From RAND’s Vision of the Future

Briefly, an alternative view from Philip Bobbit’s market-state from David Ronfeldt and Danielle Varda in RAND’s Issues over the Horizon:

…we predict the emergence of the “nexus-state” — something quite different from the traditional nation-state or recent notions of an approaching market-state or network-state. The nexus-state will integrate multiple modes of governance. It will be stronger than the nation-state but also more embedded and circumscribed. It will revolve around a new kind of administration in which officials remain concerned about what is happening in their offices but become increasingly oriented by the new sensory and sectoral networks into which they are plugged.

It’s not clear to me in what way the Nexus-State will be stronger than the nation-state. Commercial relationships are notoriously fickle, always looking for a better deal. Brand management is challenged not just by quality, but by quantity and price. Perhaps that’s why the market-state is dismissed in favor of the network hub model of collaboration and mutual awareness and understanding. Based on the description, it would seem the Nexus-State would be, by definition, a master of public diplomacy and global engagement.

The Nexus-State model seems at odds with Jerrold Green’s “issue” in the same publication: The Future of Diplomacy: Real Time or Real Estate

…with some imagination, many embassy-based functions could be effectively conducted on a need-to-be-in-situ basis. Of course, some diplomats will always be stationed overseas to handle particularly sensitive, specialized, or high-level tasks. But their number will be far fewer than today and their office spaces more practical, low key, and less vulnerable than are traditional embassies.

…Unfortunately, as currently configured, embassies are impediments to gaining these valuable insights because they seclude and “immunize” their personnel from local life rather than immersing them in it. As evidence, all citizens should experience first-hand the security gauntlet that places all American diplomatic legations virtually off limits to all but those who work in them. …

The security environment is one thing, how well the mission integrates with the local population is much more important. Perhaps instead of focusing on architecture, Green would do well to look at this report. I think that as we become more engaged, we’ll need a better presence, not a necessarily a smaller presence. Can anyone argue that any of our embassies are overstaffed? If anything, they are, with the exception of Baghdad, understaffed.