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1:11PM

How much smarter I get the further away you get from the coasts ...

Here is the text of an interesting article on BFA in the Topeka Capital-Journal:



Published Saturday, January 14, 2006

U.S. can't bring peace to world by itself


By Bill Roy

Special to The Capital-Journal


George W. Bush in his first narrowly successful campaign for president scorned "nation-building." And many people, thinking of the ugly Balkan wars of the '90s and "Blackhawk Down" in Somalia in 1993, nodded in agreement.


Many also recognized in 2000 -- and recognize now -- that our military does not have the resources and training to build peaceful national governments in nations we can easily defeat militarily. We know how to break things; we don't have the resources to put them back together, so many suffer.


Five years later the Bush administration (and all of us) is bogged down in nation-building in Iraq. To date, this has been hugely unsuccessful. As a result, Americans are growing impatient with the cost and loss of lives and may soon insist that we withdraw, leaving a made-in-America center for terrorism and asymmetric warfare.


Most of us don't want our investment of lives and money in Iraq to account for nothing -- or worse than nothing. And, due to the ineptitude of the Bush administration that may well be the result.


But, finally someone has taken the lessons of Iraq -- and a long-time, in-depth knowledge of the American military and our wars -- and found a silver-lining. In "A Blueprint for Action." author Thomas P.M. Barnett sees more peaceful missions for our military in the future.


Our immensely powerful military -- which he calls the Leviathan -- can strike down rogue governments that suppress their people and breed terrorists with relative ease. Thereafter, Barnett visualizes nation-builders from advanced nations with stable governments acting together to win the peace.


We are told Barnett, a Harvard Ph.D in political science, "regularly advises the office of the secretary of defense, Special Operations Command and the Joint Services Command and routinely offers briefings to ... the intelligence community and Congress."


In a sense his book is a follow-up on Thomas L. Friedman's books on connectedness and rapid economic development among two-thirds of the world's population. These people live in the "core" nations that both have an interest and capability to bring the other one-third of the world's people into a world with less poverty and injustice -- and a better chance for peace.


Otherwise, Barnett sees these have-not nations as the source of internecine wars in the 21st century. Such wars potentially threaten us all, especially if connected nations begin choosing up sides, as happened during the Cold War, instead of working together to bring peace and prosperity to these failed, disconnected nations.


In Iraq, the military mission was quickly accomplished with minimal loss of American lives. But our government made no preparations to win the peace. We were quickly overwhelmed by looting, chaos and finally an insurgency that did not have to happen. We were unable to switch from major combat operations to post-conflict stabilization operations, because we had too few troops and too few properly trained troops.


Barnett states we should have had in Iraq -- and will need in future wars -- peace-makers from "fellow core pillars." He writes, "Ideally, we would have had 30,000 to 40,000 peacekeepers each from NATO, Russia, India, and China."


But the Bush administration was more adept at making enemies than friends among nations whose help we needed. As a result, India's parliament said no, and negotiations with Russian President Vladmir Putin bogged down. The ham-handed neocons charged ahead more to win domestic elections than to achieve international stability.


In sum, our military as constituted today is capable of destroying other nations' war-making powers quickly and with minimal losses. But we do not have the personnel to win the peace and probably do not have enough people and money to win the peace in future wars. We need a new paradigm and help from other nations to establish secure governments in nations we attack.


Barnett takes us through the evolution of thought and war that has brought us to this point and discusses in depth political and economic barriers that must be overcome for the world's advanced nations to bring order, prosperity and peace to the failed nations that are breeding grounds for terrorists.



Bill Roy is a retired physician and former Member of Congress. He has a law degree and lives in Topeka. He may be reached at wirroy@aol.com.





COMMENTARY: It is interesting to see a review that doesn't seem aware of Vol. I's existence. Not complaining, because it's sort of a clean read on BFA alone, which is why it's so interesting to me. Obviously, I like being described as seemingly somewhat in synch with the Bush administration but a bit further down the road in my thinking (exactly the place the grand strategist strives to achieve, because you don't want to be so at-odd with the administration that you're some lone wolf, but you also don't just want to parrot their positions but rather extend them logically into something better). I don't mind the linkages to Friedman's past work, because I did start there. I just go different places in my conclusions. Still, he sells a lot of books, so the association is good for now--a useful touchstone for people trying to decide if they want to buy the book. And like Friedman (and Steven Spielberg in another life), I don't assume from the get-go that everything the U.S. Government does is evil and bad, so truth in advertising. Best part of this quasi-review (as they always are in the op-ed format) is that he locates the hopeful tone somewhere between over-the-top self-criticism and the desire to honor the sacrifices already made. You would think this was a large middle ground, but in today's political environment, it is not.


I'd send you to the original, but it takes a lot of signing in and registration to see. If desired, simply Google "Thomas P.M. Barnett" in advanced search in news and it'll pull up first.

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