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Showing posts from May 13, 2018

FIVE WAYS TO SHARPEN THE EFFECTIVENESS OF CANADA'S DIPLOMATIC CORPS May 10, 2018 by Daryl Copeland The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO)—which represents more than 1500 active and retired Canadian foreign service officers—held its first professional conference last week in Ottawa on the “foreign service officer of the future.” While the discussion at the conference was under Chatham House Rule, as a former diplomat and five-term elected member of PAFSO’s executive committee, I was delighted to know that PAFSO is thinking about the future of foreign service. Such an exercise is both timely and relevant, given that in the face of the new threat set facing humanity (climate, biodiversity, global commons, pandemic disease, alternative energy, and food and water security, to name a few), diplomacy is our best bet. There are no military solutions—these issues are immune to the application of armed force. That said, when it comes to diplomatic practice and institutions, there is much work to be done. T

Let's Make a (Larger) Deal May 04, 2018 Bain Snap ChartBy  Matthew Crupi  and Lucas Martin Sales representatives may pursue deals of all sizes, including many small ones, because their companies cannot tell them what a "good deal" looks like. However, the true value usually lies in larger deals, given the time required to close any single deal and the cost to serve. When one IT services company analyzed its recent deals—not just at a gross margin level, but for their fully loaded marketing and sales costs—it realized that small deals were usually unprofitable, as shown in the chart. That led the company to reject any deal below a certain size threshold, helping focus valuable sales time and resulting in a quick improvement in sales productivity. Matthew Crupi is a partner and Lucas Martin is a principal with Bain & Company. They are based in Dallas.

The Economic Cost of Conflict

U N diplomacy, modern conflict prevention un-diplomacy-modern-conflict-prevention * Common elements * *where UN diplomacy played a positive role in preventing conflict.* We found four common factors: (1) * consent *—the willingness of parties to accept a role for the UN; (2) * timing *—engagement at a moment when parties are receptive to engagement, but haven’t made an irrevocable decision toward violence; (3) * knowledge and relationships *—UN diplomacy tends to do better where the envoy is both deeply knowledgeable, well-known, and has strong connections; and (4) * leverage *—the ability of the UN to influence decisions, or offer space to the parties to walk away from violence. The most difficult variable was leverage: The UN seldom has hard leverage, and almost never uses coercive strength. Across all successful cases, we saw that the UN gained leverage through a united Security Council and almost always benefited from regional unity as well, often using its relatively new regionally

Freedom: The God of Modern War? Youri Cormier     May 1, 2018 Freedom. The term is so ubiquitous in its application to war we tend not to ask why that is. We take it as a given. Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom are two good examples of how the concept seems encoded into American strategic objectives, yet it is not limited to countries like the U.S. where this idea is so culturally (and constitutionally) central. Crimea was not conquered by Russia, according to Russian claims, but rather the minority Russian population of Ukraine was liberated and given the opportunity for self-determination and to vote in a referendum about their collective future. While this essay will attempt to uncover why freedom appears to stoke the warrior instinct inside of us, doing so would only lead to an impasse, were it not considered within a larger set of questions. As a systematized justification for political violence, freedom was

#Reviewing Taliban Narratives Omar Sadr     May 7, 2018 Taliban Narratives: The Use and Power of Stories in the Afghanistan Conflict . Thomas H. Johnson. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2018. Taliban Narratives , by Professor Thomas Johnson, explores Taliban and U.S. communication cultures by analyzing narratives, propaganda, and stories between 2001-2011. Johnson decodes the Taliban’s master narrative, information operations, target audience, and their propaganda tools such as circulars, s habnamahs  (night letters), internet accounts, graffiti, poetry, and chants, which he refers to as cultural artifacts. He argues the Taliban, unlike the U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, have culturally relevant information closer to the values held by the local population. Aiming at changing the emotions and perception of people, Taliban campaigns target rural Afghans by focusing on local issues. The book draws heavily on cultu


Source : ROBERT RICHBOURG MAY 10, 2018 From a Nobel Laureate on the MIT faculty: “Intuition, insight, and learning are no longer exclusive possessions of human beings: any large high-speed computer can be programed to exhibit them also.” Herbert Simon wrote  this in 1958. Could it have been last week? Today, the defense community is considering artificial intelligence as a possible solution for an array of problems. The Pentagon is  accelerating its artificial intelligence efforts ( nearly 600 Pentagon projects  include an AI component) following on the visible success of the Project Maven initiative. Others are concerned that  adversaries investing heavily in these technologies  will produce highly autonomous and adaptive weapons that might overmatch U.S. defenses. After all, data analytics, deep learning, and deep neural network technologies have achieved some remarkable successes in recent years. However, both historical evidence and the known limits of thes