If one sought to account for the success of homo sapiens on earth over the past few million years, one could sum it up in one word-adaptation. Likewise, where the species has failed, it has been through its inability to adapt. How people and societies react to disaster, war, and other cata-

clysmic events revolves around adaptation. The disaster happens and survivors adapt to cope with the new reality. Disasters happen and the national and international system adapts to cope with their changing pattern and the changing political and economic environment which allows for this or that adaptation. The international humanitarian system, the subject of this book, is not

a logical construct. It is the result of many, often competing, processes. Some driven by self-interest or national interest, some by ideology, some by altruism, but all about adaptation; adaptation to changing needs, as war shifts from predominantly international and between armies to predominantly civil and within populations; adaptation to improved knowledge and technology as we are better able to predict flooding, hurricane paths and extended periods of drought; adaptation to available resources as the national political expediency of reacting to someone else’s tragedy waxes and wanes. Adaptation to new ways of organizing and communicating as once-national non-governmental organizations (NGOs) go transnational and previously government-focused UN agencies look to civil society and commerce for new partnerships and avenues to effect change. The future will surely be shaped by how these and less understood

processes of adaptation pan out. How will the system adapt to climate change? How will it adapt to the rise of Asia as an economic power focus? How will it adapt to the ever increasing ability of non-state actors to wield power for good-through mighty funding foundations and service provision-or power for destruction though terrorism and technology-fueled mass aggression?