Featured Article: Understanding Nations…
Understanding Nations: New Ideas to Analyze Foreign States
by Tom Pike, Nick Long and Perry Alexander
How humans understand the world drives the actions they take. This truth has literally changed the course of history. Galileo put the sun in the center of the solar system and altered humanity’s view of its place in the cosmos. Einstein showed time and space are not two separate phenomenon but really different sides of the same coin. These developments allowed for exponential development, as people leveraged new understandings to make incredible breakthroughs. Every great revolution is the result of changing a shared understanding, and U.S. foreign policy and military strategy are no different. The U.S. government’s approach to analyzing foreign nations assumes the Westphalian notion of foreign states as single entities. Although it is essential the U.S. government and all governments continue to treat nations as single entities, it is critical to realize this assumption fundamentally flaws U.S. analysis when trying to understand these nations. This is particularly true when the nation has collapsed, and international efforts are being made to stop the ensuing conflict and stabilize the area. To understand the true nature of a nation, its behavior, and the incredible dynamics that can emerge within it, we must use a more effective lens than a seventeenth century treaty. Complex adaptive systems or complexity theory provides such a lens. Similar to an ecosystem with its plants and wildlife forming a complex web of relationships, nations are the embodiment of their interdependencies and competitions…
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Major Tom Pike is an Army Strategic Intelligence officer. He has studied and worked to apply the science of complex adaptive systems to national security problems from the tactical to interagency level. He has a Masters’ of Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University and American Military University, and was recently accepted to the Computational Social Science program at George Mason University.
Major Nick Long is an Army Strategic Intelligence officer, having previously served as a military intelligence at various tactical assignments. Since transitioning to Strategic Intelligence, he has served in diverse intelligence positions at the joint level, including positions at USAFRICOM, the Joint IED Defeat Organization, and U.S. Forces Korea.
Major Perry Alexander is an Air Force acquisition officer currently serving in the Warfighter Strategic Integration Directorate of the Missile Defense Agency. He has Program Manager experience in nuclear monitoring, weapons integration, and aircraft production. He holds a Bachelor’s in Electric Engineering from Tuskegee and an MBA from Wright State University.
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