Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 5 June 2004
One of those days you live for as a father: up early with number one son for baseball game. Itís coach-pitch and Iím pitching the first inning. My allergies are something fierce and Iím throwing the ball all over the place, actually hitting the kids every so often. Kevin is last batter because his stomach is giving him fits and he keeps having to hit the head (go to the bathroom). I pitch about 20 times to Kevinóalmost all of them bad. I hit him three times in a row. I couldnít stink any worse if I was drunk Iím so dizzy from the clogged sinuses. Kevinís getting fairly irate. Finally, I switch with the other coach: he pitches and now I catch.
First pitch to Kevin and my boy almost hits it into Narragansett Bay he smokes it so hardóan easy home run to end the first inning.
Then home for a day with my youngest son Jerry. We practice some small-ball basketball on a Little Tykes hoop. Heís pretty good. But then we try soccer for the first time. Jerryís just four and can begin in the YMCA league next fall, so I wanted to try him out. Amazingly, he hits with either leg just as easily, and watching him take to soccer is like watching a fish hit the water. We play for about an hour, and every time he scores, he demands that I fish the ball out of the net and we start all over. No begging, no effort, he just wants to play and play and play.
I think Iíve found my soccer player.
Tonight itís the second showing of our Catholic grade schoolís production of Annie, where my daughter Em has multiple neat roles and backs up the Annie who sings the signature number ìTomorrow.î
All in all, a great day for this dad.
But it gets even better.
Last night I was watching the tape of a recent TV appearance I did on a Philadelphia Sunday news program, just to see how I did. Vonne, my wife, walks in and says, ìRemember last year at this time you were all ready to back out of the book idea, saying you didnít think you could actually write one and itíd be bad and such a failure anyway so why bother? See! If I hadnít have pushed you to go through with it, you would have missed out on all this fun stuff youíve done since itís come out!î
Sheís absolutely right. It has been fun. But far more than that, the book got out on the table a host of things that needed to be saidónot just for Americaís national security but for the issues of global peace. I treasure two types of emails most: the ones from servicemen and women (especially those serving in Iraq) and the ones from scholars overseas. The ones from the military say Iím answering some important mail as far as theyíre concerned: stuff that needs to be done if America is going to prevail in this Global War on Terror. But the ones from overseas are even better on many levels, because they say that the vision Iím pushing here makes sense not just to Americans, but to many from other nations as well.
Those emails tell me Iíve succeeded in uncovering that holy grail of strategic vision: the reproducible strategic concept, or something that others can understand the very minute they hear about it. It just makes sense. Itís translatable. It speaks to common understandings, fears, dreams, hopes, etc. Itís not just something youíve dreamed upóit was there all along simply waiting to be discovered.
Writing this book was great, but having it out and about has been like Christmas every single day. Every day I open my email accounts I find something hugely gratifying or exciting waiting for me there, and it makes my life very exciting right now.
Hereís the one I found today: an email from a ìChinese Scholarî based in Beijing:
Dear Dr. Barnett:Obviously, it is always neat to get a complimentary note from a professional colleague, but to get one from China is especially neat, because it says the vision translates.
I wish to express my great interest in your excellent book, ìPentagon's New Map,î as well as my authentic respect to your extremely important academic work. Dr. Xue Yong of Yale University writes an article introducing your discussions on the grand strategy for U.S. in an age of globalization, which is published in a very popular Chinese newspaper, Southern Weekend. I am eager to read your whole book.
I believe your book and your far-sighted viewpoints will become a hot topic in China. You book remind us to attach greater importance to more extensive and more in-depth strategic dialogues between China and U.S.
Did anybody express the intention to translate your book into Chinese? Perhaps I can do something helpful to accelerate publishing of the Chinese Version of your book.
Please accept the sincere congratulations from a Chinese Scholar.
Niu Ke, PhD
Dept. of History, Beijing University
You can bet I sent this guyís email on to my agent. I would love to see the book translated into Chinese and published there, because if it doesnít make sense to the Chinese, it wonít be worth much in the end. Thatís how big and important Chinaís future development is to that global future worth creating. There is simply no excluding China from that future. Itís more a matter of making sure the global rule sets that emerge over the coming years simply make room for all that China is becoming. Doesnít mean we give them everything they want, nor does it mean we treat them preemptively like a future enemy at every strategic opportunity. It simply means China is too important to ignore, sidetrack, push away, or disrespect. If you want to plan that future worth creating, China has a seat at the tableóno ifs, ands or buts.
Iím preparing my briefing for Beijing University even as I type this blog . . . . and yes, someday I will deliver it.
The review essay by Dr. Xue Yong is found at: http://www.nanfangdaily.com.cn/zm/20040603/xw/tx1/200406030025.asp. My eternal thanks to the first person who gets me a translation, and my immediate gratitude to Niu Ke for alerting me to its existence.
Hereís the catch of the day:
ìChina Pledges to Use More Alternatives to Oil and Coal,î by Mark Landler, New York Times, 5 June, p. B1.Sachs on the intelligence community
ìDonít Know, Should Care,î by Jeffrey D. Sachs, NYT, 5 June, p. A25.Development is all about the women
ìRemaking Iraq Without Guns,î by Irshad Manji, NYT, 5 June, p. A25.