Volatility and Friction in the Age of Disintermediation

February 20th 2017 - 15:00

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.

The StratMon 2016-2017 analyzes global trends in confrontation, cooperation and conflict based on different datasets. This year the report also contains case studies on Turkey, Moldova and The rise and fall of ISIS. Chapters analyzing the many faces of political violence and 'the other side of the security coin' are also included. 

Download the report via the button on the right. 

Press release

Speech Minister Koenders (NL)

You can also download the separate chapters:

Conflict and Cooperation

Nowcasting Geodynamics, Great Powers and Pivoting

Case study: A farewell to the West? Turkey's Possible Pivot in the Aftermath of the July 2016 Coup

Case study: A national identity crisis? Moldova in Flux between East and West

The many faces of Political Violence 

The Rise and Fall of ISIS: from Evitability to Inevitability 

The other side of the Security Coin

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.
Frank Bekkers is Director of the Security Program. He studied Applied Mathematics at the University of Amsterdam and spent most of his career at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), specializing in the area of Defence, Safety & Security. At TNO, he held a range of positions, including program manager, senior research scientist, group manager and account director. From 1996-1997, he worked as program manager for Call Media and Intelligent Networks for the telecom company KPN. His current position at HCSS combines shaping HCSS’s portfolio concerning defense and security-related projects with hands-on participation in a number of key projects.