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    Great Powers: America and the World After Bush
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett
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    Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett
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    The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett
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    Romanian and East German Policies in the Third World: Comparing the Strategies of Ceausescu and Honecker
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett
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    by Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett
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    The Emily Updates (Vol. 2): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett
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    The Emily Updates (Vol. 3): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett
  • The Emily Updates (Vol. 4): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    The Emily Updates (Vol. 4): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett
  • The Emily Updates (Vol. 5): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    The Emily Updates (Vol. 5): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    by Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett, Emily V. Barnett
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3:26AM

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.

9:01AM

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)

8:50AM

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.

8:41AM

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.

8:17AM

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.

6:16PM

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

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/opinion/baroneweb/mb_040520.htm

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 . . .

2:48PM

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:


REFERENCES:


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.

2:37PM

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.

2:37PM

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.

2:50PM

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.

2:48PM

Reviewing the reviews (Business Week)

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


I spoke to Stan Crock during my Premeditated Media Tour in late March (first time we met) and again later in a lengthy phone interview. When we first met, he broached the idea of reviewing my book in tandem with Bob Woodward's "Plan of Attack," asking "Would you mind?"


Hmmmmmmmm.


Associating myself with that guyóthat journalist . . .


Not too hard a decision.


Here's the review from the 17 May issue of Business Week, p. 24.

The Road toóand fromóIraq: Woodward has the inside story, while Barnett plots future policy

PLAN OF ATTACK

By Bob Woodward; Simon & Schuster; 467pp; $28

THE PENTAGON'S NEW MAP War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century

By Thomas P.M. Barnett; Putnam; 435pp; $26.95


For geopolitical junkies not yet sated by the flood of 24-hour war news, Bob Woodward's minutiae-filled Plan of Attack and Thomas P.M. Barnett's provocative The Pentagon's New Map offer a perfect pairing. Woodward, the famed Washington Post investigative reporter, offers a close study of signposts passed on the way to America's current difficulties in Iraq. Barnett, a strategic thinker as the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., paints a global picture, explaining how U.S. strategic policy should evolve.


Many of Woodward's tidbits have already been exposed in his own relentless campaign on TV. They include the infighting between war skeptic Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and hawks such as Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. President Bush, of course, comes across as unblinking in his resolve to oust the Baghdad regime.


But there are a few revelations that TV hasn't picked over. Woodward shows that the planning for combat was meticulous. Rumsfeld asked U.S. Central Command General Tommy R. Franks many justified, probing questions. Yet Rummy gave inadequate thought to postwar stabilization. And while the putative clash between Franks and Rumsfeld over troop levels for combat has been exaggerated, Franks felt that a much larger forceótwice the 150,000 coalition troops now on the groundówould be needed in the occupation phase.


Early and less-than-stellar intelligence prompted CIA Director George J. Tenet to assure Bush it was "a slam dunk case" that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But later, Woodward suggests, CIA intelligence improved, as the agency penetrated the Iraqi military and security forces and got data that were key to targeting. Iraqis, it seemed, were more willing to collaborateóand less fearful of retributionóonce it was clear that the U.S. was determined to remove Saddam.


Overall, Woodward gives one a sense that the U.S. has a military that's competent and capable of adaptationóbut one still in need of transformation. Barnett, in contrast, offers a compelling framework for confronting 21st century problems.


Barnett sees the intervention in Iraq as the kind of "system perturbation" necessary to establish a new set of rules for international conflicts. There will never be a World War III, he saysóbecause the nuclear-era logic of mutually assured destruction rules out such a conflict. Nor, given America's military edge, is the U.S. likely to be attacked by large forces of another nation (not even by China, which he thinks is too connected to the world economy to risk war). The challenge at center stage now is military operations other than war, everything from fighting terrorism to peacekeeping. Until recently, these were a sideshow for the Pentagon.


Barnett has a record as a savvy prognosticator. As the Soviet Union was collapsing, for example, he predicted that the U.S. and Russian militaries would soon be cooperating. The idea was ridiculed at the Pentagonóthen later accepted. Here he goes out on another limb, arguing for a military far different from the one the U.S. has. Barnett proposes splitting the forces up into a small combat corps and a large peacekeeping cadre. He sees future conflict as being not merely between Islam and the West but between nations tied to a global economy (the Functioning Core) and those that aren't (the Non-Integrating Gap). His trouble spots include much of Africa, the Balkans, parts of Asia, the Caribbean, and the Islamic crescent.


Shrinking the gap requires a three-pronged approach, he says. First, there's occasional "preemption" of threatening regimes. Next, the U.S. should sometimes get neighbors to oust bad leaders, just as African countries put Liberia's Charles Taylor on ice. Most importantóand currently most neglectedóare efforts to end the economic "disconnectedness" that defines the gap. The free flow of investment, people, energy, and security, says Barnett, is critical to global stability. Measures that limit these flows, such as tight immigration laws, could backfire, he believes.


When describing the inner workings of the Pentagon, Barnett is insightful and often amusing. But it's too bad he doesn't share more of his economic analysis, derived in part from the Naval War College's pre-September 11 consultations on globalization and national security with securities firm Cantor Fitzgerald. The author hopes the U.S. can move beyond pursuing miscreants to offer a vision of a "future worth creating." He's optimistic because he thinks some nightmare scenarios used to justify the purchase of expensive military toys are contrived. We should all hope he's right.


By Stan Crock

COMMENTARY: Awfully hard not to like a review that treats your material with such respect and does such a nifty job of presenting its breadth so concisely. I really fear short reviews like this (do they grab one concept and ignore the rest of the book?), and to have almost half go to another book makes it even more scary for a volume as wide ranging as mine, but Crock does a beautiful job of making the pairing seem quite natural. And you have to like that if you're Tom Barnett (although one wonders if Woodward cares for the comparison . . .). One quibble from me is Crock's version of my three-pronged strategy: he only mentions one of the three I do (shrinking the Gap), and then adds in the preemption concept and getting-neighbors-to-oust-bad-leaders ideas on his own (points I make in the book, but not the other two prongs in the grand strategy I enunciate). But that's small-time bitching on my part, when it's such a solid and forceful review. His bit at the end about being sorry I don't give the reader more insider economic analysis from the NewRuleSets.Project has a nice book-option feel to it, but not one that plays to my strengths, I think. For now, this remains the neatest review of the book, given the numbers of readers likely to view itóthanks in no small part to the pairing with Woodward's best-seller

2:36PM

The Esquire/War College/Putnam blur

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


Working for three masters is both good and great (let's be honest).


Esquire wants to promote the heck out of the article, and Putnam wants to promote the heck out of the book. Meanwhile, the War College public affairs people want to promote the heck out of the college, and right now, I'm one fast-moving target. So the synergy gets thick.


Today is a blur of emails, negotiations, phone calls, scheduling and interviews. I am struggling to stay ahead of the flow but don't want to disappoint anyone, leave any email unanswered, or miss any opportunity to push the vision. So today I blog the great Business Week review by Stan Crock, as well as the Associated Press profile by Matt Kelley. I speak at length with Michael Barone of U.S. News & World Report about the book, which he's just finished. I schedule to appear on CNN next Tuesday with Wolf Blitzer via Esquire, and set up an interview with Rolling Stone via Putnam. Meanwhile, the College has me on radio in Dallas at the end of the work day, so everything's in a rush.


I amóin the words of my hometownómaking hay while the sun shines.


Very quickly, the catch of the day:


REFERENCES:


"Kurds Success Makes It Harder to Unify All Iraq: The North Is Seen as a Model For Rest of the NationóBut It Demands Autonomy: Fears of Radical Muslim State," by Hugh Pope and Bill Spindle, Wall Street Journal, 19 May, p. A1.


"Turks Warming to Idea of Iraqi Kurds' Autonomy: Turnabout Comes Amid Fear Of Theocracy Next Door, But Neighbors Remain Wary," by Hugh Pope and Bill Spindle, WSJ, 19 May, p. A17.


"For a 'New Imperialism,'" by Sebastian Mallaby, Washington Post, 10 May, p. A25.


"Iraq: The West Mustn't Give Up Now," by Jeffrey E. Garten, Business Week, 17 May, p. 28.


"Nuts With Nukes," Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, 19 May, p. A27.

"Old Reflexes Hurting 2 Asian Economic Giants," by Keith Bradsher, New York Times, 19 May, p. C1.

2:33PM

Reality of postwar Iraq emerges

"Kurds Success Makes It Harder to Unify All Iraq: The North Is Seen as a Model For Rest of the NationóBut It Demands Autonomy: Fears of Radical Muslim State," by Hugh Pope and Bill Spindle, Wall Street Journal, 19 May, p. A1.


"Turks Warming to Idea of Iraqi Kurds' Autonomy: Turnabout Comes Amid Fear Of Theocracy Next Door, But Neighbors Remain Wary," by Hugh Pope and Bill Spindle, Wall Street Journal, 19 May, p. A17.


There was never any question in my mind that we were always talking about some federated state in Iraq, meaning something not unitary. That was so obvious to me I didn't even think to mention it in my book (wishing I had now). Basically, you have three ethnic groups with rather clear separation and lotsa bad history among them. Plus the Kurds in the north have been semi-independent under the U.S.-supplied northern no-fly zone for more than a decade, and they had done quite well.


So the solution seems clear enough: you let the Kurds run themselves, you pick the right military strongman to run the Sunnis in the middle, and you let the Shiites in the south have some ruling council heavy with religious representation. Our bodyguard role for this trifurcated federal Iraq is at first focused on keeping them apart and letting them rule their own in safety. Over time, we build up from that and start helping them organize stronger federal institutions at a pace mandated by their collective security situation.


Turkey is already warming to this, it seems. Why? Beats the alternatives of chaos or a theocratic unitary state to its south. This way, Istanbul can play "big brother" and we get Turkey seriously committed to regional stability.


Think about itócause it's likely to happen.

2:29PM

The A-to-Z rule set on processing politically bankrupt regimes

"For a 'New Imperialism,'" by Sebastian Mallaby, Washington Post, 10 May, p. A25.


"Iraq: The West Mustn't Give Up Now," by Jeffrey E. Garten, Business Week, 17 May, p. 28.


In my book, I cited Sebastian Mallaby's original enunciation (Washington Post, 21 Oct 02, "The Lesson In MacArthur") of the need for an IMF-like international organization to oversee the rehabilitation of politically-bankrupt states after the Leviathan force led by the U.S. engages in Core-sanctioned regime change in the Gap. Here he resurrects the idea with even more force. A worthy read.


Garten's piece highlights the reality that when Core consensus gets reached on efforts like Iraq, or any politically-bankrupt regime in the Gap, it's far more likely to occur within the G-8 (or better, the larger G-20 declared by Clinton a few years back) than in the UN.


When I think of the A-to-Z rule set, it looks like this:



  • UN as Grand Jury to indict

  • G-20 as Executive issuing warrant for arrest

  • Leviathan force led by U.S. military does the takedown<

  • Sys Admin force led by US but populated more by coalition partners sweeps in to
    start rehab

  • International Criminal Court tries the suspects now in custody



A to Zójust like that.

2:08PM

To isolate or connect Iran

"Nuts With Nukes," Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, 19 May, p. A27.


Iran clearly playing with WMD fire and breaking rules, but US and world busy with Iraq in region, and many (including me) logically see Israel-Palestine up next. Then there's Kim in NE Asia to deal with very soon. So what to do with Iran?


I'm with Kristof: kill them with connectivity. The sullen majority is ready to blow; give them outlets. Make the mullahs irrelevant by engendering as much broadband economic and social connectivity between the masses and the outside as possible.


We are near the tipping point on Iran. That's why the mullahs are trying to act so scary.

2:05PM

Old habits die hard in New Core pillars (China, India)

"Old Reflexes Hurting 2 Asian Economic Giants," by Keith Bradsher, New York Times, 19 May, p. C1.


We will see plenty of backsliding now and then in China and India as they seek to integrate their economies ever deeper with the Core. We have to accept this pendulum will swing back and forth over time: go very fast, then slow down for a bit, then go very fast, then slow down a bit.


So long as it's two steps forward for every one step backward, we need to focus on the direction, and not the degree or speed of change, and let the world's markets guide policy choices in each country.


We saw the world's markets guide the political shift in India over the past several days. Thomas Friedman's "electronic herd" basically works.

9:29AM

Gene Roddenberry would be proudÖ

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


The following article is what resulted from a 26 April interview with Associated Press Pentagon reporter Matt Kelley in Washington. No serious gripes on my part, although my Public Affairs Office was aghast to see the photo caption identify me as a professor at the Monterey CA Naval Postgraduate School and not the Naval War College in Newport RI. But the text gets it right, so not that bad.


No idea whether this story makes it into print newspapers around the country, so news of any sightings appreciated.


I guess the only thing I regret in it is the "sucking eggs" bit. Accurate both in content and in using the phrase, but it comes off as rather inelegant in a newspaper article.


I've had myself cast as "unlikely," "unconventional," etc. now so many times that I feel like one of those "rising" movie starlets who keeps rising, rising, rising and never seems to graduate. Yes, that's meóthe Naomi Watts of pol-mil analysts.


The point about optimistic futurists is a bit flubbed at the end. Not only does it not mean my predictions are wrong, it means I'm far more likely to be right than the doom-saying crowd. My point is that the great pessimists like Yevgeny Zamyatin ("We"), Aldous Huxley ("Brave New World"), and Goerge Orwell ("1984") always get it overwhelmingly wrong. Technology liberates individuals far more that it empowers authoritarian regimes. Look at the most high-tech societies: they tend to be the most free. Look at the most authoritarian: they tend to be the most technologically deprived. Technology kills dictatorships, it does not sustain them.


So it's the Ayn Rands, Gene Roddenberrys and the Carl Sagans who tend to get it rightódecade after decade. Go back and watch your Star Trek; I'll put Gene's record up against anybody's.


Here's the complete text of the Kelley article:

Unlikely Visionary Plots Pentagon Future


May 19, 5:19 AM (ET)


By MATT KELLEY



WASHINGTON (AP) - Jolted by the 2001 terror attacks that left a smoking hole in the Pentagon, Defense Department officials turned to a Harvard-trained, Star-Trek quoting Navy analyst to help make sense of America's new role in the world.


Thomas P.M. Barnett had worked to forecast new global threats in a project with Cantor Fitzgerald, the bond-trading firm that lost 658 workers at its World Trade Center headquarters on Sept. 11.


Barnett's lexicon is laden with pop culture terms, not the acronyms common at the Pentagon. In his view of the world, the bad guys are in "the Gap," and the good guys belong to "the Core."


"The reason I never catch any flak is, it's a larger discussion of how the world works that corroborates what they're trying to do," Barnett said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.


"I don't think it's prescriptive, in terms of telling the Defense Department what to do. I'm not telling the Pentagon, as the military would say, how to suck eggs. But it expands the definition of eggs to be sucked."


At the Pentagon, Barnett laid out his view of the post-Cold War world: The biggest threats against the United States come from Third-World countries left behind by globalization - which he calls the Gap.


In the Gap, Barnett says, dictators like Saddam Hussein and terrorist groups like al-Qaida are trying to keep people disconnected from the rest of the world so they can be dominated and repressed. The Gap's villains strike at the United States and its globalizing partners - countries Barnett calls the Core - to try to enforce that separation, Barnett says.


"Look beyond globalization's frontier," Barnett writes in a new book called "The Pentagon's New Map," "and there you will find the failed states that command our attention, the rogue states that demand our vigilance, and the endemic conflicts that fuel the terror we now recognize as the dominant threat not just to America's future security but to globalization's continued advance."


The message for the military was one many in the Pentagon brass had struggled against for years. Instead of girding for a high-tech war with a competitor like China, Barnett says, the U.S. military must play the role of global enforcer, taking out terrorists and rogue regimes in the Gap and sticking around to help connect those countries to the global marketplace of goods, services, information and ideas.


That means a lot of smaller conflicts and long-term nation building of the sort Pentagon generals had worked to avoid and Bush administration officials derided in the years leading up to the 2001 terrorist attacks.


The post-attack Pentagon was much more receptive to his ideas, said Barnett, who spent two years as Assistant for Strategic Futures in the Office of Force Transformation before returning to the Naval War College last year. In fact, Barnett says, his Core-Gap ideas help explain what the Pentagon is doing in Afghanistan and Iraq.


Echoes of Barnett's ideas can be heard when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld says terrorists don't have armies, navies or air forces or when his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, says a democratic Iraq will serve as an example for the rest of the Middle East.


Barnett, in his early 40s, recently briefed a group of new one-star generals and has presented his ideas to younger U.S. officers, NATO allies and officials from countries in the Gap.


Barnett may seem an unusual fit with a Pentagon leadership of conservative Republicans. A lifelong Democrat who once taught a course on Marxism at Harvard, Barnett strongly supports the war in Iraq while criticizing the Bush administration for failing to clearly explain its goals.


"We need to develop a story that's compelling about how to make the world a better place. We don't just need drive-by regime change," Barnett said.

Making the world a better place is a main theme of Barnett's book, which argues for the use of American military might to get rid of repressive regimes in the Gap to pave the way for integration of those countries into the globalized marketplace.


To do that, Barnett says, the U.S. military needs to split into two forces: One traditional military force and another, larger corps of troops to help with reconstruction - what the Pentagon calls "civil affairs."


The United States has no military rival "in the same Zip code" but has nowhere near enough resources to stabilize and rebuild a country after winning combat, he says.


Still, Barnett is optimistic.


"I see a lot of great potential in the Defense Department," he said. "I truly believe it is an important force for good."


Barnett's book is filled with pop-culture references and sports analogies - like comparing Cold War studies to Star Trek. "Much as in the short-run TV show encompassing only 79 episodes, there were only so many 'stories' in the Cold War you needed to master in order to be considered professionally trained."

But he says his fondness for Star Trek's optimistic view of the future does not mean his predictions are wrong.


"The only futurists who are right are the optimists," Barnett declares.


---


On the Net:


Barnett's web log: http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com

Must say, it was really nice of them to include the weblog URL.

3:16AM

Accidental Media TouróPart Deux

Dateline: Amtrak Acela Express from NYC to Boston, 18 May 2004


This day was definitely fun.


Started off by finishing yesterdayís blog from my hotel bed while eating room-service breakfast (thereís just something about eggs benedict in bedóespecially when my publisher is picking up the tab).


It was easy to pack up my gear, because I didnít have any. So I reconstituted my clothes from yesterday, ironing heavily, and caught my CNN-supplied car downstairs after I checked out of the Algonquin.


See ya later Dorothy . . ..


First up today is my appearance on ìDolans Unscriptedî with the couple who serve as hostsóKen and Daria Dolan. The blurb in my Putnam media schedule says their show reaches 30 million homes nationwide via CNNfn (my first time on this network). If true, Iíll be happy if just one out of every 300 homes watching today buys my book (you do the math).


Upon arriving, itís the usual preparation drill at CNN, but this time I tell make-up to go light on my neck as I donít need all that stuff on my collar again. A very nice production assistant then walks me into this huge, two-story-high room on the fifth floor of the Time Warner building. It is stunningly large and contains the desks of dozens of CNN media people all crammed together in irregular clumps. In the middle of the room is a studio set-up with standing walls that only go up about 8 feet, so itís sort of a fish-bowl effect.


I stand behind one studio wall, waiting to go on while Ken and Daria Dolan are taking calls on their show. I can see them on a giant screen on the far side of this cavernous room, along with separate screens for both CNN and Headline News. The volume is turned too low to hear, which is good, because I can hear them live over the fake wall. Whatís amazing is the time lag on the screen at the far end of the roomóalmost 2 seconds. Thatís how long it takes for their feed to go all the way down to Atlanta and then back to NY.


I am a bit nervous but pretty psyched as well. I am well rested and feeling much better for starting the Claritin. I am told the Dolans have the book and have read it, so that helps put me at ease. I had watched them a bit last night and knew Ken was the voluble one and Daria the calmer one, so I was ready for their approach.


During the commercial break they walk me into position and I sit across the table from both of them. Itís a bit spooky because the big camera just to the left of Ken has a monitor that I need to avoid looking at. So I just decide Iíll short-focus my eyes on Ken and Daria and tune out the rest of the entire scene. Not easy in general, but these two are so warm in person that I find it a snap.


Turns out Ken is former navy who did a stint at the college (actually, the Officers Candidate School) way back when (heís a Vietnam vet), so the three of us chat amiably before we go live. The copy of the book is right there on the high table we ring (weíre on bar stools), so I know the segment will focus on that and not just sarin gas or Nick Berg.


The difference between this segment and yesterdayís remote on Headline News is like night and day. I perform about as well as I ever have and know it real-time, so my ease is transmitted through the camera (impossible to fakeóat least for me). We cover a bunch of good stuff from the book, which Ken praises profusely and repeatedly, and then itís overólike all good onesóin a flash.


Right on the spot before I leave Ken asks me to come on their new radio show that broadcasts on Saturday mornings and I agree.


I then have the driver take me to Putnamís HQ on Hudson Street in lower Manhattan. There Steve Oppenheim (my PR director) gives me a vacant office for the afternoon. He orders me some lunch and then his assistant Liz brings me about 100 books to sign (most with personal references) to just about everyone at Putnam/Penguin in NY. Itís a neat perk for people who work there, and Iím more than happy to do it. But it takes a couple of hours to wind my way through the various lists of names, at one point managing to cut my thumb while opening a box with a pair of scissors that are incredibly sharp. Iím probably the first author to suffer a real bleeder while signing books, but I survive thanks to some band-aids and tape from Steve.


While in the office I also do a half-hour radio show in Oklahoma City OK via phone. Itís called ìYou Talkiní to Me?î and itís hosted by Brad Copeland and Mike Steely on SUPERTALK AM-930/WKY. They both have read the June Esquire article thatís out on stands almost everywhere now (ìMr. President, Hereís How to Make Sense of Our Iraq Strategyî) and praise it profusely. They ask good questions so the time flies. Near the end, I realize they havenít mentioned the book much, so I plug it hard at the end, plus this site, proving Iím getting savvier about my appearances.


Rest of the afternoon I catch up on email.


At one point, Liz comes into the office with a very odd question pursed on her lips: ìDo you think there are any situations where torture is justified when interrogating terrorist suspects?î


That one came out of the blue!


Turns out that if I answer ìyes,î I get to go on a major networkís news show tonight, but if I say no, then maybeójust maybeótheyíll have me on to discuss the book in the future.


Hmmmmmmmmmm.


A moral quandary?


Not really. Torture rarely works and higher-ups even more rarely trust the material produced by these methods, so the answer is no, and I resist my chance at an on-camera moment of Dukakis-like reasoning to a loaded question.


Around 5:15 I head out of Putnam, stopping by Steve Oppenheimís office for a last chat. Turns out Steveís just got an email from a major publication asking if Iíll participate in a group interview with a bunch of national security heavyweights regarding Iraq for an upcoming issue. We each will be interviewed separately by phone and then our answers compared in the magazine. Itís a non-traditional source for this sort of infoócloser to MTV than PBS. But itíll be impossible to resist, as young-minds-to-mold is always a worthy target of opportunity.


I canít wait to see how the Naval War College will react to my appearing in this magazine, which is a ways beyond the pale that stretches to include Esquire.


Downstairs to another car and driver and then back to CNNís new digs in the Time Warner building just built off of Columbus Circle. Iím through security for the third time in about 28 hours. This time I spy Jeanne Moost of Headline News (she of the humorous segments) walking by. Sheís almost six-feet-tall in heels, to my amazement.


Up to the 7th floor this time and a new make-up room just down the hall from CNNís main studio in NY. I get to share the green room with the former PM of Israel Ehud Barak. He and his handler donít acknowledge me at all (donít even glance at me) despite my being the only other person in the room. Chilly pair, although I will say one thing about Barak: the man loves pineapple. Guy ate the entire row on the fruit tray, often forking it into his mouth directly from the plate.


Iím up soon after Barak. My handler takes me into the studio area and I stand with the sound guy just behind the wall that Iím sure looks great on TV but is actually all 1x2ís and plywood from behind. I get set-up while commercials roll and then talk with Mr. Dobbs while Bill Schneider drones on from some ìswing state.î Dobbs puts on his reading glasses and glances over a xerox of the Esquire piece and something heís highlighted. I rack my brain to remember what appears right after the really big ìWî in the text. Beats the hell outta me.


The interview goes well. Iím very relaxed and handle two pointed questions from him with relative aplomb. He mentions the book prominently and I keep my answers short enough so that he never has to interrupt me. A good sign: itís over in a flash and Iím in the car heading to Penn Station within minutes. I catch the 7pm Acela instead of the 7:30 regional, managing to land a bad gyro, a tall-boy Bud, and two Krispe Kremes for my celebratory feast.


Itís been a good day and I end my Accidental Media Tour on a high note.


Hereís Today's Catch:


REFERENCES:


ìSuicide Bomber Kills President of Iraqi Council: Attack Near U.S. Offices: At Least 6 Civilians DieóUncertainty in Advance of Power Transfer,î by Ian Fisher, New York Times, 18 May, p. A1.


ìAs Violence Deepens, So Does Pessimism,î by Daniel Williams, Washington Post, 18 May, p. A1.


ìOld Iraq Army Could Provide A Leader, Jordanís King Says,î by Alan Cowell, NYT, 18 May, p. A8.


ìKerry Feels for Footing On Countryís Role in Iraq: Supporting the troops while keeping Nader sidelined,î by Jodi Wilgoren and David E. Rosenbaum, NYT, 18 May, p. A18.


[Advertisement] ìStaffers Live for the Party,î Discovery/Times Channel, USA Today, 18 May, p. E9.


ìIndiaís Stocks Shudder, With a Wide Impact: Emerging-Markets Indexes Fall to Year Lows on Election Results, Interest Rates and Middle East,î by Craig Karmin, Wall Street Journal, 18 May, p. C1.


ìGay Couples Marry in Massachusetts: Hundreds Tie Knot On Day One, but Questions Remain,î by Alan Cooperman and Jonathan Finer, WP, 18 May, p. A1.


ìHealth agency present global plan to fight obesity,î by Nanci Helimich, USA Today, 18 May, p. 4A.


ìU.N. Touts Biotech to Boost Global Food Supply,î by Justin Gillis, WP, 18 May, p. A2.

3:05AM

Iraqís moment of truth for all sidesóbutt one

ìSuicide Bomber Kills President of Iraqi Council: Attack Near U.S. Offices: At Least 6 Civilians DieóUncertainty in Advance of Power Transfer,î by Ian Fisher, New York Times, 18 May, p. A1.


ìAs Violence Deepens, So Does Pessimism,î by Daniel Williams, Washington Post, 18 May, p. A1.


ìOld Iraq Army Could Provide A Leader, Jordanís King Says,î by Alan Cowell, NYT, 18 May, p. A8.


ìIn Iraq, Americaís Shakeout Moment,î by David Brooks, NYT, 18 May, p. A23.


ìKerry Feels for Footing On Countryís Role in Iraq: Supporting the troops while keeping Nader sidelined,î by Jodi Wilgoren and David E. Rosenbaum, NYT, 18 May, p. A18.


[Advertisement] ìStaffers Live for the Party,î Discovery/Times Channel, USA Today, 18 May, p. E9.


The latest suicide bomber attack just outside the Green Zone claims another member of the Iraqi Governing Councilóits president no less. Another member of the council sums it up plainly: ìThe countdown is there, and then they are escalating. They donít want this political process to succeed. And they want just to have more deterioration of the security situation.î


The threats have become so direct in this war, as coldly calculating as the offers: Osama tells the Europeans heíll stop killing them if they leave the region in 90 days, while signs appear in Baghdad warning citizens that anyone who cooperates with U.S. forces will be killed without warning. Little wonder that Jordanís King Hussein says Iraq should have a military leader for at least a year after the transitionósomeone not afraid to ìhold Iraq together for the next year.î


The king sees the shakeout moment arriving, to borrow David Brooksí excellent phrase. As he puts it:

ìHope begets disappointment, and we are now in a moment of disappointment when it comes to Iraq. During these shakeout moments, the nay-sayers get to gloat while the rest of us despair, lacerate ourselves, second-guess those in charge and look at things anew. But this very process of self-criticism is the precondition for the second wind, the grubbier, less illusioned effort that often enough leads to some acceptable outcome.î
I couldnít have said it better. Iraq-the-occupation will transform not just defense transformation within the Pentagon, but Americaís entire foreign policy in a way that will dwarf what 9/11 did. The terrorist attacks on that day got us scared about living here at home, but the Iraq occupation will demand from us the will and staying power to do what is necessary over there.


Meanwhile, John Kerry needs to attach himself to this seriously pivoting moment in U.S. history. He needs to do more than just fend off Naderís call for an exit strategy (Ralph will apparently have us all waiting in our basements for the next big one). Kerry needs to enunciate his vision for moving us forward in this process of not just defending America, but connecting the Middle East to some better future andóby doing soówinning what we have mistakenly dubbed a Global War on Terrorism.


While John pondersóseemingly foreverówhat he needs to say about Iraq, carefully parsing out each word, a new, deeper insight into the guts of his campaign is offered to us by the Discovery/Times Channel. Yes, a profile of John Kerryís ìbutt boy.î Building off the New York Timeís page 1 story of a couple of weeks back (during my planned media tour), this is apparently the best the Kerry campaign can do to manage the media while President Bushís approval rating hits an all-time low.


A word of explanation: ìbutt boyî is a Washington term for the young staffer whoís always at the Great Manís right cheekóas in literally just a few inches behind his right buttock. This fellow hands the Great Man anything he may need, and takes from him anything he must dispose of. The butt boy goes by many names. In the military, for example, he is known as the Executive Aide to the Admiral/General, but that just means a butt boy in uniform. The butt boyís main requirement is that the Great Man has to be able to stand his presence pretty much all the time: the Great Man sneezes and butt boy whips out a Kleenex. You get the pictureóhell, heís always in the picture! You just never recognize him because you only see half of his face at best.


Anyway . . .


Over 130 U.S. troops died in Iraq in April, and John Kerryís got real-world experience on both sides of that aisle, having fought with honor in war and having protested with honor against war. So why doesnít the New York Times push the Discovery channel to do a hour show on Kerryís thoughts regarding war and peace in the twenty-first century? Or his thoughts on globalization? Global terrorism? Peace in the Middle East?


Instead, we get the butt boy, in a hard-wiping profile that delves deep inside Kerryís inner sanctums.


Ooh, this is crucial stuff to know: ìPart-time driver. Part-time caddie. Part-time advisor. Full-time staffer.î This is the man whoís always there when John needs a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich (yes, I read the New York Times front-page profile of the man, andólike most butt boy storiesóit rubbed me the wrong way). He knows Kerryís every mood, every twitch, every spicy meal that backfires.


So while we wait for Kerry to distinguish himself vis-‡-vis this close-mouthed, secretive White House that has committed this countryówith almost no serious debateóto a long-term strategy of transforming the Middle East, we get a serious profile of his butt boy (ìWith that be a five iron or the Charmin two-ply?î)


Not the guy who would have his hand on the button, just the staffer whoís always got his hand on the butt.


Hmmmm.

2:56AM

Sonia says sayonara to Indiaís PM post

ìIndiaís Stocks Shudder, With a Wide Impact: Emerging-Markets Indexes Fall to Year Lows on Election Results, Interest Rates and Middle East,î by Craig Karmin, Wall Street Journal, 18 May, p. C1.


This was the breaking news of the day, in large part because of what the worldís markets did yesterday to Indiaís credit ratings. This is Thomas Friedmanís ìelectronic herdî in action, saying in effect, ìIs this the best you can do, Congress Party?î


No offense, but this would be like asking Maria Shriver to be President because sheís the least offensive Kennedy relative we could get our hands on. The Congress Party has completely run out the string if sheís the best theyíve got. Geez! Even the U.S. has a law about not letting foreign-born politicians assume the highest office in the land (so you can forget about Governor Terminator too, but not President Mel Gibson).


So Sonia did the smart thing today and said she would not accept the post. Expect further twists and turns within the Congress Party, but in the end, I think this ìupsetî is going to prove rather hollow. The big question will be how quickly the BJP eats humble pie in order to come back into power with the same focus on the rural poor that Chinaís ìfourth generationî leadership has wisely displayed since assuming power in Beijing.


Simply put, you can only integrate yourself with the global economy so fast. Or in other words, the train engine canít really go any faster than the caboose can keep up.