It’s only 103 pages. Plus it’s a government report with a lot of pictures. And there’s probably not much in it that’s new.
How long can it take to read something like that?
Turns out, longer than I expected.
After about 3 hours, I’m on page 68. It’s not that I’m an especially slow reader. I think it’s because the 2014 QHSR is an important and an exceptional document.
In my still forming opinion, this QHSR invites a move into Homeland Security 3.0. It offers a strategic intent — and the evidence to support it — that is compelling and, in a 21st century way, visionary. It provides people who think and care about the entire enterprise subtle, refined ways to think about homeland security. I expect that some of those ideas are already familiar to people who work with them daily. But I have not seen them all in one place. Not before the 2014 QHSR.
I’m trying to think of an analogy to capture the feeling tone of the report.
To me it’s like the difference between someone talking about marriage while on his honeymoon, compared with someone else describing what a moderately successful marriage is like as it heads resolutely into its second decade. Same institution, infused with time and experience. The honeymoon is exciting and boundless. A committed marriage takes work and a maturity that can embrace — not always willingly — ideals and reality.
That’s the sense I’m getting so far from the QHSR.
I know those are imprecise generalizations. But it’s Tuesday, my day to post, and the other homeland security watch writers would like this week to be about the QHSR. Rightly so.
(Did you ever have one of those weeks — even on a Tuesday — when there were a dozen important things to do, but you couldn’t clone yourself because your 3-D printer was out of PolyJet photopolymers? Well, it’s something like that.)
The second QHSR took two years to put together. And it shows. In a good way.
I was prepared initially to dismiss the report as another check the box exercise. But — even after only 68 pages — I can’t. It’s worth a deliberate read.
I do have to dismiss any temptation to comment before I’ve finished reading the entire document. (OK, Islam and Muslim are not mentioned, but terrorism shows up over 4 dozen times)
Thoughtful reflections will have to wait on such QHSR topics as:
- Lone offenders
- Drivers: of change, of challenges, of risk, of budgets, of markets
- Cyber law enforcement incident response
- The lack of public confidence in the government’s ability to function
- Exchanging information at machine speed
- Whether there is a national homeland security strategy, and if there isn’t so what?
- Growth in domestic energy supplies
- Universal values, enduring missions, enduring national interests
- Risk segmentation
- A “clean” audit opinion (apparently a good thing)
- Nuclear terrorism and bioterrorism
- Three dimensional printing (and supplies, of course)
- Expansion of electronic payment systems
- Climate change
- Disaster driven migration
- Cyber-physical convergence
- Eroded public health capacity
- Seriously deteriorated (past tense) infrastructure
- Panama Canal expansion
- Four (potential) black swans
- Economic security
- Priority biological incidents
- Networked communities
- National risk management
- Rapid escalation of biological events
- Faint signals
- Risk informed
- Information-driven community oriented policing
- Publicly communicate tailored descriptions of homeland security capabilities
- Emphasize strategic communications that project the effectiveness of homeland security capabilities
- Weather maps for cyberspace
- Ensuring a healthy cyber ecosystem
- Self-mitigating, self-healing cyber systems
- Mid-range incidents and levels of risk
- Improving the confidence of our partners
- Five (public-private) partnership archetypes for homeland security
- Flexible models
- “Immigration will always be, first and foremost, and opportunity for our country.”
And lots more to discuss, disagree with, and argue about.
Or maybe a better word is “dialogue.”
In a 1996 essay called “On Dialogue,” David Bohm distinguishes between discussion and dialogue.
“Discussion is almost like a ping-pong game, where people are batting the ideas back and forth and the object of the game is to win or to get points for yourself. Possibly you will take up somebody else’s ideas to back up your own – you may agree with some and disagree with others – but the basic point is to win the game. That’s frequently the case in a discussion.
“In a dialogue, however, nobody is trying to win. Everybody wins if anybody wins. There is a different sort of spirit to it. In a dialogue, there is no attempt to gain points, or to make your particular view prevail. Rather, whenever any mistake is discovered on the part of anybody, everybody gains. It’s a situation called win – win, whereas the other game is win – lose. If I win, you lose. But a dialogue is something more of a common participation, in which we are not playing a game against each other, but with each other. In a dialogue, everybody wins.”
The 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Report is worthy of much dialogue.