A World On The Brink with Dee Smith
A World On The Brink is a new 5-part television documentary series about global change and geopolitical risk featuring intelligence and foreign policy specialist Dee Smith, who is co-creator, host, and executive producer. The series is produced by Real Vision Television, a streaming subscription television service for investors.
A World On The Brink, which premiered starting in October 2017, features interviews with 19 leaders on both sides of the Atlantic from areas as diverse as foreign policy, diplomacy, the military, psychology, finance, engineering, theology, and history.
The goal of the series is to understand better what is happening and where we might be going. It therefore examines the rising levels of instability and unpredictability in the world today, the deeper causes of some of the threats we face, and possible future developments and responses.
Episode One: A World On The Brink
The first episode of the series focuses on world order and the stresses it is under. It begins with the Westphalian system of nation states and then examines in detail the Liberal International Order and other rules-based global orders that were initially created as a reaction to horrific global conflicts during the first half of the twentieth century. The role of these systems in our current world—including their contribution to elements that we take for granted in our everyday lives—is explored, along with the extent to which major powers participate in them and the challenges and threats that these systems of order now face, with a focus on the West and Russia as examples of divergent approaches.
Episode Two: Globalization and Its Discontents
In Episode 2 of A World on the Brink, Dee Smith examines globalization and its impact: lifting nearly a billion people out of poverty, but not without significant drawbacks. China is examined as an exemplar of the benefits of globalization but also the fragility of growth. The episode places globalization in context, as both progenitor and part of global changes that include automation, the rise of identity politics, economic contagion, and phenomena such as Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Contributors discuss globalization in light of populist movements and the politics of nostalgia: attempts to recreate previous political and social structures. As opposing economic and social trends continue to gather strength, the largely unanswered questions that face us all are examined.
Episode Three: The Middle East
In Episode 3 of A World On The Brink, Dee Smith teases out threads to explain crucial yet less known factors—often missing from the popular narrative—that continue to drive conflict and change in the Middle East. These include the post-World War I redrawing of borders (the aftermath of the Sykes-Picot Agreement) as a key source of today’s conflicts, the influence of Wahhabism, the rise of Saudi oil wealth and the role of the resource curse, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the formation of Al Qaeda, the Arab Spring and the Syrian Civil War, the rise of ISIS, and the current manifestations of the Sunni-Shia divide, including the proxy wars of Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Link coming in late November
Episode Four: Rising Threats
In Episode 4 of A World on the Brink, Dee Smith looks the changing dynamics of some of the many threats to our world and their impact on nations, geopolitics, and individuals. From the changing nature of conflict in nuclear, cyber, and bio war, to the dangers of miscalculation, to technology as a disruptive force and the threats from the connectivity revolution, to dangers arising from natural forces, the episode focuses on the key issue of how threats intersect to become more complex and menacing. Finally, the episode examines what might be the greatest threat of all: the enemy within, or the way we think about issues. This includes focusing on the power of narratives and emotional resonance in decision making. The practices of investors are examined as an example of how inapplicable thought patterns and a default to rationality undermine outcomes.
Link coming in December
Episode Five: What Tomorrow May Bring
In the final and most speculative episode of A World On The Brink, Dee Smith examines the possible deeper causes of some of the dramatic changes that we are experiencing. How do we explain the social decohesion and the growing chaos that we see? What is different today? Will the current systems and structures of the world persist, or are we at the cusp of even more transformational change? Multiple elements are examined, including the growing role of technology in society, the effects of population growth, and problems in governance and leadership, especially the re-emergence of strongman leaders, the many forms of corruption, and the growth of neo-tribalism. The role of human nature—and the question of whether shared characteristics within and among societies are innate or constructed—leads to some unusual and potentially hopeful signs. The episode concludes with an examination of why the future may be profoundly different from the present and the immediate past.
Link coming in December
About Dee Smith
Gordon Dee Smith, CEO of Strategic Insight Group, is a specialist in intelligence, foreign policy, and global change. He works in the areas of transactional and investment intelligence, geopolitical and change risk analysis, and media and cultural production. As founder, principal, and CEO of the private intelligence agency Strategic Insight Group (SIG), he has worked in over 90 countries around the world. He is creator, executive producer, and host of the Real Vision Television documentary series “A World On The Brink with Dee Smith” (premiered October 2017). Currently, he is Vice Chair of the Advisory Council of LLILAS/Benson Latin American Studies and Collections at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and is involved with many other policy and cultural organizations. He has also worked as an international venture capitalist active in Latin America and Europe, and before that, was a founder and president of InterCultura, an NGO that organized international cultural projects.