StratMon 2016-2017: Volatility and Friction in the Age of Disintermediation

February 20th 2017 - 15:30

The Hague, 20 February 2017 - the Annual Report of the HCSS StratMon is published and was handed over to Foreign Minister Bert Koenders.

The annual report is part of the contribution of HCSS to help Dutch defense and security organizations prepare for challenges that lie ahead. This is what we have set out to do in our annual contributions to the Dutch government’s Strategic Monitor since 2011. The principal purpose of this report is to get a better grip on many important aspects of international interactions that much of the public debate tends to gloss over. Our overall objective is to provide a better evidentiary base to help the Dutch government improve its strategic anticipatory ability. 

Events unfolded once again at a swirling pace in 2016. Terrorists hit Europe’s capital in March. The British population voted for Brexit in June. Turkish armed forces failed to topple Erdoğan in July. A resurgent Russia flexed its military muscles again in the Middle East and actively interfered in American elections, in which the American population elected Trump, in November. We are worried but certainly not surprised by the volatility of contemporary international relations. In previous editions of our contribution to the Dutch government’s Strategic Monitor, we already observed a surge in assertive behavior, noted a dangerous uptick in crises, and warned for the contagiousness of political violence.

The current volatility is not a coincidence, but rather the result of fundamental disturbances of the global order that are greatly amplified by rapid technological developments. Most mainstream explanations of recent turbulence focus on power transitions (the decline of the West and the rise of the rest), the concomitant return to more aggressive forms of power politics, and a backlash against globalization. What strikes us is that many of the explanations ignore what we consider one of the most striking mega trends that is reshaping the dynamics of power: the ongoing process of disintermediation.

Click here for the full report.

Speech Minister Koenders (NL)

Pressrelease (NL)

Stephan De Spiegeleire is Principal Scientist at HCSS. He has Master’s degrees from the Graduate Institute in Geneva and Columbia University in New York, as well as a C.Phil. degree in Political Science from UCLA. He worked for the RAND Corporation for nearly ten years, interrupted by stints at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik and the WEU’s Institute for Security Studies. Mr. De Spiegeleire started out as a Soviet specialist, but has since branched out into several fields of international security and defense policy. His current work at HCSS focuses on strategic defense management, security resilience, network-centrism, capabilities-based planning, and the transformation of defense planning.
Dr. Tim Sweijs is the Director of Research at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. He is the initiator, creator and author of numerous studies, methodologies, and tools for horizon scanning, early warning, conflict analysis, national security risk assessment, and strategy and capability development. Tim has lectured at universities and military academies around the world. His main research interest concerns the changing character of contemporary conflict. Tim is a Senior Research Fellow at the Netherlands Defence Academy and an Affiliate at the Center for International Strategy, Technology and Policy in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Dr. Willem Theo Oosterveld is a non-resident senior fellow at HCSS. His areas of expertise include the politics of the Middle East, conflict analysis and peacebuilding, as well as law and development. He holds degrees in political science, international law, and history, having studied in Amsterdam, Leiden, Paris and New York, and was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. A former Fulbright scholar, he earned a PhD from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.