Brandon Scott studied International Relations at the American University in Washington, DC and has worked with Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of State operations in Asia, Europe, North America, Central Asia, and the Middle East. He has nearly 13 years in the international intelligence, security, and stability industry, and has lived worked and traveled to over 40 countries. He has been an independent contractor in Afghanistan for over 1.5 years working as an Inform & Influence Activities Officer.
Brandon is also the Founder & CEO of 361Security LLC, an Open Source Intelligence firm based out of Washington, DC, and is also in the process of founding a non-profit organization for development in post-conflict regions.
Describe the impact on foreign policy you have made in your current/past positions.
In my current full time position, I have been in Afghanistan for over 1.5 years. Here I help prepare senior Defense and State Department Officers for meetings. I have also worked extensively in Youth Engagement, Religious Engagement, Civil Society Engagement, and Female Engagement operations. The most exciting impact, however, is illustrated through my venture at 361Security LLC. The idea behind this is to provide not only a single source for all things related to International Security but to provide a global platform for upcoming analysts, theorists, and leaders in the industry. We have some key projects in the works meant to revolutionize the way Open Source Intelligence is processed along with some rather interesting trips lined up for our analysts. Most recently you can see how one of our analysts traveled to North Korea and provided some stellar perspectives on his journey.
What personal contribution to foreign policy are you most proud of?
Oddly, in my 13 years in this field, the greatest personal impact I have ever made was for a part time temporary position as a Cultural Adviser, on a State Department program I worked in Washington, DC. I was able to, for a number of weeks every summer over a few years, work directly with teens studying abroad in America. They came from predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa. For most, this was their singular experience with America and often any other country. This made it that much more vital to be sure these future leaders experienced a seamless process. Watching these kids arrive tired & scared on red-eye flights from Senegal, Iraq, or Pakistan and then seeing them leave nine months later as highly articulate, socially conscious adults was by far one of the greatest experiences of my life.
What is your vision of foreign policy in the 21st Century?
In one word: Globile. I use this term to express the nexus between Global and Mobile agents. As individuals, organizations, and information become more Globile, the result will be beyond our wildest dreams. We are moving at an exponential rate that is rapidly approaching the speed of information. Though this sounds very post-post-modern, there are tangible effects that will arise such as:
- Regional alliances (NATO, ASEAN, AU, MERCOSUR, GCC, ECOWAS, etc) will breed increased stability, trade, and multi-national ventures. This is especially true for conflicts and interventions. As these alliances develop further, we will see many borders become de facto borders that only exist on paper—think Europe and the United States.
- Travel and tourism media will increase dramatically. As more people see other worlds the barriers will break down. This will be in part due to diplomacy easing travel and developing nations realizing the key to growth often starts with tourism and turns to business.
- Social media technology will continue to advance transparency in government and corporate organizations. No longer will there be the capacity to so easily hide mishaps and transgressions. This holds true to atrocities that hitherto could simply be brushed under the carpet by banning journalists—this is no longer the case. It only takes one photo to get out and circle the globe via six billion cell phones to start a serious campaign.
What challenges need to be overcome to create better foreign policy? What leadership traits are needed for this?
Fear of Technology: I believe we will see much more incorporation of technology that those under the age of 40 are used to using. Social media and social networks have already proven themselves as being the cornerstone to modern social movements, and the Arab Spring illustrates this greatly. The esoteric lessons from these sorts of technologies are important to recognize as methodologies also. The idea of crowd sourcing, bottom-up approaches, and decentralized leadership are all methods that the older generations of foreign policy professionals historically avoided.
Fear of Alternative Diplomacy: As globalization and social consciousness expands we are going to see more non-government diplomats engaging in foreign policy, whether it is Angelina Jolie supporting an all girls school in Pakistan; Dennis Rodman visiting North Korea; or—and this is what will truly make waves—bottom-up approaches to foreign policy. By this I mean unknown young adults utilizing technologies to draw attention to policy issues and subsequently bringing change.
Fear of Holistic Solutions: It is critical that the current paradigms and parameters of foreign policy are challenged and holistic solutions provided. The best example I can think of regarding this smashing of historical concepts is with the war in Iraq. The U.S. truly thought that we could walk in and out in a few months with fire superiority paving the way. Once the insurgency began the logic was still there. It took soldier-scholars (think General Petraeus) to truly realize and in turn incorporate holistic approaches to seemingly single-scope problems. The notion that we need to build roads to fight insurgents simply was not accepted empirically. It will take additional growing pains for our foreign policy professionals to realize that every field of international relations is connected.
A new kind of era requires a new kind of foreign policy which requires a new kind of leadership. The traits that are going to truly bring about change in the 21st Century will be seen in those who are not afraid to operate across fields—they will be barrier- breakers; they will be network centric and social media savvy. They will understand how connections work across borders and they will be aware of the Four Dimensional environment. They will have worked in other fields before working in their current field. They will be highly focused on Inform and Influence Activities or as the private sector calls it—marketing. As global relations increasingly occur in the social media realm it is critical that to achieve your objective you need Information Superiority. The final and greatest trait that will truly rule is that of alternative ingenuity. No longer do NGOs and Governments want to hear about problems that require large scale solutions. Whether it is defense, development, or diplomacy, they want streamlined, sustainable, small-footprint solutions. Those who can operate across fields to avoid redundancy will be the ones who run point in the field.
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