Small Wars Journal

grand strategy

Whose Story Wins: Rise of the Noosphere, Noopolitik, and Information-Age Statecraft

Whose Story Wins: Rise of the Noosphere, Noopolitik, and Information-Age Statecraft

Noopolitik

RAND analysts David Ronfeldt and John Arquilla have released a new monograph, Whose Story Wins: Rise of the Noosphere, Noopolitik, and Information-Age Statecraft on their concept of noopolitik as a way forward for US grand strategy.  Ronfeldt and Arquilla are veteran strategic analysts known for their works on information strategic and network theory.  Their significant works include The Emergence of Noopolitik: Toward an American Information Strategy (1999) and Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy (2001).

The authors urge strategists to consider a new concept for adapting US grand strategy to the information age—noopolitik, which favors the use of ‘soft power’ —as a successor to realpolitik, with its emphasis on ‘hard power.’  The authors examine how US adversaries are already deploying dark forms of noopolitik— essentially ‘weaponized’ narratives, along with strategic deception, and epistemic attacks—against the United States.  They then propose ways to fight back, discussing how the future of noopolitik is dependent on the state of the ‘global commons.  The noosphere, in their formulation is a ‘realm of the mind’ and ‘thinking circuit’ that favors collective intelligence.  As the noosphere expands, it will supplant realpolitik strategies with noopolitik.  Thus, the decisive factor in statecraft and the wars of today and tomorrow are wars of ideas where success is bound to be ‘whose story wins.’  This decisive role of ideas is the essence of noopolitik.

Source: David Ronfeldt and John Arquilla, Whose Story Wins: Rise of the Noosphere, Noopolitik, and Information-Age Statecraft. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2020, https://doi.org/10.7249/PEA237-1.

 

ZFTWARNING Wed, 07/29/2020 - 7:54pm
U.S. Grand Strategy is Alive and Well - The Evidence is Happening All Around Us SWJED Mon, 08/12/2019 - 9:08am
A multipolar view of the world inclines far more towards justice than one in which the U.S. jealousy protects her position. The British and French are firmly in the U.S. and NATO camps, and are defending their democracies, not docile parroting of the U.S. position. In Asia, Liberalism is anchored by Korea, Japan and Australia in a grand arc. This is not the work of Trump, but the sum of endless work over decades to make the U.S. safer. Recent events are vindication of this ‘offshoring’ strategy.
Rethinking US Grand Strategy SWJED Mon, 06/03/2019 - 6:38am
Great power competition is today’s defining strategic issue. Crucially this competition is seen as remaining below the level of great power armed conflict, instead ranging across diverse areas including economic, diplomatic, cyber, information campaigns and proxy wars.
Rethinking Grand Strategy SWJED Thu, 06/21/2018 - 12:30am
Grand strategy may seem an irrelevant idea but it’s not. As Colin Gray declares “all strategy is grand strategy.” Without a grand strategy that explains the ends, works the means and sets out the ways, lower-level strategies will be uncoordinated, work at odds with each other and be unlikely to succeed. It should be thought of as a practical problem-solving methodology you can apply to particular real-world problems. This article rethinks grand strategy to provide just that.

Exemplar, Not Crusader

Thu, 01/24/2013 - 8:30am

Many of you have already seen this, but for those who haven't, I discussed warfare, foreign policy, and America's way ahead in a changing world with Time's Mark Thompson the other day

 

No matter what portion of the ideological spectrum Americans come at world problems from, their views are shaped in a way by the idea of the “end of history.” We think that political development has a single endpoint, that being liberal democracy.

I'm not arguing that there's a better endpoint. Instead, I’m arguing that America cannot get the world to that endpoint in the near term. America needs to be more humble in its foreign policies, more realistic than its current expectation of instant modernization without any instability, and more cognizant of the significant challenges it faces in getting its own house in order.

In a phrase, I argue that America should focus more on being an exemplar than a crusader.

First, the world is undergoing a massive wave of change, bringing rapid development and modernization to more people than ever before. I show that this change is intensely destabilizing. It took the West centuries to progress from the corrupt rule of warlords to liberal democracy.

There is no reason to believe that America can remake the world—or even a corner of it—in its image in the course of a few years. We are going to face a period of intensifying instability in the developing world and we need to understand that some things just cannot be neatly managed, much less controlled. We can’t bring on the end of history by using war to spread democracy and the welfare state (used in the academic, not pejorative sense).

Second, and perhaps more importantly because it affects us domestically and internationally, the welfare state is facing a crisis in the world’s leading democracies. This defies the notion that history is teleological—marching toward a determined end point. It would be no surprise, however, to the ancients who saw all governments as fallible and saw history as more of a cyclical thing.

You can read the rest here.

Tip-Toe Through the Trinity

Dave Maxwell points out an excellent read for Labor Day from Christopher Bassford entitled "Tip-Toe through the Trinity or the Strange Persistence of Trinitarian Warfare."  From the conclusion:

 

Much of the criticism of Clausewitz essentially boils down to a complaint that he never stated his entire theory in a way we could all grasp by reading a single pithy sentence—at most, a pithy paragraph. Nonetheless, the 300-word Section 28 of Book 1, Chapter 1, of On War is an amazingly compressed summation of reality. Clausewitz’s Trinity is all-inclusive and universal, comprising the subjective and the objective; the unilateral and multilateral; the intellectual, the emotional, and the physical components that comprise the phenomenon of war in any human construct. Indeed, through the subtraction of a few adjectives that narrow its scope to war, it is easily expanded to encompass all of human experience. It is thus a profoundly realistic concept. Understanding it as the central, connecting idea in Clausewitzian theory will help us to order the often confusing welter of his ideas and to apply them, in a useful, comparative manner, both to the history of the world we live in and to its present realities. Most important, its realism will help us steer clear of the worst tendencies of theory and of ideology, of “pure reason” and logic, and of pure emotion.
Peter J. Munson Mon, 09/03/2012 - 5:30am