Multilateral Diplomacy: A Vital Supply Chain Management Tool For CIKR

Multilateral Diplomacy: A Vital Supply Chain Management Tool For CIKR

Jonathan Blaine Graves, MSA 

            When most people think of supply chain management regarding Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources (CIKR), they analyze vulnerabilities, threats, and consequences that deal with efficiencies and effectiveness of industrial organization such as redundancy and resiliency. An area of study left off the supply chain map is how multilateral diplomacy affects incidents and accidents that cross national boundaries into the international realm. Specifically, the International Space Station (ISS), human trafficking, drug trafficking, search and rescue operations, and many functions within the United Nations (U.N.) such as translation services are affected. Simply put, multilateral diplomacy in certain industries or in response to specific problems is central to saving lives and feeding the supply chain for responding to threats, incidents, and accidents that occur with irregular regularity in the international sphere.

Redundancy is great when it is cost effective. Redundancy when not implemented due to high cost is usually catastrophic. Some industries lack redundancy due to ROI and cost/ benefit analysis such as when a NASA rocket blows up that was carrying vital supplies to the ISS. In such a situation, the U.S. must either replace the rocket which takes months of planning and building or seek allies such as the European Union (EU) or Russia for a replacement. Not only has this happened in the past, but if cascading failures occurred in the space industry where multiple rockets failed, lives and scientific data could be lost. Furthermore, international cooperation has always been able to hold space exploration and diplomacy up as the golden child example where countries come together no matter what else is occurring back on earth. Multilateral diplomacy ensures the ISS stays supplied and functioning and constraints with the supply chain such as rockets could pose a serious threat to the betterment of man’s understanding and exploring of outer space.

Human trafficking, drug trafficking, and search and rescue operations involve a high level of cooperation between nations who often require organization across borders including land, air and sea as well as manpower. Not only are technical capabilities, training, and language skills key to successful operations, but supply chains must also keep up with rapid deployment adhering to international law. When an Argentinian submarine was lost at Sea recently, the U.S. and other countries responded by sending search and rescue ships, planes, and satellites to aid in the location effort. For this to be successful, a plethora of logistical issues needed to be resolved and that was made possible by supply chain management that saw fuel, military assets, and technical expertise leveraged for the benefit of saving innocent lives. With human trafficking, medical supplies, medical transportation (ambulances, helicopters), psychologists, nutritionists, and police are all needed to serve the needs of abused people which is a massive supply chain endeavor. With drug trafficking, trained police or SWAT, protective armor, bullets, medical supplies, and transportation for detained suspects are all needed to ensure a successful operation. Simply put, supply chain is not just an issue dealt with by corporations and national governments, but a necessity for international events, incidents, and accidents.  

As the world has become more flat, national associations fade and the multilateral approach of constructivist empathy reigns supreme for helping others. When Japan’s nuclear reactor at Fukushima failed, international allies were there to help with both rescue operations, technical expertise, and whatever it took to resolve the crisis. When some crises occur, politics gets thrown out the window and empathy reigns supreme. One of the most important areas of study scholars in International Relations can delve into in the 21st century is why some crises mobilizes international support while other crises are left to spiral into chaos. We could discuss Sudan’s civil war and human rights abuses in Africa, we could discuss Syria’s rise of ISIS and the humanitarian crises that divided Europe, but at the end of the day, the international community needs to be better at responding to all crises regardless of cost.

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