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THE INDEX — October 23, 2009

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THE INDEX—October 9, 2009

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GCLS UPDATE: The Only Thing We Have to Fear...Is Everything?

PANEL: Emerging Security Challenges Master of Ceremonies: Dr. John Henry Clippinger, Professor, Harvard University Panelists: Dr. Linton Wells, Distinguished Research Fellow and Force Transformation Chair, National Defense University Major General Robert Schmidle, Assistant Deputy Commandant for Programs and Resources, United States Marine Corps Dr. Eric Bonabeau, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer, Icosystem Corporation H. E. Shaukat Aziz, Former Prime Minister, Pakistan Dr. Paul Sullivan, Professor of Economics, National Defense University Dr. Thomas Malone, Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management Dr. Benoit Mandelbrot, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Mathematical Sciences, Yale University Carol Dumaine, Deputy Director for Energy and Environment Security, U.S. Department of Energy Panel summary by Max Currier, World Policy Journal Dr. John Henry Clippinger began the discussion by enumerating a few of the many, disparate security challenges we face today: worsening climate change, unbridled access to conventional weapons, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Armed forces securing a perimeter, he said, is not a sufficient means of security anymore. Former Prime Minister Aziz noted other security challenges such as economic instability and “uppermost...the lack of leadership and cohesion at the global level.” Mr. Aziz insisted that terrorism is not primarily a security issue, however, but rather a symptom of societal problems—human rights, basic needs, education, women's rights, children's rights, and a lack of effective dispute resolution (which leads to helplessness)—that must be addressed at the root cause. “Eventually,” Mr. Aziz said, “you have to have dialogue. You can’t kill an entire population. But you do have to negotiate from a position of strength…using both carrots and sticks.” Carol Dumaine from the Department of Energy (DOE) paraphrased author Jared Diamond: “The single biggest problem is the idea that we have a single biggest problem.... It’s what we least expect that could be the greatest threat and also the greatest opportunity.” Accordingly, the Department of Energy is engaging an interdisciplinary approach to create “scenario and foresight techniques” that will allow for better identification of root causes and stresses on natural and man-made systems. This should, Dumaine contends, help the DOE anticipate how stresses may manifest in “high impact, unknown probability events in the area of energy security”—such as the impact of extreme weather on nuclear power facilities or Arctic ice-sheet disintegration on animal feed security.

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