the lack of follow-up. The Institute for Global and International Studies appears to have begun winding down in 2009 and its website is a a real disappointment. In brief, the collaboration represented in this book, which is superb, has not been continued. While it does not address the criminal underbelly of what Matt Taibbi calls the blending of finance and government into a massive crime family (see Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America), it is a fine foundation effort that touches on standards, norms, successes, and failures. It does not create a proposed methodology for further research, it does hit on the high points of authority, legitimacy, and accountability–attributes that many governments and corporations and NGO/IOs cannot claim to possess.

Having said that, I consider it to be, along with the books above and a few others, such as A Democratic Approach to Sustainable Futures: A Workbook for Addressing the Global Problematique, Measuring Evolution, and How People Harness Their Collective Wisdom And Power to Construct the Future (Research in Public Management (Unnumbered).), the tip of the iceberg and an excellent starting point.

Everyone else is writing about governments that do not work, or NGOs that lies, cheat, and steal, or corporations that run amok and are predatory and corrupting. This book taps into norms and standards and possibilities, but it leaves a great deal unsaid, and clearly needs a follow-on volume that integrates academics, civil society, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, and NGOs/non-profits, with a deliberate focus on how they might strive to achieve what the UN High Level Panel on Coherence called for, the ability of disparate organizations to “deliver as one.” One policy-harmonization option is multinational multiagency multidisciplinary, multidomain information-sharing and sense-making (M4IS2), and sadly no one anywhere seems interested in this foundation topic.

With my last remaining link, I will mention Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, a book that was recommended to me by Tom Atlee (see his two books here on Amazon, one on co-creation the other on evolutionary activism). Today’s “system” is corrupt in the extreme, not least because of the information asymmetries between the 1% wealthy and the rest of us. What the book–and the general literature on IO/NGO empowerment with information technologies–do not address is how one achieves shared intelligence (decision support) such that corruption and waste are eradicated, and disparate entities are harmonized into delivering just enough just in time voluntarily–sharing information in real time is the key. If the authors and the Institute can delve into this more deeply, their potential contribution is potentially priceless.

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