Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Transcendent power reshapes hard power, soft power, smart power

By Steve Hammons

Greater understanding and use of “transcendent power” can result in the optimization of hard power, soft power and what has been referred to as smart power.

What is transcendent power?

In 2001, a Navy SEAL officer submitted a research paper as part of his studies at the Marine Corps War College. The paper was submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Marine Corps War College, Marine Corps University, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Virginia.

The SEAL, then-commander L.R. Bremseth, had conducted interviews and looked into U.S. defense and intelligence community activities on human perceptual abilities and unconventional intelligence acquisition.

Bremseth’s paper, “Unconventional Human Intelligence Support,” looked at “transcendent and asymmetric warfare implications” of leading-edge and emerging research and development regarding human perception and consciousness as well as innovative intelligence acquisition methods.

In his report, Bremseth wrote, "The real challenge for the United States is not asymmetric warfare, but rather what this writer calls transcendent warfare, the ability to conceptualize and subsequently actualize an entirely new form of warfare that transcends all previously known models."


He explained, "Granted, transcendent warfare reflects Zen-like qualities that elude definition thereby making the above challenge more difficult."

"Non-linear/multidimensional and abstract/metaphysical are tentative terms that convey this concept, however, ascribing to a pat definition may in fact signal inability to comprehend the concept altogether," he wrote.

In addition, Bremseth made general and specific recommendations in the paper and pointed out that, "... transcendent and asymmetric warfare necessitate and exemplify proactive approaches that envision these efforts as opportunities ... for the exploration and advancement of human and/or institutional potential. Such a readjustment in thinking will require dynamic, visionary leadership ..."

He suggested that we would be wise to, "Explore a myriad of phenomena having potential military applications with the goal of developing transcendent and asymmetrical warfare approaches."

Bremseth’s paper was written in the context of a military advanced education institution, and, of course, he was an officer of an elite special operations force. As a result, his report is oriented toward defense challenges and opportunities.

At the same time, the idea of transcendent power can be applied to a wide and deep range of activities that involve domestic and international efforts, public diplomacy, humanitarian operations, peace and security operations, human development projects and similar endeavors.

The ideas of transcendent warfare and transcendent power are directly tied to human psychology and human consciousness. There are both conventional and unconventional aspects.

Because human behavior flows from human psychology and consciousness, when we look at leading-edge and emerging research in these fields, we can understand more about ourselves and others. We can learn more about the human race.

This, in turn, can assist us in recognizing solutions and constructive approaches to many kinds of challenges.


In addition, as we explore and fine-tune our understanding of transcendent power, the U.S. can be positioned as a leader in this area. This leadership benefits all of humanity.

We can deploy information, communication, education and training about various elements of transcendent awareness.

It is probable that by enhancing transcendent awareness, progress can be made in many areas of human activity including peace and security, energy resources, agriculture and food supplies, natural resources conservation, education, poverty mitigation, health care and medical research as well as scientific research of all kinds.

Although transcendent awareness is undoubtedly emerging on its own to some degree, we can help this process along by being proactive.

We can develop and implement activities that conduct research related to transcendent power and how this information and understanding can be optimized for U.S. national interests and to benefit people internationally.

For example, project components could include open-source research and information acquisition, analysis of this information and then the development of communication, education and training approaches.

There probably is potential for great synergy in these kinds of efforts that could have far-reaching constructive outcomes for the U.S. and the international community.