Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 24 May
I give commentary following each. The thing about Amazon is, anyone with the ability to type can review your book. Some are quite thoughtful, others just like the sound of their anger.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
empty and long winded rhetoric, May 23, 2004
Reviewer: Mark Nuckols (see more about me) from Chevy Chase, MD United States
This book is stylistically a miserable failure. Barnett apparently likes big words and grand metaphors, but usually uses them for no particular purpose, other than to sound like a typical DC blowhard at a cocktail party. As for analysis, there's a lot more ink spilled about how many generals wait breathlessly for Mr. Barnett's prescient analyses, rather than any actual analysis. One xample of how miserably idiotic this book is: in his "map" of the the "pentagon's new map," he includes Turkey, Indonesia, Thailand, and Slovakia are part of his "Non-Integrating Gap," those countries which are failed and failing states because they are not integrated into the larger global political economy. Since when do EU and NATO member states count as "non-integrated." Or countries with high levels of trade, foreign investment, and GDP growth? A simplistic book for simpletons.
COMMENTARY: My guess is that this guy read maybe the preface or just the Esquire article. Slovakia is not included in the Gap. Turkey is a member of NATO but not the EU (and famously denied this membership on several occasions). Neither Thailand nor Indonesia are members of the EU or NATO. I think the second line of the review gives the poor fellow away.
2 of 48 people found the following review helpful:
the pentagon"s new map hits #1, May 12, 2004
yesterday i had an interview with thomas p.m. barnett
he is a funny man he writes mystyrey books but some times
hororror action he wrote this book for his wife
COMMENTARY: I think Sally needs helpónow. Hope I behaved politely during her imaginary interview.
15 of 34 people found the following review helpful:
New Map + Vision = Delusion?!, May 10, 2004
Reviewer: Gaetan Lion (see more about me) from Mill Valley, CA USA
This is a fascinating book that gives you a unique insightful look within one of the sharpest mind to populate our government's Defense department intelligentsia. Barnett is an excellent writer that makes even dry subjects easy to read. Barnett's foreign policy framework is very clear and understandable. He splits the World into two. The first part is the Functioning Core, countries positively engaged in globalization. The second part is the Non-integrated Gap, countries that are not part of globalization.
Globalization as implemented by the Core countries (industrialized countries for the most part) is a positive force that promotes democracy, free trade, economic growth, and peace. The countries within the Core have no incentive to combat each other. This explains the dÈtente within the U.S. and Russia relationship. Similarly, China is no more the enemy, as it is becoming a full-fledged member of the Core. The Core countries are increasingly connected by abiding to the same trade rules, global financial markets, and international laws that promote economic growth and democracy over time.
The countries within the Gap, on the other hand are disconnected. For Barnett, the more a country is disconnected from the Core, the more dysfunctional and dangerous it is. Quoting the author: "A country's potential to warrant a U.S. military response is inversely related to its globalization connectivity." We are talking here of the usual suspects, including countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. These countries are often associated with totalitarian and corrupt regimes, rapid demographic growth, declining living standards, rising unemployment rates. These countries often experience the demographic bulge mentioned by Samuel Huntington in "The Clash of Civilizations" whereby a growing young, idle male population, combined with high unemployment rate becomes a recruiting pool for terrorist networks.
Per Barnett, the Core and Gap countries trade with each other. But, what they trade is not what you think. The Gap countries export to the Core: terrorism, drugs, and pandemic diseases (including Aids). The Core countries export to the Gap: security services (military interventions), globalization, and democracy.
Barnett mentions a third category: the Seam countries. These countries are on the violent borders between the Core and Gap countries. Their prospect is uncertain. They can drift towards the Core or back towards the Gap.
Paraphrasing some of Barnett's words, he views the U.S. foreign policy as: 1) increasing the Core's immune system capabilities for responding to September 11-like events; 2) working the Seam states to firewall the Core from the Gap's worst exports (terror, drugs, pandemics); and 3) Shrinking the Gap.
Forget the Axis of Evil with just three members (Iraq, Iran, and North Korea). He has developed a long list of troubled spot countries that the U.S. should address while resolving the Iraq situation.
To reduce the Gap, the U.S. will have to police the World for a very long time. He believes that the U.S. is the only country capable of such an effort. So, it has no choice but assume that role. In his view, not fulfilling this responsibility will prove disastrous.
However, the military component of his theory is highly unrealistic. With Afghanistan and Iraq on its hand, the U.S. resources are exhausted. We don't have a fraction of the military power to occupy and rebuild more countries than we are already taking on right now. We are also exhausted fiscally. We are running record high Budget Deficits. And, the Bush Administration is asking Congress every quarter for extra tens if not hundred of billions to resolve the Iraq situation. More importantly, we seem to be drifting away from the Core into a fourth stand-alone category: the Uniteralist. The more unilateral our military operations will be, the more costly, unsustainable, and ultimately unsuccessful they will be.
Last but not least, Barnett's military zealousness calls for a massive tax increase and implementing a permanent draft. The U.S. people won't have either of those. Barnett does not touch on that subject.
For a more realistic vision, I recommend Richard Clarke's "Against all Enemies" and Wesley Clark "Winning Modern Wars." Both authors advance a better strategy, which is to address terrorism as a supranational issue that you can't fight State by State (forget the Map). Instead, our intelligence agencies should be more proactive and aggressive in cooperating with their counterparts in Europe, Asia, and everywhere possible to seize and capture terrorists, and treat them accordingly once seized.
COMMENTARY: Whenever I see the "permanent draft" concept floated, I know I'm listening to a complete dunderhead when it comes to understanding today's U.S. military and what makes it great. As for massive tax increases, I only advocate no tax cuts. This guy's answers are typical: 1) firewall America off from the outside world (Clarke's dream); and 2) kill terrorists more efficiently (Clark's advice). Neither will work. It always amuses me that non-military experts find my splitting the force so preposterous while military experts consider it just about the most important aspect of the book.
Fellow government minion
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
Excellent primer on how policies develop. . .., May 3, 2004
Reviewer: dahozho (see more about me) from Woodbridge, VA United States
This book is a *must-read* for anyone interested in how the US gov't. policies & processes were not ready for the post-Soviet world. If you are a Fed, manager or 'in-the-trenches', this should be required reading to understand that the boxes of bureacracy impede the flexible thinking required by today's world and fast-moving technology.
The style is very readable, almost like you're sitting with Barnett in his office. He has made the process of intelligence & policy-making accessible, and I'm continually amazed how similar my own experiences with government work are to his analyst work. (Basically, if you have something different to say, or have an 'out of the box' solution, you're in for a difficult time.)
COMMENTARY: Obviously I like the review because it's positive, but what I really like about it is this reviewer's sense that the career narrative material has broader appealómeaning it speaks to anyone who's trying to push similarly unconventional ideas in a bureaucratic setting. Also like the "readability" comments, which always warm Mark Warren's heart (my editor).
Mr. Poli Sci shows himself up
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful:
A wonderful new analysis, April 29, 2004
Reviewer: Seth Frantzman (see more about me) from Tucson, AZ United States
A wonderful new insight into America role in the world. Along with 'Clash of Civilizations' and Brzezinski's book this book is the singular best assessment of the new global position, especially as it relates to America. The author divides the world into the non integrating 'Gap' and the functioning 'Core'. Students of Political Science can be excused for surmising that this reminds them of the 'center-periphery' debate. But this book is not a scholarly approach, in fact if anything its greatest downside is that its language is playful and low brow, perfect for an introduction to the global situation but lacking for those who were enjoyed Huntington's earlier revolutionary work on the similar subject.
The analysis is wide ranging, part autobiography and part introduction to Naval War College analysis. In the end the books greatest triumph is in the wonderful color map that details where exactly America has intervened between 1999-2003. This map clearly illustrates which countries are seen by America as 'allies' or at least 'stable'. This include S. Africa, North America, the southern cone, the EU, China, Japan, India and Australia. Basically the middle east, eastern Europe, central Asia and most of Africa, along with central America are seen to be the potential problem countries. By in large this simply reflects where America has had to intervene or where current wars and civil strife are taking place. One could also argue that these are the countries with the most dictatorships and human rights abuses. A very insightful text that is wonderful for anyone interested in Americas new vision of the world.
Seth J. Frantzman
COMMENTARY: Cleary I must approve because he does of me, but the somewhat snotty tone regarding the masses is a bit much. And trotting out "center-periphery" is pretty weak. He means "core-periphery" by Immanuel Wallerstein, which is at once similar and diametrically opposed. Wallerstein's Core needed the Periphery kept poor in order for it to remain rich. My book argues the exact opposite.
This guy gets the book's goal
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful:
A MUST READ if you are to join the debate, April 29, 2004
Reviewer: Okie Reader (see more about me) from Claremore, OK USA
Early last spring, a friend of mine with political connections had been told privately by a member of our state's congressional delegation that war with Iraq was "a done deal." While the rest of the nation was engaged in public debate, our leaders knew war was a foregone conclusion.
At the same time, Esquire magazine published an article titled "The Pentagon's New Map" written by a man described as one of Bush's top military advisors -- Thomas Barnett. I found Barnett's article so frightening and his predictions so chilling that I made numerous copies and gave it to anyone I thought would sit still long enough to read it. The article haunted me for weeks because although I opposed almost every argument for war Barnett made, I could not deny his logic.
That article is now a book. "The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century" is a must-read for anyone who wishes to understand how the U.S. military complex views our post-9/11 world, how U.S. military policy is made, and who wishes to intelligently debate America's role in this "new world."
Barnett's premise is strikingly simple. In the 21st Century, there are two global camps. There is the "Functioning Core," a term used to describe nations that are "connected" to the rest of the world, and there is the "Non-Integrated Gap," a term used to describe nations that are "disconnected."
The Core -- represented by North America, Europe, China, Australia, and limited parts of South America -- is stable. Core nations, while they may not be democracies, by virtue of their participation in the global economy and their subscription to a generally agreed upon "rule set," pose little threat of state-on-state violence (war).
The Gap -- represented by the rest of the world, notably Central America and large parts of South America, the Middle East, most all of Africa, the Balkans and Southeast Asia -- is unstable and will continue to "export violence" to the Core. In Barnett's world, disconnectedness equals danger, and the disconnected Gap represents one-third of the world's population whose societies threaten global peace.
He argues that the Cold War strategy of "containment" no longer applies. We cannot simply contain the Gap, we must shrink it. And the U.S., as the only remaining superpower and the only nation with a truly transnational military, must lead the way in shrinking the Gap.
Barnet believes the U.S. has a moral responsibility to provide a "security export" to the rest of the world and to spend its time NOT just envisioning ways to mitigate disaster and global conflict, but to envisioning a "future worth creating." "There is no denying that problems in the Gap reflect a tremendous legacy of past abuse and unfairness on the part of the Core in general," he argues, "but shrinking the Gap as a strategic vision is not about making amends for the past. Instead, it is a practical strategy for dealing with the present danger that will -- on regular occasion, I believe -- reach into our good life and cause us much pain if we continue to ignore it. But more than just looking out for ourselves, shrinking the Gap is a strategy that also speaks to a better future for the roughly one-third of humanity that continues to live and die in the Gap."
Consider this compelling analogy from Barnett: I believe that history will judge the 1990s much like the Roaring Twenties -- just a little too good to be true. Both decades threw the major rule sets out of whack: new forms of behavior, activity, and connectivity arose among individuals, companies, and countries, but the rule sets that normally guide such interactions were overwhelmed. These traditional rule sets simply could not keep up with all that change happening so quickly . . . Eventually the situation spins out of control and nobody really knows what to do. Economic crashes effectively marked the end of both tumultuous decades, followed by the rise of seemingly new sorts of security threats to the international order. In the 1930s, it was fascism and Nazi Germany, while today most security experts will tell you it is radical Islam and transnational terrorism. In both instances, the community of states committed to maintaining global order was deeply torn over what to do about these new security threats -- try to accommodate them or fight them head-on in war? . . . My shorthand for rule-set divergence in the 1990s is roughly the same one I would offer for the 1920s: economics got ahead of politics and technology got ahead of security . . . We didn't construct sufficient political and security rule sets to keep pace with all this growing connectivity. In some ways, we got lazy, counted a little too much on the market to sort it all out, and then woke up shocked and amazed on 9/11 to find ourselves apparently invited to a global war."
Which brings us to today. Regardless of your political and religious persuasion, regardless of your support or opposition of the current Administration, you cannot secede from this debate. The decision cannot be made by default or by a political process that does not include the collective voice of our citizens. Barnett appears to be the only person telling us the full truth about this engagement and its cost: " . . . we are never leaving the Gap and we are never 'bringing our boys home.' There is no exiting the Gap, only shrinking the Gap, and if there is no exiting the Gap, then we'd better stop kidding ourselves about 'exit strategies.' No exit means no exit strategy."
Whether you can reluctantly accept this result as inevitable, or it frightens you to the core, there is no denying that we, as a nation, cannot shrink the Gap and care for our own citizens in any reasonable way IN THE FACE OF continued tax cuts and deficit spending. We must wake up, consider the challenges ahead of us, force our leaders to address these challenges and our options in more substantive and coherent forums than those allowed in an election year, and make our voices heard. I urge you to read the book and join the debate.
COMMENTARY: What to say? I wrote this book for it to be read in exactly the way this guy describes. I'll take his 4 stars to Mr. Poli Sci's 5 any day.
Man looking for clarity
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful:
Connects the Dots, April 25, 2004
Reviewer: John J Marsh III from Vienna, VA
In the flood of sound bites, war drama and daily tragedy, this book provides a most helpful context to view the big picture for the war on terror. I was struggling and searching for linkage of the major polictical and military moves since 9/11, amid all of the varied opinions that make it to the headlines. This is it. It provides a valuable way to measure the success of our efforts in world security, homeland security and our performance as the only major superpower in the world. Thanks for the vision. Clarity really does help calm the mind.
COMMENTARY: Makes you wonder if my readership is unduly concentrated in northern VA or whether people there just tend to be the ones who like to write reviews. Having lived there myself for 8 years, I would say both. What I like about this one is the sense of relief expressed about finally finding something that puts all the events since 9/11 into some larger perspective. I really believe people are very hungry for this, which was my fundamental reason for writing the book.
Major league ass-kisser
5 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
Understanding the conversation, April 25, 2004
Reviewer: Critt Jarvis from Hull, MA United States
"Some nights the wolves are silent and the moon howls."
--Bathroom graffiti in the Blue Moon Tavern
Like Buckminster Fuller's "Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth", Barnett's work provides a whole-systems approach to understanding our world. His "Decalogue" in Chapter Four -- The Core and the Gap -- provides the linkage between security and economics.
Wolves read the title and howl at the moon. But I say, read it all the way through. Then howl with the moon -- in great conversation.
[Disclosure: I am Barnett's webmaster]
COMMENTARY: His disclosure says it all. Have you no shame, sir?