All in World Wise

"Ceci n'est pas une pipe." Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte with his iconic painting of what seems the perfection of a pipe makes a valid point: Even the most authentic rendition of a natural object i s n' t that object. It remains an image of it.

Why does that matter?

Because these days, images define how we view the world.

Think of the iconic image of President Trump at the G7 meeting in Canada. It pits the three European leaders Merkel, May and Macron against a US President, whose body language encapsulates everything that went wrong at this G7 summit: A US President isolated, sitting apart, arms crossed, stubborn, pouting. Multilateralism hits rock bottom.

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An anti-personnel landmine costs between $3 and $30 a piece.

It comes in various forms. The PFM-1 (Soviet) and the BLU-43 (US) both stand out for their distinctive aerodynamic shape and toy-like design. This together with their mode of delivery (air drop) earned them the name "butterfly mine". Children around the world, from Afghanistan to Vietnam, know them.

What may surprise at first is that in a logic of war the primary purpose of landmines is n o t to kill. In that logic, even better than killing the enemy is maiming him. How is that?

And why is it important to understand this logic of war and the tools it uses?

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What was true in 1992 for Bill Clinton's presidential campaign and his unlikely victory still holds true today.

Clinton had unseated then President George Bush Senior who had in the eyes of the public just proven a very successful commander-in-chief, invading Iraq, but domestically had not found a way out of the economic recession.

Why this still matters 25 years later; where economies globally are and will be growing fastest;  and where the next trillion-dollar market is to be found: for answers to these questions, read on.

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We did not see 9/11 coming and yet it changed the way we live, travel, engage with Islam, talk about fundamentalism, spend on national security. So just because we cannot fathom certain developments does not mean they will not occur.

How do we deal then – individually and collectively – with unpredictability and uncertainty?

What strategies can help reduce their impact?

And how do these strategies fare when applied to a politically uber-sensitive, real-world environment such as the Middle East?

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Don Norman is an engineer, psychologist and designer. In The Design of Everyday Things, he examines how engineers come to “overly rely on logic”, ending up designing things "not for people the way they really are, [but] the way they want them to be." The need for a human-centered methodology becomes apparent, with implications for entire industries – International Development included.

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