I want to make a conjecture about international relations. This is a work-in-progress model that combines two theories – Complex Adaptive Systems and Self-Organizing Criticality to explain power law distributions of major events and social structures.

These two theories may describe the non-linear dynamic systems in human relations. Men self-organize into scale-free networks to gain resources and meet their needs. Humans and the environment interact in such a way that major events are phase transitions which follow power law distributions. The phase transition happens when a socio-economic change reaches a critical point and cause an avalanche in the “sandpile.”

If so, this could be a theory of history. If not, I’ll try again…


Ian Bremmer has a good article about the limited prospects for Russian-Chinese cooperation.

The Great Powers are looking at Central Asia and the Pacific as the economic center of gravity. There are new exploratory alliances starting – The Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Quad Initiative. Basically, the Quad controls the Pacific and the SCO controls Central Asia. Yet this has not hardened into a bipolar rivalry like the old NATO-Warsaw Pact standoff.

Both alliances have common interests in protecting trade and suppressing Islamist insurgencies throughout the region. Over the long term, there are more potential conflicts. The Russians and Chinese may not be able to continue cooperation for much longer.

There is also considerable interaction between the states. China wants to trade very little with Russia – most of Chinese trade is going to the US, EU, and India. Likewise, India maintains ties with everyone and it buys cheap Russian military equipment. Economic interdependence doesn’t ensure peace but it helps keep tension in perspective.

R. Stephen White debunks the misinformation claiming nuclear power is not “safe.”

Safety is judged incrementally, not categorically.

Ayman al-Zawahiri appears to be taking over Al-Qaeda. He’s always been the primary strategist for AQ.

The US and the Arab States are trying to contain Iran through conventional means while Iran is trying to break that containment through 4 Gen Warfare. Iran has been waging a Proxy War against the US in Afghanistan and Iraq. Iran sponsors Hezbollah and Hamas to fight and tie down Israel.

This is like a micro-version of the Cold War

As al-Qaeda is steadily destroyed and the Sunni Insurgency cooperates with the Americans, the Shia Tribes are turning on the militias.

The Sahwat continues.

Here’s one more good essay on Cognitive biases potentially affecting judgment of global risks. More black swans, basically.

Heuristics gives us good estimates of probability, especially for simple actions. It is pure inductive logic, so it is not exact and we can make many errors. Cognitive bias makes us believe these errors and fallacies.

These errors cause us to underestimate some risks and overestimate others. Misleading Vividness makes us think that homocides and accidents kill as many people as disease, even though disease is far deadlier.