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 senior 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.

Tim Sweijs is a Senior Strategist. He is the initiator, creator, and author of numerous studies, methodologies, and tools for research projects in horizon scanning, conflict analysis, international and national security risk assessment, and capability development. He has led multicenter research projects for both private and public sector organizations – including the European Commission and various European governments.

Willem Oosterveld is a Strategic Analyst at HCSS. He holds degrees in political science, law and history, having studied in Amsterdam, Leiden, Paris, New York and Harvard. A former Fulbright scholar, he earned a PhD in the history of international law from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. 

Hannes Rõõs is a data scientist at HCSS. He has a Master’s degree in Sociology from the University of Tartu and also holds Bachelor’s degrees in both Political Science and Sociology from the same university. In addition, he studied at the University of Oslo and the University of Mannheim for a total of three semesters. Prior to HCSS, Hannes worked as a research and teaching assistant at the University of Tartu and the associated Centre of Excellence for Strategic Sustainability. 

Frank Bekkers is Director of the Security Program. He is also theme leader of the Strategy and Change 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.

Colonel Robert de Rave started his military career in 1979 as an officer cadet at the Royal Military Academy in Breda. On graduation in 1982, he began his military flying training at the Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, U.S.A., subsequently receiving his Military Jet Pilot wings. In the following years he was posted to Twente Air Base, the Führungs Akademie in Hamburg and Volkel Airbase. 

Karlijn Jans is a strategic analyst at HCSS. She holds a Master’s degree in European Studies specializing in German politics from King’s College London and a Master’s degree in European and International Law from Maastricht University. Her geographical expertise includes Europe and the transatlantic sphere. Ms. Jans further specialized in defense and security policies while studying as a visiting student at the Netherlands Defense Academy. Prior to her position at HCSS she worked as a policy advisor at the TNO’s EU office in Brussels.