Democracy and Dissent
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Democracy and Dissent

The Challenge of International Rule Making

Frank Vibert

Frank Vibert expertly examines the fundamental issues involved in attempts to rethink international institutions and their rule making procedures. He analyses the basic problems with the existing system and the main approaches to its reform. The book rejects the idea that there are any simple institutional ‘fixes’ for current problems – such as relying on the G20 to coordinate global rule making and also rejects more ambitious attempts to prescribe new general organizing principles for world governance. It calls instead for specific remedies for specific problems. The author recommends new procedures for all international rule making so that both expert groups and governments are subject to much stronger external checks on what they do.
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Chapter 8: Challenge Systems and the Rule Makers

Frank Vibert


On October 6, 1973, Syria and Egypt launched a simultaneous attack on Israel in what came to be known as the Yom Kippur War. Israel had mobilised its forces only ten hours in advance of the attack. By the next day Israel’s main defence force in the south had only 103 tanks left out of its original force of 290 and in the north only 25 out of 77.1 On October 9 (the ‘low point’ for Israel and ‘high point’ for Egypt and Syria) Israel was considering ‘desperate measures’.2 The war is relevant to international rule making because it constitutes an important example of policy failure in a different context. Subsequent analysis of why Israel failed to anticipate the attack illustrates each of the sources of failure identified earlier. There was executive failure in the sense that the Head (Major General Eli Zeira) of military intelligence (AMAN) has been characterised as a ‘dominant personality’ who allegedly suppressed beliefs and signals that challenged his view that an attack was a low probability.3 There was organisational cultural failure in the sense of ‘group think’ that infected some key intelligence committees.4 Above all there was a failure of method or what has been labelled earlier as ‘cognitive failure’. AMAN’s working method was to produce a single ‘research opinion’ that omitted any debate or contrary opinion within AMAN. Moreover the Research Branch within AMAN held a monopoly in making national intelligence assessments, so its assessments went unchallenged.5 In this particular example of cognitive failure,...

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