Hostile Environments, how dangerous can they be?

Hostile Environments, how dangerous can they be?

In corners of the world, society unravels at unpredictable times in some predictable ways.  As the first portion the times are unpredictable times – I shall avoid the chutzpah of attempting to predict the unpredictable.

What is predictable is how societies unravel?

• The first markers of a society about to unravel is capital flight.  A series of events, fiscal or social perturbations that may be unknowable outside of a society spooks the wealthy. A knowable perturbation is a radical change in the government and or the rules of commerce in that location. Thus, the first reaction is the wealthy of that region begin to shift their assets out of the region or county.  The predictability of the society and of commerce has been reduced in their eyes. The capital flight may be slow or rapid, but it is the first indicator.

The situation is this environment is not yet dangerous.

• The second marker is a governmental reaction to the loss of investment by increasing taxes and capital restrictions and cutting social services.  Those least able to survive changes are the poor.  They live on the margin and even small changes affect their number.  The poor are not radical are not reformers and not agitators – they have too much to lose if they get it wrong. Thus the second indicator of something is going wrong are the poor on the move, leaving a country, becoming refugees – petty theft also increases.  Not violent crime.

The situation is this environment is in great flux and can swing widely from day to day and location from location

• The third marker is the government begins to blame outside agitators causing all of the problems.  Hitler blamed the Jews and chose to kill them, Stalin the Capitalists, Mao blamed the bureaucracy and begun the cultural revolution, Argentina Generals blamed the UK and attacked the Falkland’s and now everyone blames the USA.  The blame game is a short term solution to shift the anger directed at a given government to mysterious outside forces.   It is a short term solution that almost always ends very badly.  The politicians blaming outside forces is the third indicator.

The streets are dangerous but personal relations remain cordial. Civil rule is breaking down and entrepreneurial criminals will about.  It’s very easy to subvert government institutions but it is much easier to bride and co-opt police and judges.

• The fourth marker is the emergence of a choice for the bereaved population – a new political party, a revolutionary force, a new form of government.  The reactions of the government are extreme – they are fighting in all reality for their lives.  A civil war can erupt either in a slow burn or as an all out armed conflict

Nothing is for certain but the requirement of armed security that can make inroads to all sides of a conflict for safety or align with one side and armed. The only situation we miss here is open warfare. (In open warfare the situation is still very dangerous, but it is also now more predictable for the risks associated when traveling.)

Most of what we as EP Professionals work with has very little to do with political upheaval and unrest.  Most of what we do is to protect our charges against peril that result either from their own behaviors or from external perturbations in life from who they are and what they do.

But on occasion we are working with people who work on the edges of life and stability.  Reporters bearing witness to countries dissolving, entrepreneurs arriving after a new regime has arrived, business executives representing companies with contentious plans or after a disaster – are all scenarios that we need to study in advance before we escort our charges to these locations.

Next month – we have a short discussion of what do when things get dicey or go wrong.  This is both for the EP Professional and our charges.

This Executive Protection article was written or edited by Barron James Shortt, theExecutive Director of the IBA.

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