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The real failure in Iraq: the FDI has not flowed

ìCash crunch curbs rebuilding in Iraq: Jobless rate stuck near 30% as businesses seek capital,î by David J. Lynch, USA, 1 June, p. 1B.

ìSome Seek Date for U.S. Troops to Exit Iraq,î by Peter Slevin, WP, 1 June, p. A20.

The first few paragraphs of this piece hit the issue right on the nose:

ìBusinessman Louay al-Tahanís biggest problem isnít the postwar chaos that often keeps his employees from their jobs, the daily power outages that idle his machines or even the unexploded artillery shell sitting in the rubbish heap alongside his factory.

Al-Tahanís biggest problem is a lack of cash. Despite Iraqís turmoil, he sees a huge opportunity to expand production to meet surging demand. But to do that, he needs $1.8 million to replace his gear. ëTo renew our factory, we really need to rip out all our equipment,í al-Tahan said. ëWe donít have the liquid cash.í

With bank lending almost non-existent and foreign investment in Iraq about as common as a snow-storm. Iraqi businesses are struggling to secure the credit they need for life after Saddam Hussein. Whether these midsize businesses succeed or fail with their job-creating expansions is critical for stability: Iraqís anti-American insurgency is largely made up of unemployed young men. If the economy generated more jobs, extremists couldnít recruit foot soldiers as easily.î

No businesses invested in themselves under Saddam because to do so was to become profitable and attract the attention of Saddamís sons, who would simply loot the place over time. So businesses did nothing beyond surviving under that rule.

So far the coalition governments involved in the occupation has disbursed about $7.5 million in micro-loans, but billions are needed.

Who will supply that sort of money? Private corporations that see a future in Iraq. Killing that future is exactly what that insurgency is all about; they would prefer a smaller pie they could control that a larger one no one in particular could control (unless you believe multinational corporations control your life as well).

Meanwhile, the ìempireî strategists are leaving this sinking ship. Andrew Bacevich, one of the real kingpins of this movement, says ìThe destruction of the Baathist regime is the fullest expression of liberation that we can accomplish . . . It is simply beyond our ability to bring into existence a liberal democratic order, and to persist in attempting to do so is, first of all, to end in failure.î

So thatís the judgment of the empire crowd: itís war and nothing else; itís smoking holes and ìweíre outta here.î Apparently it's all (democratic order overnight) or nothing at all.

Thatís grand strategy alright: give it a year and then bail.

Remember World War II: it was all success upon success for the U.S. in its first year, and everyone in America was behind the war from the get-go.

As Dr. Evil would say, ìRrrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiight . . ..


The Saudis as bit players in their own 9/11s

ìSaudis Suffer Fresh Terrorist Attack: Assault Takes Lives of 22; Some Westerners Leave, But Oilís Flow Still Steady,î by Hugh Pope and Chip Cummins, Wall Street Journal, 1 June, p. A3.

ìSaudis act to ease concerns after terror attack: Officials search for al-Qaeda militants,î by staff and wire services, USA, 1 June, p. 5A.

Al-Qaeda is doing well in its efforts to scare out all Westerners from Saudi Arabia, but Westerners account for only about 100k of 6m foreign workers, the vast majority of which are south and east Asians.

So I ask yet again: why donít we have India and China in this coalition? Itís their oil, and their people working there. The reality is that killing or scaring off all the Westerners wonít cripple Saudi oil production one bit.

Thatís because the Saudis are bit players in their own 9/11s: of the 25 who died in this biggest terrorist attack in over a year, only 3 were Saudis. The rest were 8 Indians, 3 Filipinos, two Sri Lankans, an American, a Briton, an Italian, a Swede, a South African and a kid from Egypt.

Let them eat cake? Hell, let them eat the bullets too . . ..


China huffs and it puffs, hoping its house wonít blow down

ìInexpensive Chinese cars on way soon? Hurdles remain to importing vehicles as cheap as $9,000,î by Earle Eldridge, USA, 1 June, p. 3B.

ìChinas Opens Retail to Foreign Investors,î by Leslie Change, Wall Street Journal, 1 June, p. A2.

ìU.S. Firm to Control Chinese Bank: Newbridge Buys 18% Of Shenzhen Shares,î by Peter S. Goodman, Washington Post, 1 June, p. E1.

ìChina Sees Success in Taming Growth: Senior Official Says Prices Of Commodities Are Easing. Investment in Toning Down,î by Kathy Chen and Constance Mitchell-Ford, Wall Street Journal, 1 June, p. A15.

ìThe Most Populous Nation Faces a Population Crisis,î by Joseph Kahn, New York Times, 30 May, p. WK1.

ìAsiaís Tigers Are Back, With More Muscle,î by George Melloan, WSJ, 1 June, p. A17.

The next threat from China? The Great Wall Deer pickup and the Great Wall Safe SUV. Itís chin-ching at a mere 9 to 18k per unit.

But whatís this? China opening up its retail sector big time. Out go the old rules, such as all ventures must be joint ventures, and in come the new, such as Walmart can start its own stores and set them up anywhere.

Damn those tricky communists! Every time I think I have a handle on them, they confuse me yet again.

Iíd call them inscrutable if they were issuing so many new rules in direct compliance with WTO regsócurse their growing transparency!

Whatís worse is that theyíre beginning to let Western firms own banks in China. More connectivity. More rules. More transparency.

Why submit to our bankersí tyranny? Could it be $500 billion in bad loans in the system? So the infusion of cash at the price of ownership means we get to buy distressed banks.

Hmmm. How very capitalist of us . . ..

Latest news from China says its efforts to cool down the economy is showing signs of working in certain key raw materials like steel and aluminum. Good news. Too much of the global economy is tied to China already, and China needs that foreign direct investment to flow for years and years.

Why? China is aging faster than any major country in human history. All this nonsense about China somehow blowing past the U.S. economically and posing a huge military threat completely ignores the huge demographic shifts already in play and inescapable to all: China will get old before it becomes rich. Add this race to the many China is running with itself.

Yes, yes, I know. All those pissed-off young men without wives (thanks to the one-baby policy) will get angry at their lot and decide to invade the world, displaying an overseas aggression that China has yet to display in about 5,000 years of history (but those damn tricky communists will unveil it any minute now!).

The hardest thing for so many experts in my field to accept about China is that it is destined to disappoint the Pentagon greatly as a ìrising near-peer competitor.î Instead of seeing Chinaís development for what it isóa huge opportunity for strategic partnership, the Pentagon prefers to dream of distant wars full of high-tech platforms.

As usual, the Wall Street Journal puts it all in perspective:

ìThe emergence of growth-oriented free-market policies in India and China has produced a happy synergy. The developed world supplies them with investment, capital goods and know-how. They supply the developed world with low-cost consumer items that help hold inflation in check even in a period, particularly in the U.S., of monetary stimulation. Both sides benefit.î
Oh no they donít! The Pentagon is losing its dream date. A country old and fat and waddling around Walmarts just wonít do . . ..


Roger and me

Dateline: Holiday Inn Express at Midway Airport, Chicago IL, 31 May

Spent a half-hour today with a friend who goes all the way back to

kindergarten--Roger Haney. Roger was always the biggest kid in the class by

about 3 inches and 30 pounds--even in kindergarten. Gentle as giants go,

not the smartest guy but always the most polite and kindest, Roger

unwittingly taught me manners throughout my childhood.

Let me tell you how.

I had numerous ear problems throughout my early years, going substantially

deaf on several occasions and suffering through a half-dozen operations over

the years. Suffice it to say, I sometimes didn't hear so well. Like most

kids, my comeback to anything I couldn't make out was "Huh?"

Roger never said "huh." His mom was my 5th grade teacher at Immaculate

Conception and none of her kids ever said "huh." They all said, "Pardon

me?" Not snotty or anything, but with the perfect raising of their tone at

the end to signal both a question and to lighten the request--making it

almost sound like "please."

Whenever I heard Roger use this, I was really impressed at how well it went

over with people--especially adults. It was like Roger had this secret

knowledge that never failed to impress. Simply put, he was smooth in a very

basic way, and yeah, it was impressive for a kid.

So I spent years mimicking Roger on this one small point. To this day, I

will use "pardon me" over 90% of the time, and each and every time I do, I

think of him and how he made me just a little bit better of a person for

knowing him.

Roger is dying from an inoperable brain tumor. He's way past the surgeries,

the radiation, and the chemo that won't do him any good. Roger is waiting .

. . and living his life as only someone as polite, and upbeat, and kind as

he possibly could.

My Mom and I sat in the Haney living room with Roger and his mom Betty for

about 30 minutes today. Roger's mind was as sharp--and as funny--as ever.

He made historical and political arguments with ease, described joking with

doctors, discussed the weather and how much he enjoyed watching me on CSPAN

last night. We talked briefly about how we teamed up on a forensics skit in

high school that took us all the way to state in class A, where we won a

first-place ranking--my only state "championship" despite all my success in

multiple sports. Roger played the Romeo (Pryramus) to my Juliet (Thisbee)

in the play-within-the-play of Midsummer Night's Dream. It was the most fun

acting I've ever had, and one of the great memories of my youth.

It wasn't sad to see Roger today. As always, it was simply great to be with

him yet again and remember our young lives together. Roger says every day

above ground is fine with him.

Meanwhile the emails poured in from those people who saw me on CSPAN last

night (the effusive accolades, the occasional hate mail filled with

accusations and expletives, and the always humorous instant review of the

book on Amazon from someone who admits he's never even read it!). Meanwhile

my Amazon ranking hit a new high around 4:30 pm at #6 (right behind "The

Davinci Code" and just above the "South Beach Diet) and my B&N similarly

peaked at#14--another all-time high.

That "love" will come and go--like a 30-minute visit in a life stretching

over 4 decades in length. And yet none of that attention compares to

hugging Roger one more time and briefly holding Mrs. Haney--my fifth-grade

teacher--in my arms.

Life is a long journey--harder for some and sweeter for others. We all seek

connectivity and love at every possible traction point along the way. I

found one huge traction point today, and--as always--it made me a slightly

better person for having found it.

Thanks again Roger.


My first speaking engagement

Dateline: my motherís house, Boscobel WI, 30 May 2004

Going through the treasure trove of family stuff that my Mom wants us to divvy up now that my Dad is gone. I focus primarily on my Dadís service medals from WWII.

My Mom also has a box of memorabilia from my childhood that she wants me to go through, which yields me a fairly tall stack of material. My favorite find describes my first successful speaking-for-fee engagement. I won $3.00 for the first-place prize at the annual Immaculate Conception Grade School speech contest. It was my first year of participating at grade 4, which was when they let you start.

I beat out my two best friends: Brian Brindley, who spoke about ìThe Circus,î and John Adams, who spoke about Lew Alcindoróthe greatest NBA center you never heard of.

The event was covered in the 20 April 1972 edition of the Boscobel Dial.

My subject? Easy.

The Green Bay Packers

When you talk of one of the oldest, best known football teams, you have to be talking of the Green Bay Packers, started in 1921. The Green Bay Packing company gave them money to keep going. The great leader and coach Curly Lambeau and the Hungry Five rallied the team around them. In the Twenties, the league split into two divisions. Itís strange when a team like the Packers rarely went as long as five years without winning a championship. The won in í29, í30, í31, again in í36, í39 and í44. Then a long stretch of winless years but victory again in í61 and í62. Again in í65, í66, and í67. Including the first two Super Bowls (In í67 beating the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10 and in í68 beating the Oakland Raiders, 33-14. Quarterback Bart Starr was voted the most valuable player both the 1967, and í68, Super Bowls. Itís strange: Green Bay, little as it is, has the worldís greatest football team. Most teams come from cities at least ten times bigger than Green Bay.

After Coach Lombardi left, the Packers again suffered years of defeat. Each year though the Packers have a good tough team. Only twice has Green Bay won the division title and lost for the league title. Long ago the Packers had survived years of defeat and come back to be leaders. Theyíve suffered again through years of defeat; theyíre going to be leaders again. Theyíre not finished. Next year, watch out, NFC, AFC, for the Green Bay Packers! Thank you.

Thomas Barnett, Grade Four, Mrs. Dziekan

COMMENTARY: My Grandpa Jerry Clifford was one of the Hungry Five who rallied the town to keep the Packers going during various lean years. He was inducted into the Packer Hall of Fame as an executive of the club in 1991.

Hereís the feedback I got from the judge, Miss Sandra Shepherd, high school English instructor: ìExcellent information. Good speaking voice. We were able to understand all of your words. You sound like quite a football ëPacker Backer.í Keep it up.î

I have, Miss Shepherd. I have.


Just me and my Dad

Dateline: SWA flight from Providence to Chicago, 29 May 2004

Heading to my hometown (Boscobel, WI) with my eldest son Kevin. Itís always a great treat to travel with one of your childrenójust one. Spending that sort of time aloneójust the two of youóis so amazingly important in parenting. My own warmest memories of my Dad center around the times weíd spend alone doing two things: 1) Dad throwing me football passes as I ran various routes (down-and-out, down-and-in, button-hook, short-post, long-post, and bomb) on our front lawn; and 2) whenever my Dad took me to the ìcountry clubî that was a 9-hole golf course in the middle of corn fields between Boscobel and Fennimore. The latter case was far better, because the nine holes would drag on for quite some time, meaning lots of time for talking, plus Dad would always take me to the bar at the club afterwards and treat me with a 7-Up (with one of those candied cherries on a swizzle stick) and a bag of Fritos.

In a family of nine where Friday nights were special because you got a can of grape soda, that was major-league fun.

But, of course, the real fun was simply spending time alone with my Dad. With six siblings, hanging out alone with Dad was fairly rare. So when I think of my Dad and the best memories I have of him, I can almost feel myself dragging that big damn golf bag up all those hills at Hickory Grove, chomping on a stick of Dentene, which Dad always carried.

I try to do similar things with my kidsóthose special events alone. Thatís the prime reason I bought two season tickets at Lambeau Field: I knew Iíd want to bring one of my kids each time I went. One ticket would be pointless, and three wouldnít have been quite the same (Who am I kidding? I would have taken the third in a heartbeat!).

Right now I have three games a year to attend. I take my oldest two kids to one each, and then use the third on a relative or close friend. Eventually, my third child (Jerry, now four) will demand to go, then Iíll be full up for several years. My oldest kid, Emily, is now 12, and by the time sheís off to college and probably out of the going-to-Lambeau gig, Iíll have a new addition to the rotation: our fourth child Vonne Mei, whom my wife and I will pick up in rural China sometime around Labor Day this year. She was probably born near the beginning of this year, abandoned a couple of months later, and now is entering her fourth month in an orphanage.

When Emily heads off to college, Vonne Mei will be seven years old and sitting in Seat 11, Row 1, Section 246óright in front of me in Seat 11, Row 2, Section 246. I will spend most of the game leaning over and yelling into her right ear about whatís going on down on the field, explaining to her the seemingly odd rule sets of the game.

I hold that image of my yet-unseen-daughter in my head as my wife prods me to read yet another book about China, trans-racial adoption, or the lives of women in the Middle Kingdom. Our Vonne Mei will bring all that baggage/heritage/promise/challenges with her, but no matter how she changes our lives and we fundamentally alter hers, she will be sitting there in Lambeau sometime in the 2011 season, wearing a foam cheesehead and a tiny Nick Barnett jersey (#56), trying to warm her cold little fingers with a cup of hot chocolate.

I can almost hear her shriek at the opening kickoff.

Kevin and I go to Boscobel for Memorial Day for three key reasons: 1) to see our old dog Boswell, who now lives with my Mom and keeps her company; 2) to see Grandma herself, of course, and 3) to hear my Dadís name read at the Memorial Day American Legion ceremony at Blaine Gym.

Every year on Memorial Day the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars hold a ceremony to remember those who died, either as a veteran or on active duty service, over the previous year. For my entire childhood, the man who MCíd the event and read the list each year was my Dad, John Barnett, veteran of WWII (Navy). Before that, his dad, my Grandpa J.E., performed the same role. J.E. was in the Marines in WWI and the Army in WWII. In 1983, my Dad read aloud the name of his own father.

On Monday, some veteran will read out my Dadís name, and I wanted to be there to hear it, along with my Mom and several of my siblings. Other than masses at Immaculate Conception, this will probably be the last time his name is mentioned in this town in any formal ceremonyóother than when my family buries his ashes sometime this summer.

I brought Kevin along as the eldest male child in my family, to remember both his Grandpa John and to think about his cousin Daniel, currently serving somewhere in Southwest Asia with the Navy. These are important people and important sacrifices to remember, so we make this journey togetherójust Kevin and his dad.

While we are in Boscobel, we will spend time with my niece, Ally, also adopted from China by my sister. This is an added treat, obviously. Being around my niece is like staring at the future, one that I can only guess at in terms of difference, but one whose similarities I cannot wait to reacquire (e.g., the baby who sleeps in your arms, the toddler who rides in the backpack, the three-year-old who sits on your hip).

I am mere weeks away from becoming a father for the fourth time. With the book out and about and my life settling into something other than obsessing on it full time, I find myself increasingly focused on all things China. As anyone who reads this blog knows, to think strategically about global change and globalization is to constantly bump up against the whirlwind of development that is China, but that remains a big abstraction compared to the journey I will take with my spouse weeks from now, because when we return from China in the fall, our family will become part-Chineseójust like that.

I worry now and then that people will think my views on China are somehow distorted by this adoption, when in reality my views on China were many years in the making. This adoption brought us to China because my wife and I felt strongly about reaching abroad for a new sense of connectivity with the world at large. Because my sister had already adopted from China, our growing knowledge of the challenges of trans-racial adoption told us it made a lot of sense that our Chinese-American daughter should have someone else in her extended family who looked like her, and thatóby making this choiceóour niece Ally would be similarly rewarded.

As for myself, this adoption will form the back half of my high-low mix of education on all things Chinese: while my work will remain high-end and big-picture on China as a force of global change, my personal life will become intimately low-end and small-picture on China as a force of familial change.

I needed a trip like this after all the running around connected with the book over the past month. I needed something that connected me to my hometown past, my continuing present, and the future just looming ahead: just me and my Dad, just me and my son, just me and my daughter-to-be.


Iím turning Chinese oh yes Iím turning Chinese I really think so!

Dateline: my Momís house in Boscobel WI, 30 May 2004

You probably wonít get that reference unless the phrase New Wave really rocks your memory of days gone by.

And yes, it does feel old to say that (I turned 42 on the 28th).

Last month I was so excited that a Japanese publishing house had bought the rights to The Pentagonís New Map because it just seemed so cool to think someday Iíd hold a Japanese-edition copy of the book in my hand. Getting your work translated into other languages is unbelievably cool. When the original Esquire article made it into a variety of other languages, I was ecstatic as only someone whoíd spent years learning a variety of foreign tongues (French, Russian, German, Romanian) could be.

With our upcoming adoption of a baby girl from China, Iím actually considering learning Mandarin Chinese. Most parents who adopt Chinese children have their kids later spend some time getting re-acquainted with their mother tongue so that they donít lose the simple ability of being able to wrap their mouths around the specific sounds demanded by that language, the idea being that youíre keeping the option of native fluency alive if the child someday decides she wants it.

Me, I consider it a great career move for anyone nowadays, because China simply offers such interesting possibilities for someone who can master the language. Even on the web, this can be a serious advantage. After all, within a few years Chinese will be the number one language on the Internet in terms of sheer pages of volume. So imagine what a huge advantage it would be to be able to blog in both English and Chinese!

Well, I just had that ability offered to me yesterday by one Claire Hong of Taiwan. My webmaster had told me just the day before that we were taking a lot of hits from Taiwan, or what Critt likes to call ìdeep looks.î Apparently, I didnít have to wait long to find out who was checking me out. Here is an edited version of the email Claire sent me yesterday.

Dear Mr. Barnett:

I would like to request for your permission to translate some of the Taiwan/China related articles on your personal weblog into Mandarin Chinese. Your view on the Globalization, world peace and the US role as a mediator between Taiwan and China appears to be quite fascinating and insightful to readers like me.

I would like to be your advocate and pass some of your messages to a wider Taiwan audience who do not have the best grasp of English but would appreciate reading your writing in Chinese instead. Hence this request.

With your gracious permission, I will post your original article and my translation to this following website:

This is a non-commercial, non-profit public Internet discussion forum hosted and maintained by a group of very dedicated Taiwanese volunteers who care deeply about the future of their beloved island country. Many of us have taken part in the various movements that transformed Taiwan from the authoritarian state into today's Asian model of democracy & liberty . . .

Aside from watching the media and current affairs within Taiwan, our readers care about peace in Taiwan straits as well as the world. We have also started a movement to cover international news on our own by translating newsworthy articles and post them on the forum. This way we don't have to be manipulated and fooled by the local mass media on how the world is looking at Taiwan.

I plan to post my translation immediately beneath each of your original paragraph so the readers can refer directly back to your original. Your original publication site and your authorship will also be prominently placed on top of the posting . . .

I look forward to your permission to translate your past and future published articles (on Taiwan, China and related issues) on your weblog and distribute them in the Internet in the above described, non-profit manner. Again, you have my solemn promise that its use is strictly for non-profit, educational purposes. The original URL site and your original authorship will always appear in the most prominent position on top. Of course, I will always keep you apprised of such action.

We have asked Mr. John Tkacik from the Heritage Foundation and Mr. Tom Donnelly of the American Enterprise Institute for similar permission and were fortunate to have earned their kind trust to translate a few pieces of their work already (on Taiwan presidential election and European Arms Sale to China). May I ask for the same privilege from you as well?

Thank you for your attention and I anxiously await your response.

Sincerely yours,

Claire Hong

International News Team of

As a student of foreign languages, Iím always simply impressed by anyone who can write so fluently in a tongue other than their motherís.

While I have resisted offers to write guest pieces on other blogs (cross-posts on other sites are already driving traffic back here to the source) in general this offer is simply too good to pass up. I reach a bigger audience I could not otherwise interact with, and another connection to Chinese culture is born.

Someday perhaps Vonne Mei will exhibit the same drive and vision that Claire seems to possess in abundance already.

Being our daughter, this would not surprise me. But I will enjoy the wait.


CSPAN sticks with the original plan on my brief at NDU

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 29 May 2004

Last week National Defense University heard that CSPAN was coming with two vans, seven people and two cameras for my presentation at the conference being held on 2-3 June at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and they naturally assumed that it was going to be a live broadcast. Flurry of emails ensues. I am surprised by the change in plans, but announce it here anyway.

We were all wrong in that assumption.

CSPAN and Brian Lamb want to stick with Lambís original idea of taping the brief and showing it later in prime time on CSPAN, probably followed by me and a host in studio live to take phoned-in questions.

I am relieved to hear this. NDU was telling me Iíd need to schedule a 15-minute break in the presentation andófranklyóthat would be hard for me. When I get rolling in the presentation, I lose all track of time. So this way, Iíll just do my thing, stop when it makes sense, and let CSPAN worry about how to edit it all later.

So thereíll be nothing to watch on 2 June (Wed). It will probably be shown, according to Lamb, either late June or early July.

Meanwhile, the Book Notes interview with Lamb will play tomorrow night at 8pm and 11pm EST. There are spaces at CSPAN to discuss the program and review the book. Iíll be interested to see if anybody does. Iíll post the complete transcript online here once it appears at their site (

What you wonít see on the tape is Lamb and I chatting for about 10 minutes while the tape rolled and he instructed his assistants to apply just enough make-up to deal with my shining forehead. We talked about Laura Ingraham (he told me a very funny story about how she once got back at some boyfriend who broke up with her), the vagaries of make-up on shows in general (he complained about eye-liner once on Donahue and I bitched about sometimes having eyebrows drawn in).

During the show you will see I am fairly slow and subdued for about 15 minutes, but then I really forget about the taping and loosen up quite a bit (watch for my hands to start really moving on-screen). I was amazed I didnít swear at least once, but Lamb is so reserved (despite constantly giving you that winky sort of half-grin after he asks questionsóalways off camera as far as the viewer is concerned!), that I maintained my composure in that regard.

I will say this: itís true you only get to go on Book Notes once in your entire life, so Iím very glad I can be as proud about this show as I am. But again, most of the credit really goes to Lamb for the style, tone, pacing and depth of the interview. He really is a master.

At the end of the show, I call him ìsirî and then the audio cuts out while the credits roll. Right away he bellowed ìDonít call me sir!î And then I laughed about finally getting into that habit after so many years of being around military officers all the time (Lamb is a former Marine, if Iím not mistaken). He told me we just needed to sit there and chat until the video was done, so we did, and I finally relax enough near the very end to cross my legs (whew!).

Again, itís the best interview Iíve ever given, primarily because Lamb is the best interviewer Iíve ever encountered. I watched the tape against last night with my in-laws and I was a bit intimidatedóI fear Iíll never sound that smart ever again!

No articles today, so instead hereís a review from Intellectual Conservative, an online pub.


Reviewing the Reviews (

Hereís a review from that a friend came across.

My commentary appears below.

The Pentagonís New Map: War and Peace in the 21st Century

by Steven D. Laib, J.D., M.S.

28 May 2004

According to author Thomas Barnett, America's greatest challenge in international relations is to narrow the gap between the wealthy "Core" nations and the Third World.

Every once in a while a book comes along that makes you think. You may agree or disagree, but the thinking process that the book stimulates in its readers is what counts. The Pentagonís New Map is one such book. The author, Thomas P. M. Barnett, is a scholar of some note in Defense Department circles. He is presently serving as a Professor in the Warfare Analysis & Research Department of the U.S. Naval War College; however, his background and experience qualify him perhaps as much a ìfuturistî as a strategic analyst. He is an optimist, and to a certain extent, an idealist, and it shows in his writing. Nonetheless, he is worth paying attention to.

The story really begins as Barnett, for all intents and purposes a specialist on the Soviet Union, enters the world of the Defense Department, just as the USSR was being dismantled. Obviously, he had to find another focus, and it came when he began researching the future of national defense. As his work progressed he became convinced that the Pentagon top brass had become overly focused on ìgreat power confrontations,î leading them to expect that Americaís next challenge would come from China. Barnettís work led him to believe quite differently; that the next confrontation would be between the technologically advanced, democratically governed, economically powerful ìCoreî nations and the ìGapî which can be roughly defined as ìthe Third Worldî where the wolfish characteristics explored by Thomas Hobbes still hold sway. Barnett relies heavily on his conclusion that new rules governing international relations have taken hold, making great power wars essentially impossible. He proposes that the mission of the Core, that next challenge, is to ìshrink the Gap,î leading to a Kantian era of world peace, and that the United States should take the lead, largely because we possess the most powerful military on earth, and because other nations generally can and will trust us to lead the way.

Much of Barnettís theory rests on a reasonable belief that people who have a substantial economic stake in a system will not go to war against other members of that system. From this, one can see the logic in suggesting that China would not want to precipitate a war with its best customer, and this is what drives Barnettís interest in shrinking the Gap. Integrating Gap nation economies into the overall Core system is the key to eliminating international instability and terrorism. ìDisconnectedness equals danger,î he says, and makes an excellent case in favor of this view. He then moves into explaining the how and why of this problem, followed by his prescription for a new American military and a map to a ìfuture worth creating.î

Conservatives should be forewarned. Barnett is not a Republican and he admits to voting for Al Gore in the last presidential election. One gets the impression that he will vote Democratic in 2004, despite Kerryís statements that going into Iraq was a mistake. Barnett states that it was necessary, and that the United States should get involved in toppling more corrupt dictators. Obviously, Barnett is also not your typical liberal either. What he appears to be, in many respects, is an internationalist and/or a globalist. One word he uses frequently is ìglobalization,î sometimes capitalized to indicate stages that have occurred during the 20th Century. He almost seems to see America as having a messianic role in the 21st Century, leading a sometimes-unwilling world to its own best destiny.

Barnett admits that his work is controversial. His analysis does appear to contain some glaring problems, and he may have lost track of some little details that might derail his train to the ìfuture worth having." For one, Barnett tends to ignore the role of corruption within the Core. He makes no mention of the Franco-German role in the Iraq ìfood for oilî program that has recently come under investigation, and was already on the radar screen before his work was published. This same investigation may lead to the unveiling of similar problems within the United Nations, despite Barnettís belief that the UN has a continuing major role to play in nation building after the American Leviathan removes undesirable elements.

In an interesting contradiction he also mentions how we need to be more sensitive to Muslims, and how the military is moving out of the Arabian Peninsula, to avoid religious problems. Meanwhile much of his work points to the need for more outsiders in Arabia to integrate the region into the Core, and eliminate the factors that prevent modernization. The fact remains that as of now the fascistic elements of Islam have rendered that region extremely xenophobic, which promotes the jihadist ideal. Thus, there is the strong possibility that sensitivity is the last thing the Core should demonstrate, if they want to move Iraq and the rest of the region out of the Gap.

As for the rest of the World, Barnett seems to believe that the Core may be persuaded to go along with his plan if the United States can make the right case in public. He does not deal sufficiently with the possibility that many foreigners will see his program as a blueprint for an American Empire. Considering the anti-American attitudes that are so pervasive in many societies today, including Core members, one must expect that it will be an uphill struggle. Then there are also some nations (such as Spain) whose people cut and run instead of accepting the challenge. To be fair to Barnett, his work was published before the recent Madrid bombings.

He concludes his book with a series of predictions, some startling, and virtually all guaranteed to make any paleoconservative cringe. It is certain that if a significant number of his predictions come to fruition, it means the end of the United States, as we know it. Of course, Barnett is looking toward the end of the World, as we know it, which in some respects may not be a bad thing.

COMMENTARY: The first three lines of the review were all I needed to read to feel happy. Donít expect anyone to agree with everything in the book, andótruth be toldóboth liberals and conservatives need to be forewarned, because I tend to be more of a Democrat on domestic issues and a conservative hawk on foreign affairsóor what some call a ìTony Blair Democratî (and yes, I like that title even more now that heís not the coolest dude in most peopleís eyesóreal fans stay for the hard times, not just the championship seasons!).

You can tell this guy is really conservative if he reads the book and believes I see a substantial role for the UN. Frankly, most foreign affairs people read the book and are flabbergasted at how much I ignore the UN!

Yes, I plead guilty to the peace-through-trade notion, but only when buttressed historically by nuclear weapons, which I state throughout the book as being responsible for killing great-power war. So, no fuzzy-headed idealist I, for nukes define my sense of strategic realism (I began my career in nuclear strategic planning).

Other shots are fair enough, especially when he understands that opening up the Middle East will necessarily be violent since plenty there will fight it. He takes the conclusion in reasonable stride, noting that Iím describing some very big change and maybe thatís not badócertainly not in terms of opening up the readerís mind to new possibilities.

So, in the end, Iím quite proud of this review. It says I wrote something that even self-avowed conservatives cannot dismiss, because they find the challenge of the argument too attractive to not engage in serious debate. To me, that says Mark Warren and I pitched the book at the right ideological angle.


What do I want to be when I grow up?

Beeg! Really, really Beeg!

Dateline: Southwest flight from Orlando to Providence, 28 May 2004

Last night was just what the doctor ordered: a big crowd ready for a big performance, and an inveterate showman desperate to remember what it was like to hold an entire ballroom in the palm of his hand. I have never worked a crowd for so many big laughs in my career, and it did me a world of good. On the eve of my 42nd birthday, it reminded me of what really animates my work: the sheer joy of teaching and sharing my ideas with others.

Writing a book was fun, and signing close to a hundred for people waiting long in line after the talk was certainly a gasser, but nothing compares to the live performance. Being on TV is cool, but it is as cold as ice compared to the warm buzz you feel when just a shrug or a couple of words can send several hundred people in spontaneous laughter or applause. It is my addiction and I have missed it desperately. When I go more than about two weeks without such an experience, I actually get depressed.

You may think itís simply the limelight, but thatís not really what does it for me, because deep down Iím more of a loner (far happier to be by myself with loved ones than with strangers or even my very small circle of friends) than an extrovert. When I spend time with people close up, I get tired and need to withdraw. But put me on the stage, where itís that pure transmission of ideas intermixing with response, and it is quite electrifying for meócharging my batteries in no time flat.

TV doesnít do that for me, nor do books or articles, as much as I value those forms of idea transmission. What really turns me on is being live with an audience that will give you feedback every single second of your performance. The sense of risk versus payoff in that environment is simply intoxicatingóthe best narcotic I have ever encountered.

When I was signing books afterwards, one lady asked me why so few Ph.D.ís were as funny and entertaining as I am, and I told her the truthóIím nothing more than a frustrated actor with a good, organizing mind. So Iíve taken that concept-packaging capacity and put it to a showmanís use: Iím Laurie Anderson with intellectual rigor, or Donald Rumsfeld forced to work the vaudeville stage.

I donít pretend that what I do makes me better than anyone else, or really any smarter. I just know that itís what I was meant to do, and I do it better than just about anyone else on the planet. Thatís a very nice feeling for your 42nd birthdayóthe first one following your old manís passing. Itís a sense of knowing who you are and why God made you this way.

Itís a confidence that allows me to define a global future worth creating and selling it for all itís worth.

Thank you, Dad, for helping me become that man. Thank you, Lord, for giving me the strength to find purpose in my life.

I canít wait to get home and hug my kids, kiss my wife, and mow that lawn . . ..

Hereís todayís catch:

REFERENCES with my commentary:

ìAgreement by U.S. and Rebels to End Fighting in Najaf: After 7-Week Battle, Sadrís Force Quits Streets but Stays Intact,î by Dexter Filkins, New York Times, 28 May, p. A1.

ìKerry Outlines Foreign Policy, Attacking Bush,î by Robin Toner and David E. Sanger, NYT, 28 May, p. A1.

ìIn Jordanís Scrapyards, Signs of a Looted Iraq: While U.S. Rebuilds, Experts Cite Plunder of Costly Material,î by James Glanz, NYT, 28 May, p. A1.

ìU.S. and Bahrain Reach A Free Trade Agreement: Despite small figures, Washington see symbolic importance,î by Elizabeth Becker, NYT, 28 May, p. W1.

ìTo Head Off Recall, Chavez Tries More Dirty Tricks,î by Mary Anastasia OíGrady, Wall Street Journal, 28 May, p. A9.

ìAn Identity Crisis for Norman Rockwell America,î by Michiko Kakutani, NYT, 28 May, p. B27.

ìItís Out of College and Onto Jobless Rolls in China,î by Jim Yardley, NYT, 28 May, p. A3.


Sadr standown in Iraq: not bad agreement, but wrong one

ìAgreement by U.S. and Rebels to End Fighting in Najaf: After 7-Week Battle, Sadrís Force Quits Streets but Stays Intact,î by Dexter Filkins, New York Times, 28 May, p. A1.

ìKerry Outlines Foreign Policy, Attacking Bush,î by Robin Toner and David E. Sanger, NYT, 28 May, p. A1.

ìIn Jordanís Scrapyards, Signs of a Looted Iraq: While U.S. Rebuilds, Experts Cite Plunder of Costly Material,î by James Glanz, NYT, 28 May, p. A1.

ìU.S. and Bahrain Reach A Free Trade Agreement: Despite small figures, Washington see symbolic importance,î by Elizabeth Becker, NYT, 28 May, p. W1.

I understand the deal with the devil in Najaf, and I know that temporizing situations can work in our strategic favor. But such deals only work if we spend the meantime creating the connectivity that generates strategic despair on their side, not ours.

Strategic despair is when your side surveys the environment and says to itself: ìNo matter how hard we try, this thing is going southóthereís just too many of them and too few of us.î I worry about strategic despair a lot right now with the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, and even more so back here at home, where media coverage highlights only failure and never success. Why? The mediaís definition of war is almost as narrow as the Pentagonís: show us the smoking holes and dead bodies! The ìeverything elseî is completely ignored, which is why onsite blogs like IRAQ THE MODEL are so importantóthey define serious ground truth.

What are the deals worth concluding right now? Our enemies in Iraq, which I dub the forces of disconnectedness because that is what they seek for both Iraq and the region as a whole, believe in the inherent weakness of Westerners, something experts have taken to calling Occidentalism (a book out on that subject now is quite good). Occidentalism basically says that too much individuality is very bad, weakening both the individual and the societyómaking us weak and decadent. It tends to ignore the reality that the most vibrant and creative societies in this world all stress individualism.

I know, I know, youíll tell me about Japan. But Japanís collectivist society was only good at taking other peopleís ideas and manufacturing them intelligentlyóuntil a generation of individualists began arising in the last couple of decades. These are the Japanese whoíve given us the tremendous art and culture and fashion and design. These individualists are the ones defining Japanís future as the global capital of cool.

America has been battling the Occidentalist outlook for a very long time. Imperial Japan thought a bloody nose, delivered at Pearl Harbor, would simply scare us off. The Viet Cong fought onóagainst tremendous odds and horrendous lossesóbecause they believed America was easily scared off. In neither case was this true: we crushed the Japanese in a very bloody war, and only pulled out of Vietnam when we realized that our larger strategic rationale was empty.

But shedding blood or spilling that of others has never been a problem for America, land of glorified violence and mass media full of revenge fantasies (think of our most cherished stars and what has defined themólike Clint Eastwood or Mel Gibson). Americans are not squeamish whatsoever. In fact, we wallow in images of death and destruction.

What really defines Occidentalism, in my mind, is the assumption by male-dominated societies that American men are essentially pussy-whipped by our women. By having a reasonably balanced society in terms of womenís rights (always room for improvement Ö), we present an image to the outside world that not only do we treat our women badly, they treat us men even worse in terms of disrespect.

The whole 2nd-term Clinton sex scandal epitomized this sort of thing: not only did we have a leader who clearly treated women in a degrading fashion, our political system was ready to can him on that basis. Look at it from the perspective of the rest of the world: weak leader, degenerate behavior, asinine political system. We lost respect on every level on that one.

Personally, my anger with Clinton was that the man simply couldnít jerk off whatever demon was trapped in his trousersóat least until he got out of office. Was that too much to ask given the stakes? After that he could fool around til Hillary shot him for all I cared. But you donít put everything at risk for just that, because reputation matters. In the end, our character is all we take with us to the grave.

Kerry is starting to sound the right notes in this campaign: not taking on the central goal of a Global War on Terrorism (defeating our enemies), but arguing the method. So heís stressing the importance of alliances and keeping old friends while adding new ones.

Would I like to see him push it farther? You bet. He needs to recast what this coalition is all about by eliminating the charge I just cited above: that itís just the flaccid West against the tough-as-nail-willing-to-die-on-a-dime Middle East. Do we accomplish this simply by getting meaner? Becoming more like the Israelis?

Absolutely not. We accomplish it by easternizing the coalition, by shading its occidental skin tone. We accomplish it by courting the New Core powers, making the deals that bring them to Iraq and thus create strategic despair among our enemies.

Iraqi insurgents staring across the line at Indian, Russian and Chinese soldiers will have a hard time with that Occidentalist bullshit that passes for warfighting morale. All of those countries know how to kill without remorseóespecially Muslims who challenge their sense of order. And there wonít be a public back home that wilts at the first sign of body bags.

Iraqi insurgents who peer across the streets at a truly global coalitionónot just West but Core-wideówill inevitably start muttering to themselves: ìWeíre screwed. This is pointless. There are too many of them to kill. We canít win. Letís take this fight somewhere else.î

The best part of this strategy is that the deals we need to make are the ones most Americans will cheer: letís reverse ourselves on Kyoto like the Russians did and get the Europeans back. Letís push for Russia joining both the WTO and NATO. Letís forget about missile defense shields in Asia and start talking to China and Japan about howótogetheróweíll force Kim Jong-very-Ill out of power and turn Korea into the next Asian FDI-suctioning powerhouse. Letís make India the ìmajor, non-NATO allyî of choice in South Asia.

Do any of these deals sound that hard to make? Do you see more loss of U.S. ìprestigeî in these horse trades or in the deal we just cut with al-Sadr in Najaf?

Iraq has been stripped bare by looters. The only way weíre going to reconnect Iraq to the world is if we get the Core as a whole to do some major-league investments there. Do you think there are Russian oil companies looking for new sources to develop? Do you think the Chinese are interested in stable sources of energy? Do you think India wants to play a bigger security role in region?

In the end, I see loads of obviously self-serving motives on each side, which is how I know these deals can be cut.

Thatís not to say the Bush Administration is doing some very good things. Pushing the free trade agenda in the Middle East is a great one. But as I said on Blitzerís CNN show: Americans have to ask themselves who can cut the better deals that must lie ahead if weíre going to really prevail in Iraq. We cannot kill out way out of this one, nor simply withdraw. Look at your history of successful counter-insurgencies: either we offer the Iraqis a happier ending than the one al-Sadr, bin Laden and others offer, or weíll simply pervert ourselves in the process of killing as many of them as we can. We cannot defeat these people with violence, for itís all they know and theyíve got nowhere better to go if thatís the nature of the fight we offer. We need to overwhelm them with boots on the ground, a clear sense that this occupation is both West and East in origins, and hope that connectivity can be made both real and permanent.


The ìBig Manî in Venezuela

ìTo Head Off Recall, Chavez Tries More Dirty Tricks,î by Mary Anastasia OíGrady, Wall Street Journal, 28 May, p. A9.

The latest news from Venezuela is typical of all ìbig manî sagas: the romantic, dashing lead of the first reel becomes the monstrous ogre by the third. Whatever Chavez offered in terms of a future worth creating for the people has long since vanished. By achieving great power, he has becomeóto no oneís surpiseópower mad. He will continue to thwart the legitimate recall effort accomplished by the masses there, and his resorting to militia-based enforcement strategies to buttress his rule will only grow more violent and widespread.

A world with an A-to-Z rule set on processing politically-bankrupt regimes would have Chavezís name near the top of the to-do list. Thatís why getting Iraq right is not just getting the Middle East right, itís about getting the entire Gap right by sending clear signals that all the Big Men better watch their backs.


Many states, under God

ìAn Identity Crisis for Norman Rockwell America,î by Michiko Kakutani, New York Times, 28 May, p. B27.

The NYT review of Samuel Huntingtonís ìWho Are We.î A good critical review of a very bad book.

I cite it for this truly stupid concept from Robert Kaplan that ìAmerica, more than any other nation, may have been born to die.î The logic? Our multinational nature eventually kills us as a nation, something Sam truly fears.

This is nonsense in the worst way, in large part because it ignores the reality that we are not just a nation, weíre the worldís oldest and most successful multinational economic and political unionó50 member-states strong.

Why do I say strong? As much as we shape this world, it shapes us almost equally in return. We are the closest thing to a perfect balance in the world today: simultaneously remaking the world in our image even as that process fundamentally alters our very make-up. Thatís why weíre neither an empire nor a threat to world peace: our very multinational make-up is both our greatest strength and our greatest self-modulating weaknessówe are both extremely united and easily divided.

Doom-and-gloomers like Huntington and Kaplan will fill your heads with fear every chance they get. There is a reason why America is the most powerful collection of states on the planetówe are the model for the future of the world. Globalization is our perfectly flawed projection of everything we possess and lack, and the bin Ladens of the Middle East are dead on in fearing its inevitable remaking of traditional societies there, for itís their clock that slowly ticking its last beats, not ours.


Chinaís real enemy

ìItís Out of College and Onto Jobless Rolls in China,î by Jim Yardley, New York Times, 28 May, p. A3.

Hereís the real threat to Communist rule in China: if they donít keep growing that economy at least 7 percent a year (something we could never do here), then the countryís already large pool of unemployed grows even larger. Thatís the baselineó7 percent just to hold the line on massive unemployment.

That reality is why you currently have a communistóyes I said communistógovernment in China that says its job is not to make sure everyone in China has a job, but merely to create the market conditions within which jobs are plentiful.

When I hear security experts in the States go on and on about the ability of the Chinese Communist Party to maintain their rule despite all the change the country is going through, I have to laugh to myself. There is no such thing as a ìcommunistî ruling elite in China anymore, but merely the same single-party export-driven-growth-strategy regime that weíve seen elsewhere throughout Asia in recent decades.

Why did the CCP simply ditch the ideology? They had no choice if they wanted to remain in power.


How long to keep running with this thing?

Dateline: Southwest flight from Providence to Orlando, 27 May 2004, segueing into that Marriott hotel just off Walt Disney World (you know, the weird one with the giant fish statues on either end)

Itís an exciting time for me: coverage in national media, appearing on national TV, an article in a national magazine and a book selling smartly all over the country. That sort of heat gets you emails like you wouldnít believe, and offers from every possible angle. All these transactionsóboth real and prospectiveócan wear you out.

How to choose and how many to take on? How long to keep flogging the book? Is this blog a forever thing or a book-related thing? Does the vision beget some larger organizational effort to push it? Do I incorporate or remain a lone ranger? And arenít we heading to China sometime soon for child #4?

Good. I need about 4,000 hours of flight time to read everything everyone has sent me to comment upon in the last month.

Then thereís the lawn, which still needs mowing every damn week. Thereís the day job. Thereís all the requests for speeches from other government entities. Thereís my spouse, our kids, the cat, and our new puppy on back order from Wisconsin (Chesapeake Bay Retriever female). Thereís coaching one son in baseball, and trying to resurrect my piano lessons. Thereís the fact that we havenít made it to Six Flags New England yet and schoolís almost out! I have to start thinking about my three Packer games in the fall. Whatís the next project at the War College? Is their an option book? Maybe seeking publication for the Emily Updates? More articles to write for Esquire? Back to writing for military pubs?

And so on and so on . . ..

Itís to the point right now where I go days before returning calls, something I never did before, and Iím turning down invitations to speak because I just have to ask myself if it makes sense traveling all over the country non-stop (he says, typing in a Marriott in Orlando). You know, Iím not really that sure about the audience Iíll be speaking to in a couple of hours, or even where Iím supposed to show up or by when.

Geez, I hope the driver took me to the right hotel!

I am starting to wander around lost in my own schedule. Instead of looking forward to exciting trips and interesting opportunities evenly but judiciously spaced across a calendar, Iím now dreaming of spending a whole week in my office just organizing my files, updating my bio, and cleaning up my PC desktop.

Itís been a year of non-stop push to get the book proposed, sold, written, edited, packaged, marketed and located on the web (this site). Now, as everything is beginning to take off by leaps and bounds, I find myself exhausted by the pace of the past twelve months, and wondering absent-mindedly whether or not I need more disconnectedness in my life (or just more sleep).

But I put aside such doubts for now. In a few hours, it will be just me standing alone in front of a ballroom audience of several hundred people whoíve heard that Iím just about the most exciting briefer on the planet. Books available for sale will be piled up outside the cavernous hall. The senior official on-site will wrap up her introduction and then Iíll simply have to start talkingówhether Iím up for it or not.

Time to see if this room has a personal coffee machine . . ..

Hereís todayís catch:

REFERENCES with my commentary:

ìPutin Calls for Convertible Currency,î by Erin E. Arvedlund, New York Times, 27 May, p. W1.

ìBooming China Devouring Raw Materials: Producers and Suppliers Struggle to Feed a Voracious Appetite,î by Peter S. Goodman, Washington Post, 21 May, p. A1.

ìU.S. Companies Put Little Capital into Iraq: Many Firms Interested, but Are Held Back by Security Concerns, Lack of Political Stability,î WP, 15 May, p. A17.

ìInspired by Anger a World Away: Iraq War Images Spur Islamic Attacks in Remote Thailand," WP, 15 May, p. A1.


New Core Powers Russia and China Are Connecting

ìPutin Calls for Convertible Currency,î by Erin E. Arvedlund, New York Times, 27 May, p. W1.

ìBooming China Devouring Raw Materials: Producers and Suppliers Struggle to Feed a Voracious Appetite,î by Peter S. Goodman, Washington Post, 21 May, p. A1.

Russiaís president Vladimir Putin floats the notion that many in the Core are waiting anxiously to hear first and foremost from China: the push to make the currency truly tradable with the rest of the worldís convertible currencies. This is a huge form of connectivity, because by linking your currency to the world outside, you let that world start determining the real power of your money beyond your bordersópushing up or driving down the value according to its fluctuating desire to buy, hold, or sell you money. At once you give up a lot of control over your economy while gaining a lot of help in keeping your currency logically priced according global market conditions.

Going convertible is a key step to joining the Core big-time. Once the rest of the Core can hold your money, companies become more comfortable in dealing with your economy, because now they have additional mechanisms by which to manage the risk of entering in and doing business within your economy.

Why is this important to security? The old Pentagon fear about a Russia getting rich and developed and then returning to authoritarianism and outward aggression gets a lot harder to imagine with this sort of economic connectivity. A convertible currency has to be a real one, not the pretend ruble with which the old Soviet Union funded so much of its military machine. By being real enough to leave the country and re-enter it at various prices (exchange rates), the entire world economy gets involved in any government deficit spending, because sovereign debt impacts private debt by raising or lowering interest rates (the cost of money). Governments get into the business of having to sell their debt when they overspend, and that sort of borrowing impacts the value of the currency, making it more or less attractive to buy or hold. In effect, the world gets a say in how reasonable it is for your government to overspend (meaning, how costly), and that means your ability to fund defense is linked to the overall health of your country. In short, a convertible currency makes it a lot harder to isolate the impact of heavy defense spending, so the actual burden on the economy is discovered (the choice between guns and butter).

When other countries buy U.S. debt, they indirectly help us pay for our large defense budget. Other countries are willing to hold dollars because theyíre easily convertible and hold their value well (the essential global trust in the American economy). It amazes me that the U.S. economy still has coinsóright down to the penny. When I lived in the Soviet Union, they had coins that were quite stable in value, primarily because they were unconvertible into anything else. When I spent a week back in Russia in the mid-1990s, all of those coins were gone, as inflation had essentially driven them from distribution (they had become essentially worthless). The painted black-lacquer box I bought my fiancÈ back in 1985 cost about $80, or roughly half the price I paid 10 years later for another one twice as big and twice as detailed. The difference in rubles, though, was enormous: that box back in 1985 cost about 100 rubles, whereas the one in 1995 cost almost half a million thanks to the runaway inflation of the early 1990s.

The fact that a U.S. quarter is still worth something (roughly the same ballpark range as when I was a kid and not something on the order of one-one-thousandth of that value) shows that Americaís economic stability is a huge source of its ability to generate the massive military power we enjoy today. We are essentially trusted in the world. We are considered a good bet. By funding our deficits they fund our military andófranklyóI think they expect us to do well by the world when we use it.

Thatís something very important to remember as we wage this Global War on Terrorism.

As for China, their connectivity grows by leaps and bounds. When I did a workshop on the environment in Asia in 2025 with Cantor Fitzgerald back in the summer of 2001, I ginned up a briefing on the results. One slide (shown here) depicted what Wall Street thought China would demand from the world within a few short yearsódamn near everything and in huge volumes. This prediction has come true in spadesónot to mention ion ore, steel, lumber, you name it.

Now they global economy has a name for it: the China Syndrome. This syndrome explains, as the Post story reports, ìwhy as many as one-fifth of the bulk freighters in the world are effectively unavailable on any given day and why the cost of moving bulk freight has more than doubled in just over a year.î

Hereís a great bit:

ìOnce a major coal exporter, China is now consuming almost all of its production, putting pressure on that global supply.

ëWe were blindsided by the sudden surge in demand,í said Peter Coates, chief executive of Xstrata Coal, a primary shareholder in Port Waratah Coal Services Ltd., which own and operates the loading terminals at Newcastle, 100 miles north of Sydney.

ëHow many people in the world were able to forecast the massive commodities boom in China? Suddenly, around the world, stockpiles of everything from copper to coal disappeared.íî

Talk about carrying coal to Newcastle!

None of this was unpredictable whatsoever. All you needed to see was China open up, reform its state-heavy economy, realize that all that labor needed jobs, start importing FDI like crazy across the 1990s, and then all you needed to do was read the Department of Energyís long-range predictions on energy use and their 20-year projections jumped dramatically upward with each annual issue. That simple bit of analysis said China was heading on a far different track than the one we were used to plotting for its plodding Communist leadership.

Plenty in the Pentagon see only economic might leading to military power. But I see a huge economy becoming addicted to global connectivity in the worst wayómeaning the world is becoming almost as addicted to China!


Islamic Hot Spots Spread the Risk of Disconnectivity

ìU.S. Companies Put Little Capital into Iraq: Many Firms Interested, but Are Held Back by Security Concerns, Lack of Political Stability,î Washington Post, 15 May, p. A17.

ìInspired by Anger a World Away: Iraq War Images Spur Islamic Attacks in Remote Thailand," WP, 15 May, p. A1.

The first article cites bad but predictable news: taking down Saddam unleashed a lot of anger which, thanks to our poor postwar planning, has degenerated into a lot of anger. That violence is keeping out much of the needed economic connectivity that will really transform Iraqi society. By assuming we were triggering a leap to democracy, we shot ourselves in the foot. The security comes first, because they generate the rules that attract the money. The money shapes society by generating stakeholders in a stable future, and those stakeholdersóover timeóare what get you pluralism.

Still, some bright spots: telecommunications and banking networks are still moving into Iraq. These are the essential forms of connectivity required for business: communications and money. But the service and goods providers are staying out. They need more than just the mechanisms of markets, they need actual markets. And markets need security to function, not just phones and ATMs.

Hereís the best excerpt:

ìW. Tompie Hall, chief executive of Global Market Link Inc., a Colleyville, Tex.-based consulting firm helping businesses break into the Iraqi market, said the business laws of the largely socialist state must be overhauled to make it hospitable for capitalism.

ëIraq had a very weak commercial code under Saddam Husseinóno binding arbitration, no compensation for overtime, inability for foreign companies to have majority ownership,í Hall said. That makes private businesses nervous.

Officials from the occupation imagined that they would create a new Iraq where the private sector would drive the economy. Iraqís stock market, where traders once scribbled numbers on blackboards, would become a modern, computerized multiplier of investments. Husseinís formerly state-owned companies, many of them extremely lucrative, would be open to privatization. And a new banking system would provide capital.

But the insurgency and disputes between the CPA and the Iraqi Governing Council have delayed many initiatives. The stock market has yet to open. Plans to privatize the state-run companies had to be delayed. The banking system has yet to gain momentum with businesses or consumers. And a major trade fair for private businesses scheduled for April was postponed indefinitely.

Most foreign investment has been relatively small, in setting up distribution networks, hiring Iraqi partners, and leasing offices and other infrastructure.

So the money waits on the new rules, but without the security, the new rules simply do not appear.

In the second story, a group of soccer players whoíd just won a local tournament in a remote part of Thailand, left their village telling family they were going on a Muslim missionary trip. Instead they stormed a local police station in a bizarre and rather pointless suicide attack (they were barely armed). This remote province is majority Muslim, and bears a lot of anger toward the central government. Allegedly, these young men, all ìrubber tappersî who made little money in their work, decided to take some sort of glocalized revenge on the West as a result of seeing images of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Chalk one up for al Qaedaís skill at viral marketing, and count Thailand just a little more disconnected from the Core as a result.


CSPAN decides to go live on 2 June

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 27 May 2004

New plan for CSPAN taping on 2 June is that the network will carry my brief at National Defense University live from 8:30 to roughly 11:15/30, with a 15-minute break at 10:00.

Not sure if this will be the only time they carry it or not. If it is, then it will be following quite closely on the heels of the CSPAN Book Notes airing on 30 May.


Is your vision being adopted by the Pentagon?

Dateline: Southwest flight from BWI to Providence, 26 May 2004

Day two of the ìChanging Nature of Warfareî conference at The CNA Corporationís HQ ìsomewhere in northern Virginiaî (okay, Alexandria).

I spend the first hour or so off-line with Alec Russell, DC bureau chief of the London Daily Telegraph and his photographer. We got through the usual storyline of the vision, and end on the inevitable question of, ìIs this vision being adopted today by the Pentagon?î

Journalists are like that: they want to find outóright then and thereówhoís won and whoís lost and on what exact day did that happen (and who was in the room)? I give my usual reply about concentrating on the officers just before they become admirals and generals (i.e., flag officers), changing the career paths of flag officers, and how just the mindset matters for now and that organizational codification is years away.

Russell seemed to get it, and said heíd write the article sometime in the next two weeks or so.

Then we went outside for some suitably ìvisionaryî portrait shots by the photographer, during which time I was attacked repeatedly by those amazing cicadas that are EVERYWHERE in DC right now (and I mean, that distant roaring sound you here is ìthemî).

I say, to hell with ìThe Day After,î THEYíRE HERE NOW!

The second day of the conference is as good as the first: good minds, good analysis, and lotsa disagreements. My favorite bit: comparing the counter-insurgency models of the Brits in Northern Ireland (suffer the slings and arrows, work the underlying conditions) and the Israelis in the West Bank (punitive strikes, screw the underlying conditions). One expert, Steve Metz of the Army War College put it best: weíre trying to do both in Iraq and itís conflicting our minds and approaches, putting us at risk of serious mean-ends mismatches. Again, heís describing the fundamental bifurcation of skills and organization that this eraís environment of war and peace is forcing upon the Pentagon.

Good tidbit from my old Pentagon boss Art Cebrowski: he says he was invited recently to brief Bill Gates and a host of his business friends from around the world. He gives them the Core-Gap thesis and describes the military-market nexus (the Decalogue). The response? As always, the business world gets that stuff intuitively. Thatís why I say this new vision I push is not mine but the worldís: itís a reality I capture, not a dream I concoct. Itís happening and will happen within the Defense Department not because people like myself advocate it, but because the environment simply demands it from us.

And if you think that makes me an economic determinist, youíre right. Doesnít mean I ignore irrational actors. In fact, it just means they are naturally cast as the enemy in this grand historical process. To not ìgetî this reality is simply to be irrational on some level, unless you think itís some grand accident of history that the global economy has developed and spread around the planet in the manner that it has over the last century and a half.

Yes, Iím talking to you Karl and Vlad.

And then thereís the heads up I get from back at my workplace: people in high places complaining about what I said near the end of the Wolf Blitzer interview yesterday. The statement in dispute: my asking the question openly about whether the current administration is better positioned to make the deals necessary to gain serious buy-in from major allies or would America be better served by a new team after November, armed with a clean slate.


Like the end of the Esquire article, I donít tell people how to vote, just the right questions to ask. I am dedicatedóprofessionallyóto generating ìreproducible strategic concepts,î meaning those that can survive changes in administration, or exactly what Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) said (in Jaffeís WSJ story) was needed in the U.S. government right now in history. Shooting for anything less in grand strategy in this global war on terrorism is a cynical waste of our servicemen and servicewomen currently putting their lives on the line inside the Gap.

Hereís todayís catch:

REFERENCES with my commentary:

ìU.S. Warns Of Al Qaeda Threat This Summer: Agents in Country Said To Be Planning Attack,î by Susan Schmidt and Dana Priest, Washington Post, 26 May, p. A1.

ìN.Y. Times Cites Defects in Its Reports on Iraq,î by Howard Kurtz, WP, 26 May, p. C1.

ìThe Times and Iraq,î From the Editors, New York Times, 26 May, p. A10.

ìFive Points of Reality That Bush Overlooked,î WP, Jim Hoagland, 26 May, p. A27.

ìIraq May Survive, but the Dream Is Dead,î by Fouad Ajami, NYT, 26 May, p. A25.

ìThe Bush-Kerry Nondebate,î by William Safire, NYT, 26 May, p. A25.

ìEvangelicals Give U.S. Foreign Policy An Activist Tinge: A Campaign to Export Values Makes Legislative Headway Even as It Arouses Critics,î by Peter Waldman, Wall Street Journal, 26 May, p. A1.

ìWho Would Try Civilians From U.S.? No One in Iraq: Civilian contractors and Abu Ghraib abuses,î by Adam Liptak, NYT, 26 May, p. A11.

ìMTV to Start First Network Aimed at Gays,î NYT, by Bill Carter and Stuart Elliott, NYT, 26 May, p. C1.

ìIn Latin America, a Cellular Need: Mobile Phones Become a Part of Life, Even for the Poor,î by Brian Ellsworth, NYT, p. W1.

ìGreat Walls of Unknowns,î by Robert J. Samuelson, WP, 26 May, p. A27.


The latest global threat from MTV

ìMTV to Start First Network Aimed at Gays,î by Bill Carter and Stuart Elliott, New York Times, 26 May, p. C1.

MTV is a monster content force within globalizationís spread around the planet. I remember well watching MTV India during my time there in 2001: at once a very foreign inflow of ideas and concepts as well as a very artful localized adaptation of a music-selling model (something about which India could teach Hollywood quite a bitóif youíve even seen a Bollywood musical). In short, MTV is not to be misunderestimated as a global force for changeóboth good and bad but always profound.

When MTV steps out ahead of the pack (but not much, considering Bravo and Showtime) to announce a new network aimed at gays, it pushes the envelope not just within our borders, but ultimatelyóthrough its inevitable extensionóthroughout the Core.

And yes, like McDonaldís or other key content ìglobalî networks, the spread of MTV (and all its regional variants) around the world is a decent proxy measure of globalizationís advanceónamely, the extent of the Core.

Why does this matter? Again, globalizationís frontier is where Core content meets Gap traditions, and far more than our politics, the power elites inside the Gap fear our sexual moresóthe far worst of which is (in their opinion) our burgeoning acceptance of homosexuality.

Trends like this are why I say globalization is coming to the Gapóand especially the tradition-bound Middle Eastówhether we support it or not. The Global War on Terror is an enabling factor onlyónot the main show. That is what I mean by waging war within the context of everything and not solely within our narrow definitions of conflict.