By Dr John Chipman, Director-General and Chief Executive of the IISS
We live in the age of ‘fast power’. Our sense of stability, and indeed the rise of insecurity, is dramatically affected by the speed with which events happen and the very many different agents of power with which governments and the private sector have to deal with. Power today is more plural than ever before and adequate responses to its malign use have also to be more various.
Governments, and the defence and foreign ministries that serve them, have to be readier to act at speed if they are to shape, rather than be shaped, by changing events. In the past, strategists asked if a country had ‘soft’ power, ‘hard’ power, or ‘smart’ power. Today they must assess the quality of a state or of an alliance’s ‘fast power’ if they are to make a proper appreciation of the capability to respond to threats and to change.
The conflict in Syria will be one of the main themes of the 8th IISS Regional Security Summit, which is taking place in Manama this weekend (Friday 7 to Sunday 9 December 2012). Members of the Syrian National Coalition, the new unified opposition group, will be at the Manama Dialogue for a special debate on the civil war engulfing their homeland. Other sessions will explore the US role in the region, security in the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and increasing sectarianism.
Delegations from more than 30 countries will attend the Manama Dialogue. ‘While we bring together a huge amount of government delegations and very senior government officials’, says IISS Director-General and CEO Dr John Chipman in the above welcome video, ‘we also bring together leading strategists, academics and leaders of NGOs to engage and challenge the political leaders on the points they make.’
Stay tuned to this blog for more this week. News relating to Middle East security will be covered in the run-up to the conference; during the proceedings we will have reports, video clips and commentary from all of the sessions.
With lots of interest in the United States’ military ‘pivot’ to Asia, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta flies into Singapore to speak at the 11th IISS Asia Security Summit (the Shangri-La Dialogue) this weekend. Another lively topic for discussion will be the ongoing tensions in the South China Sea. Twenty-eight countries and 16 defence ministers will be in attendance at the prestigious summit, which runs 1–3 June.
For the second year, the IISS is running Shangri-La Voices, a blog devoted to the conference. In the run-up to the summit, we’ll be posting on Asian security, and reblogging the most important pieces on IISS Voices.
During the summit, from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon (Singapore time), there will be rolling reports, video clips and commentary from all of the sessions over on Shangri-La Voices.
Another moment of this week’s Military Balance 2012 launch picked up by the press has been IISS CEO John Chipman’s analysis that Israel is unlikely to launch a military strike on Iran this year. In this two-minute video, he explains why he has reached this conclusion.