In the first CIGI Signature Lecture of 2013, Rafe Sagarin, marine ecologist and environmental policy analyst at the University of Arizona, presented an innovative theory on how nature and lessons from the wild can be applied to national security policies and some of the world’s most difficult political challenges — from the Israeli-Palestine conflict to the US military’s rebuilding efforts in Iraq.
Sagarin argued that underlying security risks will always be present; therefore, one shouldn’t expect to win a war on drugs or fight against terrorism because these are things we can’t eliminate, and must live with.
Being adaptable, for example, adjusting communications to mitigate risk and using decentralized decision-making mechanisms, will mean we are better able to solve problems, although not necessarily able to plan, predict or attempt to be perfect in a ubiquitous world. Such lessons of adaptability are hidden in nature.
Sagarin’s presentation was based on his new book, Learning from the Octopus (Basic Books, 2012).