[Population Aging to 2030, Day 4, Essay 1 of 2]

Unprecedented demographic decline promises to lead Tokyo into uncharted economic, social, environmental, and diplomatic territory in the coming decades.  Owing to low fertility, high life expectancy, and trifling immigration, Japan will be significantly older and smaller in 2030 than it is today.  The population will decline from 128 million in 2010 to 116 million twenty years hence, averaging a loss of over 660,000 Japanese citizens per year.  During this same period, Japan’s working age population (ages 15-64) will shrink by 17 percent from 81 million to 67 million.  The median age of the population will rise from 45 to 50 while about a third of the population will be over 65 years old by 2030.

The diminishing work force will almost certainly limit the prospects for robust economic growth.  A graying society, meanwhile, will impose potentially overwhelming financial burdens on the polity to care for the elderly.  Beyond the socioeconomic challenges, depopulation and aging will also have worrisome implications for Japan’s national security.  As the population ages and shrinks at accelerating rates, Tokyo will be increasingly hard pressed to fulfill basic military obligations ranging from homeland defense to the discharge of international responsibilities.  Indeed, a sharp mismatch between its strategic posture and resources looms.

For the past decade, successive administrations have deployed ground, air, and naval forces far beyond Japan’s own neighborhood to conduct “international peace cooperation operations,” a vague umbrella term that includes humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and reconstruction activities.  At the same time, pressures closer to home, including China’s rise and North Korea’s unpredictability, continue to consume policy attention.  Yet, Japan’s proliferating security challenges are already bumping up against a manpower ceiling, potentially stifling its quiet ambitions.

The figures are sobering.  The male population eligible to join Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (aged 18 to 26) peaked at nine million in 1994.  In just over fifteen years, this age group recorded an astounding 30 percent drop, plummeting to around six million.  By 2030, eligible males will fall to less than five million.  By contrast, the United States will post a 16 percent increase for the same cohort between 2010 and 2030.

Manpower constraints are already having a telling effect on force structure.  Faced with new missions even as personnel levels remained fixed, Japan’s maritime service was compelled to siphon servicemen from frontline and support units to fulfill additional duties.  Consequently, crews on some ships became shorthanded by as much as 30 percent.  This in turn forced the transfer of sailors from warships decommissioned well ahead of schedule to replenish undermanned vessels in the fleet.

Recent defense policy documents have held out hope that technology will substitute for people, potentially easing personnel shortages.  But most military operations—ranging from high-end conventional wars to post-conflict reconstruction—soak up manpower. Gee-whiz technologies, such as unmanned systems, only go so far.  War fighters in the field and support crews in the rear must still do much of the heavy lifting.

Japan’s response to the March 2011 tsunami disaster was the starkest reminder of this reality: Tokyo called up over 100,000 military personnel—about 40 percent of the active duty force—for relief operations, the largest deployment of troops in Japan’s postwar history.  In short, boots on the ground still count for much in peacetime as in war.

Unless Japan is prepared for a major military buildup, which appears politically doubtful and fiscally unsustainable, the country’s shrinking pool of manpower will weigh heavily on Japanese decision makers.  Tokyo’s bold claim that it will actively promote international peace and security while bolstering its independent capacity to defend itself strains credulity.

Several implications are discernible from the projected population trends.  First, Japan cannot do it all.  Japanese leaders must set clearer priorities—in effect establishing a hierarchy among traditional war-fighting tasks and the nontraditional tasks Tokyo anticipates. They must also consider the strategic, operational, and force-structure trade-offs of any priorities they choose to set.  Do, say, humanitarian missions outweigh sea-lane defense?  Perhaps a starker choice awaits Tokyo.  Japan may have to favor manpower-intensive conventional operations that match China’s growing military prowess in East Asia while foregoing international peacekeeping missions.

Second, Japan will likely rely even more on the United States for its security.  In the worst case scenario, overdependence on Washington could tempt Japanese policymakers to hand off ever more defense responsibilities to the U.S. military, hollowing out the Self-Defense Forces.  The corollary is that the depopulating nation may become less willing and able than it has been for the past six decades to help the United States defend the liberal international order. The larger question for Washington, then, is how it can adjust to an emerging security paradigm in which a key strategic anchor in Asia recedes from the world scene.

Finally, an analytical caveat is warranted.  Strategic axioms that have long guided Japanese security strategy, such as the informal cap on the defense budget, could undergo radical change in times of severe duress.  A violent or peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula that produced a state hostile to Tokyo or a Sino-Japanese naval war over disputed maritime claims could trigger a fundamental reassessment and reorientation.  While population decline will clearly limit the range of Japanese policy options, there is nothing fated about Japan’s self-imposed restraints.  The role of contingency in international politics will thus remain an ever active ingredient to Japanese strategic choices.

Nevertheless, the population crisis for Japan is undoubtedly approaching, and this crunch will be accompanied by unprecedented pressures and demands. The anguishing decisions to mitigate the strategic consequences of aging are already evident today and will only become more difficult to make as the strategy-resource mismatches worsen in the coming years. It thus behooves policymakers to devote their attention to this looming problem sooner rather than later and, more importantly, before it becomes unmanageable.

[Population Aging to 2030, Day 1, Essay 2 of 2]

Populations in the rich world are aging fast.  Some scholars have argued that this will create a ‘geriatric peace,’ as the traditional great powers will no longer have the financial resources or manpower to contemplate large-scale wars.  Others have argued that population aging will particularly benefit the United States.  Because of immigration, it is claimed, the U.S. will enjoy a younger and faster growing population than either its fellow rich nations, or its main challenger, China.  As Europe and China both age rapidly, the younger U.S. will enjoy a further period of relative world dominance.

I think it is wise to be skeptical of both propositions.  In regard to the geriatric peace, it does seem likely that rich nations will be less inclined to invest in their military capacity.  But this is a problem for the U.S., as it is America’s main alliance partners – Europe in NATO, and Japan and S. Korea in the Far East – that will be reducing their military spending.  This will be a problem, rather than benefit, for the U.S. if America continues to face its main military challenges from disorders in young and populous developing nations (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia).  ‘Boots on the ground’ will be harder to come by from America’s traditional allies in the future.

In addition, it should not be presumed that the U.S advantage in youth and population growth relative to Europe or China will be maintained.  Fertility among US-born Americans is only slightly higher than in Europe; and that advantage has been fueled by immigrants (mainly Hispanic).  Recently, teenage birth rates in America have fallen to an all-time low; this usually implies a long-term decline in fertility as youngsters are deferring child-bearing. Immigration also has been the main source of America’s relatively rapid population growth.   Yet according to a recent PEW research report, net migration to America from Mexico has fallen to zero since the onset of the recession.  In addition, fertility in Mexico is falling fast, and is now lower than that of Hispanics in America.  In coming decades it is likely both that the stream of migration from Latin America, and the fertility of immigrants and their descendants, will fall rapidly, sharply reducing the growth advantage of America.

Finally, it should be noted that America has two further aging challenges that are greater than that of Europe.  First, because the U.S. had a larger baby boom than Europe, it faces a much larger absolute gain in the percentage of elderly.  Where Europe faces an increase of 50% in its over-60 population by 2050, the U.S. faces an increase of 100%.  Europe will suffer from a decline in its under-60 population while the U.S. will retain some growth; hence Europe is more concerned about having enough workers to cover pension funding.  Yet the second factor is crucial – the United States spends a much larger portion of its GDP on health care, and those costs have been rising fast, relative to those in Europe.  As America experiences a huge surge in its elderly population, the difficulties of keeping a lid on health costs will increase; without a major reform, the costs of health care of the elderly in the US will pose as great or greater a limitation on state spending on defense as is found in Europe.  Just one example – the number of those aged over 80 will skyrocket in the U.S. and a significant portion of those (perhaps one-fifth) are likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, requiring expensive nursing care.  The Alzheimer’s foundation estimated that his care alone could cost $1 trillion per year by 2050 if measures are not found to reduce the incidence or cost of Alzheimer’s in the senior population.

These considerations make clear that the U.S. cannot simply be smug about aging and presume it hands security advantages to America.  The number of those that will be 60 or older (perhaps 25% of the population and 33% of all adults by 2030) will be so large, absolutely and proportionately, that they will need to be viewed as a resource, not just an economically inactive and/or dependent group.

There are several ways to respond to America’s and the rich world’s aging in ways to enhance economic and military potential.

First, American should seek to broaden and intensify its military alliances with younger and more populous democratic states – India, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, as well as the existing NATO link to Turkey.  These “TIMBI” states all have growing labor forces and populations and will be capable of providing ‘boots on the ground’ for operations in other still younger and fast-growing states where military operations are likely to arise.   Whether through an expansion of NATO into a DATO alliance (Democratic alliance and treaty organization) that is committed to provide manpower to pro-democracy military actions, or through separate but parallel organizations, the U.S. needs to have close working partnerships with countries who will fill in the gaps left by the decline in military and fiscal resources of its traditional European and Far East allies.

Second, the use of healthy seniors in the civilian labor force must be encouraged and facilitated, through phased retirement and later full retirement ages.  This will reduce the dependency burden of resourcing retirement and health care for workers outside of the labor force, freeing government resources to sustain military spending where needed.

Third, the skills and experience of seniors should be valued and put to use.  Seniors, not just youngsters, should be preferred recruits for the Peace Corps, as the managerial and technical skills of senior Americans will be in great demand and of substantial value in helping developing countries train their own professional, technical, educational, legal, and managerial ranks.  America risks losing a huge repository of skills and experience when the baby boomers retire; some of this should be retained in the workplace in the US, but some should also be deployed on behalf of the US abroad.  Just as the Peace Corps built bridges and informal support for the U.S. around the world for an earlier generation, the same could be done through drawing on U.S. senior workers for a new wave of U.S. support for development initiatives.

Jack Goldstone is the Virginia E. and John T. Hazel, Jr. Professor of Public Policy in theSchool of Public Policy at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA. 

By Drew Erdmann

As the week’s discussion of urbanization closes, it is helpful to return to our starting point:  we are now living through something unprecendented in human history. For the first time most people live in cities and towns. And the pace and reach of urbanization will continue every day, every week, every month for the next two decades and beyond.

This urbanization is helping to reshape our physical and strategic landscape. The world’s economic “center of gravity” has moved more rapidly in the past decade than at any time in the past two thousand years, . Every strategist and student should again contemplate this map and its significance:nic-blog-mgi-shifting-economic-center-of-gravity2

This sort of historic change remains hard grasp, even when conveyed in such powerful graphic communications. Something more tangible is needed. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then perhaps two will be doubly powerful.

Consider Shenzhen, China, the city immediately to the north of Hong Kong and one of China’s first Special Economic Zones.  Here is a photograph of Shenzhen circa. 1990:

shenzhen-in-the-early-1990s1

Now consider this photograph of Shenzhen’s skyline taken in the past few years:

shenzen-today

Imagine the scale and pace of the change experienced in Shenzhen to move it from fields to metropolis in a matter of a few decades. Then multiply it a hundred of times over. That is what is happening around the world.

This week’s posts all highlighted the incredible stress such change will place on our economies, infrastructure, climate and environment, social relations, mores and values, institutions of government, and even our identities.  As Robert Kaplan’s influential 1994 article the ”The Coming Anarchy” argued, such stress can drive fragmentation, conflict, and decline. But at the time historian Paul Kennedy rightly cautioned against “doomsterism.” We should heed his caution today: while the profound challenges in cities like Lagos or East Saint Louis cannot be denied, there are success stories (consider again those photographs of Shenzhen’s development).

Looking toward 2030, our world will be shaped by the complex interplay of the dynamics fueled by urbanization. There will be winners and losers – between countries as well as within countries and cities themselves. Some will adapt, innovate, and blossom; others will stagnate, degrade, and wither.  Success will often be determined by how well leaders understand and act on the city as a system, as David Kilcullen argues. This will be an era defined in part by inequality and how well it is managed. We can envision ways to build more positive, innovative urban futures, as described by Brandon Fullerand Andres Cadena et al.  Yet, we can also imagine much more challenging outcomes (see other contributions on national security part 1 and part 2, and governance).  Some nation states might fragment under the strains of urbanization, while other national governments may simply decline in relevance as cities increasingly dominate the economic, social, and political lives of their citizens.  Might we be heading “back to the future” to the time before nation states when city states and other political structures reigned?  Whatever the outcome, the majority of humanity’s future will be found in cities.

Taken together, this week’s posts make clear that urbanization’s dynamics and interpedencies will pose new challenges for every country and city in the next two decades. Politicians, soldiers, diplomats, business people, urban planners, workers, and educators will all need to navigate new city streets, literally and figuratively. Capturing these navigational complexities and consequences should be a major theme running throughout the Global Trends 2030 report.

*     *     *     *     *

A final word of personal thanks to all the contributors to the NIC Global Trends 2030 blog’s discussion of urbanization. These contributors offered original insights and analyses. And they offered these diverse perspectives from wherever they call home in this globalized era –  not only the United States, but also Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, and the United Kingdom. I appreciate how they responded with good cheer and great material to the request to contribute to the NIC’s dialogue aimed at improving the Global Trends 2030 report.  Thanks again!

Drew Erdmann is a Principal in McKinsey & Company’s Washington, DC office. He previously served with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the National Security Council staff. The views expressed herein represent his personal views and do not necessarily reflect the perspectives of any organization with which he is affiliated. 

Three new contributions continue the discussion of the national security implications of urbanization:

In “Fighting in the New World: What Urbanization Means for Military Planners,” Janine Davidson of George Mason University explores the implications of the new urbanization for future war planning.

In “Military Operations as Urban Planning,” Michael Evans of the Australian Defence College makes the case for an interagency approach to future military operations in urban environments where the military works hand-in-hand with “urban planners, emergency services and policing.”

In “Urbanization, Security and Resiliency,” Nancy Brune of the Center for a New American Security argues that urban infrastructure planning, investments, and management should matter to national security experts.

When combined with yesterday’s contributions, these posts on urbanization and national security offer a series of provocative insights and suggestions that all strategists should consider.

Urbanization, Security and Resiliency

By Nancy E. Brune

In 2008, for the first time, the world’s urban population exceeded its rural population. According to theUnited Nations estimates, urbanization will grow from about 50 percent of the world’s population today to about 60 percent by 2030. More importantly, urbanization – and its accompanying pressures – will not be evenly distributed. As illustrated in Figure 1, the urban population as the percentage of the total population has grown around the world over the last three decades; however, the urban population as a percentage of total population has risen more quickly in Latin America & the Caribbean the Middle East & North Africa, and East Asia and the Pacific.

NIC Blog – Urbanization, Security and Resiliency – Figure 1

More than 90 percent of projected urban growth will continue to occur in developing nations, fueled by increasing population and rural to urban migration.

Researchers note that, traditionally, the largest drivers of urbanization are primarily natural disasters (and increasingly ecological degradation).  War and conflict have also caused populations to flee into urban areas. Climate change and the increasing desertification of once-arable lands have also fueled rural to urban movements in recent years, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Certainly, urbanization may be the result of conflict. But it is also the case that urbanization may be associated with poor security conditions in countries. The (rapid) movement of people from rural areas to more urban (or even peri-urban) cities may exacerbate underlying ethnic and religious tensions, place pressures on weak infrastructure that is already being pushed beyond capacity, increase distributional pressures, and demand governance and better planning from governments too weak to sustain themselves.

To illustrate this claim, the author looks at the urbanization trends in the Failed States 2012 list. Interestingly, of the Top 20 Failed States, 15 of them had urban population growth rates that exceeded the global mean. (For those stats jocks, please note that the authors of the Failed States Index do not include any information on urbanization). Table 1 includes data on the countries (with their Failed States ranking) that experienced urban population growth rates that exceeded the global mean and experienced significant increases in their urban population as a percentage of the total population.

Table 1. Urbanization data for Select Countries

Country

Urban Population Growth (%)

Average

1990-2010

Urban Population Growth (%)

Global Mean

1990-2010

Urban Population as % of Total

1980

Urban Population as % of Total

2010

Cote d’Ivoire (11)

3.49

2.33

36.9

50.1

Guinea (12)

4.04

2.33

23.6

35.4

Haiti (7)

4.52

2.33

20.5

49.6

Nigeria (14)

4.46

2.33

28.6

49.8

Somalia (1)

2.78

2.33

26.8

37.4

Sudan (3)

5.23

2.33

20.0

45.2

Yemen (8)

5.69

2.33

16.5

31.8

Source: Data from World Bank Development Indicators 2012

Many of these ‘failed states’ which experienced higher urban population growth rates and increases in the urban population have direct bearing on U.S. national security interests and have received some form of (humanitarian, economic and/or military) assistance from the United States in recent years.

For example, even before the aftermath of the disastrous 2010 earthquake, the United States has had deep relations with Haiti and has provided various types of assistance while encouraging democratic and economic reforms.  Nigeria, which is the fifth largest exporter of oil to the United States, is a critical regional partner. Of growing concern are the steady bombings (reportedly perpetrated by the militant Islamic group, Boko Haram) in northern Nigeria, a region which has witnessed desertification, ecological degradation and loss of economic livelihood – conditions which have fueled north-south migration in recent decades. A failed state for a number of years, Somalia (and its Transitional Federal Government) has received various forms of U.S. assistance over the years. The U.S. is particularly concerned with the al-Shabaab Islamic insurgents, which continue to battle the Transitional Federal Government and have now extended the battlefield into Kenya, as well as the home-grown Somali pirates which continue to operate off the coast with almost complete immunity. Moving northwest, Sudan’s largest funder is the United States who has provided more than $8 billion in assistance since 2005. And finally, Yemen continues to struggle with demographic pressures, rapid urbanization, and long standing regional and political differences. In recent days, the U.S. Department of Defense has resumed the supply of counter-terrorism weapons, ammunition and communication to help Yemen’s special forces project power beyond the capital to combat efforts by al-Qaeda to “destabilize the region and both indirectly and directly harm U.S. interests.”

Managing the Challenges of Urbanization

To be clear, urbanization does not result in conflict. But, urbanization, especially rapid urbanization, in the face of underlying ethnic tensions, weak government capacity or poor infrastructure, may result in a deteriorating general security environment.

The simple analysis which hints as an associative relationship between rapid and significant urbanization and state failure (or a generally insecure, unstable environment) suggests that governments, decision makers and planning officials need to pay greater attention to how to manage the continued urbanization which is projected through 2030.

Below are three recommendations for governments and planning officials as they think about how to manage the continued urbanization in the developing world where governments are struggling with ways to provide adequate resources for a growing urban population.

1. Fund Infrastructure

Every year, approximatley 65 million people are added to the world’s urban population, equivalent to adding seven cities the size of Chicago annually. Urbanization may create challenges when the urban infrastructure does not exist to (adequately) support the addition of the influx of people.

Unfortunately, governments around the world – both developing and developed alike – are failing to exist sufficiently in infrastructure. A 2012 OECD report concluded that Latin America has “large infrastructure gaps.”  Africa also has significant infrastructure gaps – in power, roads, housing, etc.  As noted by the World Bank’s 2010 Africa’s Infrastructure Report, Africa’s power infrastructure delivers “only a fraction” of the services provided in other parts of the developing world. For instance, “the 48 Sub-Saharan Africa countries (with 800 million people) generate roughly the same power as Spain (with 45 million people).” The report also estimates that it will require $18 billion a year to build and maintain an adequate transport network that provides adequate regional, national, rural, and urban road connectivity including all road, rail, port and air networks. These infrastructure gaps are not limited to the developing world. For instance, the American Society of Civil Engineers estimated in 2005 that it would take $1.6 trillion simply to make U.S. infrastructure dependable and safe.

Governments around the world should prioritize basic infrastructure funding.  In addition to helping policymakers mitigate complicated challenges of urbanization, many economists agree that “public investments in infrastructure and economic growth are inextricably linked.” As noted in the Global Trends 2030 Report, we can anticipate that technology may be a game changer and may help urban planners deal with the complex challenges posed by urbanization. Among these potential game changing solutions are: precision agriculture, water desalination, greenhouse agriculture, and renewable energy (e.g. solar technology) technologies.

 2. Integrate Resource Planning and Management 

Rapid urbanization has left policy planners struggling with ways to provide water, energy, and food and housing, as demands increase and supplies decline. In most countries, successfully addressing these resource challenges (and thus stemming urban migration) is undermined by the existence of separate administrative structures and policies for water, energy, agriculture and planning. This results in sub-optimal policies, regulations and resource management practices. Slowing the migration trends by improved agricultural, water and energy development, and other improvements, in rural regions has been completely beyond the reach of integrated planning efforts. For instance, the lack of integrated planning has contributed to the growth of informal settlements (or slums). Inadequate zoning and housing have excluded many (poor and rural migrants) from being integrated with urban development.

However, independent of additional infrastructure investments, policymakers should think about how to work more efficiently.  Specifically, governments should modernize public management systems to so as to integrate infrastructure planning and delivery of services across agencies and levels of government. International and regional financial institutions and international organizations could provide technical assistance and require integrated planning when financing any infrastructure project.

3. Build Resiliency Into Urban Infrastructure Systems

Rapid urbanization poses several challenges to urban infrastructure system. Examples include increased demand for electricity on an outdated electric grid or new urban settlements in areas that are not served by roads, water or sanitation services. In addition, climate change and natural disasters will continue to complicate the urbanization pressures faced by governments, particularly those in the developing world. Whether improving current infrastructure systems or planning new infrastructure projects, governments must build resiliency into their urban infrastructure systems.  According to theU.S. Department of Homeland Security, “Infrastructure resilience is the ability to reduce the magnitude and/or duration of disruptive events. The effectiveness of a resilient infrastructure or enterprise depends upon its ability to anticipate, absorb, adapt to, and/or rapidly recover from a potentially disruptive event.” The elements of a resilient urban infrastructure system include:

Robustness: the ability to maintain critical operations and functions in the face of crisis. This can be reflected in physical building and infrastructure design (office buildings, power generation and distribution structures, bridges, dams, levees), or in system redundancy and substitution (transportation, power grid, communications networks).  Robustness is related to the system’s absorptive capacity.

Resourcefulness: the ability to skillfully prepare for, respond to and manage a crisis or disruption as it unfolds. This includes identifying courses of action, business continuity planning, training, supply chain management, prioritizing actions to control and mitigate damage, and effectively communicating decisions. Resourcefulness is related to the system’s adaptive capacity and the notion of flexibility.

Rapid recovery: the ability to return to and/or reconstitute normal operations as quickly and efficiently as possible after a disruption. Components include carefully drafted contingency plans, competent emergency operations, and the means to get the right people and resources to the right place.

Introducing resilience into the urban infrastructure so that it can adapt to rapid urbanization (and other climate related challenges) will require urban policy planners to think about urban infrastructure as a system. Viewing urban infrastructure as a system and organizing the agencies and operations as such will allow urban planners to identify ways to build redundancy and flexibility into the larger system, thereby enabling it to respond to urbanization challenges.

While this piece concludes by discussing the importance of introducing resiliency into urban infrastructure systems, there is a larger point to be made. The authors of the draft Global Trends 2030 report entitled “Alternative Worlds” discuss several megatrends – including demographic challenges (e.g. aging populations and urbanization), the diffusion of power across countries, and the prominence of the individual in society (elevated through technology, education, improved access to health care, etc.).  Some nations may not adapt so well to these megatrends and the alternative worlds they will shape.  Others may leverage the potential opportunities. The degree of resiliency in a nation’s ‘systems’ – including infrastructure, economic structures, public institutions and social organization  — may in fact determine how will it can adapt to these alternative worlds.

Dr. Nancy E. Brune is a Non Resident Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

Urbanization and American National Security

It has long been the case that American foreign policy is most successful when it reaches beyond governments to societies (think Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin shaping French attitudes).  The diversification of major power centers in other countries will require our government to shift its focus away from making policy in capitols, simply because capitols will no longer be the place where decisions get made in other countries.  We are ourselves emblematic of this diversification, the separation of our seat of government from our financial capital having been a conscious one to prevent centralization of power.  Natural forces further diversified the geography of American society: entertainment centered in Hollywood; literature in Boston and New York; manufacturing in what is now, sadly, the rust belt; computers in silicon valley and Redmond, Washington.
But our foreign policies have not yet adapted to these changes.  It will not be adequate to talk to government ministers, yet that remains predominantly how we conduct our foreign policy.  There are over twenty cities of more than a million people in which our State Department has no representation; where there are Embassies, they are literal bastions of American power inhospitable (because of security precautions) to engagement with civic groups.  The Foreign Service spends nearly all of its resources on language training, yet the overwhelming majority of our diplomats lack the facility to participate in live debates in the native languages of the countries in which they are posted.  This is the result of a system that prizes generalists; the nature of change in the international order demands specialist skills that we neither recruit or develop in our diplomats.
While the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review acknowledges these shortcomings (even if it is somewhat breathless about the newness of developments that are not really new), State has not followed through with spending and managerial effort to redress them.  Moreover, State still treats shaping attitudes in other countries as a special skill — “public diplomacy” — rather than the most important reason for posting diplomats abroad.  As a society, we are predisposed to understand messy, small-ball mosaics of power and organization; as a government, we are typically too lazy or ignorant to operate that way.  That must change.  We must understand the complexity of other societies and navigate them effectively to build public support, not just engage the governments in power, if we want to remain successful in the international order Global Trends 2030 identifies.
A second major effect of urbanization for American national security will be in the area of immigration.  We have long been the beneficiary of other countries’ deficiencies, drawing their talent.  Richard Rosecrance identified in the mid-1990s the importance amidst globalization of winning the competition for talent.  Rosecrance argued that the traditional elements of state power shifted with a country’s level of development, from controlling territory that produced commodities, to controlling trade that created wealth from manufactured goods, to enabling virtual corporations focused on product design, marketing, and financing (Rosecrance, The Rise of the Virtual State, Foreign Affairs, July/August 1996).  States with the highest level of development would compete for intellectual capital, a factor of production that cannot be compelled by force but must be attracted by opportunity and incentive.
Marx famously said that religion is the opiate of the masses; suburban life as practiced by Americans may likewise be an opiate of the masses.  That is, what most people in the world want is the boring pleasantness of their own house, spending their time taking kids to sports practice and discussing traffic or a local eyesore with their neighbors.  It has a pacifying tendency on behavior, but it is predicated on a standard of living, societal and governmental infrastructure that has been beyond the reach of most countries.  If people don’t need to leave other countries to enjoy the benefits we have, we will get less of the world’s intellectual and entrepreneurial talent coming to us.
And immigration has been the way America compensates for our incapacities.  We import much of our scientific and technical expertise, overcoming the paucity of science education in our own children with the attractiveness of our higher education systems and job opportunities.  As the Economist cautioned in its reporting on London, so here: we are making policy choices that disincline people to choose us, whether because of our homeland security policies or nativist “lump of labor” ideas that jobs are limited and must be preserved from export.  As the rest of the world comes to have the urban and suburban advantages we enjoy, we need to end our complacency and get serious about competing for the world’s talent.  And we need to strengthen our own domestic base, most especially in education.
The third effect of urbanization I would note for American national security results from is who is modernizing: it is the so-called developing world.  As Amartya Sen has put it, the greatest beneficiaries of globalization are the world’s poor. Countries that are urbanizing are those that have been poor and are growing wealthy.  This is to be applauded, not only as a moral good, but as an expansion of opportunity for countries that may take a greater interest in global issues and have the resources to participate in shaping them.  The United States needs more countries to share the burden of sustaining the global order that has served and the world so well.  In the 1940s and 1950s, America believed decolonization would produce a wave of new allies for our policies.  On that basis, we refused Churchill’s pleas to sustain their empire, refused to support our closest allies in a war against Nasserite Egypt.  If we welcome the arrival of countries that have pulled themselves out of poverty, remain a voice for the truths we hold to be self-evident, and emphasize accountable governance, the international order of 2030 has the potential to be even more beneficial to American interests than the one we now enjoy.

Kori Schake is a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution. She has served in a variety of positions with the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of State, and the National Security Council staff. Her recent publications include State of Disrepair: Fixing the Culture and Practices of the State Department(Hoover Institution Press, 2012) and Managing American Hegemony: Essays on Power in a Time of Dominance (Hoover Institution Press, 2009).

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The national security implications of the new urbanization are profound.

To begin this Blog’s discussion of this critical topic, today we have three new contributions:

In “City as a System: Future Conflict and Urban Resilience,” David Kilcullen of Caerus Associates explores how the landscape of conflict will become increasingly urban and that strategists and operators alike should understand cities as a system.

In “Urbanization and American National Security,” Kori Schake of the Hoover Institution discusses urbanization’s implications for American policy and practice, at home and abroad.

In “Urbanization and the Global Climate Dilemma,” Will Rogers of the Center for a New American Security argues that national security practitioners must view urbanization and climate change as two interlinked phenomena.

I hope that readers find the insights of these diverse perspectives stimulating.  More to come in the days ahead!