And the winner is …. North Korea (at least for now).

North Korea has cunningly outmaneuvered the United States and has achieved another ‘victory’, with strategic implications for the Great Power dynamics of the System, not only on the Korean peninsula, but also at a global stage.

The current volatile politics and dynamics are typical for the stage of development of the current international order.

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I can be mistaken, it seems the North-Korean delegation has difficulty suppressing a broad smile (meeting today).

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How a domino-effect triggers a global war

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Through the United States’ dubious decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a domino tile is added to the already fragile international order.

The System – consisting of interacting societies (states) and communities, and their interactions with the environment on which they depend – increasingly resembles a global network of connected ‘critical issues’; issues between states and/or between communities that are on the verge of escalating into open conflict; war in the case of issues between states.

Because of the connection – linkage – between issues (because for example, the issues involve the same rival states), the escalation of a particular critical issue into war, can trigger a connected critical issue to also develop into open conflict.

Depending on the structure of the network of connected critical issues, a single incident can cause a chain-reaction, and cause a systemic  – that is a global – war.

The moment the network of critical issues spans the System, the System is in a critical condition and is highly susceptible for a systemic war. In case the System is critical, a single – even small – incident can trigger a massive response, a systemic war.

The start of the First World War (1914-1918) – the third systemic war – shows how this mechanism works: The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo 28 June 1914 – a relatively ‘small’ incident – produced a systemic response.

It is also possible to compare the network of critical issues with ‘connected’ domino tiles, in which a domino tile represents a critical issue: When a domino tile falls, it sets in motion a chain reaction.

My research shows, that the System produces war cycles, which have a typical (similar) life cycle: Initially, following the implementation of a ‘new’ international order, the System is still able to regulate tensions and to solve issues between states. However, at a certain point in time – when the tipping point of the international order (relatively stable period) is reached – the capacity of the international order to regulate tensions and solve issues becomes problematic: instead of tensions being released and issues being solved, they accumulate in the System. This ‘regime’, I refer to as the high connectivity regime of the relatively stable period (international order).

During the period 1495-1945, the System (with Europe as its dominant core) produced four accelerating war cycles, that show this typical behavior.

At present, data-analysis shows that since 2011, the System is in the high connectivity regime of the fifth – first global (1945-….) – war cycle. The System is now developing a network of critical issues, which increasingly spans the (now global) System.

Criticality of the System – the collapse of the current international order (United Nations) is just a matter of time.

The United States’ latest misguided decision – to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – adds more tensions and another domino tile to the already fragile System. A domino effect has become more likely. In the next article, I will discuss this issue in more detail.

 

 

 

The international order: From mutualistic to parasitic?

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Our understanding of biology, ecology, ecosystems etc. is far more advanced than our understanding of social systems. The relationship between the structure and dynamics of ecosystems is extensively researched. The use of the scientific method by these disciplines explains their valuable insights and their progress.

Biology, ecology and ecosystem theory also offer interesting insights and concepts to improve our understanding of social systems.

Symbiosis – and mutualism, commensalism and parasitism – are such concepts.

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The Architecture of Complexity: Understanding the development and dynamics of the System, Part I

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Complexity and hierarchy go hand in hand (illustration: source)

In the publication “The architecture of complexity” (1962), Herbert A. Simon makes some observations concerning the typical structure and dynamics of complex systems.

In three articles, I discuss two questions concerning the development of the System. To answer these questions, I make use of Simon’s perspective on the structure and functioning of complex systems. The two questions are:

(1) How can the phase transition the System experienced during – by means of – the fourth systemic war (the Second World War, 1939-1945) be explained? and (2) What can Simon’s insights in the functioning of complex systems contribute to our understanding of the condition of the current international order and what can – according to Simon’s perspective – now be expected?

In this article I discuss several of Simon’s observations, before discussing these two questions in Part II and III

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Applying network science to current developments: With the election of Trump, Al-Qaeda achieved its objective

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In this article, I apply insights in the relationships between network topology and ‘error and attack’ tolerance of networks to the dynamics of the System.

The (current) decoupling (disconnecting) of the United States from the international order can be interpreted as a response to the attack of Al-Qaeda on the WTC in New York, September 11, 2001.

The attack has set in motion – and has shaped – a series of responses from the United States (an attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, an attack on Iraq in 2003, etc.) and events that then followed (the Arab Spring, the collapse of states in the Middle East, terrorist attacks, the fragmentation of Europe).

Despite the efforts of president Obama of the United States (2008-2016), the United states – as the most central and dominant state in the international network – was not able to maintain its own and the System’s stability and coherence.

In response, the United States in 2016 (under president Trump) de facto ‘decoupled‘ from the international order, in efforts to promote its own – now narrowly defined – interests (America First).

Insights in network dynamics help explain (from a network perspective) what the impact is on the stability of the (global) System when the United States disengages – decouples – from the international order.

Not surprisingly, the decoupling causes the fragmentation of the international order, and consequently states and radical communities will intensify their efforts to shape local and regional issues in accordance with their own interests as well (and by doing so, confirm Trump’s self fulfilling prophecy).

In this article, I explain the impact of the ‘decoupling’ of the United States from the international order from a network perspective.

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