Bloomberg quotes VP and Scowcroft Center Director Barry Pavel on why the crises recently dominating world headlines represent a revolution in global affairs:
“We need to look at the world as it is, not as it used to be,” said Barry Pavel, director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council, a Washington policy group. “There are lots of networks that cut across state borders where information and goods and people flow. We still look at these structures as nation-states, but they’re not as meaningful; they’re very porous.”
The U.S., though, still operates in a system that Pavel, a member of the National Security Council under both Obama and former president George W. Bush, calls the “Westphalian-plus world.”
“There are nation-states from the Westphalian world,” Pavel said, “but there are a lot of other actors that are cutting across those boundaries, and we’re missing them if we’re not applying a broader way of looking to see these other actors.”
As Islamic State rose in Syria and then blitzed into Iraq, Pavel of the Atlantic Council said, a combined use of civilian and military instruments might have made a difference in preparing and responding.
“If you took a more comprehensive approach, you might not have been behind the curve as much,” he said. A U.S. ambassador in Iraq who was part of a regional, multi-agency structure that shared information and executed in a coordinated fashion “may have had a broader view of the threat if he or she had been briefed and coordinated on Syria issues on a sustained basis,” Pavel said. “You could have had a better framework for developing problems and developing opportunities.”
Without change, though, said Pavel, “You’re going to see more of what’s happened in the last year, the worst-case outcomes on steroids, where you have a lot of crises getting out of control because prevention efforts haven’t been very effective.”