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Former Soviet experts on Russia: a disaster!

"Reform in Russia: Free Market, Yes; Free Politics, Maybe: Washington's Civic Dreams For Old Foe Fade as People Focus on Making a Living," by Andrew Higgins, Wall Street Journal, 24 May, p. A1.

More depressing analysis from a former Soviet expert (Stanford's Michael McFaul) complaining that Russia isn't becoming a mature democracy fast enough. So they've embraced free markets and don't threaten the U.S. anymore and spend close to nothing on their military, but wait! McFaul's scary thesis is that Russia will get rich and then threaten us again. He whines, "Our assumptions were all wrong. We all assumed that when the economy began to turn around, most people would support liberal politics. They don't."

End of story. McFaul had his assumptions and they've not been met on his timetable!


We're supposed to freak because, after all the economic thievery and political tumult of the 1990s (not to mention Chechnya), the Russians seem to prefer Putin's "controllable democracy" over the alternative, which is more of the same.

News flash! Former Soviet experts deeply miss former Soviet Union!


Esquire: time to get off your rear-end and post the article!

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 24 May 2004.

On May 14 I get agreement from Esquire that they will post the June issue article, "Mr. President, Here's How to Make Sense of Our Iraq Strategy," on their site in the free-access portion. They said it would be up by the end of last week, but it isn't. All they have on their site is the March 2003 original article.

To encourage debate and to push Esquire to get off its ass regarding its web, here is the text posted in full. When Esquire finally gets it online, we'll pull this text and point you to their site, but I'm not holding my breath. It took them over a year to get around to posting the original article.Esquire

June 2004

Pg. 148

Mr. President, Here's How To Make Sense Of Our Iraq Strategy

One of the architects of the Pentagonís New Map of the world offers a most important guide to a) why the boys will never be coming home and b) why this is the first step toward a world without war

By Thomas P. M. Barnett

Is this any way to run a global war on terrorism? The new conventional wisdom is that the warmongering neocons of the Bush administration have hijacked U. S. foreign policy and sent the world down the pathway of perpetual war. Instead of dissecting the rather hysterical strain of most of that analysis, let me tell you what this feedback should really tell us about the world we now live in. And as opaque as the administration has been in signaling its values and true motivations, I will try in this piece to explain what Iraq should mean to us, why all the pain we have encountered there is the price we must pay to ensure a peaceful century, and why this is the birthing process of a future worth creating.

There is no doubt that when the Bush administration decided to lay a ìbig bangî upon the Middle East by toppling Saddam Hussein and committing our nation to reconnecting a brutalized, isolated Iraqi society to the world outside, it proceeded with virtually no public or international debate about the scope of this grand historical task. I, however, see a clear link between 9/11 and President Bushís declared intention of ìtransformingî the Middle East.

In the March 2003 issue of this magazine, I published an article called ìThe Pentagonís New Mapî [available at Esquire.com/barnett], which was about work I had spent years doing at the Naval War College and the Pentagon to figure out the true threat environment for the United States in a post-cold-war world. The answer? Most of the world is peaceable and functioning. I call that the Core, and it is basically the parts of the world, including China, where globalization has taken root to some degree. The rest of the world, which had never been considered by the Pentagon to be a direct threat, much less the gravest threat we face, is made up of the countries that remain disconnected, either because of abject poverty or political or cultural repression: the Caribbean Rim, virtually all of Africa, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East, Southwest Asia, and much of Southeast Asia. This I call the Gap. The primary goal of the foreign policy of the United States should be, in my view, to shrink the Gap. Nothing about our Iraq experience has changed this view.

The only way America can truly achieve strategic security in the age of globalization is by destroying disconnectedness. We fight fire with fire. Al Qaeda, whose true grievances lie wholly within the Persian Gulf, tried to destroy the Coreís connectedness on 9/11 by triggering what I call a system perturbation that would throw our rules into flux. Its hope was to shock America and the West into abandoning the Gulf region first militarily, then politically, and finally economically. Al Qaeda hoped to detoxify the regionís societies through disconnectedness.

But the president decided correctly to fight back by trying to destroy disconnectedness in the Gulf region. We seek to do unto al Qaeda as it did unto us: trigger a system perturbation that will send all the regionís rule sets into flux. Saddam Husseinís outlaw regime was dangerously disconnected from the globalizing worldófrom our rule sets, our norms, and all the ties that bind the Core together in mutually assured dependence.

Disconnecting the great disconnector from the Gulfís security scene is only the beginning of our effort, because now Iraq becomes the great battle field for the soul of the whole region. That second victory will be far more difficult to achieve. Our efforts to integrate Iraq into a wider world will pit all the forces of disconnectedness in the region against us. Therefore we must enlist the aid of all the forces of connectedness across the Coreónot just their troops but their investment flows and their commercial networks.

America needs to demonstrate to the Middle East that there is such a thing as a future worth creating there, not just a past worth re-creating, which is all the bin Ladens will ever offer Muslim populationsóa retreat from todayís diminished expectations. If America cannot muster the willónot to mention the Coreís aidóto win this struggle in Iraq, we will send a clear signal to the region that there is no future in the Core for any of these states, save Israel.

Historyís clock is already ticking on that great task. As the world progressively decarbonizes its energy profile, moving away from oil and toward hydrogen obtained from natural gas, the Middle Eastís security deficit will become a cross that not even the United States will long be willing to bear. The bin Ladens of that region know this and thus will act with increasing desperation to engineer our abandonment of the region. Like Vladimir Lenin a century earlier, bin Laden dreams of breaking off a large chunk of humanity into a separate rule-set sphere, where our rules hold no sway, where our money finds no purchase, and where our polluting cultural exports can be effectively repelled. Bin Ladenís offer is the offer of all would-be dictators: Just leave these people to me and I will trouble you no further.

By taking down Saddam Hussein and turning Iraq into a magnet for every jihadist with a one-way ticket to paradise, America has really thrown down the gauntlet in the Middle East; it has finally begun exporting security to that part of the world for real. In the past, we always had ulterior motives: to keep the Soviets out, to keep the oil flowing, to keep Israel safe. But reconnecting Iraq to the world is so much bigger than any of those goals. It is about creating a future worth living for a billion Muslims we could just as easily consign to the past.

Powell Doctrine, R.I.P.

What does this new approach mean for this nation and the world over the long run? Let me be very clear about this: The boys are never coming home. America is not leaving the Middle East until the Middle East joins the world. Itís that simple. No exit means no exit strategy.

One of the worst strategic concepts the Pentagon ever came up with was General Colin Powellís notion that America should never intervene militarily overseas unless and until an exit strategy is clearly defined. The legacy of that dictum has poisoned the U. S. militaryís strategic planning ever since, generating the force we have todayóperfect for drive-by regime changes and understaffed for everything else.

Fortunately, the Powell doctrine has died with Operation Iraqi Freedom, and with it dies Americaís decades-long tendency to blow off all the suffering and instability that plagues the Gap, or what we used to call the Third World. What is so amazingly courageous about what the Bush administration has done in trying to generate a ìbig bangî throughout the Middle East is that it has committed our nation to shrinking a major portion of the Gap in one fell swoop. By doing so, I believe this administration has forced America to finally come through on promises repeatedly offered during the cold war but never delivered upon. The irony, of course, is that the administration is guilty of such grotesque dissembling over its rationale for the war that it is unable to fully take credit for this historic achievement. And its dissembling has also aroused the passions of the empire crowd.

The concept of an ìAmerican empireî is very chic right now in literary and academic circles, and since the Bush administration never seems to offer a sufficiently comprehensive answer to the question weighing on most Americansí minds (ìWhere is this all leading?î), many of our best and brightest have connected the relevant dots and declared Washington the de facto Rome of a new imperial age.

This is all nonsense and bad history to boot. Empires involve enforcing maximal rule sets, in which the leader tells the led not just what they cannot do but what they must do. This has never been the American way of war or peace and does not reflect our system of governance. We enforce minimum rule sets, carefully ruling out only the most obviously destructive behavior. Our goal must be to extend the Coreís security rule set into the Gap and, by doing so, shrink the Gap progressively over time. This is not about extending Americaís rule but about extending the genuine freedom that collective security provides. All this talk about empire mistakenly seeks to impose a nineteenth-century simplicity upon a twenty-first-century complexity. In short, this eraís version of globalization comes with rules, not a ruler. To deny that achievement is to discount the vast improvement America brought to the system administration of globalization following World War II compared with earlier, deeply flawed efforts by Europeís monarchiesóBritain included.

There is no doubt that many governments in the Core still view the world system as a balance of powers, and so any rise in U. S. influence or presence in the Middle East is seen as a loss of their influence or presence there. Too many of these ìgreat powersî are led by small minds who prefer Americaís failures to the Coreís expansion, because they perceive their national interests to be enhanced by the former and diminished by the latter. They prefer the Gapís continued suffering to their own loss of prestige, and they should be ashamed of their selfishness.

But America is far from alone in this great historical quest. As we realign our global military-basing structure to better reflect our continuing role as military Leviathan throughout the Gap, we leave behind old friends in Western Europe and embrace new ones in Eastern Europe. We increasingly trust East Asia to police itself while we export security to West Asia. We even go so far as to imagine and work toward future bases sprinkled throughout the African continent, a region long abandoned by the West to suffer decades of endemic conflict and disease.

The New Strategic Paradigm: Disconnectedness Defines Danger, or, Kiss Those Dictators Goodbye

So, why all the dissembling on the part of our political leadership? Well, the truth is, we are just coming to terms with a new grand strategy for the United States, the historical successor to containment, and our government doesnít yet have the words to explain this vision to the world. So we come off as dishonest, which is a terrible mistake, because this vision describes a future worth creating: making globalization truly global. This is something to be proud of, not something to run from.

The defense community spent the entire post-cold-war period scanning the strategic horizon, desperately searching for the fabled ìnear-peer competitorî that would someday replace our late beloved foe, the Soviet Union. About eight years ago, most defense strategists fell in love with China, convincing themselves that here was an enemy worth plotting against. Since then, the great bureaucratic push to ìtransformî the U. S. military into the high-tech warrior force of tomorrow has focused almost exclusively on that conflict modelóbasically Chinaís invasion of Taiwan in 2020.

It was a beautiful dream, one easily sold to a Congress whose only interest in national-security planning is ìWill you build it in my district?î It also corresponded to the Bush administrationís view of the world prior to 9/11, which focused exclusively on great powers while expressing disdain for the Clinton administrationís feeble attempts at nation-building in Third World wastelands. Frankly, it made everyone in Washington happy, because casting China as the future enemy provided the national-security establishment with a familiar villain: big, bad, and communist.

Naturally, the defense and intelligence communities reshaped themselves for this ìnewî challenge. We hired China experts by the barrelful and scripted all our war games to feature a large, unnamed Asian land power with an unhealthy interest in a small island nation off its coast. You want to know why we donít have a clue about what goes on inside the Gap? Because our military strategists spent a decade dreaming of an opponent that would not arise, for a war that no longer existed. Weíre the drunk looking for his lost car keys under the streetlamp instead of near his car a block away, because ìthe lightís better over here.î

The new rule set here is a simple one: We need to refocus all of our war-planning and intelligence systems from the Core to the Gap. This doesnít mean we still donít maintain a hedge against possible Chinese mischief. It just means a new strategic paradigm rules the roost: Disconnectedness defines danger. You want to locate the real danger in the system? Focus on those countries or regions most disconnected from the global economy, not those desperately working to integrate themselves with the outside worldólike China.

What the intelligence failures on Iraq and al Qaeda should tell the Bush administration (and any that follow) is that itís time to get explicit with the American people and the world about how there are simply two very different security rule sets in the world today: one that corresponds to the stable and overwhelmingly peaceful Core, and another that corresponds to the violence-ridden and increasingly unstable Gap. What scares most people about the Iraq war is the sense that the Bush administration lied to them in order to whip up sufficient popular support for taking down Saddam Hussein. The White House comes off like the cop who yells out, ìHeís got a gunî and then airs out the ìsuspectî with a barrage of shots, only to discover later that he was just pulling out his wallet.

Without reopening the entire debate on Saddam, who I think weíll all admit had multiple priors and a number of outstanding warrants for his arrest, just take a minute and ask yourself why this administration felt it needed to hype its case for ìpresent dangerî to such an unseemly degree. The majority of Americans had already expressed support in polls for removing Saddam simply because of all the bad things he had done and continued to do to his people. So why all the unnecessary drama?

Iíll tell you why. The international system today lacks any sort of recognized institutional rule set for processing a politically bankrupt state. We have one for economically bankrupt states, and itís called the IMF bailout and rehab process. We may argue incessantly about that rule set, but at least weíve got one. So when an Asian financial ìfluî disabled a number of states in 1997, the system processed that entire crowd within a couple of years.

What do we have for the Saddams and Mugabes and Kim Jong Ils of the world? Just a toothless UN Security Council whose only ìweaponî is sanctions that inevitably kill innocent civilians while doing nothing to change the behavior of the regime. The UN is at best a legislative branch for the global community, whereas the U. S. is clearly the closest thing we have to an executive Leviathan able to prosecute criminal actors across the system.

The new rule set on this one is relatively straightforward but difficult to achieve; we need an IMF-like international organization that is set up to process dangerous Gap leaders who have ruled beyond their expiration date. Itís not a long list, but imagine how much better a world weíd have if we could somehow manage to ditch all these dictators in a manner the entire Core could buy intoóeven the French.

As for the American public, what the intelligence failure on Iraq should translate into is a new and frank understanding of the limits of arms control. Again, different worlds (Core, Gap) require different rule sets on security. Getting any state from the Gap into the Core means, first and foremost, getting that state to accept the Coreís fairly clear rule on security with regard to WMDóbasically ìjust say no.î I know itís hypocritical for nuclear powers to tell smaller states to ìDo as I say, not as I do,î but on WMD I think that itís better to err on the side of order over justice.

What Americans need to understand about the potential (and real) proliferation of WMD inside the Gap is that all the arms-control treaties in the world wonít do a damn thing to stop it. All such treaties reflect the conventional wisdom of life inside the Core, where mutually assured destruction has basically ended great-power war. That logic, or that security rule set, simply does not penetrate the Gap. So when states or transnational actors inside the Gap make moves in the direction of acquiring WMD, the new security rule set called preemptive war not only makes sense, it is imperative. If the Core lets the Gapís lawlessness on WMD infect our long-standing stability on nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, then we will be doing nothing less than throwing away the cold warís most important peace dividend.

Pentagon vs. Pentagon: Why We Will Soon Have Two Militaries, Not One

The second reason why so much of the world is unhappy with the current state of affairs in Iraq is that itís now clear that the Bush administration did a terrible job of thinking beyond Saddamís takedown. In effect, it is guilty of planning for war within the context of war when it should have been planning for war within the context of everything else. This is an acute and continuing problem for President Bush himself, who has gone so far as to color his reelection campaign with the imagery of his being a ìwar president,î when both the public and the world at large clearly want evidence that his administration isnít myopically focused on this global war on terrorism but instead has learned to locate that much-needed security effort within the larger political, social, and economic context of globalizationís advanceóor everything else.

Donít get me wrong. I donít lay all the blame for this sad state of affairs on the Bush administration alone. The Pentagon has spent the last decade and a half willfully ignoring its growing workload throughout the Gap. Weíve spent the entire post-cold-war period engaging in what are derisively known throughout the defense community as ìmilitary operations other than warî (MOOTW, or Moo-twah to insiders), and yet we have adamantly refused to rebalance our forcesóespecially our National Guard and Reservesóto account for this dramatic uptick in the Gapís demand for our services. Simply put, we currently have a military that can do two or three Saddam-style takedowns every year but cannot pull off even one Iraq-style occupation.

But that is changing rapidly, and for the better. Already, senior Defense Department leaders are pushing for the creation of a ìstabilization forceî component within the U. S. military. A year ago, such a proposal would have been summarily rejected, but today it strikes most serious defense analysts as a crucial task of defense transformation. In this new era, our military interventions will be judged primarily by whether or not we leave the country more connected to the outside world than we found it, not whether we generate an instant democracy or win the war in record time.

The importance of this new direction within the Pentagon cannot be overstated, because it signals a ìback to the futureî outcome that will return Americaís national-security establishment to the structure that served our nation so well prior to the historical aberration known as the cold war. Before we created the all-encompassing Department of Defense in 1947, America had two very distinct security establishments at its disposal: a Department of War and a department of everything else called the Department of the Navy. The War Department served as the ìbig stickî force that we busted out as required, while the Navy Department (especially the embedded Marines) served primarily as the ìbaton stickî force that we employed around the world on a regular basis.

Why did America fuse these two entities into a unified whole? As the cold war was beginning, defense strategists correctly foresaw a decades-long hair-trigger standoff with the Soviets over nuclear weapons. In effect, national defense (War Department) and international security (Navy Department) became interchangeable and virtually indistinguishable; to defend America was to deter the threat of global nuclear Armageddon.

As one small part of humanity that survived the madness of the cold war, let me be the first to applaud that historic decision. But letís be clear: The dangers to system stability that we face today do not involve global nuclear war among great powers; they involve undeterrable rogue regimes and transnational actors located exclusively inside the Gap, with the exception of the cold-war tailbone known as North Korea.

What the Iraq occupation is making clear throughout the defense community is that we currently have a Department of War and a Department of Everything Elseóthe latter underfunded and overworkedócoexisting uncomfortably inside the Department of Defense. Over time, a great divorce will occur because no house divided against itself can long stand. This progressive bifurcation of the U. S. military into a Leviathan force focused on waging wars and a System Administrator force focused on winning the peace has been years in the making, but it took the painful lessons of Iraq to really get the ball rolling.

What this splitting of the force will mean to future presidential administrations is clear: greater flexibility in dealing with the world as we find it. The Leviathan force will remain your fatherís military: testosterone-fueled, lethal, and not subject to civilian law. The Sys Admin force will end up being more your motherís military: supportive, nonlethal, and willing to submit to recognized authorities such as the International Criminal Court and the UNóTeddy Roosevelt meets Woodrow Wilson.

What this bifurcation offers the rest of the world is twice as many opportunities to contribute to Americaís current scattershot efforts to export security throughout the Gap. The Leviathan is the classic come-as-you-are coalition of the willing, and since this flies-on-eyeballs crowd will feature Special Operations Forces as the pointy end of its spear, any nation able and willing to contribute its own small contingent of tough hombres can join this bandwagon on a first-come, first-to-serve basis.

But contributing to the war-fighting half of the pie wonít be the only way to gain a seat at the table, because the follow-on Sys Admin effort will allow those nations unwilling to field combat forces in certain situations to nonetheless participate in the peacekeeping force that must necessarily stand watch over the longer haul. Having both forces is crucial for this reason: There is a strong temptation for any administrationóespecially the pointlessly vindictive Bush White Houseóto tell allies that if they do not join in the war effort, they cannot participate in the rebuilding that follows. What having both forces means is that we will be able to tell potential allies not only to ìcome as you areî for the war but also to ìcome when you canî for the peacekeeping.

As we have learned in Iraq, America can lose about 150 soldiers in six weeks of combat and/or lose about 500 soldiers to terrorism to date in the ensuing occupation. Either way, it hurts just the same. If any country is willing to help out on one side of the war-peace equation, we should simply be grateful for the sacrifice offered, not picky about the timing.

Hereís what this splitting of the U. S. military means to the American people: The National Security Act of 2005 tentatively sits on the far side of this national election. I fully expect that if Bush is reelected, this piece of legislation will be profound, moving America down the pathway of seriously reordering its national-security establishment for the better. Does that mean a Kerry administration wouldnít do the same? Not at all. In fact, that administration may well be the far better choice to pull off such a dramatic reorganization, given the growing distrust of many Americans and the world regarding the Bush administrationís integrity on matters of security.

My point is not to tell you how to vote, but simply to make sure you ask the right questions. If you think ìpreemptive warî and all that violence in the Gap are going to go away simply by voting Bush-Cheney out of office, youíre kidding yourself. The next administration is going to have its hands full with international-security issues no matter how much it may want to focus on other things. So donít let either ticket off the hook on how it proposes to reshape our national-defense establishment for the big tasks that lie ahead.

As Americans seeking to choose our next president, we all need to understand better the stakes at hand, for it is not the danger just ahead that we underestimate but the opportunity that lies beyondóthe opportunity to make globalization truly global. America stands at the peak of a world historical arc that marks globalizationís tipping point from a closed club of the privileged few to a planetwide reality. Making that strategic visionóthat happy endingócome true will end war as we know it.

America has made this effort before and changed the world. Now is the time to rededicate this nation to a new long-term strategy much as we did following World War II, when we began exporting the security that has already made war only a memory for more than half the worldís population, enabling hundreds of millions to lift themselves out of poverty in the last couple of decades alone. It is our responsibility and our obligation to give peace the same chance in the rest of the world.

Thomas P.M. Barnett is the author of The Pentagonís New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century, just published by G.P. Putnamís Sons. From November 2001 until June 2003, he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.


The longest historical arc proposed

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 23 May 2004

Up at six with the kids and thirty minutes later weíre into the car hurtling toward Watertown. Gotta make an 8am live remote with ABC Phillyís ìSunday Live.î My kids get to check out the remote studio, which is fun for them (taking turns watching each other on camera from the control room).

Iím learning: I just wear the nice white shirt and tie and suit jacket, not bothering with the pants or shoes. None of that gets on camera, so I dress casually from the waist down so I can quick-change once the shot is done.

My kids behave well in the control room. The tech is very nice to them, and has my older son bring me a class of water in the mini-studio during the commercial break (itís a two-segment interview). He is simply beaming when he comes through the door, feeling very much part of the production.

The interview goes well. I am relaxed from the start and the questions are reasonable and very much pitched at the level of the book (so no myopic focus on the last 24 hours in Iraq). In the second segment we take two calls. When itís said and done, everyone in Philly seems very happy with the outcome. I walk out feeling like this is getting fairly easy for me, much like public speaking. I just maintain the basic face and posture and speak like Iím on radio, where I have to imagine the show on the other end anyway. The two shows (Dolans Unscripted and Lou Dobbs Report) I did last Tuesday live in studio in NYC helped me a lot in terms of confidence. They just seemed to get me over the hump on the remotes.

No tape from the remote studio, because they couldnít record off the cable since their local cable doesnít carry Phillyís ABC station, but the people there promise me a tape in a couple of months. Itís always good to get the tape, because you need to watch yourself for bad habits, overused phrases (my tendency to start every answer with ìWell . . .î), etc.

I take the kids to the Science Museum in Boston. One thing really sticks in my head: a map of the movement of humans out of central Africa beginning about 50,000 years ago. It goes something like this: up to Southwest Asia first (Mesopotamia), then East to Asia and north to Russia and west to Europe. Finally the string runs out by extending to the New World over the Bering Straits land bridge.

Then we were in this other section on using models to explain nature, and the museum had this very long water tank that rolled back and forth to simulate how and why waves are generated on the beach. Watching it, you had this sense of ìwhat goes out, must come back.î

Then the light bulb went off.

What struck me when I was looking at the map of the spread of humans over the planet over the last 50,000 years was this: reverse that flow historically and you basically capture the spread of the global economy since WWII: America as the source, then Europeís resurrected (along with Asian outposts Japan and South Korea), then Russia and Developing Asia come online in a big way, now the focus on Southwest Asia, and maybe someday it all comes around in Africa finally. The A-to-Z reverses into a Z-to-Aóroughly 50,000 years later.

Why connect the two historical pathways? You can argue that the societies become more flexible and less tradition-bound the further you go on that first historical arc, and thus the resistance/difficulty in handling globalization grows as you walk the dog backwards along that second historical arc. If you track the resistance to globalization over the last century or so, it starts with socialism in Europe, then socialism in Russia, then socialism in Asia, now radical Islam in Southwest Asia, and in years to come radical Islam in Africa.

I often get asked: what is the great cultural explanation behind the Pentagonís new map? I will say this: that map in the Boston Science Museum really got me thinking . . .

Hereís the catch-up on the articles.

REFERENCES linked to my commentary:

ìA Gadfly Criticizes Chinaís Powerful, Within Limits,î by Howard W. French, New York Times, 22 May, p. A4.

ìEvidence Is Cited Linking Koreans to Libya Uranium: An International Finding: Fears on Whether North Korea Sold Nuclear Fuel to Others, Too,î by David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, NYT, 23 May, p. 1.

ìNorth Korea and Japan Sign a Deal on Abductions: Koizumi Is Criticized for Not Doing Enough,î NYT, 23 May, p. 13.

ìHow the Iraqis See Their Future: An American departure could lead to slaughter. Some will take that chance.î By Ian Fisher, NYT, 23 May, p. WK1.

ìIn India, Economic Growth and Democracy Do Mix: Political populists may make the market economy even stronger.î By Amy Waldman, NYT, 23 May, p. WK3.

ìSingh Seeks to Reassure Investors: New Indian Premier Vows Overhauls Will Continue But Aims to Spread Benefits,î by Joanna Slater, Wall Street Journal, 21 May, p. A9.

ìBrazil Seeks to Broaden China Trade,î by Geraldo Samor and Joel Millman, WSJ, 21 May, p. A9.

ìChina Fuels Brazilís Dream of Being a Steel Power,î by Todd Benson, NYT, 21 May, p. W1.

ìThe Russian Contender For King of the Oil Patch: Donít Look Back, Saudis, Lukoil Is Gaining,î by Erin E. Arvedlund, NYT, 21 May, p. C1.

ìEurope Backs Russian Entry Into W.T.O.: Moscow agrees to support the Kyoto Protocol in exchange for a trade deal,î by Erin E. Arvedlund, NYT, p. B1.

ìFinally, Good News In Mideast: The Israeli fence is helping, and the debate is shifting,î by David Brooks, NYT, 22 May, p. A25.

ìThe Search For P.M.D.ís: It takes an Iraqi to know who doesnít belong,î by Thomas L. Friedman, NYT, 23 May, p. WK11.

ìLine Increasingly Blurred Between Soldiers and Civilian Contractors,î by Ariana Eunjung Cha and Renae Merle, Washington Post, 13 May, p. A1.

ìParents Try to Protect Their Son in Iraq, Any Way They Can: Police officers donate their discards to serve as armor for some Humvees,î by Robert Hanley, NYT, 22 May, p. A13.


China changesówithin the limits

ìA Gadfly Criticizes Chinaís Powerful, Within Limits,î by Howard W. French, New York Times, 22 May, p. A4.

The article profiles an outspoken critic of the government who sells his books in the 250k-unit range and often has them made into popular television movies. Of course, there are critics of guys like this (his name is Zhou Meisen), who say such authors represent a sort of ìfreedom of expression lite,î meaning the state allows a few souls to scold the government here and there, but thatís it. Because Zhouís material is so popular, heís derided almost like a Stephen King, meaning ìbadî literature for the masses (if itís popular, it canít be good), when heís probably more in like with a Charles Dickens, meaning a sharp-eyed critic of a society undergoing tremendous growing pains. But again, because heís allowed to do this sort of muckraking and get rich while doing it, his critics accuse him of being a sort of court jester.

Me, I see an unorthodox source of shining light in a system that currently lacks sufficient legal rule sets to deal with corruption. When China has enough such rules so that bankruptcy and fraud are routinely dealt with by legal authorities and court systems, then authors like Zhou will turn to cop dramas and become the Joseph Wambaughs and Patricia Cornwalls of China.


Kim Jong Il: a man anyone can deal with

ìEvidence Is Cited Linking Koreans to Libya Uranium: An International Finding: Fears on Whether North Korea Sold Nuclear Fuel to Others, Too,î by David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, New York Times, 23 May, p. 1.

ìNorth Korea and Japan Sign a Deal on Abductions: Koizumi Is Criticized for Not Doing Enough,î New York Times, 23 May, p. 13.

No surprise that Kim and North Korea were involved in Libyaís WMD program. The list of countries you can turn to on this stuff is really quite small, so no mystery that when one starts talking, all of the usual suspects are named. Rogues can only turn to other rogues to do their stuff. When we take down or turn such rogues, we reduce the number of states in the pool, making cooperation that much harder and eliminating these regimes as sources of cooperation and support for terrorist networks. Any rogue we knock off or flip contributes to drying up the swamp.

And as for North Koreaís severely disconnected society: the second article describes just another chapter in one of the most bizarre stories (there are so many) associated with the DPRK (Dem. Peopleís Republic of Korea). Pyongyang kidnaps Japanese families in the 1970s and holds them secretly for decades (the purpose was to train spies and then ship them back for activation). Japan finds out recently and in their strange, face-saving sort of way, tries to bribe North Korea for their return (Iím talking millions of dollars and tons of food aid). Kim is basically selling Japanese citizens back to Tokyo in small numbers, stringing out his delayed ransom so he can collect as much as possibleóapparently.

And for this Japanese PM Koizumi lets that nutcase Kim wag his finger at him condescendingly while TV cameras film.

Iíll say it straight out: the deal that cements the Asian NATO treaty among Japan, China, united Korea, and the U.S. should be concluded over this guyís grave.


Through the Iraqi glass--darkly

ìHow the Iraqis See Their Future: An American departure could lead to slaughter. Some will take that chance.î By Ian Fisher, New York Times, 23 May, p. WK1.

Great article in NYTís Week in Review. It cites the field research of a political science student at U. of Baghdad, where he canvasses five poor neighborhoods in capital city.

Hereís the key passage:

ìThe answer that everyone gave was, ëItís been a year, and they have done nothing for us,íî he said. ìBut after that I asked, ëDo you want them to leave?í And they all said, ëNo. Itís going to be more chaotic.í I donít know if that is a contradiction as much as what I might call a weakness. Itís weakness and fear.î
I would maintain that if you take down any dictator whoís been ruling over a severely isolated and brutalized population like Iraqís was under Saddam, this is the mix youíll find yourself operating in for quite some time afterwardsóweakness and fear. You beat a dog long enough and hard enough and thatís what you getóweakness and fear, but also anger and aggressiveness.

All of these responses were predictable to anyone whoís ever studied a Stalinist regime, which Saddamís truly was. Knowing this reality is waging war within the context of everything else, and not just acting like the brilliant takedown itself is going to do the trick for you in terms of instantly democratizing Iraq.

There will be no excuses next time.


India changes tack, following China

ìIn India, Economic Growth and Democracy Do Mix: Political populists may make the market economy even stronger.î By Amy Waldman, New York Times, 23 May, p. WK3.

ìSingh Seeks to Reassure Investors: New Indian Premier Vows Overhauls Will Continue But Aims to Spread Benefits,î by Joanna Slater, Wall Street Journal, 21 May, p. A9.

The gist of the first article is that India is really burdened by having a democracy and trying to develop at the same time, unlike authoritarian China (or presumably other Asian tigers who rose with tough leaders ruling on top) which can boss people around at will.

I am less impressed with this analysis than with simply noticing that Indiaís democratic-elected government, much like Chinaís recently rotated-into-power fourth-generation of leaders, is simply making sure that the go-go growth does not let the rural poor fall too far behind. In both instances, these two Asian giants are doing the right thing.

Indiaís new PM Singh is still committed to growing the pie; he just wants a broader array of the population to receive worthy slices.


Butterfly flaps its wings in China, Brazil steel industry booms

ìBrazil Seeks to Broaden China Trade,î by Geraldo Samor and Joel Millman, Wall Street Journal, 21 May, p. A9.

ìChina Fuels Brazilís Dream of Being a Steel Power,î by Todd Benson, New York Times, 21 May, p. W1.

China is already the third biggest target of Brazilian exports, demanding so much steel that Brazilís steel industry is booming on Chinese orders alone.

That, my friends, is real global power. America has had it for decades, and China is starting to wield some of its own.

But remember this: it is power based primarily on a willingness for connectivity.


Russia knows how to cut deals

ìThe Russian Contender For King of the Oil Patch: Donít Look Back, Saudis, Lukoil Is Gaining,î by Erin E. Arvedlund, New York Times, 21 May, p. C1.

ìEurope Backs Russian Entry Into W.T.O.: Moscow agrees to support the Kyoto Protocol in exchange for a trade deal,î by Erin E. Arvedlund, New York Times, p. B1.

It is amazing to walk down streets in New York or Washington DC and see Russian gas stationsóright out there in the open! I mean, if I were Rip Van Winkle back from 1988, I would have assumed the Sovs won the Cold War!

ìNo Austin, our side won,î chides Basil.

ìOh right,î chimes back Austin, ìyeah capitalism!î

I can remember being told by many Soviet experts that it would take decades for Russians to learn capitalism.

Well, they sure know how to horse trade: they got Europeís backing for their entry into the WTO in exchange for reversing their opposition to Kyoto.

The Bush White House or prospective Kerry White House team should take note: when we finally come to our sense and cut the deals necessary to vastly internationalize the military peacekeeping presence in Iraq, there are plenty of reversals we should plan on makingóacross the board.


Good fences for bad neighbors

ìFinally, Good News In Mideast: The Israeli fence is helping, and the debate is shifting,î by David Brooks, New York Times, 22 May, p. A25.

ìThe Search For P.M.D.ís: It takes an Iraqi to know who doesnít belong,î by Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, 23 May, p. WK11.

David Brooks is coming around on the Israeli security fence. Expect many more pundits to do so. It is the future of the security solution that will lead to two states, one wall, and one long babysitting job for U.S. troops along withóhopefullyóa fistful of our closest great power friends.

Friedmanís piece had this great paragraph I just have to quote (heís talking about suicide bombers showing up in Iraq in big numbersói.e., Persons of Mass Destruction):

ìWe donít know who these people areóalthough reports suggest they are coming from Europe, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and Saudi Arabiaóhow the underground railroad that gets them from their local mosques to Iraq operates, how they connect up with the operating cells in Iraq and how they get wired and indoctrinated for suicide missions.

[hereís the para I really like]

ëI donít think the P.M.D.ís are really a product of local Iraqi resentment against us,í says Raymond Stock, an expert on Arabic literature and media based in Cairo. ëThey are main imported cookie-cutter killers, created by a combination of Arab mass media, certain extremist elements in Muslim culture, and some very shrewd recruiting by Al Qaeda and its ilk. When young, angry, futureless, sexually repressed people are taught that death is a permanent vacation of guilt-free pleasure, and they see it glorified in countless videos, all you need is a willing truck driver to ferry them over the border from Syria, Jordan, Turkey or Saudi Arabia, and prestoóa human bomb.î

I have always said, if you want to understand how to recruit terrorists, watch ìFight Club,î the movie, or read the book. Itís all about connecting young men disconnected from their desired futures to a larger meaning or goal that gives these guys a sense of personal accomplishment that consumes their personal rage against life in general. Itís not about being poor or uneducated. Itís about diminished expectations. Itís about being disconnected by life from the future you assumed was yours.

That guy is ready made to be a terrorist. Heís got nowhere else to go.


More calling cards for the Sys Admin force

ìLine Increasingly Blurred Between Soldiers and Civilian Contractors,î by Ariana Eunjung Cha and Renae Merle, Washington Post, 13 May, p. A1.

ìParents Try to Protect Their Son in Iraq, Any Way They Can: Police officers donate their discards to serve as armor for some Humvees,î by Robert Hanley, New York Times, 22 May, p. A13.

Two more stories for the Sys Admin wanted file. First one is about lines getting so blurry between contractors and soldiers that some units in Iraq were mistakenly giving out military citations to contractors. Iím talking stuff like Bronze Stars.

Not a question of whether these civilians deserved recognition for their heroism; itís simply a very firm rule set in the military (you gotta wear the uniform to be eligible for the medal). But simple reality of confusion tells me the rule sets are seriously out of whack.

Second story is just the pathetic one about parents send old cop hand-me-down flak jackets to their sonís unit in Iraq, trying to make up for the lack of armored humvees. Thatís just another sad example of the Sys Admin force going unrecognized, unprioritized, and undervalued within the Pentagon. This will stop when the pain and embarrassment get too damn big to ignore.


Reviewing the Reviews: three on a match

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 22 May 2004

Got a slew of articles I wanted to blog, but as I got a reminder email from one Terry Cochran of Intervention Magazine that I seemed to review every other review but his, maybe I posted the good ones!

Thing was, I really liked his review (he emailed me for a quick interview that he embedded within), so I sure as heck wasnít ignoring his because I thought it was unfavorable. I remember starting to pen that ìreviewing the review,î because I remember typing ìwho have thunk there was such a thing as Intervention Magazine?î But I must have simply walked away from that file on one of my computers, because I never did seem to finish it.

Thatís the pace Iím running at right now: Iím losing track of the appearances versus reviews versus posts versus speeches. While you want to take advantage of everything, it does tend to blur, so Iíll put aside the articles tonight (hopefully getting to them tomorrow) and Iíll review three reviews (one formal, one impromptu one via a blog, and a new one on Amazon). All seem to worry about the same thing: too much cost in implementing my vision. But in my mind, each writer is guilty of extrapolating too much from today in a linear fashion for all the tomorrows they can imagine. But I doth protest too much: the book was designed exactly for triggering these sorts of debates and questions, so I canít complain about the points they raise.

Rather than blanket them all with one come back, let me respond to each in turn as best I can. I make the title reference above because itís late and I have to get up very early tomorrow morning to drive to Watertown again to do a live remote for the Philly ABC Stationís 8am Sunday news interview program. Iím lugging my kids along and combining it with a trip to the science museum in Boston.

The three reviews are:

Terry Cochranís formal review in Intervention Magazine (source url)

James Mooreís informal review in his blog (Jim Moore's cybernetics, politics, emergence, etc. (source url)

James Kiellandís posted review on the Amazon page for my book (source url)


Reviewing the reviews (Intervention Magazine)

Source url: http://www.interventionmag.com/cms/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=738

Book Review: The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century

My commentary follows below. Hereís the text:

By Thomas P. M. Barnett

G. P. Putnam's Sons, 435 pages, 2004

Reviewed by Terry Cochran

America declared a ìwar on terrorî after September 11, 2001. This phrase resonated with a fearful public feeling the need to lash out at evil-doers. It also provided a marvelous sound bite for our commander-in-chief. The only problem was that no one would ever be able to figure out when that war was won. There was no enemy army to vanquish, no foreign land to liberate. Now comes Thomas P. M. Barnett with an answer to that question.

In his book The Pentagon's New Map, Dr. Barnett writes that we will win the war on terror only when we expand the stable security ìrule setî of the world's functioning core into those areas that are currently not a part of it. He argues that until that happens, there will always be al Qaeda-like forces seeking some sort of ìpermanent civilizational apartheid.î He further suggests that our enemy in this war on terror is ìneither a religion (Islam) nor a place (the Middle East), but a condition--disconnectedness.î

In this fascinating new book, sub-titled War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century, Barnett divides the world into a ìfunctioning coreî and a ìnon-integrating gap.î The Core includes the globalized world of the United States, Canada, Mexico, the European Union, Russia, China, India, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, South Africa, and much of South America. The essentially lawless Gap includes the world's trouble spots, where instability and poverty have combined to produce flash points requiring intervention. These areas include the Middle East, the Balkans, central and southeast Asia, Africa, and dark places in the Americas like Haiti and Colombia.

Barnett, a professor at the Naval War College, argues that different rule sets are required for the different regions. He suggests that war is unthinkable among states in the Core, because globalization has tied them together so well that the mutual benefits of economic success will block any overt combative actions. Military might will only be necessary to expand the rule sets of the Core into the states in the Gap.

In this theoretical construct, Barnett applauds the Bush wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq, as necessary attempts to transfer failed states from the Gap to the Core. He is quick to point out, however, that Bush has scared other world leaders by not offering a vision of a future worth creating. Further, he clearly sees that the Bush administration jumped at drive-by regime change in hopes of speedy success, but with little or no planning for the eventual transformation of the so-called liberated societies.

The author argues against war within the context of war, as it is currently practiced. Instead, what he advocates is ìwar within the context of everything else.î Much like law enforcement practices in the Core states, he envisions the use of force in the Gap as the rightful act of society, protecting itself from those who choose not to follow accepted rules. In fact, he even calls for the reorganization of America's military into two new groupings, in more of a police department paradigm.

One, the Leviathan force, would provide SWAT style capabilities, with the power to strike into the Gap at a moment's notice and wipe out rogue states or terrorist camps with ease. The other, the Sys Admin force, would become the "cop on the beat" and stay behind to maintain security and stability in these foreign lands until such time as new Core-oriented states could be developed. In his world view, the United States must take the lead in this endeavor, because only we have the power to do so. He does not worry that there would be no exit strategy because he sees no exit possible.

His description of the current state of the world is compelling, but his plan for the future is a scary one in many ways. This book has been described by other reviewers as ìweird,î ìstrange,î and even ìStrangelovean.î Like many experts at major healthcare facilities, the good doctor's diagnosis may be bang on the mark but his prescription may kill the patient just as quickly as the disease would.

Like some heavily-armed Socrates, he would encourage discussion with leaders in the Gap, but then follow discourse with destruction, if significant disagreement remained. Or like a Mother Theresa with missiles, he would raise the living standards of the poorest societies by decimating their current governments and starting over. Even those who support Barnettís ideas will be troubled by major practical roadblocks which are likely to inhibit any real-world implementation of them.

In a recent email exchange, for example, I suggested to the author that staffing, financial, and global partner issues would derail his plans, even if his concepts were widely accepted. As shown in his responses, he feels those issues ìcan be managed if the right investment choices are made within a coherent strategic visionÖ.î

Cochran: ìIt is implied in your remarks about long-term commitment and ëno exit strategyí that we will need a much larger force for a long time to come. Since the military is straining at the moment to cope with even today's workforce pressures, how will they ever be able to do more without a draft? Sure, the Leviathan force could be all-volunteer--the ëbest of the best,í perhaps--but any large-scale occupation or Sys Admin force will require a major build-up, wonít it?"

Barnett: ìDonít believe the force needs to be bigger. Reserve component is good example. Huge number of those people (which as whole constitutes 40% of force) are trained for skills we will no longer use (e.g., great number of artillery). Weíve got the people; the force is simply imbalanced. Continued transformation of the warfighting force makes it smaller and smaller; that which remains goes Sys Admin. Seeding the Sys Admin force means we attract coalition partners for the back-half work. Most militaries in the world are built for Sys Admin work, not warfighting Leviathan stuff. Frankly, we can't find anyone to play with us in Leviathan game anymore, save a few familiar allies. Rest of the world, based on my talks with their militaries, are quite attracted to the Sys Admin concept. Simply put, that force will marry up with lotsa forces from other countries. In the end, not a bigger force.î

Cochran: ìIf we are to ramp up to even greater strength with even longer-term deployments, then even higher taxes will be necessary. Bush is the only ëwar presidentí who has refused to ask the American people to participate. How can the military expand without more money? And what politician will ever be brave enough to risk asking for it?î

Barnett: ìPeople cost the biggest chunk of force. If not bigger, then not more expensive.î

Cochran: ìYou speak of sending in a SWAT-like team to take out bad actors like Kim Jong Il, but you don't really address how that would come about. In fact, you appear to endorse use of some all-knowing Rambo to pre-emptively kill off anyone who might try to block ëprogress.í The Israelis use such tactics out of immediate fear for their lives, but wouldn't wider 'routine' usage of such methods breed more fear than security? If many of the Core nations condemn Israel's actions, wouldn't they also condemn ours? Much like the Bush-generated anti-Americanism of the past 15 months? How can globalization stay on track, if the ties binding the Core are severely weakened?î

Barnett: ìThe list of countries with bad leaders to remove, as I note in the book, is rather small. Once Core shows willingness and system to achieve it, most will leave on own accord, so long as we let them take their loot, like Charles Taylor in Liberia. It's all boundable, and the demonstration effect of first successes drive the bandwagoning effect on our side and enemyís.î

In conclusion, Barnett is nonpartisan to a fault. He points out errors of several administrations. Likewise, his views are likely to attract negative comments from all sides. Liberals will decry the use of American blood and treasure to solve problems overseas, especially when areas like education, healthcare, and urban poverty cry out for help at home. Conservatives will be concerned about creeping ìone-worldî government and about investing American resources with no immediate return in sight. Pentagon financial types will be outraged at tampering with their hard-fought budgetary successes.

Barnett writes that he set out to find that happy ending of a future worth creating. He describes todayís world with precision, but stumbles, I believe, in showing how to get from here to there. This book should be required reading, however, for all who are concerned about our nation's future. Love the book or hate it, as you see fit, but know what it says. This is a debate worth having.

Terry Cochran is a web site designer and author from the Ann Arbor, Michigan area. He served in the U.S. Army, 1968-1971, including a tour of duty with the DaNang Support command. You can mail your comments to Terry@interventionmag.com

COMMENTARY: I really donít have that much trouble with this one, because Cochran let me refute the big point he made about the vision costing too much. Iím pretty clear in the book about there not being that many bad regimes inside the Gap that require dismantling, and to take the costs associated with Iraq and extrapolate them is just to resign ourselves to never doing better. I emphasize throughout the book that what really shrinks the Gap is foreign direct investment, a huge theme of the book that this review seems to willfully ignore (perhaps, not surprisingly, given the focus of the siteís content). In short, heís reading the book as war within the context of war alone and ignoring the everything else that permeates both the book and the vision. And that bit about other ìreviewersî calling me ìweird,î ìstrange,î and ìStrangeloveanî is just plain sloppy on Cochranís part: all three of those descriptions come from the snide Kirkus Review and there alone. But those bitches aside, I thought the review was just fine.


Reviewing the reviews (Jim Moore of Berkman)

Source url: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/jim/discuss/msgReader$612

My commentary follows below. Hereís the text:

The Pentagon's New Map by Thomas P.M. Barnett

Author: James Moore

Posted: 5/22/2004; 4:03:30 PM

Topic: The Pentagon's New Map by Thomas P.M. Barnett

Msg #: 612 (top msg in thread)

Prev/Next: 611/

Reads: 41

The Pentagon's New Map by Thomas P.M. Barnett

Betsy Devine sent me a note about an extraordinary author and blog and book and set of ideas about global security and the role of the military.

The book is The Pentagon's New Map, and the author is Thomas P.M. Barnett, of the Naval War College.

Barnett's argument is that most of the trouble in the world now is bred in failed states and rogue nations that are not part of the globalized world economy and society. And that the United State's security depends on progress on two fronts: (1) Extend global social and economic connectivity to people and regions that are now "off the map"--or "in the gap" to use Barnett's terminology. (2) Reconfigure the US military to be able to move into countries like Iraq and Sudan and Afghanistan, and get them connected. This is the military's main new mission, Barnett argues, and will require a large force of what he terms "sys admins" ("nation builders" would be another more familiar but also more loaded term) to be stationed for extended periods in gap regions, in order to establish "transparency and individual choice about connecting to the larger world" (rather than the more ambitious "democracy" or "market economies"). A smaller portion of the military will do war-making when necessary--in a continually evolving, smart-bombing way--with less and less need for field forces.

This vision, Barnett says, is already being implemented by the Pentagon--but needs to be made more explicit and conscious so that it can be skillfully developed. Iraq shows the terrible result of using conventionally-trained troops as sys admins and nation builders. On the other hand, Barnett thinks that we need to go into places like Iraq and Afghanistan and the Sudan and the Congo and do such nation building. We need to strategize for it, recruit for it, and have systems and training and leadership and skills to do it well.

I like the comprehensiveness of Barnett's argument. I agree that failed states and places off the traditional map are our sources of major threat--and that our military needs to adapt to this condition. I like his focus on establishing peace, rather than solely on making war--and his recognition that these are different tasks. This idea is much like Kucinich's of a "Secretary of Peace" and a "National Peace College." On the other hand, I wonder whether such a US-centric vision of the future makes sense in a complex, decentralized world. Perhaps Barnett's is a more optimistic version of American exceptionalism, but one that is--like other versions--out of step with the decentralized, fragmented reality of our multi-cultural world. Still, his ideas are well worth considering. As Stewart Brand famously said, "we are as gods and might as well get good at it." Perhaps this is true--though often lately I wonder if we are not slipping into idolatry, and might do with more humility about our ability to be as gods.

More important, while Barnett's view is breathtakingly comprehensive, it is perhaps not comprehensive enough. To put it bluntly, our current version of globalization doesn't work. If we bring more folks into it, we will have to radically change the system or face ecological and probably social collapse. Edward Wilson, the noted ecologist, calculates that to support an American life style for the rest of the planet's population will require the resources of FIVE earths. So in order to have a sustainable globalization we in the US have to live on less than one-fifth of our current resource expenditure--as does the rest of the industrialized world including the newly middle class populations of India and China. Hmmmm.

The current version of globalization deals with the ecological limits problem in two ways: First, by locking in inequity--so that for some, "connecting" means working in Thailand in a shoe factory, or farming in Africa with GMO seeds licensed from Monsanto. Second, by borrowing resources from future generations--through allowing polution, over-dependence on oil, and destruction of globally important natural resources such as the Amazon rainforest and the ocean's fish and coral. Neither of these strategies can last.

Thus if we set up our military to "connect" people to the current system we simply extend an unsustainable status quo. This means entraping populations on the lower rungs of an unsustainable industrial economy, and increasing the total environmental threat posed by humans to themselves and the planet.

If we are going to connect anyone to anything, let's try to connect people to a sustainable future. This would mean that we would establish in the gaps our most far-sighted technologies and social processes. The gap regions would become laboratories for the future---places to which we might start to migrate as the old order becomes unworkable.

Hmmmm. Utopian communities, established by the military, in third-world outposts. Obviously this is far fetched--but then, how and where ARE we going to attempt to establish a sustainable future? And with what organizations as mid-wives? And based on what design science and wisdom?

All good questions to wrestle with--and thanks to Barnett for helping us do so at a new level of clarity and boldness.

And thanks to Betsy for bringing this book to the attention of the blogosphere.

COMMENTARY: My response to this review is basically to cite what I learned from Wall Street during the NewRuleSets.Project: when you integrate a sizeable chunk of humanity into the global economy, the entire process is marked by the adjustment of your old rule sets (social, political, economic, environmental, security, technological) to accommodate new rules concerning the new entrants to the market. The assumption that we integrateófor exampleóhalf of humanity in the expansion of globalization over the past twenty years without dramatically altering the emerging global rule sets that now bound us to one another in this process of coming together is just plain wrong. Everything changes subtly to account for the greater pool, the greater load, the greater capacity.

It always worries me when we start with that thinking that says: this is what it costs to do this today (one America), and therefore if the entire world was like America, it would cost us 20 times more (weíre one-twentieth of the population). That logic is just a bit too static for me; a bit too extrapolating (something the Pentagon is constantly guilty of).

As for the environmental stress, everywhere you find solid rule sets bound by solid political communities, the environment eventually gets treated better over time thanks to development. Where it suffers most in this world is where rule sets are weakest because governments are weakest, or in the commonsóbut that only speaks to the need for establishing a truly global globalization all the faster.

As for locking in inequity, I honestly believe thatís bad economic history. I donít think we did that with Japan or Korea or Singapore or China or really any of the globalizers. To me, the lock-in argument is a resurrection of old Marxist critiques, and these simply do not stand the test of time. Moreover, my book makes the argument in several places that the Core cannot remain rich by keeping the Gap poor, but just the opposite.

This is probably an unfair response to a fairly nice informal review of my ideas, because I suspect Jim Moore has not read the book, so I donít want to make this response sound too defensive, because his questions and point are on the far edge of the book anyway, and that is exactly where I want to see the conversation go in coming months and years.


Reviewing the reviews (James Kielland of Amazon)

Source url: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0399151753/qid=1078832255/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-3026982-7610540?v=glance&s=books)

My commentary follows below. Hereís the text:

Highly recommended, but read with caution., May 20, 2004

Reviewer: James Kielland (see more about me) from Montezuma, Costa Rica

Thomas Barnett is a remarkable and very admirable fellow who has written a book that should certainly be read by more Americans. The book is well-written and Barnett comes across as someone who sincerely wants to improve the security of the United States and the world. Barnett has a powerful and inspiring (some may say intoxicating) vision of the role of the US in the 21st century. The only problem is that his approach is not workable.

Those who've read the likes of Martin Van Creveld and Thomas Friedman will find some familiar thinking in this book. The author's main contention is that "disconnected" countries, those that aren't connected via information and economic networks to the rest of the world, are a huge source of danger. Such countries are usually run by a nasty elite who essentially tyrannize their populations who are left poor and angry. Having been left poor and angry, these disconnected people are ripe for becoming terrorists and their nations ripe for the location of terrorist networks, crime syndicates, and so forth. Hence, we need to use military force to go in, defeat the nasty people running things, and enforce a new order that will give the oppressed people of these societies hope so they won't need to bomb us. In the process, we'll give them new law enforcement agencies that will crack down on criminal syndicates.

Reactionary types will accuse Mr. Barnett of being some kind of neo-imperialist or perhaps a global fascist. Nevertheless, I personally think that Barnett sincerely believes that what he is proposing would be a "good thing" and that it would improve the lives of the people he seeks to liberate. I'll leave the name-calling to someone else, as there are unquestionably lots of people running around who are willing to do just that. While the moral dimension to Mr. Barnett's proposal is fascinating and worthy of serious discussion (far different from the name-calling and character assassination I've heard up until now) my primary concern is whether or not the proposals in this book are cost-effective or even feasible.

I'm afraid that what Mr. Barnett is proposing is far more complicated, sophisticated, and expensive than what he leads the reader to believe. Barnett frames the issue in either doing something (what he proposes) or doing nothing. He points out that in light of September 11, 2001, we can't do nothing. And then he implies we're only left with his proposal. But he doesn't fully entertain the consequences of failure. Those consequences would be lots of dead young Americans, even higher levels of anti-American sentiment around the globe, and billions of dollars wasted. And due to the complexity of what Mr. Barnett is proposing, failure is more likely than success.

The essential problem here is one of complexity. Mr. Barnett's strategy focuses on the US spending extreme amounts of resources to bring order to troubled lands to harmonize them with current global economic realities. But the universe naturally tends towards disorder. As Mr. Spock pointed out, "Logic suggests that it's easier to destroy than to create." Chaos and disorder come naturally; order takes a significant input of resources. In attempting to create order in disordered places, the United States would be left extremely vulnerable to potential rivals and enemies who would simply try to create or enhance disorder in those places. This process would cost potential rivals very little but could have extremely high costs on the US on a sustained basis. An example would be Iraq, where we are hoping a mere $100 billion will bring about some kind of order. Anyone who wanted to harm us could spend far less money just to destroy that delicate order we've struggled to create. And in looking at Iraq right now, there's no guarantee that we are anywhere close to creating an orderly society.

As Mr. Barnett makes a big point about "disconnectedness defines danger" he doesn't really adequately bring the importance of this back to the home-front of American society. In an increasingly interconnected world, the US benefits not just from additional connectedness to others but to additional connectedness to ourselves. Improvements in infrastructure, a better business climate, improved efficiency, and so forth all serve to make the US a more competitive place on the international level and also serve to make the US a more attractive place for international capital and human resources. Barnett wants to put off making the US more connected in a highly dicey proposition to make dysfunctional societies more safe for international capital and human resources. Considering how intractable so many of our own various social problems have been it's rather presumptuous to assume we can go about fixing other places. And the cost/benefit analysis is lacking and, at least on the surface, not all that appealing.

For all my criticisms of Mr. Barnett's proposals I need to stress that I don't necessarily think his approach will lead to catastrophe on a nationwide scale. I just fear it will be exceptionally costly and put tremendous strain on our society, our military, and our economy. All for results that are highly improbable and quite unlikely to be successfully obtained. In short, it's a prescription for a gigantic waste of resources that even if it were successful would be possibly not worth the price. There are arguably more cost-effective and sure-fire ways of achieving a more secure future for the United States.

Americans who are interested in the future of US strategy need to be familiar with this book. While I strongly disagree with Mr. Barnett's proposals I also very well realize that they are and will continue to be highly influential. If you don't know what Barnett's talking about you can't even begin to understand the future debates about the US's role in the world. If you want to be a part of the discussion, get your hands on this book and become familiar with one of the most highly influential proposals available for the future of the United States and the world.

COMMENTARY: I have to say I find this review sort of annoying. He says my vision is just so much more complex and difficult to implement than I let on, but doesnít really say why, other than extrapolating the last six months of Iraq and projecting it across the entire Gap. As for his more cost-effective and sure-fire ways of securing America, I am left to guess on what that means as well. I get this feeling that he sees a lot of the world as just too far gone to save and thus weíd do better to focus on America first. Itís a basic conservative criticism of my work, which is why I guess I remain an optimistic liberal: I donít want to secure America in a zero-sum fashion because I donít believe in the no-win scenario.


Reviewing the reviews (Michael Barone @ U.S. News.com)

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 21 May 2004

Slow down day for me, so letting the papers ride. Needed to spend an evening playing animals and building block houses with my four-year-old. But before I turn in for the day, hereís a surprise review of the book by noted political analyst Michael Barone of U.S. News & World Report. He wrote it exclusively for the online version of the magazine, U.S. News.com. Itís long at over 2,500 words. He called me after he had finished writing it and we spoke at length. Heís an interesting guy with a lot of experience at dealing with and covering senior leadership, so it was as illuminating a conversation for me as I hope it was for him. I think he just wanted to check me out live after reading the entire book and penning the long review. As a result, he said he might try to catch my mega-brief at the 2 June National Defense University conference at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (the one CSPAN will tape).

Hereís the review in full: (source url)

Web exclusive


May 20, 2004

The Pentagon's New Map

By Michael Barone

Thomas P. M. Barnett is a professor of political science at the Naval War College who has spent much of the past 15 years roaming the halls of the Pentagon delivering a Power Point brief (the Pentagon word for briefing) on his strategic view of the world. It is based partly on joint seminars that brought together people from the war college and from Cantor Fitzgerald, the bond trading firm, which lost many of its employees on September 11. Barnett published a version of it as an article in Esquire in 2002, and last month saw the publication of his book The Pentagon's New Map. His view of what United States military forces can and ought to do is congruent neither with those of conservatives or liberals; he professes to be a Democrat but supports the Bush administration's war on Iraq, though he has some scathing criticisms of the administration's postwar conduct. Few Americans have ever heard of him. But there are signs that he may turn out to be one of the most important strategic thinkers of our time and that Rumsfeld's Pentagon is putting some of his ideas into practice.

Barnett's new map divides the world into two parts: "the functioning core" and the "nonintegrating gap." The core consists of economically advanced or growing countries that are linked to the global economy and bound to the rule-sets of international trade. The United States, Canada, and Mexico are part of the core; so are Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile. All of Europe is in the core except for the Balkans. So is Russia and the western parts of the former Soviet Union. The major nations in East AsiaóJapan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Chinaóplus Hong Kong are in the core, as is India. So are South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. There are a couple of anomalies in the map: North Korea is pictured within the core, Singapore and Thailand outside.

The rest of the world is the nonintegrating gapóoutside the global economy, not bound to the rule-sets of international trade. In the Western Hemisphere it includes the Caribbean, Central America, Guyana, Venezuela, and the Andean countries plus Paraguay. It includes all of Africa except South Africa. It includes the Balkans, the Middle East, Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. And it includes the arc of countries from Bangladesh through Southeast Asia, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

All post-Cold War military conflicts, Barnett argues, have taken place in the nonintegrating gap. The nations of the functioning core, he argues, no longer go to war. They are too interconnected economically with each other, and no rational leader of any of these countries would want to take on the overwhelming military power of the United States. Here there is room for some argument, I think. It was confidently predicted in the years before 1914, years of what Barnett called "Globalization I," that none of the great powers would dare go to war with others. Yet Germany, goading her ally Austria-Hungary, did provoke war with France, Russia, and Britain. World War I can also be seen as a refutation of the maxim optimistically laid down since the fall of the Berlin Wall, that democracies do not go to war with one another: Germany and Austria-Hungary had representative assemblies and at least partially democratic governments, and France and Britain were electoral democracies.

Of course, after the horrifying experiences of 1914ñ18 and 1939ñ45, European nations seem to have lost all appetite for going to war against one another. If India goes to war against anyone, it will be Pakistan. And certainly the United States has no inclination to go to war against any core nation. But that still leaves the uncomfortable questions of China's intentions. China, Barnett asserts, is now so globally interconnected that it will not go to war in the core or anywhere else. He is unmoved by the arguments of those who see China's ambitions in Taiwan or its persistent and rather chauvinistic nationalism or its substantial military buildup as making it a potential war maker. This is a part of his analysis that will strike some in the Pentagon and elsewhere as unconvincing.

Let us leave this argument aside, except to note that it leads Barnett to his wider conclusion: that wars occur only in the gap. Certainly, that has been true in the years since 11/9 (Nov. 9, 1989, the day the Berlin Wall fell), and certainly it seems likely to be true of the war on terrorism. Wars occur in the gap, Barnett says, because the people there lack interconnectivity with the global economy and because most of the nations there are either led by tyrants or are, to varying degrees, failed states, which are available as launching pads for terrorists. The task of our foreign and military policy, then, must be to "shrink the gap," to link the peoples there to globalization and to provide decent state structures in tyranny-ruled or failed states. Which of course is what George W. Bush, Tony Blair, and other leaders have been trying to do in Afghanistan and Iraq and in less well-known places like Sierra Leone and Haiti.

What sort of military forces do we need to do this? Not what most Pentagon leaders assumed at least up until 9/11, Barnett says. Pentagon strategists were looking to build massive forces to defeat the next superpower rival and assigned that role to China, since no other candidate seemed likely (and even though in Barnett's view that made no sense at all). Other military challenges would be "lesser includeds," struggles that could be handled by small parts of a very big military. This was the view he encountered during the 1990s in what he portrays as a Pentagon largely unsupervised by the Clinton administration's defense secretaries and in Rumsfeld's Pentagon up until September 11.

But that view was all wrong, Barnett insists. After September 11, the hostility of the Chinese forces that brought down the reconnaissance plane in early 2001 seemed a very minor threat. And the forces of terrorism, operating from the gap, seemed a huge threat.

To deal with these, Barnett says we need two kinds of military forces. One he calls "leviathan" (Power Point briefs are full of kicky names), a relatively small body of fierce warriors, heavily weighted to special-forces teamsóthe kind of forces that achieved such speedy victories in Afghanistan and Iraq. And not just speedy victories, also victories won with exceedingly low casualty rates by any historic standard and, thanks to precision weapons, with very low civilian casualty rates as compared with the horrific wars of the 20th century. Leviathan forces will be doing what we did in Iraq between March 19 and May 1, 2003.

But we need very much larger forces, set apart from the warriors, of what Barnett calls system administrators or sys admins. "The sys admin force will be civil affairs-oriented and network-centric," Barnett writes, "an always-on, always-nearby, always-approachable resource for allies and friends in need." They will be doing most of the things our military forces have been doing or have been trying to do in Iraq since May 1, 2003.

The leviathan force, Barnett predicts, can grow smaller over time, given the advantages it has in precision weapons and high skills; he sides with Rumsfeld and against the retired generals who criticized the relatively small numbers of troops in the advance into Iraq. But the sys admins will have to get more numerous. We have more troops in Iraq now than we did in March and April 2003, and Barnett joins others, like Sen. John McCain and analyst Robert Kagan, who think we should have many more. The result is a transformed military. "Over time, the defense budget's top line will remain relatively flat, growing only with inflation. Within a generation, the sys admin force will command the majority of the defense budget, taking advantage of the continuous transformation that the leviathan force pursues, making this fighting force ever smaller, more lethal, and more decisive in application."

This vision sounds like the exact opposite of what George W. Bush campaigned for in 2000. Bush called for large forces and, like the conservatives criticizing the Clinton administration's many military interventions, expressed disdain for using the military for nation-building. Their argument was that continuous immersion in nation-building would dull the military's warrior spirit. Barnett argues that we don't really need that many warriors. Our experience since September 11 strongly argues the same, at least if you don't think China poses a major strategic threat.

Rumsfeld may have drawn much the same conclusion. As Barnett notes (and as Mark Mazzetti reported in a U.S. News cover story last fall), "Within the Persian Gulf itself, the Pentagon has already made subtle, little-noticed shifts, effectively ending our significant military presence in Saudi Arabia, thus relieving that regime of the political complications of having nonbelievers in their sacred lands. . . . [T]he most radical change in our global force posture involves our progressive movement into Africa, although here we are likely to see a sort of 'frontier fort' model. . . . This radical repositioning of U.S. military bases . . . is the surest sign yet that the Pentagon is moving toward an appropriately deep embrace of the new strategic environment signaled by the core-gap divide." He also notes as an "example of good Navy planning is the new concept of flexible fleet response, which speaks to an inside-the-gap, sys admin form of near-continuous ship presence that moves away from the strict rotation of surface combatants in key Cold War-defined 'hubs.'. . . The shifts being pursued in our global basing posture alone tell me that this administration has moved smartly to deal with the potential dangers of 'imperial overstretch' by trading past successes for future challenges."

More evidence has come in since The Pentagon's New Map was published. The invaluable and anonymous Web site belmontclub.blogspot.com notes that Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers on May 12ñ13 flew into Iraq, unusually, in the same plane, an E-4B, which has communications equipment that allows them to stay in touch with the president. After their visit, Gen. Mark Kimmitt on May 14 announced that the creation on May 15 of two new military commands to replace the current military organizationóa Multinational Corps Iraq and a Multinational Force Iraq. As the Armed Forces Press Service announced, "Kimmitt explained that Multinational Corps Iraq will focus on the tactical fightóthe day-to-day military operations and the maneuvering of the six multinational divisions on the ground. . . . Meanwhile, Multinational Force Iraq will focus on more strategic aspects of the military presence in Iraq, such as talking with sheiks and political leaders, and on training, equipping, and fielding Iraqi security forces." To me that sounds an awful lot like leviathan and sys admin. And it sounds as if Rumsfeld and Myers, together with Bush, have decided to adopt Barnett's ideas on restructuring our military forces.

Despite his criticisms of the Bush administration's postwar performance in Iraq, Barnett strongly supports its goals and insists that its success is an absolutely necessary though not yet sufficient step in his goal of shrinking the gap. His goals are less ambitious than George W. Bush's. "We cannot demand democracy or free markets or adherence to some 'imperial order' from vanquished foes, but merely transparency and the preservation of individual choice regarding connectivity with the outside world." That may be all that we can expect of Iraq, and indeed are already well on our way to achieving, though I, like Bush, think we can achieve more. But in either case the effort is necessary to literally change the minds of millions of people in the gap where terrorists now range free to pounce.

Barnett's strategic analysis is a good antidote to old media's focus on the behavior of seven prison guards in one shift in one cellblock in one prison and on old media's frenzied attempt to bring Rumsfeld and Bush down by the absurd charge that somehow the declaration that some prisoners, who are in fact not entitled to Geneva Conventions protections, will not be held to be entitled to Geneva Conventions protections is directly responsible for the abuses in Abu Ghraib. Isolated prison abuses are less important than whether we, in Barnett's terms, shrink the gap or, in Bush's terms, bring democracy to the Middle East.

The more important question raised by Barnett's analysis, and by the Pentagon's apparent embrace of it, is whether the American people are prepared to continue to support the positioning of admin sys forces throughout large parts of the gap for a period as long as they supporting the positioning of Cold War military forces at the Iron Curtain over the long years of the Cold War. It sounds as if Barnett is nominating America to be the policeman of the world. Of course, September 11 provides a searing lesson of what happens when we aren't. Barnett eschews the policeman label and argues that more rhetorical exhortation is needed. "It is also clear that the Pentagon, and the Bush administration in general, has´stetª not done a good job of explaining all these changes in strategic planning, and that is quite perplexing to me. Americans are smart enough to realize that it is a different world after 9/11, and that our military operations around the gap reflect that new strategic environment."

Yes, but it is also true that when Harry Truman was setting forth the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan in 1947, he was not also justifying the positioning of American forces indefinitely in Europe and East Asia, and that indeed we did not yet have all these forces so positioned, and would not until after the ratification of the nato treaty in 1949 and the adoption of nsc 68, which recommended permanently stationing forces in Western Europe and the Far East, in 1950. These things happen in stages and, contrary to the assumptions of old media, not according to some master plan, which is adopted pristinely before events start happening and then is followed to the letter in fully anticipated circumstances and time frames. That is not how the world works. It is, like the postwar months in Iraq, messy and unpredictable and full of challenges that have to be met with appropriate suppleness and flexibility. And, as a glance at the biographies of Gen. Lucius Clay and Gen. Douglas MacArthur will tell you, there will always be mistakes and turns in the road.

My own sense is that Barnett is on to something, and probably something really big. George W. Bush has not given us a scenario of how the war on terrorism will be fought over the years, and how we can sense whether we are following the right path and are on the road to success. Thomas Barnett, from his perch at Newport and in his Power Point briefs and now in his book, gives us a better map of the struggle ahead.

Michael Barone is a senior writer for U.S.News & World Report and principal coauthor of The Almanac of American Politics. He has written for many publicationsñincluding the Economist and the New York Timesñand is a regular panelist on the McLaughlin Group. Barone graduated from Harvard College and then Yale Law School and was an editor of the Harvard Crimson and the Yale Law Journal.

COMMENTARY: I can and will quibble with some of his interpretations, but itís very exciting to have someone of Baroneís stature review the bookóno doubt about it. I am sure Putnam sent him the book with the avowed hope heíd write about it, but if youíve ever been in the offices of people like Barone, the books sent to them gratis on the slim hope they might write something are typically piled almost to the ceiling. I saw a lot of this during my Premeditated Media Tour and it depressed me, knowing Clarkeís book was already out there and Woodwardís was coming out right before mind (donít even get me started on Wilsonís one-note volume!). So for Barone to not only read it but to crank 2,500 words and then chat me up by phone is really gratifying. Whether or not he agrees with everything (like China) is not the point. Whatís important is that he thinks the book is serious and having impact. Controversy is fine, irrelevancy is not.

As for my gripes: I get the usual Norman Angell reference (ìBut Iím Norman Angell with nukes,î I scream for the one millionth time.) on the potential for intra-Core wars among great powers, but I can live with that. On China per se: I donít argue that we never worry about China or that we give up deterring any attack on Taiwan. I just donít believe that it should represent the dominant long-range, force-sizing planning model for the Pentagon. There is so much good to be done in shrinking the Gap between now and 2025 for us to keep our powder dry and wait to go one-on-one with the PLA in the straits.

But again, nothing but quibbles from me. Happy to see any review, knowing how lucky an author is to get them. And I will have to check out the developments in Iraq, but that doesnít surprise me much. I am getting emails from the Green Zone that say much the same is happening or in the works across the board. Thatís not my predictive power, simply good analysis of the reality thatís been staring us in the face since the end of the Cold War. Eventually, all futurists lose their lead on current events.

And itís that fear that will drive me to write the sequel . . .


Another offer to pose nude on the cover fails

WWHD? What Would Halley Do?

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 20 May 2004

I give an interview today by phone to Rolling Stone's Amanda Griscom for a June issue story on Iraq. Actually, it's going to be a compilation of interviews with various national security figures, to include General Brent Scowcroft, Senator Richard Lugar, Rand Beers, Wesley Clark, Fouad Ajami, and Sir Jeremy Greenstock. The interview consisted of a series of big-picture questions on Iraq and how that scenario may unfold in coming months. Our answers will presumably be compared in the piece.

It was a pretty easy effort on my part: phone call and she tapes on her end. They will edit down the answers in terms of length but promise to do no selective removal of text. Fair enough. I get examples of questions beforehand, but decide against thinking it over in advance. Better to hear them fresh and simply answer in real time. Plus, Amanda was cool about exploring the book as much as sticking to her script.

And yes, I did offer to pose nude if he would get me the cover. As with previous attempts with Esquire, this failed miserably.

I even offered to do something with a Start Trek motif, building off the AP story, but no dice.

Speaking of the AP story, let me say that it was Matt Kelley himself who was so ardently intrigued by my mentioning of Star Trek at several points in the book. Now, you have to keep things in perspective: the book is about 150,000 words spread over more than 400 pages, and I reference Star Trek about five times. I also reference the Green Bay Packers that many times, and Charleton Heston sci-fi movies at least 3 times (Soylent Green once and Planet of the Apes twice). So I guess I could have been described as a Heston fanatic or a Cheesehead (actually, people from Wisconsin prefer the phrase persona au gratin, if you must know).

So if we're going to talk fanaticism, I guess you might assume I'm a gun-toting member of the NRA (Heston tie), but you'd be wrong.

Then again, I have long begged Esquire to let me do a story on Brett Favre (presumably he'd get naked on the cover), so you'd be right about the Cheesehead thing.

Anyway, of course my local rag the Newport Daily News, which seems to have a thing about making me seem ridiculous (they ran a rather snarky profile of me after Esquire's Best & Brightest selection), ran an abbreviated version of the article (without this URL listed!) under the title, "Pentagon Taps Navy "Trekkie."

Yeaaah (as Dr. Evil might drawl) . . . . rrrrrrrriiiiiiight.

Yes, that was the logical title. I'm not a serious analyst, just a Klingon-spouting utopian who's fired too many phasers in his day. My local newspaper folks!

Thank you Ö thank you very much!

Thankfully, the version of the article that appeared in today's Early Bird (Pentagon clipping service) was that from the Philadelphia Inquirer (and yes, I do hate the Eagles and everything they represent). It's title was "Viewing New World With A Larger Lens:

Pentagon's futurist sees bad guys in 'the gap,' and good guys belonging to 'the core.'"

That I could live with a bit easier.

One thing you have to understand with any profile, or really with any TV appearance: not only are you only as good as your interviewer (and CSPAN's Brian Lamb was the best), but you really are at the mercy of however they want to angle your book or you. So, when I get profiled in the Wall Street Journal, Greg Jaffe really wants to run with the "odd couple" theme between Art Cebrowski (my old boss in the Pentagon) and me. Because Art's so famously military and Catholic, I get to be the atheist Marxist. Now, I'm Catholic too. In fact, that's a fairly strong bond between Art and I, and I told Greg I liked "The Passion of the Christ" just like Art, but because he represented convention and I was cast as ultra-unorthodox, I got painted into a corner a bit, and the story, for example, goes out of its way to ignore the fact I have a PhD in political science from Harvard, which doesn't exactly make me counterculture in most people's minds.

So I interview with Matt Kelley of AP and he's really intrigued by my "openly" quoting Star Trek ("Not that there's anything wrong with that . . .."), so he decides his version of Barnett-the-unconventional-visionary story is going to focus on that.

So you learn to live with it and every once in a while you push yourself to say no if the fit just seems bad. They say you should never turn down sex with a beautiful partner or ever refuse to go on TV, but frankly, that sounds like a recipe for doing public-service announcements from your death bed.

So yes, I do turn down TV offers regularly. Today I turned one down from Fox News and John Gibson's "The Big Story" show. A producer asked if I could talk about yesterday's U.S. military raid into an Iraqi village near the Syrian border, which has generated wildly conflicting stories about what was actually involved, but clearly involved some civilians being killed. I said no, because I really didn't have any specific expertise to offer on that and it couldn't be logically tied to any material in my book.

Maybe I'll get another offer from them in the future, or maybe I blew it for a stretch by saying no (or worse, writing about it here!), but you have to learn with that kind of stuff. Getting on for any reason is a bad tactic, whereas sticking to what you're best at is the stuff of Peter Drucker.

That's why for now I'm turning down offers to have my blog cross-posted on other sites. Such offers are quite flattering, no doubt, but as soon as I start self-editing for wider audiences than those that simply choose to come here and read, then I think I start killing the blog's persona, whichófranklyóis just starting to emerge in the same manner as it did when I unwittingly engaged in my first blogging effort back in '94ónamely, the lengthy emails I sent each week to family and friends around the world concerning our firstborn's cancer (or what later became the site/unpublished manuscript called "The Emily Updates: A Year in the Life of a Three-Year-Old Battling Cancer"). I wrote that strictly for myself, my wife Vonne, and for a future adult Emily to enjoy. Everyone else, as far as I was concerned, was simply eavesdropping. Enjoy at will, criticize with some care, but opt out if you're not interested.

That's how I feel about this blog: I keep it the way I want it and those who enjoy do so knowing it's as real as I can make it, and in no way packaged with overlapping or competing audiences in mind. I mean, I get enough of that in my day job . . ..

How do I know I'm succeeding in this effort? The emails I receive tell me everything I need to know, even the ones with the spewing obscenities (why do these people always spell so bad?).

But hereís bright bit of feedback from the system: this site is listed as the ìFeed of the Dayî on Feedster.com. I got this email from Betsy Devine at Feedster who makes the call:

Hi Tom --

Just a note to say that your blog is today's Feedster Feed of the Day. ("Feed of the Day" is a service we do for Feedster users, pointing them toward a new or timely or under-appreciated or just plain unexpected RSS feed.)

Our goal is to showcase sites of unusual interest, not to endorse any political viewpoint. Previous Feed of the Day winners include quite a few shades of left- and right-wing opinion. I restrained myself from quoting the "sucking eggs " image in my citation, since you don't like it, but I thought it was great . . ..

Betsy Devine


Date: May 20, 2004

Feed: "Thomas P. M. Barnett : : Weblog" ( /weblog/index.rdf for /weblog/ )

Citation: Book-in-the-news The Pentagon's New Map featured in multi-dimensional smartperson blog by its author war-college prof Thomas P. M. Barnett. Hard to say what give more pleasure--his non-toxic, optimistic global vision or his first-person blogging of media frenzy to die for.

My webmaster and I take this citation as a real compliment from the community. This weblog is a real experiment for me in terms of my day-job. No doubt about it: I could never run this effort off my now moribund War College siteójust canít be done given all the usual governmental restrictions. But beyond that day-job, my desire for greater connectivity and wider conversation in my work is great. Thatís what drove me to write the book, and itís what drives me (and frankly my webmaster) to make this off-hours-yet-significant effort out-of-pocket.

So encouragement like that from Feedster does matteróit matters a whole hell of a lot. Critt and I arenít in this for the money (although weíre willing to learn . . .), but for the sheer joy of connectivity. Passing grades arenít passing thoughts for usótheyíre manna from heaven.

Todayís catch:


ìSikh Who Saved Indiaís Economy Is Named Premier: A task of continuing reforms, but with more Indians benefiting,î by Amy Waldman, New York Times, 20 May, p. A3.

ìIt Is Settled: Singh to Be Indiaís Prime Minister: Economist Vows to Extend Market-Opening Policies, Buttressed by Aid for Poor,î by Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal, 20 May, p. A3.

ìWhite House Considers Plan to Let Iraqi Forces Opt Out of Military Operations Ordered by the U.S.: Hoping to confer legitimacy on a caretaker government,î by Steven R. Weisman, NYT, 20 May, p. A13.


A Sys Admin force indigenized in Iraq

ìWhite House Considers Plan to Let Iraqi Forces Opt Out of Military Operations Ordered by the U.S.: Hoping to confer legitimacy on a caretaker government,î by Steven R. Weisman, New York Times, 20 May, p. A13.

The new proposal from the Bush Administration to allow Iraqís new, rehabilitated army to ìopt outî of any military operation ordered by American commanders inside Iraq is a implicit attempt to indigenize the Sys Admin force function within that country. In effect, our force will do the real warfighting against insurgents, and the Iraqi army will be restrictedófor political legitimacy reasonsóto the ìeverything else.î Of course, our forces in theater will still performóalong with allies not really suited for anything elseóall sorts of Sys Admin stuff, like construction, security, medical, legal, etc. But over time, we need to be able to shift these ìother than warî functions to the Iraqi army because the bulk of legitimacy is to be found there for the Iraqi government: if they canít do all the little things, there can never be trusted on the big things. Yes, the U.S. force still in occupation will do the war stuff largely on its own for quite some time, but the Sys Admin side of the equation must progressively shift into Iraqi hands.

This division of labor is a microcosm of Americaís exporting of security all over this world as globalization grows and expands into the Gap: we specialize in providing the high-end warfighting function becauseófranklyóno one else can, but we work far more with others when it comes to the Sys Admin policing functionóat first providing the critical mass of troops and capabilities but over time ceding that role to locals.

But make no mistake: this is no simple hand-off. We need to provide the bulk of the Sys Admin function at firstóperhaps for the first year or so. Meanwhile, by letting the Iraqi army off the hook on the high-end stuff, they can focus their attention on the ìeverything elseî that will allow Iraqi the internal security it needs to rejoin the world.


India sends all the right signals on globalization

ìSikh Who Saved Indiaís Economy Is Named Premier: A task of continuing reforms, but with more Indians benefiting,î by Amy Waldman, New York Times, 20 May, p. A3.

ìIt Is Settled: Singh to Be Indiaís Prime Minister: Economist Vows to Extend Market-Opening Policies, Buttressed by Aid for Poor,î by Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal, 20 May, p. A3.

Sonia sidesteps and a Sikh economist associated with Rajiv Gandhiís historic turn toward marketization in 1991 steps into the legitimacy vacuum created by her close-call with herstory. By avoiding a lengthy exploration of Soniaís backstory (Italian, Christian, political tourist), the Congress Party gets the media spotlightónot to mention the glare on Indiaís plummeting stock marketóback where it needs to be: on the rural poor that feel left out of the BJPís ìIndia shiningî vision.

This is all well and good. New PM Monmohan Singh canít let this political change become an obstacle for Indiaís growing connectivity with the outside world. He may want to slow it on some levels, or redirect it on others, but he cannot stop it, deflect it, partition it, or deny its utility. Globalization has embraced India because India let itself be embraced. New Delhi can go economically autistic as a result of this political shift, but it will do so only with the rest of the Core returning the favor. Thatís the joy and the strain of connectivity: disengagement hurts more than simply holding onóeven when itís for dear life.

By turning more attention to the rural poor, Congress can do more to preserve Indiaís growing status in the global economy than a uncritical pursuit of the BJPís ìIndia Shiningî path. Balance is good, and the BJP will come back into power some day soon all the better for the recalibration it will be forced to pursue during its time in the penalty box. This election can end up being a great example of why democracies are good for globalization and globalization is good for democracies.


Learning to be more careful in live interviews

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 19 May 2004

Did another live radio interview at the end of the workday. Performed over the phone from my office at the college for David Gold on his Dallas-based afternoon AM talk radio show. He's fairly conservative, and in his forceful presentation of his ideas, I got sucked up into harsher statements than I normally deliver. I'm a bit of a chameleon like that, as the 8th of nine kids I learned early in life to please through subtle imitation, or making myself more like whomever I'm dealing with. That's a neat skill in terms of working with media people in general, but you have to watch yourself.

With David Gold, I found myself having to almost step out of character now and then and remind the audience of some key points. For example, Gold wants to go on and on about the liberal media bashing Bush, and I make the comparison to how the right-wing media (and frankly, much of the military itself) went overboard in its blind hatred of Clinton. Also, Gold goes a bit overboard about how bad our enemy is, painting a rather broad brush across Islam as a whole, forcing me, at the end of the interview, to remind people not to view Islam as the real enemy, but the disconnectedness that too many in the region suffer in terms of broadband economic and social connectivity to the world at large.

All in all, a good reminder for me. Gold is clearly a stem-winder, which is his call. But I'm not. There are no Republican-only answers for the questions posed in this Global War on Terrorism. A real grand strategy appeals to both sides of the political spectrum, or it's no grand strategy at all.

So, some chameleon is good, but you have to remember who you are at the end of the day. He's David Gold and I'm Tom Barnett. He's got a conservative talk radio show and I have a vision of a future worth creating not just for America, but for the world.