This is the 9 September 2021 issue of our weekly scan for political and geopolitical risks or, more largely, conventional and unconventional national and international security (open access).

Editorial This week, we added manually a couple of articles published in Chinese official media. They are key to understand the global security landscape. To pay attention to them is also a principle of “red team analysis” applied to horizon scanning and identification of “weak” signals.

Despite their relevance, the algorithms did not pick the articles up. Obviously, the many crowdsourced experts and specialists did not either share these texts on Western social networks in a way the algorithms would “understand”.

The signals added manually, here, are actually not only “facts”, but also how each actor perceive these events, understand them and then act according to perception and understanding. Furthermore, this is done within a framework where each player on the world stage also considers and anticipates – or not – other actors’ perceptions, understanding and possible actions, according to his or her own beliefs and goals. This is very similar to playing chess, with more pieces, a more complex board, and more players.


Using horizon scanning, each week, we collect weak – and less weak – signals. These point to new, emerging, escalating or stabilising problems. As a result, they indicate how trends or dynamics evolve.

The 9 September 2021 scan→


Horizon scanning, weak signals and biases

We call signals weak, because it is still difficult to discern them among a vast array of events. However, our biases often alter our capacity to measure the strength of the signal. As a result, the perception of strength will vary according to the awareness of the actor. At worst, biases may be so strong that they completely block the very identification of the signal.

In the field of strategic foresight and warning, risk management and future studies, it is the job of good analysts to scan the horizon. As a result, they can perceive signals. Analysts then evaluate the strength of these signals according to specific risks and dynamics. Finally, they deliver their findings to users. These users can be other analysts, officers or decision-makers.

You can read a more detailed explanation in one of our cornerstone articles: Horizon Scanning and Monitoring for Warning: Definition and Practice.

The sections of the scan

Each section of the scan focuses on signals related to a specific theme:

  • world (international politics and geopolitics);
  • economy;
  • science including AI, QIS, technology and weapons, ;
  • analysis, strategy and futures;
  • the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • energy and environment.

However, in a complex world, categories are merely a convenient way to present information, when facts and events interact across boundaries.

The information collected (crowdsourced) does not mean endorsement.


Featured image: Image of the Swedish-ESO 15m Submillimeter Telescope (SEST) at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, located on the outskirts of the Chilean Atacama Desert, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile and at an altitude of 2400 metres. The photo was taken by Stefan Seip, one of the ESO Photo Ambassadors.

Published by Dr Helene Lavoix (MSc PhD Lond)

Dr Helene Lavoix, PhD Lond (International Relations), is the President/CEO of The Red Team Analysis Society. She is specialised in strategic foresight and warning for national and international security issues. Her current focus is on the rise of China, the COVID-19 Pandemic, the methodology of SF&W, radicalisation as well as new tech and security.

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