Blog:Meeting the future in a world of uncertainty

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Yotam

Meeting the future in a world of uncertainty


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In today's world, risk rules. This message pervaded the 7th annual INSS conference titled, "Meeting the Future: New Approaches to Political and Security Challenges." Covering a wide range of issues, from changing trends amongst American Jews to the Iranian nuclear negotiations, the conference revealed a tacit yet comprehensive lack of certainty which has come to characterize today's global developments.

Representing the height of risk and uncertainty, the proliferation of the failed state phenomenon threatens to undermine the foundation of the nation-state model. The Middle East is becoming increasingly saturated with severely weakened or 'failed states', which are characterized by a lack of legitimate authority to effectively control territory, make decisions, provide services or interact on the international arena. The failure of these states to exercise domestic sovereignty threatens not only their citizens and immediate boarders, but also the international system on which a state's capacity to govern its own space depends.

The previously centralized authority of both failed Middle Eastern states and their more stable neighbors are in the midst of a rather dramatic re-distribution process. Traditionally, the center of power lay within the cumbersome and centralized decision-making institutions which also maintained the capacity to control the flow of public information. However, modern technology has transferred this authority directly into the hands of the people. In a feedback loop between technology and economic opportunity, today's -global citizen is acutely aware of the necessity in taking an active role in the policy and processes that affect his daily life. Once connected and empowered with the necessary resources, the demand for political participation skyrockets.

Perhaps there is no better example of technology and opportunity's ability to enable the expression of collective interests throughout dispersed individuals than in post-revolutionary Tunisia. The Tunisian people are now actively applying their new-found political participation, as online communities founded under the once-authoritarian state are providing the foundation for a new and empowered civil society.On January 27th, the Tunisian assembly voted in favor of a new constitution, marking the first peaceful transition through a working national consensus in the region since the country's 2011 uprisings. Citizens were able to vote on their new constitution through various web platforms and express their concerns.

Throughout the INSS's two day conference, a gap materialized between the sharp and alarmist rhetoric of the world's leaders on the main stage and that of the multifaceted layers of gray which characterize the regions and people which they govern. As these trends became thematic throughout the conference, one central question remained unanswered – how does today's leadership respond to today's uncertain, risky and citizen-empowered world?  In a period where change is the only constant, we are left wondering whether today's modern leadership can "meet the future" and effectively adapt to the new rules of the game. <comments>