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Director's Commentary on the Book Proposal of Great Powers

I've edited this post. Now, Tom's commentary comes first, and the book proposal comes second.

I thought it would be fun to revisit the book proposal after running through all the changes that happened with the Table of Contents. It's like, on those second discs, when the original screenwriter/story person and first producer recall shopping around the idea and you realize how much the movie changed from their original ideas--inevitable.  Now, you have to remember that this is the summer of 2007, so about 18 months ago. I had written in May a book proposal for "How to Become a Grand Strategist" and had that proposal gently rebuffed by Neil Nyren, who said, I'll do the book with you if that's what you really want, but it's not the book I'm looking for right now from you at this point in your career. Hearing that Neil actually considered me to have a career as a book author was enough for me to change my mind.

So I retooled in June and wrote this in July. Putnam thereupon offered me about half of the advance I got for both of the first two books, primarily in response to the far lighter sales of the second one, Blueprint, which we all now agree wasn't handled in the best way (I've lamented that storyline enough). I knew I was going to get a smaller advance and this one was a bit lower than I was hoping for, but you have to understand: it's really an advance, meaning they're pre-paying you and not paying you in addition to your royalties. The bigger the advance, the longer it takes for you to "earn out," or payback the advance and start getting royalties--something that most books never do. So a more modest advance means you'll actually have a chance of seeing royalty money sooner. In this case, we have some riders in the contract that advance those payments if I sell a certain amount in a certain timeframe, meaning if this book does as well as PNM, my advance will be similar in total sum. I kind of like that contract better, to tell the truth. Being incentivized is the way to go.

First off, with this proposal, you notice how relatively short it is. The PNM proposal ran like 50 pages and was about 25k, if I remember. BFA was only 10 pages, because it was an obvious sequel to PNM. This one fell in between: 19 pages and 6200 words. No need to intro myself or Mark or spell out my commitment to selling (beyond the perfunctory). Rather, just sell the content and the timing.

The original title, The Coming Realignment: Reconnecting America's Grand Strategy to a World Transforming was totally mine. The sentiment remains, obviously, but the words changed. Neil came at me first with Great Powers and then later with the subtitle. We went back and forth a lot, but Neil got his way on both. The clincher for me? Warren kept saying it was right for Tom Barnett to be putting out a book right now with that title--it just sounded right.

Right off in the opening I give a series of mis-alignments that were/are unfolding. I later pirated that sequence for a column entitled, "To rejoin world, U.S. must rejoin conversation." The first three words in the column are "Sen. Barack Obama." I had just spend an hour with his top Senate foreign policy guy, Mark Lippert, in his office right around the time he was getting ready to announce, so I was clearly intrigued. It's interesting to note that he's the only candidate I mention in the proposal.

I later used the mis-aligning dynamics described here as a slide in my Pop!Tech presentation on the book (pre-writing) that I delivered later that October. That slide and its seven part model translated right into the book in terms of the seven sections repeated in each of the alignment chapters. I don't use the slide or the formula in the brief (too time consuming, plus the brief is a screenplay, not the novel).

Here it is:

prop slide.jpg


Click here to see a pdf of all seven slides.

You note the use of "propose" and "impose," which I later use in my telling of the two arcs of American history (19th C and 20th C).  There's also the bit from my lawn guy about killing weeds v. growing grass. That makes it into the book too.

I make it clear about the overall theme linking U.S. history and the current age: frontier integration. You also see me basically write out my "history of globalization as a series of successful replications"
slide, which I still use.

Then, when I get to describing the structure of the book, note that the original idea was three parts. I only dreamed up the new starting part (imagined Part One: The Process Observed) when I actually got close--a year later--to the writing. That's when I felt that immense urge to pre-write a lot. Other than adding that first part, the other three parts pretty much entered into the later writing phase "as is," which the difference being that I cut down the realignments from six to five. In getting the six, I was using the old "6 lenses to view the world" that I had been employing since the mid-1990s. They were later confirmed by Thomas Friedman in his own rendition in Lexus and the Olive Tree.  Neither of us were being particularly original, as these were/are the same six lenses that most global consultancies use: economics, politics, social-demographic, technology, environment and military/security--pretty standard stuff. I just felt like I could and should collapse the social-dem and environmental stuff together, and recast the technology in terms of networks. Collapsing is common in my writing: I start with all these categories and then as I start writing, I find that they sneak "forward."

Note in the description of the Foreword that I want a regurgitation of my lexicon and themes up front. This urge generated the original Chapter 3 (then moved up to 2) that Mark and I submitted to Neil in June 2008: the "20 Questions" chapter. All the way back then I was feeling the itch.

Then into the three-part structure:


  • Chapter 1 basically becomes my "apostle's creed of American grand strategy" that did not make it into the final book. It'll be published by a Zurich-based think tank this year.
  • Chapter 2 becomes the history chapter (now Ch. 3 in the final book): note that the only candidate I mention here is Barack Obama--this in July 07!
  • Chapter 3 becomes the "7 Deadly Sins" and "12-Steps" chapters. I came up with the 12-steps idea on my own, but Vonne, my spouse, talked me into the "7 Sins" approach.
  • Chapter 4 pretty much ends up as advertised, although I don't highlight Prahalad here.
  • Chapter 5: the new connectors (one is tempted to add, "A Quinn Martin production!") translates, as previewed by the para here, into the "team of rivals" argument (beat Obama on that one!).
  • Chapter 6 is the Social-demographic one that gets folded into the current Chapter 8: strategic realignment.
  • Chapter 7 on the military gets transmuted into security (now Chapter 6); note that "command-after-next" basically comes through, as does the roughly the entire 7-part process (see the slide below).
  • Chapter 8 becomes the current Chapter 7 on network realignment; notice that I don't try to sell Development-in-a-Box(tm) here (frankly, I am a bit surprised it made it into the book with no questions from Putnam, because it does have the obvious business angle, and yet, to me, it's totally organic).
  • Chapter 9 on the environment gets paired with social-demographic chapter to constitute the strategic realignment chapter (8) in the final book; I am glad I did not make an entire chapter happen around global warming, given my take on the subject's utility as a grand strategy organizing principle.
  • Heading into part 3 (which became the aborted Part Four in the manuscript submitted to Neil in June 2008), Chapter 10 was basically a survey of bad SEIs (super-empowered individuals); I cite John Robb here but felt better about moving his stuff to the network realignment chapter.
  • Chapter 11 was the "good SEIs" chapter, which I planned as the first chapter of Part Four but never wrote, instead folding the "super-empower me!' concept into the network realignment chapter (7).
  • And there it is, my hoped-for insertion of the first book idea here as Chapter 12: "How to Become Your Own Grand Strategist."
  • The conclusion description previews my ambition WRT to Well's "Shape of Things to Come" book, which later generated the "eulogy" projection across the 21st century. Originally, I planned to have Vonne Mei write her autobiography as a 97-year-old woman in the year 2100, but then I felt I would have to spend so much time constructing her character that I got focused on the eulogy shortcut. This part never made it into the final book.


Pretty cool to reread with the perspective of today. As always, I do feel like I delivered what I promised, no matter the zig-zags in the process.




Book Proposal


The Coming Realignment:

Reconnecting America's Grand Strategy to a World Transforming


Neil Nyren


G.P. Putnam's Sons

Dear Neil:



I am writing to propose a work of non-fiction, entitled The Coming Realignment, which will answer the questions on every American's mind right now:  Where do we go now in this "global war on terror" that's so far generated more insecurity than lasting stability in its wake?  More immediately, how does our nation rejoin the world after the seemingly endless disasters of the second Bush administration?   And does American leadership really make a difference anymore in a world being so clearly transformed by globalization's rapid advance--epitomized by China's rise? 

Poll after poll around the world suggests that America's standing has rarely been lower, and historians seem unanimous on only the following point:  our next president will face a more intimidating global agenda than any American leader has since Truman--meaning George Bush simply didn't measure up.  No wonder our nation seems so out of sorts.  In Bush's myopic focus on Iraq, it feels like the rest of the world is passing us by: 

  • Despite our intransigence on the WTO's Doha Development Round, the world's never enjoyed a bigger or more robust global economy than we have right now, with rising pillars Brazil, Russia, India and China leading the way.
  • Despite our unwillingness to join the International Criminal Court, it continues to pioneer global prosecutions of war criminals while a string of prison scandals and court challenges back home have prevented the U.S. Government from putting even a single "enemy combatant" on trial.
  • Despite our inability to secure, much less reconstruct Iraq and Afghanistan, China and India are investing heavily in previously war-torn sub-Saharan Africa, engaging in a resource grab and infrastructure-building boom that could easily be described--and rightly so--as "pre-emptive nation-building."
  • Despite refusing to sign the Kyoto Agreement on global warming, CO2 financial trading regimes are popping up in global financial centers and Al Gore's made the issue both Oscar- and celebrity-worthy in a manner too compelling to ignore.
  • Despite our unwillingness to marshal a national energy plan, car-booming China is rolling out miles-per-gallon standards that surpass California's while promising more hybrids faster than Detroit.

Meanwhile, al Qaeda's top leadership once again controls a state-within-a-state (Pakistan's Northwest Territories), American casualties in Iraq are higher than ever (despite the surge), and Americans are more jittery and divided than ever (while Chinese are more confident and ambitious than ever).  The upshot?  America polls somewhere just north of Sudan's janjaweed, while China's "charm offensive" comes off like a clinic on how to effectively employ "soft power." 

How could we let ourselves get so disconnected from the rest of the world at a point in history when everything--and everyone--seems to be growing more interconnected with each passing day?  In a global economy increasingly modeled on our own pioneering political and economic union, how did we let ourselves become so isolated from the very global trends we've spent decades of blood and treasure to enable?  How is it that we're so uncomfortable in the very world we've created? 

As I argued in my first two books, 9/11 should have done more than just snap us out of our "go-go 90s" reverie; it was supposed to bring us back to a world in profound pain and tumult from globalization's jarring expansion across the post-Cold War period.  During Bush's first term, he seemed to make all the bold moves we craved in our post-9/11 fright, narrowly earning him a second term despite the growing unpopularity of the Iraq War.  New rules were proposed in abundance, and America was clearly on the offensive.  But what didn't happen in Bush's second term has effectively carved his successor's agenda in stone:  having adopted our own new rule set for ordering this brave new world, we didn't bother to get anyone else's agreement on the blueprint. 

So now comes the great realignment. 

The world was speeding along several, nosebleed-inducing trajectories prior to 9/11, any one of which could have dominated the Bush agenda if 9/11 hadn't come along:  skyrocketing global trade and financial transactions, China's stunning rise, the destabilizing emergence of new nuclear powers, the global immigration flood, the mounting consensus on global climate change, the compelling agenda of African development, Russia's inevitable resurgence, higher oil prices due to persistently rising global demand, and so on and so on.  Everything changed on 9/11 because 9/11 changed everything in America, and so our altered trajectory altered the planet's pathway by extension.  But as I've noted many times, globalization comes with rules--not a ruler.  What America could once impose, it is now forced to propose--a key distinction the Bush team routinely ignored. 

Unlike America, the rest of the world had too much on its plate to take off the rest of the decade to fight terrorists; globalization's "lawn" was thickening across the vast majority of the planet despite Washington's myopic focus on killing "weeds" here and there.  And so the global rule-setting agenda seemed to leave us behind, to the apparent delight of a Bush Administration that never saw a global treaty it couldn't dismiss out of hand.  Now, as the second Bush term winds down, the White House has rediscovered the joys of multilateralism just as our pool of prospective allies has been reduced to Israel and nobody else.  Don't laugh, because apparently that's a quorum for Bush-Cheney's last war before riding into the sunset--Iran, the ultimate scapegoatfor our failures in Iraq. 

This rising tide of anti-Americanism is simply feedback; the rest of the world is telling us how much they miss the "old" us while constantly ratcheting up the price for our readmission to their good graces.  Since the Bush team has no intention of admitting our current isolation from old friends and potentially new allies alike, they remain uninterested in recalibrating their post-9/11 grand strategy of democratization-at-the-barrel-of-a-gun, even as the global attractiveness of the China's development model grows exponentially throughout the very same regions we target in our long war against radical extremism (hint, hint--from history). 

It's tempting to say that all the next president must do is repackage Bush's liberty agenda and deliver it more diplomatically, but if America is going to rejoin this world of its own making, then globalization will demand far greater adjustments.  We've already tried channeling the Ford Administration (e.g., Cheney, Rumsfeld) through George W. Bush, and several GOP presidential candidates clearly want to channel Reagan, but resurrecting past presidential models, even one as globally successful as Clinton's, is unlikely to answer the future mail.  The realignment of the global economic order is staring us in the face, with a similar rearrangement of global politics right on its heels.  9/11 gave us the heads up on the new global security environment, but even there we're just beginning to get a handle on the breadth of this new challenge (Chinese toothpaste, anyone?).   In short, all this rising connectivity continues to radically alter global order, imposing the greatest challenges to those currently attempting to cover the most developmental ground--e.g., China, India, Brazil.  America might find globalization bewildering, but frankly, we're in the middle of the pack on that subject. 

So the grand realignment I want to explore in this book isn't simply a matter of America's course-correction from the Bush years.  It's a fundamental recalibration for all involved.  Quite frankly, we've never lived through such a profound reordering of the global order since 1945, and our first attempt--this clumsy deification of the counter-terror war--has failed to adequately reorient us to the far different world we continue to find ourselves struggling to understand--much less lead.  To use an early Cold War analogy, we've gone through our panicked "anti-communist" phase; now comes the time when we start recognizing the "new frontiers" just on the horizon.  Making that transition from seeing the danger in its entirety to envisioning the opportunity in its entirety is everything right now.  The first Bush term got us through the former but the second administration failed to advance us on the latter, hence the overwhelming sense of being "off track" in this country (we see burden everywhere and opportunity nowhere). 

That's the fundamental understanding that will animate this book:  the realization that we're all living through a period of planetary-wide "frontier integration."  With globalization's stunningly rapid expansion from 1990 to 2007, we basically moved--in terms of world population--from a 1/6th solution set to 5/6th challenge set, leaving behind the "bottom billion"--as Paul Collier calls it in his recent book of the same name--as the final frontier to be integrated (basically, the guts of my Non-Integrating Gap).  Once we add those three billion new capitalists, we set in motion a global change process that either succeeds in consolidating globalization's grip on the planet or essentially disintegrates it into a series of regionalized economies whose competitive nature and residual zero-sum mentality ensure the re-bloc-ification of the international political-military order.  In short, we either integrate all these new capitalists successfully or it's back to the future on great power rivalries, proxy wars in distant locales, and pointless arms races--all so very attractive because they're all so very familiar to those old-timers still running most of the show. 

To understand the promise and peril of this frontier integration age, we'll need to look to our past to remember how we once managed such a feat in North America (e.g., the settling of the American West, 1865-1890), which in turn will help us better interpret the rise of such frontier-integrating powers as Brazil, China, India and Russia.  That understanding unlocks the grand strategic logic of the coming decades:  in a frontier-integrating age, your best allies are other frontier-integrating powers.  America aspires to this role, despite its maturity, because we possess the world's only superpower military.  The New Core pillars, as I call them, have no choice but to aspire to such a role, both internally (to marshal their own forces of development) and externally (to both access raw materials and to make new markets).   

This is hardly our first go-around in terms of global integration through the self-interested spread of market economics.  Europe's rise was predicated largely on its own consolidation of national markets and regional infrastructure.  In short, it got its act together and then turned to the rest of the world to replicate itself and its successes, for, to move up the ladder of global production, one needs to find replacements for the rungs below.  This is essentially what Europe accomplished with North America across the 19th century, before turning with more cynicism to the pure exploitation of its overseas colonies in the latter decades of that century.  The United States, the main beneficiary of that replication process, later returned that favor in kind by bailing Europe out of its self-destructive civil wars of the first half of the 20th century, only to seek its own economic replication in Asia, whose nations dutifully followed the American economy as it scaled the heights of the global production chain.  Now, as Asia itself reaches the upper ranks in so many sectors, signified by China's emergence as the third great wave of auto manufacturing in the region (after Japan and Korea), we witness its natural desire to replicate its economic success elsewhere in the global economy.  So as Europe once did to the "New World" and the U.S., in turn, enabled in Asia, now that region's rising pillars will naturally extend to the next wave of emerging markets.  Thus, as we consider who will naturally "shrink the Gap," it's only logical that the main conveyors of globalization to that "bottom billion" will be globalization's most recent success stories, or what I've called the New Core (e.g., Brazil, Russia, India, China and other emerging markets).  Understanding that key realignment is how we reconnect our grand strategy to the governing dynamics of the age--the consolidation of globalization's recent expansion and its further extension into that "bottom billion."  Simply put, there is no "saving Africa," there is only integrating Africa.  It won't be American arms plus Western aid that does the trick (our preferred strategy of "limited regret"), but American boots on the ground plus Asian entrepreneurs that generate the critical mass of economic connectivity. 

Through my first two books, I have prepared an audience of global opinion leaders, as well as average Americans, for this level of understanding, and in this third volume, I aim to deliver it in spades.  Let me now describe how I see this book being organized: 

    Foreword:  How America Rejoins the World It Created 

    A rousing opening that explains the underlying logic of the book:  America is the world's oldest and most successful multinational economic and political union.  Rising in the shadows of the first great modern globalization scheme, that of European colonialism, America's model of global integration became ascendant in the aftermath of the Second World War and dominant once the Soviet Bloc fell in 1989.  Our problem today is not dealing with our internal failures, but rather with the success of that spreading global model.   If we can understand our crucial role in enabling its further success, to include the new allies we must recruit for this effort, there is no reason why globalization cannot be made truly global within the next quarter century, in the process winning the long war against radical extremism by eliminating the off-grid regions where such animus is both engendered and sustained.  But such a grand strategy must reconnect America to the world we now find ourselves living within and not simply seek to make that new world conform to our current, internalized expression of global integration (our Rome wasn't built in a day, as all those who've fought for their freedom within these United States will tell you). 

    A special section accompanying the foreword would--much like we did in Blueprint for Action--re-establish my lexicon for describing the world (Core-Gap) and the specific skills America brings to the table (sole Leviathan/enabler of SysAdmin functions).

    PART ONE:  Looking Ahead by Looking Within 

    Chapter One:  What is grand strategy in this golden age of globalization? 

    This chapter would focus on offering a broadly gauged definition of grand strategy, or one that encompasses not just the political "national interests" of great powers, but likewise the economic, social-demographic, technological, environmental and security aspects surrounding the mutually-assured dependencies all states encounter as they accommodate globalization's creeping embrace.  Not merely interested in the "balance of power" among great states, such a holistic grand strategy takes into equal account the evolution of the world system (globalization) and the rising role of sub-national actors (organizations, companies, individuals) in shaping that system.  Historical in tone, I would use this chapter to contrast the current globalization age with previous ones and to explore the use of grand strategy throughout history.  The obvious example to mine here is the "golden age of globalization" associated with European colonial empires of the latter half of the 19th century (aptly named because the drive for gold animated much of the conquering process).  It was the "concert of Europe" and the collusion of great powers there that allowed for the massive colonization process to unfold overseas.  But in the end, the natural competitive pressures contained within that zero-sum model proved its downfall, throwing Europe into a pair of massively self-destructive "civil wars" that ultimately destroyed all the involved empires. 

    Chapter Two:  America as globalization's historical pathfinder 

    This chapter would, much in the vein of Robert Kagan's Dangerous Nation, explore American history from a particular perspective:  here, the notion that everything we face in today's era of globalization has been previously explored by us in America's past.  My favorite example?  Seeing China's rise today much like America's bursting upon the scene circa 1890 (to include the drastic need for a Progressive era of internal reform).  In this chapter, I would retell American history through the prism of a series of grand strategies, starting with Alexander Hamilton's vision of an American System by which existing states financed the infrastructural build-out of new ones, effectively extending America's reach westward across the continent, a contentious process that came to violent struggle under Abraham Lincoln (a leader who knew something about managing a "team of rivals"--more on that later).  Other versions would include:

    • Alfred Mahan, James Blaine, Elihu Root and Teddy Roosevelt in terms of America's own global "rise"
    • John Maynard Keynes plus Woodrow Wilson for the envisioned post-WWI economic and political order
    • The Roosevelt-Truman-Eisenhower transition from a European-dominated world order to one characterized by bipolar standoff (to include Kennan's containment strategy) and
    • Most important to our current era, the Kissinger-Nixon-Mao/Deng turning points associated with the opening up of China. 
    • I would then cast our current tipping point in a manner not unlike Kennedy's administration:  the challenge of a generational turnover in both personnel (a huge aging out of our federal workforce) and global vision (the rise of the post-Vietnam/60s political leadership currently embodied solely in candidate Obama).  The challenge of the next administration, then, is to effectively segue from the partisan politics of the Watergate generation to a new sort of global "progressivism" that reasserts America's natural leadership (we are instinctive in our self-improvement mentality) in a world undergoing a massive revamping of its rule sets much like the U.S. did at the end of the 19th century (China being just the best and most obvious example right now).

    Chapter Three:  What America's forgotten since 9/11 

    This chapter would serve primarily to critique the Bush administration's over-reach following 9/11, counterpoising his overly bold and unilateralist approach to grand strategy with those more nuanced and broadband efforts made by our leaders in the past.  In short, Bush-Cheney forgot that it's primarily economics--stupid!  By leading with democracy, we put the cart before the horse, forgetting our own historical development as a nation (economic ambitions from below fueling both increased demands for personal and political freedom while simultaneously generating demand for bigger and better federal government) and creating insanely inappropriate timelines for our now disastrous experiments in nation-building  (we wanted an Iraqi Thomas Jefferson when we should have been more than happy with Ayatollah Sistani and his depoliticized--a.k.a., "quietism"--approach to managing revived Shiia nationalism).  In this chapter, I will also discuss what I think America should do next in the Middle East, to include my "2K" solution for the soft-partitioning of Iraq, whereby U.S. combat troops are drawn back to safer base locations in Kurdistan and Kuwait.  I won't offer any more detail, because much will inevitably change by the time I pen the chapter.  More generally, I'll propose a logical model to describe the natural phases a country must go through following a shock to the system like 9/11, drawing upon a lot of work I did for the Pentagon in the weeks and months immediately following the terrorist strikes.   The upshot?  We need a better "new normal" than the one the Bush team has managed to create.


    Chapter Four: Economic Realignment: The Next Frontier 

    Here I will basically lay out the argument for looking at globalization as a series of historic expansions: the European globalization abetting the North American version, which in turn resurrects a West following WWII and subsequently replicates itself in East Asia's rise, which in turn now constitutes the main expansion force in globalization's future penetration and integration of the "bottom billion" (an African-centric definition of my Gap).  This process of integration will involve the remapping of much of Africa, as fake "colonial" relics are broken down and reassembled as "real" states, much like we witnessed with the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and with Iraq today.  The key realignment for America will come in recognizing Asia's "penetration" of Africa (and to a lesser extent, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf) as serving our strategic interests.   

    Chapter Five: Political Realignment:  The New Connectors 

    Continuing from the economic realignment, this chapter makes a compelling case for reorienting America's alliances from Old Core Europe and Japan to New Core pillars--especially India and China.  This "team of rivals" will effectively shrink the Gap in coming years, returning to Europe's (and Japan's) former colonial haunts and engaging in nation building on a scale never before seen.  Demographically rich, India and China are America's natural allies in the people-intensive business of nation-building, having already supplied--of their own accord--tens of thousands of economic "change agents" to Africa alone in the past couple of decades.  Just like the American West was settled on the backs of desperate Chinese "coolies," freed African-American slaves, and Irish and German immigrants with little to lose, so too will Africa be re-integrated into a global economy by the frontier populations of our age--namely, South and East Asians (who, by the way, form the bulk of the mobile global workforce in this age, to include the Persian Gulf region--a big strategic hint!).  The key realignment here will be America swapping out old allies for new ones--a huge cultural shift considering our heritage.  But it's an inevitable shift.  Europe and Japan, in their demographic decline, simply are unable to participate in any large-scale manner in the frontier integration of the Gap.   Left to their own devices, these Old Core pillars would talk America into firewalling itself off from these challenges through the limitation of trade and immigration and the illusory pursuit of energy "independence."  Far better for us to align ourselves with those rising pillars wholly incentivized to bring the Gap online to the global economy in coming decades, for in that partnership we both locate the bodies for the immense security challenges ahead (i.e., nation-building) and connect our companies to the next-generation globally-integrated enterprises that will effectively sell to the bottom of the pyramid (where the bulk of untapped consumer spending lies in the global economy).  So it's back to the U.S. cavalry and the Sears & Roebuck catalog! 

    Chapter Six:  Social-Demographic Realignment:  The Inevitable Battlefields 

    This chapter will explore how the anti-globalization of last decade morphed into this decade's anti-Americanism, and how that seemingly persistent phenomenon will soon be replaced by a rising anti-Chinese/Asian sentiment as China and other Asian powers become the new symbols of globalization's advance.  Neither China nor India, for example, are anywhere near ready for this phenomenon, which frightens both country's political and military leaders to no end.  For example, when Ogaden rebels recently attacked a Chinese-run oil field in eastern Ethiopia, killing nine Chinese nationals, Beijing was simply stunned at being targeted.  China's strategic mindset revolves around Taiwan, like India's vision myopically centers on Kashmir.  Neither country is ready to confront its towering dependence on raw materials located primarily within the world's most unstable regions.  In this manner, they resemble the young United States confronting its own growing dependence on global markets in the latter decades of the 1800s.  In both instances, the U.S. needs to help these countries realign their strategic visions, much as naval strategist Mahan once awoke our own.  In this chapter, I'll also include discussions here of rising immigration issues in both America and Europe and the increasingly mobile nature of globalization's workforce.  The key realignment here for America will be its mentoring role with rising New Core pillars, much like the Brits once mentored us into the halls of global power during our own "rising" period. 

    Chapter Seven: Military Realignment:  The Command-After-Next 

    This chapter uses my recent  Esquire reporting (only a fraction of which got into the piece) on the rise of Africa Command, essentially exploring it as a pure and natural expression of my Leviathan-SysAdmin split, with the special operations forces serving as dreaded regional Leviathan (e.g., our "recent kinetics" in southern Somalia following the ouster of the Council of Islamic Courts) and civil affairs-focused regional commands like Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa serving as "non-kinetic" capacity builders in close--and unprecedented--cooperation with the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (the so-called "3D" approach of diplomacy-development-defense). As CJTF-HOA will soon be franchised as a model for the rest of Africa Command (a version will be created for north, west, central and southern Africa), we see in this new combatant command the "cannibalizing agent" that will eventually remake the entire U.S. military command structure (Southern Command in Latin America already shares this pedigree, but both Central Command and Pacific Command would be greatly improved by such heightened interagency collaboration--so clearly missing in Iraq still!).  Africom can likewise be viewed as the embryonic expression of my proposed Department of Everything Else.  The main realignment here will be the ascendancy of the SysAdmin approach within the Defense Department and the decline of the China-as-near-peer-competitor scenario to justify a spending approach that overfeeds the Leviathan and starves the SysAdmin function.  Why Africom will be so important is that is offers the U.S. national security community a blank slate upon which to build a strategic alliance with China, a dialogue that I myself am seeking to lead in my work with both the U.S. and Chinese militaries.  In the geostrategic sense, Africom also provides the opportunity to flank radical Islam and prevent its further penetration of sub-Saharan Africa (indeed, CJTF-HOA was originally set up to capture and kill al Qaeda operatives fleeing the Persian Gulf region for Africa).   

    Chapter Eight:  Technological Realignment:  The Democratization of Security 

    This chapter will serve to explore my continuing work at improving how America deals with security issues at home (the concept of community resilience that I'm helping to pioneer with a special Department of Homeland Security-funded program at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory that focuses on recovery following natural and manmade disasters) and abroad in both pre-conflict and post-conflict environments (my notion of Development-in-a-Box, something my company, Enterra Solutions, is currently piloting in Kurdistan in close cooperation with the Kurdistan Regional Government).  The key realignment here will be the U.S. national security community coming to realize that the bulk of contingency management/disaster recovery here at home will spring from the private sector (business continuity being even more important than political continuity, as the government can only do so much to foster recovery--a reality amply displayed in New Orleans following Katrina) and that the most important players in post-conflict stability operations abroad will likewise be private-sector infrastructure providers (currently facing a global boom of unprecedented proportions, so the future looks bright).   A secondary realignment comes in understanding that any capacity we develop for resiliency here at home is naturally exportable as a next-generation-style foreign aid package.  In short, we shrink the Gap best by wiring it up to our systems at levels of security and transparency we can tolerate, not by increasing the "height" of our firewalls.  Thus, our resiliency and the Gap's reconnection are essentially two sides of the same coin, meaning the real competition with China--if you will--is who makes the most markets happen inside the Gap.   Pursue that competition to the hilt, and the only real loser will be the al Qaeda's of the Gap who can achieve rule only by instituting civilizational apartheid between these largely disconnected societies and globalization's creeping embrace.  

    [As a side note, Neil, when Lockheed Martin recently held a management conference to welcome the executives of the construction firm it had just purchased, Pacific Architects and Engineering (basically, the KBR of the State Department), they introduced me as the keynote speaker by holding up PNM and saying, "This is why we bought you," only to then hold up a copy of BFA and declare, "And this is what we're going to do with you."  Every PAE executive got a hardcover of BFA, since most were already instructed to read PNM during the M&A negotiations.  Lockheed, by the way, is the world's biggest defense contractor. I regularly advise their senior leadership.] 

    Chapter Nine: Environmental Realignment: The Counter Narrative  

    This chapter will propose that the "global war on terror," as put forward by the Bush Administration, as so desperately failed as a global narrative for this era that it is inevitably slated to be superseded by global warming as the perceived unifying challenge of our age.  This will be a welcome diversion, in rhetorical terms, from the ill-fated "war of ideas" between radical Islam and the West in two ways:  1) such "hearts-and-minds" campaigning tends to generate more damaging heat than helpful light; and 2) it tends to elevate al Qaeda excessively as Islam's main mouthpiece for anti-globalization ranting, thus allowing a slim minority to articulate the legitimate fears--and desires--of the majority.  Plus, a focus on global warming's effects will only serve to heighten concerns for the Gap--especially the "bottom billion" concentrated largely in Africa.  It will also offer compromise opportunities between the aging, post-industrial West and the rising, heavily-industrializing East, especially in moving beyond oil as our primary transportation energy source.  So, as global narratives go, this one helps me line up all the big pieces:  U.S.-Sino strategic alliance, a de-emphasis on Islam versus the West in the Middle East, and a focus on Africa as a strategic flanking maneuver.  Naturally, our enemies in this long war against radical extremism will do everything in their power to prevent this downgrading of the conflict, thus their continued attempts to effect even more spectacular strikes designed to recapture the global narrative, something that's eminently achievable as 9/11 proved.  But that's where our effort to enunciate a global "happy ending" becomes all the more important.  Our grand strategy needs to emphasize the inclusion of new winners and not merely the isolation of globalization's losers, for our ranks must constantly be growing while our enemy's is constantly shrinking.  That's how you breed strategic despair among your opponents, something the Bush Administration has failed to accomplish.

    PART THREE:  Super-Empowering Ourselves For the Challenges Ahead  

    Chapter Ten:  The Threats We Embrace 

    This chapter will constitute my updated thinking regarding the threat of transnational terrorism and the radical Salafi jihadist movement, to include the franchising/branding effect al Qaeda has had on revolutionary and terrorist movements worldwide.  For example, I'll explore new definitions of our systemic vulnerabilities, like those put forth by John Robb in his book, Brave New War. 

    Chapter Eleven:  We Have Only Begun to Fight . . . 

    This chapter will be a tour d'horizon of emerging sub-national (e.g., businesses, public organizations, individuals) responses to this era's new security challenges, of which--when viewed from a grand strategic perspective--terrorism is but one of many and far from the most important.  A good example?  China's recent and ongoing experience with scandals relating to its products will actually end up doing more to strengthen the transparency and safety of global supply chains than all the security measures we mandate to stem terrorist attacks against those networks.  In many ways, terrorism serves a much-needed function:  exposing system vulnerabilities in the same way hackers do across our information networks.  Taken in this light, transnational terrorism is nothing more than an irregularly scheduled version of the Y2K challenge--hardly a "black swan."  Compared to humanity's consistent capacity to harm itself through miscalculations, greed, incompetence, etc., transnational terrorism's effects are typically lost in the white noise of our world's rising complexity.  Of course, transnational terrorism's entire goal is to hijack our ability to approach globalization's challenges in a holistic fashion by seductively reducing all conflict down to a set list of demands scented with the promise of peaceful coexistence ("Just withdraw and leave me these peoples and all conflict between us will cease."), but to engage in such accommodation is self-defeating in the worst way.  Our model's strength as an agent of global change is that markets and political pluralism are the most effective enablers of individual empowerment--and thus, happiness--known to humanity.  In short, our bribes are better than their bribes, and thus time will always be on our side if we remain confident in the systems that got us to this point in the first place.    That's the key thing to remember in all of this:  we're in this fight because of the success of our system's spread around the planet.  So tending to that system's care and feeding will always remain job #1, no matter what propaganda our enemies are peddling.

    Chapter Twelve:  How to Become Your Own Grand Strategist 

    This how-to chapter explores what it takes for any reader to replicate the sort of horizontal and downstream thinking required to formulate grand strategic visions for today's complex global environment.  These skills could not be more crucial right now, for the average voter is being lured down any number of rejectionist or isolationist pathways that all involve some version of throwing up one's arms and declaring, "Apocalypse X, take me away from all this complexity!"  Drawing upon my vast personal and professional experience, I'll give the average reader a host of tips on skills they need to develop to become grand strategists within their own environments, companies, or just their everyday lives.  Why is this important?  I consider the formulation and promotion of grand strategic visions to be a lost art, especially within the national security community, where we long ago outsourced that function to journalists and op-ed columnists who have the unfortunate tendency to come up with new grand strategies every month.  If we're going to meet and surmount the myriad strategic challenges of this frontier-integrating age of globalization, those are skills we need to make native to a much wider array of players within our military, government, business and activist communities, if for no other reason than rising powers naturally generate such thinkers in numbers.  Simply put, we don't want to get caught short as a nation in the years ahead.

    CONCLUSION:  The Shape of Things to Come 

    H.G. Wells wrote a book of this name in the early 1930s, employing the narrative trick of packaging his futurism within a history volume allegedly written from the perspective of the early 22nd century (I say, allegedly, because Wells purports to recreate the book from the notes of an eminent diplomat who had dreamed of somehow perusing the volume from across the ages).  Like most post-apocalyptic fiction (Wells' version of World War II extends into the 1960s and ends with a global plague that almost wipes out humanity), this book dreams of a post-ideological world where logic rules because traditional war has become too fantastically destructive to endure and thus mankind is united by a world government that regulates the vast array of networks that define material advances.  Taking this vision as my starting point, I'm going to project deep into the future to argue that Wells' fantastic vision is far closer to realization than we might imagine, with most ideological struggles now retreating to the realms of cultural and religious differences that Wells himself wished to see abolished by human progress, but which frankly define the richness of human experience.  Moreover, the "world government" that Wells imagined will never be possible in a unitary sense, but rather it will track with the "states uniting" regional federalism pioneered by the U.S. (already replicated by the European Union and inevitably mirrored by a rising Asian Union and a United States of Africa).   In sum, I promise to send the reader off on a very high note.

Neil, since you and I have discussed this approach at some length--at least in conceptual terms--I don't want to drag this proposal out much further.  To me, this is the big picture mix of personal and philosophical that marked my last two books, and I know that's what you're looking for in this volume, which we both agree should target early 2009 for release.

The details of production are straightforward enough: 

  • I'll keep researching and exploring these topics in coming months in my blog, my weekly syndicated columns, and whatever articles I manage for Esquire.   I've already amassed a large stack of recent books for additional research, having worked my way through a couple dozen key ones in recent months.
  • I'll look to write a first draft (140-150k) in the December-January-February timeframe, targeting February-March-April 2008 for a substantial edit with Mark Warren, whose book with Harry Reid will have been finished by then.
  • Getting a reasonably polished first draft to you sometime in the April-May timeframe, we'd look to work the process for a January-February 2009 release.

As for the usual rah-rah, you and Putnam know my work ethic, respect my strenuous schedule of speeches and media appearances, and value the global audience I've been steadily building through my blog, the Scripps column, and the Esquire  articles.  I really think this can be a very important book that expands that universe while speeding up further the changes and reforms my work has already inspired throughout the national security community here in the United States. 

I value this partnership greatly, and deeply appreciate your efforts to steer me away from a narrow book to something more on this grand scale. 

Let's make it happen!


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