James ‘Spike’ Stephenson (Washington, DC)
General Michael Hayden gave a fascinating keynote speech at the Fund for Peace launch of this year’s Failed States Index last week that I found very relevant to the way we use conflict analysis to identify the drivers of conflict and instability in communities to design programs that enable them to address their needs.
His speech is well worth watching, but take particular note of the way he describes the task of the intelligence officer in gathering and presenting facts to policy makers. It is not enough to gather and present facts; one has to know the story.
The story is made up of narratives, but the challenge is to pick out the dominant narrative.
It occurred to me that learning the story and narratives was exactly what we do in conflict analysis. The General’s speech was a great segue to my comments, as I had been asked to speak on the role of conflict analysis in development and how technology can improve its methodology.
Coincidentally, I had just returned from participating in a small working group at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, where we decided to pursue a project to enhance conflict analysis through the use of soft and hard technologies, such as civilian drones, behavioral analysis, electronic communications capture, and heat mapping.
The present open source ability to eavesdrop and map Internet postings was a source of lively discussion, particularly with regard to privacy concerns and ethical use.
You can view General Hayden’s speech and the panel discussion from here:
Part 1: Keynote Address Video: 32 minutes, 35 seconds
Presented by Distinguished Visiting Professor at George Mason University’s School of Public Policy and former Director of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, General Michael Hayden, on the challenges that fragile and failed states pose for the international community.
Part 2: Overview of FSI 2012 Video: 19 minutes, 15 seconds
Overview of the Failed States Index 2012 presented by J.J. Messner, Co-Director of The Failed States Index.
Part 3: Expert Panel Video: 23 minutes, 56 seconds
An expert discussion on the use of cutting-edge technology to aid in understanding and preventing conflict. - Joseph Bermudez, DigitalGlobe Analysis Center - Spike Stephenson, Creative Associates
Part 4: Q&A Session Video: 49 minutes, 59 seconds
Questions and comment with the expert panel and with Co-Directors of The Failed States Index, Nate Haken and J.J. Messner. Moderated by FFP Executive Director, Krista Hendry.