The intensity of choice relates to the type of system making choices. A sustaining system possesses the facilities and sensors to sample its policies in a reasonably careful fashion. Thus the initiatives of a sustaining system might be of somewhat less intensity than in a system that lacked developed sensing apparatus. An action system because it lacks developed sensing facilities will have to make policy choices of higher intensity than a sustaining system. Thus an action system will involve more risk to itself and to the rest of the system because in order that it pursue conscious policy the intensity of that pursuit must be high. This is shown in Figure 2:7.
In actuality, the international system consists of decision making through environmental systems and decision making generated by action systems. Action system performance is restricted by the existence of environmental systems. Environmental systems, it will be recalled, tend to delay in making policy. From the perspective of an action system, this delay will consist of passivity. What passivity means to an action system can be explained through an example. Suppose that an action system developed between the United States and the Soviet Union, with Great Britain and Poland cooperating in the effort. Suppose as well that other major powers remained „passive“ vis it vis the action system. The action system would have a chance of success so long as these other actors remained passive toward the action system. This is because the action system would be politically free to try and solve a certain problem. But if a shift from passivity to activity took place, the chances of the action system maintaining its freedom of action would decline substantially. What is critical from the point of view of an action system is how long it takes for passive states to become active and challenge the action system. In part the time factor will depend on how well managed the action system actually is, and how quickly it can achieve its goals. It would also depend on what preparations an action system could make to encounter the shift from passivity to activity.