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Miscellaneous reviews posted on Amazon

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 24 May

I give commentary following each. The thing about Amazon is, anyone with the ability to type can review your book. Some are quite thoughtful, others just like the sound of their anger.

Suspected skimmer

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:

empty and long winded rhetoric, May 23, 2004

Reviewer: Mark Nuckols (see more about me) from Chevy Chase, MD United States

This book is stylistically a miserable failure. Barnett apparently likes big words and grand metaphors, but usually uses them for no particular purpose, other than to sound like a typical DC blowhard at a cocktail party. As for analysis, there's a lot more ink spilled about how many generals wait breathlessly for Mr. Barnett's prescient analyses, rather than any actual analysis. One xample of how miserably idiotic this book is: in his "map" of the the "pentagon's new map," he includes Turkey, Indonesia, Thailand, and Slovakia are part of his "Non-Integrating Gap," those countries which are failed and failing states because they are not integrated into the larger global political economy. Since when do EU and NATO member states count as "non-integrated." Or countries with high levels of trade, foreign investment, and GDP growth? A simplistic book for simpletons.

COMMENTARY: My guess is that this guy read maybe the preface or just the Esquire article. Slovakia is not included in the Gap. Turkey is a member of NATO but not the EU (and famously denied this membership on several occasions). Neither Thailand nor Indonesia are members of the EU or NATO. I think the second line of the review gives the poor fellow away.

Suspected nutcase

2 of 48 people found the following review helpful:

the pentagon"s new map hits #1, May 12, 2004

Reviewer: sally

yesterday i had an interview with thomas p.m. barnett

he is a funny man he writes mystyrey books but some times

hororror action he wrote this book for his wife

COMMENTARY: I think Sally needs helpónow. Hope I behaved politely during her imaginary interview.

Suspected know-nothing

15 of 34 people found the following review helpful:

New Map + Vision = Delusion?!, May 10, 2004

Reviewer: Gaetan Lion (see more about me) from Mill Valley, CA USA

This is a fascinating book that gives you a unique insightful look within one of the sharpest mind to populate our government's Defense department intelligentsia. Barnett is an excellent writer that makes even dry subjects easy to read. Barnett's foreign policy framework is very clear and understandable. He splits the World into two. The first part is the Functioning Core, countries positively engaged in globalization. The second part is the Non-integrated Gap, countries that are not part of globalization.

Globalization as implemented by the Core countries (industrialized countries for the most part) is a positive force that promotes democracy, free trade, economic growth, and peace. The countries within the Core have no incentive to combat each other. This explains the dÈtente within the U.S. and Russia relationship. Similarly, China is no more the enemy, as it is becoming a full-fledged member of the Core. The Core countries are increasingly connected by abiding to the same trade rules, global financial markets, and international laws that promote economic growth and democracy over time.

The countries within the Gap, on the other hand are disconnected. For Barnett, the more a country is disconnected from the Core, the more dysfunctional and dangerous it is. Quoting the author: "A country's potential to warrant a U.S. military response is inversely related to its globalization connectivity." We are talking here of the usual suspects, including countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. These countries are often associated with totalitarian and corrupt regimes, rapid demographic growth, declining living standards, rising unemployment rates. These countries often experience the demographic bulge mentioned by Samuel Huntington in "The Clash of Civilizations" whereby a growing young, idle male population, combined with high unemployment rate becomes a recruiting pool for terrorist networks.

Per Barnett, the Core and Gap countries trade with each other. But, what they trade is not what you think. The Gap countries export to the Core: terrorism, drugs, and pandemic diseases (including Aids). The Core countries export to the Gap: security services (military interventions), globalization, and democracy.

Barnett mentions a third category: the Seam countries. These countries are on the violent borders between the Core and Gap countries. Their prospect is uncertain. They can drift towards the Core or back towards the Gap.

Paraphrasing some of Barnett's words, he views the U.S. foreign policy as: 1) increasing the Core's immune system capabilities for responding to September 11-like events; 2) working the Seam states to firewall the Core from the Gap's worst exports (terror, drugs, pandemics); and 3) Shrinking the Gap.

Forget the Axis of Evil with just three members (Iraq, Iran, and North Korea). He has developed a long list of troubled spot countries that the U.S. should address while resolving the Iraq situation.

To reduce the Gap, the U.S. will have to police the World for a very long time. He believes that the U.S. is the only country capable of such an effort. So, it has no choice but assume that role. In his view, not fulfilling this responsibility will prove disastrous.

However, the military component of his theory is highly unrealistic. With Afghanistan and Iraq on its hand, the U.S. resources are exhausted. We don't have a fraction of the military power to occupy and rebuild more countries than we are already taking on right now. We are also exhausted fiscally. We are running record high Budget Deficits. And, the Bush Administration is asking Congress every quarter for extra tens if not hundred of billions to resolve the Iraq situation. More importantly, we seem to be drifting away from the Core into a fourth stand-alone category: the Uniteralist. The more unilateral our military operations will be, the more costly, unsustainable, and ultimately unsuccessful they will be.

Last but not least, Barnett's military zealousness calls for a massive tax increase and implementing a permanent draft. The U.S. people won't have either of those. Barnett does not touch on that subject.

For a more realistic vision, I recommend Richard Clarke's "Against all Enemies" and Wesley Clark "Winning Modern Wars." Both authors advance a better strategy, which is to address terrorism as a supranational issue that you can't fight State by State (forget the Map). Instead, our intelligence agencies should be more proactive and aggressive in cooperating with their counterparts in Europe, Asia, and everywhere possible to seize and capture terrorists, and treat them accordingly once seized.

COMMENTARY: Whenever I see the "permanent draft" concept floated, I know I'm listening to a complete dunderhead when it comes to understanding today's U.S. military and what makes it great. As for massive tax increases, I only advocate no tax cuts. This guy's answers are typical: 1) firewall America off from the outside world (Clarke's dream); and 2) kill terrorists more efficiently (Clark's advice). Neither will work. It always amuses me that non-military experts find my splitting the force so preposterous while military experts consider it just about the most important aspect of the book.

Fellow government minion

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful:

Excellent primer on how policies develop. . .., May 3, 2004

Reviewer: dahozho (see more about me) from Woodbridge, VA United States

This book is a *must-read* for anyone interested in how the US gov't. policies & processes were not ready for the post-Soviet world. If you are a Fed, manager or 'in-the-trenches', this should be required reading to understand that the boxes of bureacracy impede the flexible thinking required by today's world and fast-moving technology.

The style is very readable, almost like you're sitting with Barnett in his office. He has made the process of intelligence & policy-making accessible, and I'm continually amazed how similar my own experiences with government work are to his analyst work. (Basically, if you have something different to say, or have an 'out of the box' solution, you're in for a difficult time.)

Highly recommended!!!

COMMENTARY: Obviously I like the review because it's positive, but what I really like about it is this reviewer's sense that the career narrative material has broader appealómeaning it speaks to anyone who's trying to push similarly unconventional ideas in a bureaucratic setting. Also like the "readability" comments, which always warm Mark Warren's heart (my editor).

Mr. Poli Sci shows himself up

13 of 17 people found the following review helpful:

A wonderful new analysis, April 29, 2004

Reviewer: Seth Frantzman (see more about me) from Tucson, AZ United States

A wonderful new insight into America role in the world. Along with 'Clash of Civilizations' and Brzezinski's book this book is the singular best assessment of the new global position, especially as it relates to America. The author divides the world into the non integrating 'Gap' and the functioning 'Core'. Students of Political Science can be excused for surmising that this reminds them of the 'center-periphery' debate. But this book is not a scholarly approach, in fact if anything its greatest downside is that its language is playful and low brow, perfect for an introduction to the global situation but lacking for those who were enjoyed Huntington's earlier revolutionary work on the similar subject.

The analysis is wide ranging, part autobiography and part introduction to Naval War College analysis. In the end the books greatest triumph is in the wonderful color map that details where exactly America has intervened between 1999-2003. This map clearly illustrates which countries are seen by America as 'allies' or at least 'stable'. This include S. Africa, North America, the southern cone, the EU, China, Japan, India and Australia. Basically the middle east, eastern Europe, central Asia and most of Africa, along with central America are seen to be the potential problem countries. By in large this simply reflects where America has had to intervene or where current wars and civil strife are taking place. One could also argue that these are the countries with the most dictatorships and human rights abuses. A very insightful text that is wonderful for anyone interested in Americas new vision of the world.

Seth J. Frantzman

COMMENTARY: Cleary I must approve because he does of me, but the somewhat snotty tone regarding the masses is a bit much. And trotting out "center-periphery" is pretty weak. He means "core-periphery" by Immanuel Wallerstein, which is at once similar and diametrically opposed. Wallerstein's Core needed the Periphery kept poor in order for it to remain rich. My book argues the exact opposite.

This guy gets the book's goal

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful:

A MUST READ if you are to join the debate, April 29, 2004

Reviewer: Okie Reader (see more about me) from Claremore, OK USA

Early last spring, a friend of mine with political connections had been told privately by a member of our state's congressional delegation that war with Iraq was "a done deal." While the rest of the nation was engaged in public debate, our leaders knew war was a foregone conclusion.

At the same time, Esquire magazine published an article titled "The Pentagon's New Map" written by a man described as one of Bush's top military advisors -- Thomas Barnett. I found Barnett's article so frightening and his predictions so chilling that I made numerous copies and gave it to anyone I thought would sit still long enough to read it. The article haunted me for weeks because although I opposed almost every argument for war Barnett made, I could not deny his logic.

That article is now a book. "The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century" is a must-read for anyone who wishes to understand how the U.S. military complex views our post-9/11 world, how U.S. military policy is made, and who wishes to intelligently debate America's role in this "new world."

Barnett's premise is strikingly simple. In the 21st Century, there are two global camps. There is the "Functioning Core," a term used to describe nations that are "connected" to the rest of the world, and there is the "Non-Integrated Gap," a term used to describe nations that are "disconnected."

The Core -- represented by North America, Europe, China, Australia, and limited parts of South America -- is stable. Core nations, while they may not be democracies, by virtue of their participation in the global economy and their subscription to a generally agreed upon "rule set," pose little threat of state-on-state violence (war).

The Gap -- represented by the rest of the world, notably Central America and large parts of South America, the Middle East, most all of Africa, the Balkans and Southeast Asia -- is unstable and will continue to "export violence" to the Core. In Barnett's world, disconnectedness equals danger, and the disconnected Gap represents one-third of the world's population whose societies threaten global peace.

He argues that the Cold War strategy of "containment" no longer applies. We cannot simply contain the Gap, we must shrink it. And the U.S., as the only remaining superpower and the only nation with a truly transnational military, must lead the way in shrinking the Gap.

Barnet believes the U.S. has a moral responsibility to provide a "security export" to the rest of the world and to spend its time NOT just envisioning ways to mitigate disaster and global conflict, but to envisioning a "future worth creating." "There is no denying that problems in the Gap reflect a tremendous legacy of past abuse and unfairness on the part of the Core in general," he argues, "but shrinking the Gap as a strategic vision is not about making amends for the past. Instead, it is a practical strategy for dealing with the present danger that will -- on regular occasion, I believe -- reach into our good life and cause us much pain if we continue to ignore it. But more than just looking out for ourselves, shrinking the Gap is a strategy that also speaks to a better future for the roughly one-third of humanity that continues to live and die in the Gap."

Consider this compelling analogy from Barnett: I believe that history will judge the 1990s much like the Roaring Twenties -- just a little too good to be true. Both decades threw the major rule sets out of whack: new forms of behavior, activity, and connectivity arose among individuals, companies, and countries, but the rule sets that normally guide such interactions were overwhelmed. These traditional rule sets simply could not keep up with all that change happening so quickly . . . Eventually the situation spins out of control and nobody really knows what to do. Economic crashes effectively marked the end of both tumultuous decades, followed by the rise of seemingly new sorts of security threats to the international order. In the 1930s, it was fascism and Nazi Germany, while today most security experts will tell you it is radical Islam and transnational terrorism. In both instances, the community of states committed to maintaining global order was deeply torn over what to do about these new security threats -- try to accommodate them or fight them head-on in war? . . . My shorthand for rule-set divergence in the 1990s is roughly the same one I would offer for the 1920s: economics got ahead of politics and technology got ahead of security . . . We didn't construct sufficient political and security rule sets to keep pace with all this growing connectivity. In some ways, we got lazy, counted a little too much on the market to sort it all out, and then woke up shocked and amazed on 9/11 to find ourselves apparently invited to a global war."

Which brings us to today. Regardless of your political and religious persuasion, regardless of your support or opposition of the current Administration, you cannot secede from this debate. The decision cannot be made by default or by a political process that does not include the collective voice of our citizens. Barnett appears to be the only person telling us the full truth about this engagement and its cost: " . . . we are never leaving the Gap and we are never 'bringing our boys home.' There is no exiting the Gap, only shrinking the Gap, and if there is no exiting the Gap, then we'd better stop kidding ourselves about 'exit strategies.' No exit means no exit strategy."

Whether you can reluctantly accept this result as inevitable, or it frightens you to the core, there is no denying that we, as a nation, cannot shrink the Gap and care for our own citizens in any reasonable way IN THE FACE OF continued tax cuts and deficit spending. We must wake up, consider the challenges ahead of us, force our leaders to address these challenges and our options in more substantive and coherent forums than those allowed in an election year, and make our voices heard. I urge you to read the book and join the debate.

COMMENTARY: What to say? I wrote this book for it to be read in exactly the way this guy describes. I'll take his 4 stars to Mr. Poli Sci's 5 any day.

Man looking for clarity

12 of 16 people found the following review helpful:

Connects the Dots, April 25, 2004

Reviewer: John J Marsh III from Vienna, VA

In the flood of sound bites, war drama and daily tragedy, this book provides a most helpful context to view the big picture for the war on terror. I was struggling and searching for linkage of the major polictical and military moves since 9/11, amid all of the varied opinions that make it to the headlines. This is it. It provides a valuable way to measure the success of our efforts in world security, homeland security and our performance as the only major superpower in the world. Thanks for the vision. Clarity really does help calm the mind.

COMMENTARY: Makes you wonder if my readership is unduly concentrated in northern VA or whether people there just tend to be the ones who like to write reviews. Having lived there myself for 8 years, I would say both. What I like about this one is the sense of relief expressed about finally finding something that puts all the events since 9/11 into some larger perspective. I really believe people are very hungry for this, which was my fundamental reason for writing the book.

Major league ass-kisser

5 of 14 people found the following review helpful:

Understanding the conversation, April 25, 2004

Reviewer: Critt Jarvis from Hull, MA United States

"Some nights the wolves are silent and the moon howls."

--Bathroom graffiti in the Blue Moon Tavern

Like Buckminster Fuller's "Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth", Barnett's work provides a whole-systems approach to understanding our world. His "Decalogue" in Chapter Four -- The Core and the Gap -- provides the linkage between security and economics.

Wolves read the title and howl at the moon. But I say, read it all the way through. Then howl with the moon -- in great conversation.

[Disclosure: I am Barnett's webmaster]

COMMENTARY: His disclosure says it all. Have you no shame, sir?


Flash! GWOT actually increases terrorist attacks!

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

I find myself consistently bumping up against this paradox: we call it a global war on terrorism and yet critics of this effort seem to be applying their statistical lenses to the world as though America was still classifying terrorism as crime versus warfare. Here's what I mean: all sorts of experts are claiming that terrorist acts around the world have actually increased since 9/11 and the start of the GWOT. A recently released State Department "Patterns of Global Terrorism" begs to differ, but one can easily suspect that the numbers there have been massaged to make things seem as improved as possible given the great GWOT effort.

[Good reference on dispute over State numbers: "Faulty Terror Report Card," by Alan B. Krueger and David Laitin, Washington Post, 17 May, p. A21.]

I have to admit: I find both the efforts of the Bush Administration to claim there's less terrorism since 9/11 and the efforts of their critics to highlight that the opposite is true to be odd in the extreme. An enemy declares war on the U.S. on 9/11 and makes clear that terrorism is going to be his main weapon. The U.S. declares war in return (albeit somewhat rhetorically, becauseófranklyóno one officially declares war anymore [the U.S. hasn't done it since 1943 versus Romania]). A couple of years passes. Should anyone now be surprised to read that there is more terrorism in the world as a result of America finally deciding to join this, up-to-now, one-sided war?

Think about that.

To decry the Bush Administration's efforts to date by saying there's more terrorism since 9/11 than before is sort of like criticizing FDR a year after Pearl Harbor for there being too many battles with the Japanese. Of course there's more terrorism now. We're in a war. To have less terrorism requires we leave the Middle East to the bin Ladens thereónothing more and nothing less. Absent accepting that very dangerous pathway, we're going to have more terrorism in the world with the GWOT's continued unfolding, not less.

Why do we expect less terrorism? We're still employing the terrorism-as-crime model in our heads. We want more "enforcement" and thereby assume we'll get less "terror crime" as a result, when instead we're engaged in a war and warsóbelieve it or notólead to far more battles than the preceding peace and/or crisis build-up period.

Our enemy wages war with terrorism, so expect more of it as we wage war against his strategic rearónamely the Middle East.

Here's today's catch:

REFERENCES with commentary:

"U.S. Realigns War Assignments: Top Military Leader Will Focus on Developing Iraqi Forces," by Sewell Chan, Washington Post, 16 May, p. A26.

"U.S. Needs More Time to Train and Equip Iraqis," by Eric Schmitt, New York Times, 24 May, p. A14.

"U.S. Nearing Deal On Way To Track Foreign Visitors: 'Virtual Border' Planned: Huge Contract for System Built on DatabasesóPrivacy Issue Rises," by Eric Lichtblau and John Markoff, NYT, 24 May, p. A1.

"Arab Leaders Adopt Agenda Endorsing Some Change," by Neil MacFarquhar, NYT, 24 May, p. A8.

"Violence Jolts the Still Fragile Democracy in Nigeria: Deep-rooted rivalries over land and political power are fueling deadly clashes," by Somini Sengupta, NYT, 24 May, p. A3.

"Taiwan Tensions: Avoiding a War With China (Beijing and Taipei like the U.S. as mediator)," by Danny Gittings, Wall Street Journal, 24 May, p. A15.

"China Takes Aim at Racy, Violent TV Shows," by Kathy Chen and Leslie Change, WSJ, 24 May, p. B1.

"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, WSJ, 24 May, p. A1.


The bifurcation of the U.S. military in Iraq

"U.S. Realigns War Assignments: Top Military Leader Will Focus on Developing Iraqi Forces," by Sewell Chan, Washington Post, 16 May, p. A26.

"U.S. Needs More Time to Train and Equip Iraqis," by Eric Schmitt, New York Times, 24 May, p. A14.

First article is the only one I've caught that references what Michael Barone described in his review of my book: that the U.S. forces in Iraq are essentially bifurcating into something that looks an awful lot like a Leviathan effort (warfighting) versus a nation-building effort (what I call the Sys Admin force).

Here's the odd point: the head guy takes on the nation-building and leaves the warfighting to his deputy. So Lt. Gen. Sanchez will run Multinational Force Iraq and focus on developing Iraq's security forces, while his deputy, Lt. Gen. Metz will run the "subordinate entity" called the Multinational Corps Iraq, which will focus on battling insurgents.

In some ways, I could describe the whole shebang as similar to my Sys Admin force concept, because I have always maintained that the Marine Corps would be the embedded security force of the larger Sys Admin effortóin effect a "subordinate entity."

Why the focus of the top man on training local forces? Because it's going a lot slower than expected. A lot of descriptions of our efforts in Iraq have cited a lackluster effort on our part to train the Iraqis: not enough equipment for the Iraqis, our people treating them poorly and dismissively, our trainers not living, eating and sleeping with their trained troops but instead acting fairly distant (unlike how it's done back home where they're in their face almost 24/7)óin short, sort of a make-do effort instead of a can-do one. That was enough for Lt. Gen. Petraeus in the north, by all account a real wizard at this stuff, but it did not suffice down south. Hence the more obvious effort at bifurcating the troops in order to deal with each issue separately and with much more focused effort on our part.


The virtual border patrol: garbage in, garbage out?

"U.S. Nearing Deal On Way To Track Foreign Visitors: 'Virtual Border' Planned: Huge Contract for System Built on DatabasesóPrivacy Issue Rises," by Eric Lichtblau and John Markoff, NewYork Times, 24 May, p. A1.

The concept sounds good: check them over there before they get here. This is the same idea that's arisen on a lot of content/goods/people coming into U.S. from overseas, and it makes sense. But here's the rub:

"Another problem the system faces is the potential inability to get access to all needed data from foreign countries and from the United States' own intelligence community. Experts agree that no matter how good the technology, the system will rely on timely and accurate information about the histories and profiles of those entering the country to detect possible terrorists. It will have no direct impact on illegal immigrants."
Sounds to me like one giant GIGO effect, making clear once again that it's not about spending billions at home to raise our security practices. Rather, what needs to be done is to raise the security practices elsewhere.

And I guess if I'm going to be a terrorist, I'll just enter the U.S. as an illegal immigrant, right?


Arab League to G-8: the reform agenda's in the mail!

"Arab Leaders Adopt Agenda Endorsing Some Change," by Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, 24 May, p. A8.

The wording is unprecedented, but the requirements are non-existent. While this reform statement of intent is nice to see, it's progress only in a rhetorical sense. Most certainly, however, this is a byproduct of our takedown of Iraq. Removing Saddam and talking "big bang" showed we're serious about changing the Middle East, which is why this agenda happened to be written. And don't tell me this would have happened on its own without the war in Iraq, because that's simply unbelievable.

What's interesting is that this agenda was generated by only 2/3rds of the Arab League nations in attendance at the meeting. Guess who didn't show? Mostly the Persian Gulf states.

Guess they don't need a declaration . . ..

I say the G-8 should go ahead with all plans to reach consensus for the major powers to push an agenda of their own, or make sure this Arab League one actually amounts to something besides hot air.


Handicapping the Gap (Nigeria)

"Violence Jolts the Still Fragile Democracy in Nigeria: Deep-rooted rivalries over land and political power are fueling deadly clashes," by Somini Sengupta, New York Times, 24 May, p. A3.

This struggle in the violence-torn Nigerian state of Plateau State is delineated along religious lines, but that's misleading. It's all about indigenous people being squeezed by newcomers. The long-timers tend to be Christian, the newcomers tend to be Muslim. In the end, then, it's all about land.

But the religion matters too, as the more traditional of the two religions involved inevitably favors more restrictive rule sets regarding contact with the outside world, so it's a complex mix.

Mark my words, though, what we are watching today in Sudan and Nigeria is a big harbinger for the future of the GWOT and the struggles involved between the forces of connectedness and disconnectedness as globalization continues to encroach on traditional societies in Africa.


The latest virtual crisis in Taiwan Straits avoided

"Taiwan Tensions: Avoiding a War With China (Beijing and Taipei like the U.S. as mediator)," by Danny Gittings, Wall Street Journal, 24 May, p. A15.

The usual: Taiwan threatens something in the direction of declaring independence, China threatens something back, and U.S. steps in to get both sides to cool it but more so the Taiwanese, who inevitably reverse course and take off the table whatever they were proposing.

As for the authors' assertion that "most experts agree China will have a decisive military advantage by 2005-06," he must be referring to Taiwan and not the U.S. Military. I don't know anyone in my business with half a brain who will tell you China will have a decisive advantage over the U.S. re: Taiwan in 1 to 2 years. If that's what he's insinuating in this article, that's pure bullshit.

And yes, there is a sizeable portion of my community with half a brain or less on this subject, and most have a vested career or platform acquisition interest in hyping the China threat to Taiwan.

Remember: it's the summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008. Anyone who thinks China is going to piss that away on Taiwan when the evolution on that subject is slowly moving in their direction anyway is just plain wrong.


China: so many genies, so few bottles

"China Takes Aim at Racy, Violent TV Shows," by Kathy Chen and Leslie Change, Wall Street Journal, 24 May, p. B1.

The Chinese government is trying to crack down on too much sex and violence on TV. Good luck, says America, our efforts have sucked like crazy and we're a democracy. So maybe you can do better, you quasi-authoritarian commie state!

Great couple of paras:

"While industry executives and viewers alike welcome some of the measures as long overdueófor example, a ban on graphic violence and sex scenes during prime timeóthey view others as frivolous, meddlesome or downright unnecessary. For many Chinese, the genie is out of the bottle, and no amount of regulation will transport them back to the puritanical mores that prevailed in the early days of Communist Party rule.

'We're not housewives who go to bed every night before nine,' says Stella Xu, a 26-year-old math teacher who is angry that her favorite U.S. crime show has been, at least temporarily, canned. In its stead, she says: 'Dull, domestically made movies. Who would bother to watch them?'"

Sounds like HBO will have a bright future in China.


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], 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)