Thursday, March 5, 2009

Exploring and deploying soft power, transcendent power

By Steve Hammons

The terms "transcendent warfare" and "transcendent power" seem to have much in common with conventional and unconventional military approaches, international diplomacy, understanding cultural influences, communication activities and other elements we usually think of when talking about soft power, hard power and smart power.

However, we might only be seeing part of the picture of transcendent warfare and transcendent power if we limit our views to the international military-diplomatic-cultural-communication aspects of soft power, hard power, smart power and transcendent power.

Transcendent power is probably not only something we do "out there" in the international community.

More likely it is something that is based on emerging understanding of leading-edge research within our own society including scientific circles, military and intelligence personnel, educators, the arts, health professionals, clergy, media, researchers and average Americans.

In fact, more general understanding about fundamental aspects of transcendent power seems to be emerging all around the world.

We don't need to create transcendent power. It already exists. We simply need to understand it and apply this understanding in our various endeavors.

But that may be easier said than done.


The Navy SEAL officer who used the term transcendent warfare in a graduate-level paper for the Marine Corps War College in 2001 wrote that the challenge for the U.S. in regard to this idea is, in part, "the ability to conceptualize and subsequently actualize an entirely new form of warfare that transcends all previously known models."

He noted that transcendent warfare includes "qualities that elude definition thereby making the above challenge more difficult" and that "ascribing to a pat definition may in fact signal inability to comprehend the concept altogether."

Transcendent warfare and transcendent power appear to have a lot to do with human awareness, perception and understanding. This, of course, includes all of us.

Other aspects of the concepts might be the ability to acquire accurate and useful information, as well as to appreciate human characteristics such as integrity, honor, compassion, love, strength, fellowship, teamwork and similar qualities in ourselves and others.

Human consciousness, which includes these elements and more, is a fundamental aspect of transcendent power. Ongoing discoveries in quantum physics, astrophysics, biological sciences and other fields also help to expand our perception of the breadth and depth of transcendent power.

True transcendent power most likely includes only the approaches that optimize human functioning in the pursuit of legitimate and honorable objectives. The SEAL officer pointed out that transcendent warfare offers challenges and opportunities "for the exploration and advancement of human and/or institutional potential."

The exploration and advancement of human potential and human development associated with transcendent warfare and transcendent power may be quite significant. And, it affects Americans and people around the world.


How do we integrate and optimize the components of soft power, hard power and smart power nationally and internationally? How do we grasp and deploy transcendent warfare and transcendent power?

An open mind and a willingness to look at the state of the research on human perceptual abilities may be a good place to start.

After all, the SEAL officer's paper was somewhat focused on U.S. military and intelligence community research, development and operations involving unconventional methods of intelligence acquisition related to human consciousness, perception and awareness.

Of course, back in the 1970s, '80s and '90s when these activities were taking place, we were living in a different time. Many factors that were in play then have changed somewhat.

Still, comprehending and implementing unconventional and innovative approaches can be challenging. For example, there may be a need to readjust to the emerging leading-edge research in the field of human consciousness. As the SEAL officer stated in his report, "Such a readjustment in thinking will require dynamic, visionary leadership ..."

In addition to leadership, another aspect of optimizing transcendent warfare and transcendent power is understanding that they probably are also grass-roots phenomena. They are part of a force that is integral to humanity, Nature and the Universe.

It may be safe to say that transcendent power goes with the flow of much larger forces around us and within us. We use it and it uses us in ways we may not always fully comprehend.