Where I Work
Receive "The World According to Tom Barnett" Brief
Search the Site
Buy Tom's Books
  • Great Powers: America and the World After Bush
    Great Powers: America and the World After Bush
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett
  • Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating
    Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett
  • The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century
    The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett
  • Romanian and East German Policies in the Third World: Comparing the Strategies of Ceausescu and Honecker
    Romanian and East German Policies in the Third World: Comparing the Strategies of Ceausescu and Honecker
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett
  • The Emily Updates (Vol. 1): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    The Emily Updates (Vol. 1): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    by Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett
  • The Emily Updates (Vol. 2): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    The Emily Updates (Vol. 2): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett
  • The Emily Updates (Vol. 3): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    The Emily Updates (Vol. 3): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett
  • The Emily Updates (Vol. 4): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    The Emily Updates (Vol. 4): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett
  • The Emily Updates (Vol. 5): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    The Emily Updates (Vol. 5): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    by Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett, Emily V. Barnett
Monthly Archives
Powered by Squarespace

Sys Admin Force v. Leviathan

And the real question (more sightings)

With my June Esquire piece being titled, "The Leviathan," I am in danger of becoming known as "that Leviathan guy," when inside the Pentagon and defense community (both here and abroad) I am really becoming known as "that Sys Admin guy." Whatever the name-plate, I find myself constantly running across stories that I think speak to this long emerging bifurcation of the Department of Defense into two separate and distinct forces: one that wages war and one that wages peace. You may call this "magical thinking," as some have, but this is merely an occupational hazard of being a visionaryóyou are always under the delusion that the entire world is falling into place "according to my master plan!"

All pathologies aside, one of the criticisms I run into when I push the Sys Admin (wage the peace force) concept is that its lack of firepower will mean the Leviathan force is constantly being called back onto the sceneólike the SWAT.

Reference: "Some in Military Fear a Return To Iraqi Battles Already Fought," by Thom Shanker, New York Times, 12 April, p. A1.

Basic worry expressed by officers here is that we are refighting battles already in Iraq, in large part because the "political process" did not keep pace with our previously swift military victoryóthus "they" (those "political people") are to blame. Some officers on the ground are going so far as to wonder out loud if they won't be retaking the same territory four months from now.

Does this say that any Sys Admin force will always be calling the Leviathan back in whenever violence breaks out? Yes, it does. But the real question is, "Why is this violence/resistance breaking out in the first place?"

We had a huge (several months worth) window to take advantage of Iraqi patience in getting the peace rolling inside that country, but we did not move fast enough. Here is why: the Pentagon pushed hard to demonstrate that a smaller, highly-mobile force could do Desert Storm II just as well as the far larger force had done Desert Storm I. So far so good. But the bureaucratic push to get that force on the field mistakenly overrode the concerns of those (like Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Shinseki) who worried about the size of the back-half (as I call it) forceóor the force that would occupy the country once the conflict was over.

What the public heard was a fight about the size of the military to "win the war," when in reality the fight was over two different forces: one side (the transformation side) wanted a small take-down force to win the war and the other side (the old guard military mostly) fretted far more over the size of the occupation force to win the peace. Both sides were right: the small transformed force worked brilliantly for the takedown, but that brilliance did not obviate the realities that the occupation force would necessarily confront over the long haul.

And the worst part of this whole screwed-up debate was that the compromise ended up as follows: having the transformed warfighting force on the ground at war's end somehow magically (that word again!) reconstitute itself as the occupation force come 1 May 2003. Today, just as the great rotation of forces is coming to a close, and we've moved in loads of National Guard and Reserves (Sys Admin forces as a rule), we're asking that new force on the ground in Iraq to shift back to Leviathan mode. Yes, they will do this well, as always, but at a real cost to both our side and that of the Iraqi people. Simply put, we keep switching back and forth between Leviathan and Sys Admin functions, using the same troops for each when no troops can possibly be optimized for both duties, and the end result has been significant underperformance since the end of the war.

I don't blame the troops, but the political and uniformed masters in the Pentagonónot just in this administration but in every one going back to Bush I. We have let this military get seriously unbalanced in terms of the market conditions out there, and now we are paying for our inattention to change.

But here's my bottom line: we should have let the Leviathan force go in and do its business in Iraq just like it did, but instead of hoping it all worked out in its aftermath we should have sent inóright behind themóthe mass troops of the Sys Admin force, complete with lots of allied forces, and then we would not be in the mess we are in today. There wouldn't have been the looting. The Iraqi army couldn't have disappeared. The militias could not have formed to the degree that they did. And we'd be far further down the road toward legitimate transfer of authority.

That's the serious answer to the question: Will the Sys Admin force constantly be calling in the Leviathan to save its ass? The answer is NOóif the Sys Admin is allowed to follow the Leviathan right into the battlespace to begin waging peace the moment the Leviathan's boots move on to the next objective, leaving no security vacuums in its wake. We will not see the A-to-Z global rule set on taking down politically-bankrupt leaders until the Pentagon creates the military base upon which this political superstructure can ariseói.e., we need a force to wage war and another to wage peace.


Page 5, the Postís Sunday Outlook

Datelineóabove the garage but feeling much taller, Portsmouth, 11 Apr.

Here is the piece I wrote for the Post. Itís been almost 14 years since last I published there. That was a page 1 in the Outlook; here I am grateful to get page 5 in a very busy week. I credit the Post for the willingness to explore things other than the weekís headlines.

It is found online at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A769-2004Apr9.html.

Two concerns with the piece: 1) Will Naval War College be pissed off by the byline? (mentioning OSD time and book but not my current day job) and 2) Will my webmaster ever show me how to access the new email account listed at the bottom?

Targeting Terrorism

Forget Europe. How About These Allies?

By Thomas P.M. Barnett

Sunday, April 11, 2004; Page B05

Terrorists buy a national election in Spain for the price of 10 backpack bombs and remove a "crucial" pillar of the Western coalition in Iraq. Predictably, op-ed columnists and talking heads raise the cry for the Bush administration to "save the Western alliance." This is a knee-jerk response that reflects historical habit more than strategic logic.

Clinging to the Western alliance isn't the way to win the global war on terrorism. In fact, it's a backward-looking approach that's certain to doom our efforts in this conflict. Combating transnational terrorism in the era of globalization will be a decades-long task, and anything that long and complex requires a genuinely grand strategy, something this country has lacked since the end of the Cold War.

Grand strategy is about figuring out what kind of global future is worth creating, understanding which states have the incentive to build that future, and concluding the bargains necessary to keep them on board for the duration. The Bush administration has declared its intention to "transform" the Middle East, but beyond merely stating that goal and offering regimes there a "to-do" list for democracy, it remains unclear what constitutes the finish line in this global war on terrorism. Defining happy endings is important, because it can help America understand who its true allies in this great historical struggle should be -- not globalization's old core of Europe but its new pillars in Asia and elsewhere.

During the Cold War, the United States was able to enlist the long-term support of Western Europe because those nations felt most under the gun from the Soviet bloc's military threat. All they had to do was to peer behind the Iron Curtain to envision the future they wanted at all costs to avoid.

Europe today faces no such threat. All the Islamic terrorists demand is that Europe remain on the sidelines while they wage "holy war" against American "imperialism" in the Persian Gulf. Al Qaeda wants to drive the West out of the Middle East so that it can drive the Middle East out of the modern world. Osama bin Laden has seen our future and prefers Islam's past, and many in Old Europe are willing to agree to his offer of civilizational apartheid, preferring to concentrate on inwardly perfecting the European Union, where they have their hands full merely integrating the former East Bloc states. And if Turkey remains "too different" for that club, you can imagine how any effort to connect Iraq to the West seems like a bridge too far.

Instead of focusing on what it will take to keep Old Europe enlisted in the effort to transform the Middle East, what the United States really needs to concentrate on is developing an entirely new alliance with such emerging powers as China, India and Russia. We can bend over backward trying to keep Spain's 1,300 soldiers in Iraq, or we can figure out what it will take to get these emerging pillars of globalization to contribute far bigger numbers to the effort.

It might seem counterintuitive to enlist nations wanting in the democracy department to promote it in the Middle East. But democracy is a long-term goal at best, when what the region needs right now are states willing to export security in the form of peacekeepers. That is true not just for the Middle East, but everywhere else that we'll be fighting terrorism in this global war.

Globalization's steady advance across the planet marks the battle lines in the war on terrorism. Show me regions deeply embedded in the global economy or moving rapidly toward its rule-bound embrace, and I will show you all the states that should logically be counted among our strongest allies. That "functioning core" of globalization includes North America, much of South America, the European Union, Russia, Japan and Asia's emerging economies (most notably China and India), Australia and New Zealand, and South Africa -- representing more than 4 billion people in a global population of 6.4 billion. Are all of these states democratic today? Hardly. But connecting up to the global economy is how you grow a middle class, and that's the main ingredient needed for a stable democracy over the long haul.

Conversely, show me the regions most disconnected from the global economy, and I will show you those regimes that should be overwhelmingly targeted for reform or, yes, even periodic violent dismantling. These countries lie chiefly within the Caribbean Rim, Africa, the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle East, Central Asia and Southeast Asia. A wide swath of the world, to be sure, but that's hardly a "global" war.

Terrorism thrives where globalization has yet to extend itself in any meaningful way, because countries that lack widespread economic interactions with the outside world (beyond just pumping oil) are either failed states or brutally repressive regimes, both of which generate desperate young men seeking political change through violence. You want to dry up global terror? Make globalization truly global.

But realistic grand strategy likewise demands that we be clear about which of our "allies" not only support globalization's advance but can also handle the clash of civilizations it will trigger. The Bush administration's "big bang" strategy in the Middle East started with removing Saddam Hussein from power, but it will pick up speed only after the United States and its allies successfully reconnect Iraqi society to the world outside. That ambitious effort naturally attracts regional Islamic jihadists committed to fighting "American imperialism," which, absent allies with staying power, our occupation would soon come to resemble.

So who's going to stay with us through the tough times ahead? Here's a hint: If 10 well-placed bombs can flip a country's national election, that country probably isn't cut out for the job of waging a global war on terrorism.

A country also probably isn't cut out for the job if its society is generations past remembering what religious fervor feels like, if its military hasn't suffered significant (or any) combat losses since World War II, and if its government hasn't been accused of significant human rights violations in recent memory. Messy wars require allies who don't mind getting dirty.

Last year , India almost sent 17,000 peacekeeping troops to Iraq. Imagine what a different coalition we'd have there today if we had been able to close that strategic deal. What would it have taken on our part? Probably a much closer security relationship with New Delhi at Pakistan's expense. But since Pakistan is home to many al Qaeda forces still eluding capture, the United States chooses to designate this desperately failed state its new "major non-NATO ally," while rising economic powerhouse India remains -- what? Chopped liver?

An international occupation force in Iraq that included the vigorous participation of the Chinese, the Indians and the Russians would speak to a global future worth creating, not just some transatlantic partnership overtaken by events. Let me give you three crucial reasons why.

First, new core powers are the most willing to wage war to protect the global economy because they have the most to lose by its collapse. Old Europe would still have itself to rely on; North America constitutes an economic universe all its own. But China, India and Russia desperately need access to the global economy, because each is making up for a lot of past disconnectedness.

Second, such new core powers show a real passion for doing what it takes to further globalization's advance. Note the emergence of the so-called Group of 20-plus in the current Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations. These new core powers (e.g., India, China, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea) are aggressively working to conclude new trade bargains between globalization's old core powers (the United States, Europe, Japan) and those regions currently sitting outside the global economy, noses pressed to the glass.

Third, primarily because their rapidly growing economies are the most dependent on future access to the energy resources in the Middle East, the new core states of developing Asia will clearly be most interested in making sure that the Middle East does not fall into the sort of extreme disconnectedness desired by the bin Ladens of that region.

When the United States enlists the active support of a China, India or Russia, it gains military partners who won't run at the first sight of blood, argue incessantly over the constitutional rights of "enemy combatants" or see their governments collapse every time the terrorists land a lucky strike back home.

Yes, we will occasionally have to hold our noses over China's human rights record, Vladimir Putin's rough manipulation of the Russian media or New Delhi's tendency to look the other way on certain forms of internal sectarian violence. But favoring order over justice makes sense at this point in history, at least when it comes to picking strategic partners. Anyway, these states are rapidly integrating with the global economy, inevitably generating the middle class that creates pressure for greater political freedom far faster than any externally imposed sanctions can produce it.

Such support will clearly have costs. But we won't know what they are until we make a serious effort to find out what these nations would need from an alliance. One thing is certain: Like our oldest European allies, these governments would want a clear sense of where the United States thinks it is going in this global conflict.

The Middle East will continue to serve as the world's wellspring of terrorism until it fully participates in the global economy, and that means moving beyond just the oil trade that keeps elites rich and the masses marginalized. With the hydrogen economy looming on the strategic horizon, the alternative is clear: condemning roughly a billion Muslims to a life of disconnectedness that benefits only the dictators of the region. The grand strategy of connecting the disconnected means you cannot simply throw up firewalls between your "good life" and all that "chaos" over there, as many Europeans and not just a few Americans might prefer.

The United States would find far more realistic partners in China, India and Russia, because none of those states is foolish enough to believe that its future strategic security can be bought by distancing itself from the Middle East's chronic conflicts. Until Washington effectively enlists globalization's new core powers in the war on terrorism, our historic reliance on Old Europe will remain our Achilles' heel, easily exploited by an al Qaeda whose strategic vision currently exceeds our own.

Author's e-mail:


Thomas Barnett served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2001 to 2003 and is the author of "The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century," to be published this month by G.P. Putnam's Sons.

Most amazing about this piece is the length (over 1,700 words). The Post had said absolutely no more than 1,500, so I feel pretty lucky to have enjoyed all that space.


Hook, Line, and Sinker

Datelineóabove the garage in Portsmouth, 11 April (Easter)

Reference captured below in entirety is from Village Voice in NYC (6 April). I think we have another would-be reviewer guilty of reading the last chapter and letting it go at that. How do I know: the bit about the U.S. adding states in the future is mentioned only in conclusion. When all that the review or mention takes away from entire book can be located entirely within the conclusion, I know the ìjournalistî in question is flat-out lazy.

Come on, even perusing the press kit gets you better than that!

On the other hand, that prediction was meant to be a grabber, so the tears I cry at being misunderstood resemble the crocodileís . . .

But man, realizing that three of his minions ìcontributedî (insider slang for doing all the work and sending it to the great man) are on the case, youíd think one of them could bother to read the whole new-rules/lesser-includeds/core-and-gap/system-perturbations/sys-admin/myths-we-make/host-of-other-predictions in the book. But no, if all you want to do is rant against the war machine, you get your scoop by scouting out the next ìvictims.î

I know most journalists are just plain lazy, but this is just plain unforgivable. Look past the fear and deal with the substance directlyóand maybe actually read the material yourself vice having your staffers do it. Oh, and James, pick up the phone once in a while. Journalistsólong agoówere known to do that.

Hereís the reference, found at: http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0414/mondo4.php.

Mondo Washington

by James Ridgeway

The Game Of Risk

In which the pentagon rolls the dice and adds states to the U.S.

April 6th, 2004 12:00 PM

Readers still puzzling over what makes Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld tick will gain new insight into the "energizer bunny" from Thomas P.M. Barnett's The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the 21st Century, a book to be released this spring by Putnam. A defense analyst at the Pentagon, Barnett has laid out an elaborate strategy paper that serves as a de facto planning document for Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush administration in their implementation of globalization. In it, Barnett rationalizes the workings of the modern empire, ends up creating a "story line for the future," and sets out a "hopeful image," which includes the overthrow of the North Korean government, the makings of a democratic Iraq as "globally connected" as Israel, an overthrow of the mullahs in Iran, and new territorial acquisitions by the U.S. "The United States will admit new members to its union in coming decades, and these will come first from the Western Hemisphere, but over time from outside as well," he writes. "By 2050 the United States could include a dozen more states. The first president of Mexican heritage will be elected directly from a Mexico state. But this historical pathway will not be contiguous, as we have learned in the case of Hawaii and Alaska, and there is nothing wrong with cherry-picking the best economies as an inducement for harmonizing economic policies throughout the Western Hemisphere."

Why not start off with a bang by dumping Cheney and installing Vicente Fox as vice president?


Additional reporting: Alicia Ng, Ashley Glacel, and Phoebe St John

Again with the Risk label! Is that Milton-Bradley board game the extent of most peopleís understanding of grand strategy?

If so, my book arrives just in time . . ..


The Review that got away

Datelineóabove the garage in Portsmouth, 11 April (Easter)

This poor blogger did everything within his power to actually finish the book, but had to stop at page 48, so insulted was he by my stupidity.

They say there are only two reviews in the world: one in which the reviewer trumpets the authorís intelligence or one in which he trumpets his own. Alas, this review falls into the latter category.

Because I reject chaos as a guiding principle of international relations, I am guilty of psychological aberration, delving into what he calls ìmagical thinkingî (our good doctor consults his American Psychiatric Glossaryóonline, of course, indicating his years of study in the field that allow him the opportunity to diagnose remotely).

The rest is too good to miss, especially his refuting my apparent inferences that former KGB are now training al Qaeda or that the elderly remnants of Baader-Meinhof are now plotting 9/11-the sequel. The logic by extrapolation is stunning. I might call it crazy, but Iím not a medical specialist like the reviewer, so I resist using such jargon. Instead, I realize now that I should have given up writing the book about the same place (page 48) that he gave up reading, discouraged and shamed as I am by this awesome display of put-downs.

I wish Tristero (ah the courage of the assumed online persona Ö) a happy life in the world that Richard Clarkeóprognosticator of prognosticatorsówould build for him. He will find his civil liberties well cared-for in that alternative universe. Dick is known for his kindness to lesser beings. They should get along just fine.

I have said it before and I will say it again: my stuff tends to be a Rorschach Test for most people: they only see what they already believe. Tristero tried to be objective all the way to page 48. He should be commended for his attention span. Especially since he seems to work alone.

You know, if he and the Village Voice guy got together, they could almost review one-fifth of the book online!

Found at: http://tristero.blogspot.com/#0399151753, at the blog of Tristero.

Iím going to have to have a talk with my publicist . . ..


Out of the tunnel...

. . .Onto the field

Datelineóin the basement watching ìThe Pink Pantherî (1964) with the kids, Portsmouth RI, 10 April

End of a long day. Got up this morning and headed to Providence Place Mall with my son to update my wardrobeóactually to buy my first suit in a decade. Indicative of how long it has been since I bought one, I actually asked the salesman at Nordstromís where the double-breasted suits were. They donít carry any at this time. Oops! Hard to look suave recovering from that one. Fortunately, the industry replacement for tall guys, the 3-button suit with no vent, was made for me. So I stocked up and got a tuxedo to boot (already set to use the latter in NYC in a couple of weeks when my Mom is up for an Edgar for her non-fiction study of female protagonists in mystery literature), laying out the bucks in my first actual in-person purchase of clothing for myself in the new millennium. True to my form, Iíve basically worn out all my suits to the point where Iíve got actual holes in them, and then, mustering a manly head of steam, I march into a menís department and replace my entire wardrobe in about three hours. My wifeís threats to burn my old suits could have been a trigger, but I donít wanna go there . . ..

In a way, though, buying new suits was an even bigger step for me personally. Suits to me always meant DC, or, since 1998, going back to DC. When I came to the War College I was clearly running away from DC and all it represented to me at that timeóboth professionally (the chronic negativism) and personally (my firstbornís long struggle with cancer there). With my gag reflex (physical, not ideological), I really try to avoid collars and ties whenever possible, so ìNewport casualî at the college was just perfect. To return to DC on business, which I did with great frequency, meant suiting up and going back into that gladiatorial arenaóbasically a negative experience.

But the book coming out in just 17 days puts me in a different frame of reference: I am returning to the world (okay, just New York, DC and Boston on my three-city media tour). I am reconnecting with a sense of ambition and a desire to generate deep change in the world around me. The book is a serious statement of who I am, what I know, what I believe, and where I want to goóas a person, nation, planet. I am suiting up now because I am gearing up for that future worth creating.

My Dadís recent death only lends impetus to the whole affair. I thought of him several times as the tailor marked my coats and pantsóyou are never really the man until your old man dies. The man needs a suit to conduct the business at handóthe selling of a book, a vision, a future.

If I sound like Iím trying to talk myself into getting psyched, I am. Iím comfortable enough with who I am and where I am in this life that I can easily handle this book doing poorly. When I want to think about serious disappointment and despair, I think of my parents losing sons #2 and #3 before son #1 hit five, wondering is they were doomed to kids with birth defects and should stop trying to have any more.

I was their 8th child. Imagine how many days my old man got up and put on the suit to generate not just the income but the abiding faith that led that young couple all the way to having me a decade after burying two babies in the ground.

In short, I do feel like Iím here for a reasonóif only to pay back that sense of faith and optimism during hard times.

We are having hard times in this global war on terrorism, and in this rule set reset that American society has endured since 9/11 the System Perturbation threw all our conventional wisdom in flux. Not surprising, Washington is busy doing what Washington does best at these moments: dither. So we have investigations and testimony and accusations and counter-accusations and almost no decision-making of noteójust posturing on all sides.

So it seems a day of great cynicism as I survey stories from the NY Times (I get the Post mailed days later and no Wall Street Journal to scan today):

ìAfghan Route to Prosperity: Growing Poppies,î by Amy Waldman, New York Times, 10 Apr, p. A1.

ìThe Parallels of Wars Past: In Lebanon, Israel Saw the Ghost of Vietnam; And Some See, for the U.S., a Lebanon in Iraq,î by James Bennet, New York Times, 10 Apr, p. A1.

ìChinaís Martha Stewart, With Reasons to Smile,î by Howard W. French, New York Times, 10 Apr, p. A4.

ìSony Pictures Buys Richard Clarkeís Book for the Screen,î Sharon Waxman, New York Times, 10 Apr, p. A17.


Illicit goods: Market of the Disconnected

A Challenge for Natural Capitalism

Scan: ìAfghan Route to Prosperity: Growing Poppies,î by Amy Waldman, New York Times, 10 Apr, p. A1.

Disconnected states often rely on the export of a single crucial raw material, like oil in the Middle East. The most disconnected states are those that market illicit goods, like drugs, because they need to stay off the networks by and large to avoid serious prosecution. Afghanistan, one of the great disconnected states of the last several decadesóhell, centuriesóis back in the business of selling the world heroin big time.

This rebound in drug trade is a serious threat to the government because of the corruptive element it introduces to politics. The problem for the American-backed government is, many of the guys in this trade are the same friends we made to take down the Taliban, which itself was deeply involved in the trade as a means of financing its terroristic regime. As fragile as the security rule set is in Afghanistan today, the government and the American military supporting it are wary of starting conflicts with what we used to call the ìnorthern alliance.î

Problem is, this is a vicious cycle: Afghanistan canít join the world on any significant level if heroin continues to account for roughly half its GDPóit just wonít work. But until Afghanistan joins the world, itís hard to see how its society can elevate itself much from what it remains today: too poor and too uneducated and too disconnected from economic opportunity to do anything but grow poppies.

In this global war on terrorism, this rebound in Afghanistanís drug production is a very bad MOE, or measure of effectiveness.


Arab or Iraqi nationalism: Oh, really?

What do you mean by that?

Scan: ìThe Parallels of Wars Past: In Lebanon, Israel Saw the Ghost of Vietnam; And Some See, for the U.S., a Lebanon in Iraq,î by James Bennet, New York Times, 10 Apr, p. A1.

Good article in the sense that it is balanced and lacks the usual hysterical tone of so much analysis right now on Iraq. Basic judgment is that Vietnam is a stretch for a lot of obvious reasons, but that the lessons of Israel in Lebanon have much to teach the U.S.

While I buy that reasoning, by and large, I am still wary of it. Yes, I know that to radicalized Muslims in the Middle East, equating the actions of the Big Devil (U.S.) to the Little Devil (Israel) only makes sense, but to me, saying we have to lose in Iraq eventually just like Israel did in Lebanon is like hearing that weíd get bogged down into a never-ending guerrilla war in Afghanistan just like the Sovs did, or end up abandoning Iraq just like the Brits eventually did.

Like anybody else, I want to learn from the past, but I honestly believe that when America takes something on, we do it betteróor at least very differentlyóthan anybody else has in history. I believe that because we are the most amalgamated system/network/society/people in human history. If our unique mix of just about every type of person on the planet canít pull it off, then it simply cannot be done. Like my friend, James T. Kirk, I donít believe in the no-win scenario when it comes to the United States becauseóafter allówe are the states united, not just the French, or the English, or the Russians, or the whomever. We are the everybody assimilated.

Hmmm. Sounds like the Borg on some level. Ah yes, the super-connected hive . . .

But I digress.

All we can really take from the Israeli experience in Lebanon is that it is incredibly hard to reconnect a severely disconnected Arab state, and that the only states really compelled to try such an insanely difficult task tend to be democracies whose very existence is anathema to the forces of disconnectedness who currently hold sway over so much of that region, forces that constantly tell individuals what they canít have, canít listen to, canít say, canít do, canít visit, and so on. So we will have to learn to accept our status as pure devils in the eyes of these people, understanding that behind every terrorist hell-bent on disconnecting some chunk of the Middle East from that Westoxification called globalization stands large numbers of individuals who really do want to connect to the outside world and all the opportunity and freedom it represents.

Donít be fooled by any talk of Arab or Iraqi nationalism driving this process. This is a fight between those who want to rule that society as they please and those who want Iraqis to choose for themselves how and under what conditions they will live in a larger world.


"Martha Stewart" Tells

Scan: ìChinaís Martha Stewart, With Reasons to Smile,î by Howard W. French, New York Times, 10 Apr, p. A4.

Story is about rise of Chinese version of Martha Stewart, or a TV-show hostess who tries to show average viewers there how to expand their lifestyles with all sorts of new and seemingly exotic practicesólike barbecuing.

You might say, but isnít China full of mostly poor people? Yes, there are hundreds of millions living lower-class lives, but thereís also a middle-class that rivals our own in sheer numbers, if not in purchasing power (within the Chinese economy and its rising standard of consumerism). So this Chinese Martha simply points the wayóconnecting her fellow countrywomen to a dream many may never achieve but most long for nonetheless.

Hereís my new rule: any country with its own Martha Stewart canít be considered a long-term military threatónot with all the time spent arranging those flowers, making that holiday decoration, etc.

Maybe someday soon this Martha Stewart will get caught up in some Chinese stock scandal. Then weíll know for sure that China is hot on our historical trail!


Coming Soon! Paranoid Fiction

Scan: ìSony Pictures Buys Richard Clarkeís Book for the Screen,î Sharon Waxman, New York Times, 10 Apr, p. A17.

This is perfect. Clarkeís book says virtually nothing of utility about the future, just points fingers of blame into the past. Clarkeís answer to terrorism is to kill them faster than they can grow them and firewall off America like nobodyís businessóand I mean nobodyís business would matter in his quest for homeland security.

What I find so hilarious about Hollywood liberals being so entranced with his story is that none of them would ever want to live in Richard Clarkeís Americaónot a single one. He is a scary, paranoid man who was always a scary, paranoid bureaucrat, which is why plenty feared him but few respected him.

Clarke is the epitome of war fought solely within the context of war; heís just decided his war is going to be against George Bush, and so now the enemies of his enemy are his friends.

Still, a non-narrative policy-wonk book getting low six-figures to be optioned by Sony . . . gives a man hope on a dark, dark day.

I mean, Iíve got the tux. Iím ready for my close-up. Itís showtime!

Postscript: "Telling, Timing, and Selling: Soul'd to Sony"


You say you want a coalition

"You say you got a real solution

Well, you know

We'd all love to see the plan"

Datelineóabove the garage in Portsmouth, 9 April

As I scan the newspapers today, I am beginning to realize why the editors at the Washington Post were excited enough about the piece I submitted to run it this Sunday. They consider it highly provocative and sure to elicit a lot of comment. Frankly, I considered it the tenth of the ten ideas we submitted to them (I and Putnam) a couple of weeks back, preferring to have written any of the other nine more than that one.

I felt that way primarily because it was the least developed, having begun mostly as a toss-off sort of end-of-response point that I made in response to an interview question from Junk Yard Blog concerning 3/11 in Madrid. Basically, I said, maybe the U.S. should spend less time worrying about what it takes to keep the paltry number of Old Core (meaning Europe) peacekeepers in Iraq and ask itself what it would take in terms of concluding deals with such New Core powers as Russia, India and China for far larger numbers.

Right now the U.S. has 135,000 troops in Iraq, and the 35 nations there with us have added a total of 20,000 troops, or about 500 per country on average. If you add up the classic Old Core European states such as the UK, Spain, Italy, Denmark, and the Netherlands, then already you're talking about over two-thirds of the mix. I get these numbers from 9 Apr Wall Street Journal story entitled, "Nations Helping in Iraq Are Under Fire at Home," by Michael Phillips et al., p. A4.

[And in getting those numbers, I realize that in my piece for the Post, I used the Polish numbers on peacekeepers [2,500] for the Spanish one [only 1,300], so I immediately call my editor at the Post. No worry, she says, they caught the mistake. She sends final copy to me and gives me one last chance to tweakóalways dangerous. However, I am so pleased by how the piece hums, given their final edits that I send it back with no proposed changes. This is a good Friday!]

My point is this: a sure sign that the U.S. hasn't sold this intervention, or this Big Bang strategy in the Middle East to the Core as a whole is that we're only able to attract Old Core peacekeepers to date. Again, if we had gotten those 17,000 peacekeepers from India months back, it's a very different ballgame, because India isn't exactly somebody who gets squeamish over terrorism or uprisings (see their years of effort in Kashmir or their bloody efforts in Sri Lanka with Tamil separatists).

If we had gotten India's troops, it's that much easier to attract a China who believes itself to be a far more important international security player than New Delhi, plus it really relies on all that oil coming out of the Gulf. Get those two in line (and yeah, quid pro quos would cost something), then Russia doesn't want to be left out. Get those three in Iraq, and tell me it isn't a whole lot easier to keep the Europeans.

But nobody is thinking this way. The Wall Street Journal today runs a story on Bush's options ("As Insurgency in Iraq Rages, Bush Faces Unappealing Options," Carla Anne Robbins, Christopher Cooper, and Neil King, Jr., 9 Apr, p. A1.) and when it gets to the section entitled "Getting Help," it's solely about getting more Europeans in there, or NATO itself. Apparently, kissing ass in Bonn and Paris is the only imaginable option. Isn't that pathetic? Everybody talking about this new world out there, and yet no one able to see that a new world equals new possibilities for strategic partnering!

If I'm John Kerry trying to live down that dumb-ass comment about foreign leaders secretly wanting me elected president, I would be speaking to my practical willingness to horse-trade with such New Core powers as a way to transform this "transformation" of the Middle East from its currently perceived all-American democracy-project status into a Core-wide effort to integrate Iraq into the global economy. Russian oil companies would gain access. Russia would be repaid all those Iraqi loans. India would be hailed (as it so wants to be) as a new security pillar of SW Asia, and China would secure its access to oil a whole lot more. The only thing standing between this future worth creating and our present suffering is our inability to negotiate without arrogance, and here I do blame the Bush Administration. All the little bridges burned over the ABM Treaty (what in God's name did that get us?), Kyoto (ditto!), the International Criminal Court (could have been explained much better in terms of Core-Gap difference in rule sets) now come back to haunt us. Or another way to put it is to say, all that "unilateralism" of the past few years really accomplished was to raise the price America inevitably ends up paying to win the peace in Iraq. Time to pay the piper, Mr. President.

Meanwhile, I selfishly wonder how the Post is going to title the piece. The staff is full of inveterate punsters. I cross my fingers and hope for the best.


Between Scylla and Charybdis

Targeting Japan in IraqóAn Easy Prediction

Reference: "Anguish in Japan After 3 Civilians Become Pawns in Rebels' Strike at an American Ally," by James Brooke, New York Times, 9 Apr, p. A10.

In my blog posted 19 March entitled, "Handicapping the Gap: Spain's 3/11," I made the following unremarkable prediction:

"With Old Europe seemingly wobbling, al Qaeda might well look to target the last of the trio of Old Core pillars, Japan. Thereís no need to conduct terrorism on their soil, now that Japan has gone through with the very difficult decision to send troops into harmís way in Iraq. So just about any reasonably successful strike against Japanese soldiers is guaranteed to register asóand you should get used to hearing this phraseóìthat nationís biggest single case of combat casualties since World War II.î That was the case for Italy when they lost roughly a dozen and a half personnel a while back in Iraq. It may sound like a stunning threshold, but it isnít. It just says that, except for the U.S., the Old Core pillars of Western Europe and Japan are so far removed from their warfighting past that any loss of life is a historical novelty sure to shock the populace."
Well, the previously unknown Mujahedeen Brigades took an even simpler route: it just grabbed three Japanese civilians to use them to blackmail Tokyo into withdrawing its peacekeeping troops, "the first dispatch of Japanese troops to a war zone since World War II" (watch for that phrase in the Washington Post article on Sunday). For now, Japan says it isn't budging, but the opposition party is already calling for a pullout, and parliamentary elections are looming in July.

If ten backpack bombs buys one election in Spain, can three hostages alter one in Japan? If you don't think hostages make an incumbent look weak in national elections, talk to Jimmy Carter, unelected in 1980.


On the kindness of strangers

Saudi Sister Doing It For HerselfóOnly in America!

Reference: "Saudi Woman Will Seek California Assembly Seat: Unusual Candidate in a Longshot Campaign," by Ben Bergman, New York Times, 9 Apr, p. A16.

Heart-warming tale of woman, Feiral Amin Masry, born in Saudi Arabia running as Democrat in heavily Republican district. If elected, she would be first Saudi native ever to hold elected office in U.S., according to Arab American Institute.

How is this viewed back home? "I'm the hottest thing in Saudi Arabia. All the newspapers have my pictures," she says. "They were fascinated [Saudi reporters and newspaper readers] by how I could run and how people could accept me."

You gotta love this woman: she speaks her mind freely (she is against the war), but is hugely proud of her son now serving in Iraq in the 425th Civil Affairs Battalion (as Sys Admin a force component as it gets). Is this a great country or what?

Let's hope Ralph Nader, the only Arab-American running for president, helps her out a bit.

Best part: this high-school teacher won the nomination through a write-in candidacy.

Dogville, my ass. I say, only in America can a woman-of-substance-but-no-power get such a shot strictly by relying on the kindness of strangers.


China: Ripe for deals!

Today's Good, Bad, and Ugly on China

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth, 8 April

Got an email today from DC-based journalist requesting interview about China and energy, saying I was "expert" in this field. I'm not, actually. I've just written a bunch about the intersection of that field and everything else.

China's huge growth in energy touches upon so many aspects of the global economy that it impacts just about everything, which is why the subject is necessarily treated by so many non-China energy experts, like myself. Same thing applies to a host of other resource questions like food, whereófor exampleóyou get food non-experts like David Isenberg feeling the need to comment on how China impacts everyone else (he of telephone and network expertise). China is just that big and just that growing.

Plus China's just that motivated by current events. Story today in NY Times ("China, as Summer Nears, Braces for Power Shortages: Problem Continues to Hamper Growth," by Chris Buckley, 8 April, p. W1.) gives you a sense of the gun the Beijing leadership feels it's under. Remember, if you don't got the resources, you don't got the growth. And no growth means no stability, and . . . well, you know the rest.

If not, then buy the book.

But it's that sort of understanding of what China is facing that leads me to say, "These guys are ripe for deals!" Thus an underlying theme of my piece for the Washington Post's Outlook section this Sunday (today officially locked into place by the editors there): there is no country in the world more interested than China in stability in the Middle East. This is a huge leverage we have over them, if only the grand strategists on our end simply gazed beyond the tips of their noses (or maybe just past the straits of Taiwan). An advantage in negotiations is when you know somebody needs something very bad and it's within your power to help them get itófor a price.

What do we ask China for in return? How about 20,000 peacekeeping troops in Iraq?

But nooooh! Can't disturb the perfect historical trajectory of the "near-peer competitor" so much desired by Pentagon war planners. If we did that, they'd end up having to figure out how to wage peace as effectively as they wage war.


You know, that all starts to come together kinda nice when you think of it Ö

And that's what I told Juyan Zhang of the Washington Observer Weekly when he interviewed me by phone today. [The man had the gall to ask me how I wanted to be identified! Why, as the author of Ö! He also asked if he might quote my blog. Sigh! If you must!]

That was the Bad (so I started in the middle!), now here's the Ugly.


China: Synchronizing Rule Sets

The Ugly.

"A Democratic China? Not So Fast, Beijing Leaders Say," by Joseph Kahn, New York Times, 8 April, p. A3.

A rather mindless piece from an otherwise great journalist and China-watcher. All about how China isn't letting Hong Kong set the democracy standard for the country as a whole. Quelle surprise!

With all the things on the table for China over the next decade, can we expect them to turn open the floodgates on democracy? My point is this: China is giving its citizens a greater say in their own affairs across a whole host of issues, but the Communist Party is definitely holding the line on politics. So do we condemn this aspect or encourage all the other ways China is synchronizing its internal rule sets with the emerging global rule set?

I say stop being so damn impatient and ethno-centric. The U.S. was amazingly undemocratic for a very long time. Remember slavery? Women not being able to vote? African-Americans not having much in the way of civil rights? Gays being told they can't seek legal unions?

[Easy, easy!]

Put down that stone, Joe, and listen up on the Good for today.


China: Pool of consumers

The Good.

Wall Street Journal story, "China Eases Its Grip on Media: Beijing Eventually Hopes to Create Its Own Industry Titans," by Kathy Chen, 8 Apr, p. A14.

"This is really the year of media reforms," says one Beijing-based media consultant.

Does news remain off-limits in this reform package? Yup. But everyone there knows that the balance of power is shifting on this score nonetheless. As one government official admits, "We can't do this long term. But in the short term we will do it this way."

What drives this process of internal rule set synchronization with the emerging global rule set? The World Trade Organization, which is doing more right now to reform China than any other force on the planet, except their own driving need to accommodate all that growth.

In the end, though, China wants to open up its media because they want to keep the profits home as much as possible. China is a huge, book-reading, movie-watching, TV-staring pool of consumers. Beijing wants to capture that pie for its own companies just as much as any other country's media players do.

Yeah, that's rightóand I call it capitalism!

There you have it: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Another display of the amazing complexity that is China.

Boy, I hope he quotes the weblog.


Dissing Arms Control

More Signs That Arms Control is Dead and Buried

Wall Street Journal article entitled, "An Atomic Bargain Hampers the Hunt For Illicit Weapons: Top Watchdog Agency Has Strictly Limited PowersóAnd Conflicting Missions," by Carla Anne Robbins, 8 Apr, p. A1.

All you need to know from this article is stated in the first paragraph (as it is in most WSJ articles, which are the best written in the business):

"The International Atomic Energy Agency is the world's nuclear watchdog, charged with stopping the spread of nuclear weaponry. But it's a watchdog with a split personality: The IAEA is also charged with promoting the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy."
The IAEA's rule set on this is clear: if you foreswear nuclear weapons, it will help you build nuclear power plants. Sound a bit crazy? It's not. It just shows the incredible dis-utility of trying to control the spread of technology from the Core to the Gap. I, myself, don't want to see that technology spread controlled, but turned wide open, because I think that flow is important for shrinking the Gap, and because I believe such flows are virtually impossible to control.

The answer is not stopping the technology, but replacing the leadership of any country that uses it for the generation of WMD. Yes, this is a matter of telling them to "do as we say and not as we do," just like when parents tell kids that even though they "experimented" with drugs way back then, it's a bad idea for their kids to do the same today. If we can't get any smarter as we get older, then it is hopeless.

The same is true for countries. America is "old" when it comes to nukes, and frankly, it knows better, otherwise we would have used them again and again after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So we are empowered to enforce this rule set, because it's good for everyone and not just ourselves. Sometimes Dad just has to be the dad.

And when non-state actors make any motion toward acquiring such technology, there should be no preliminaries whatsoever. Those people you take down without even asking them to surrender, because you know they will be up to no good.

Bottom line: the Core never does any good trying to control the flow of dangerous technologies to the Gap. We should abandon these efforts and focus on the bad guys there who will do harm the first chance they get. Since they're devoted to breaking the rules, they will always find ways around the sanctions, decrees, etc. that we throw at them. Moreover, these sanctions always end up hurting the masses while making the corrupt elites rich inside the Gap. They are a complete waste of timeóa choice barely above complete inaction.


Marines: Cop on the beat

Same As It Ever WasóThe Marines and Small Wars

Here's a great article by favorite of mine, Greg Jaffe of Wall Street Journal entitled, "For Guidance in Iraq, Marines Rediscover A 1940s Manual: Small-War Secrets Include: Tips on Nation-Building, The Care of Pack Mules," 8 April, p. A1.

Why is this book so hot right now inside the Pentagon? We've simply forgotten how to do these thingsólike wage the peace after we've won the war. The Marines have been doing this for their entire existenceóthe small stuff, the details, the Military Operations Other Than War. I know, I know, "them's fighting words" to some Marines who see the Corps as the preeminent warfighting force. But that's the truth: the Marines were built exactly for things "other than war." They're the preeminent 9-1-1 emergency response force. The first-in and last-out and left-behind-on-their-own guys. That's why they have to be so G.D. tough and self-reliant.

Rediscovering their past is how the Marines, and the rest of DoD, is going to deal with the future task of shrinking the Gapóone hellhole at a time. As I say in the book, dealing with the Gap mostly requires that we remember who we are and how we got here. The Gap is stuck in the past, so old solutions repackaged in new practices will be the order of the day in many instances. These small things will form the essential workload of the Sys Admin force I envisionóthe cop walking the beat across the Gap.

And yes, much of the time that cop will be a Marine.


Heading home ...

Dateline: United commuter jet from DC Dulles to Providence, 7 April, afternoon

Very glad to be finally heading home for a stretch. It was three days in NYC week before last on Putnam media tour, then Saturday home, then three days in Phoenix, then four days in Wisconsin and a Sunday home, and now just finishing three days in DC. I havenít traveled like this is a long time, and look forward to my own bed.

With any luck, I will hold hard copy of galleys from Esquire in my hands tomorrow, which should be as exciting as the first time. Mark Warren at Esquire (editor of my book) is reorganizing the piece with my blessing, showing his usual flair for step-functioning the argument much better than I do.

A collection of articles today from Wall Street Journal (getting to be my favorite) and NY Times:

ìMadrid Bombing Suspect Is Key al Qaeda Liaison,î by Keith Johnson and David Crawford, Wall Street Journal, 7 April, A17.

ìAs NATO Grows, So Do Russiaís Worries,î by Sergei Ivanov, Russian Foreign Minister, New York Times, 7 Apr, p. A21

ìSince í94 Horror, Rwandans Turn Toward Islam,î by Marc Lacy, New York Times, 7 Apr, p. A1.

ìDemocrats Are in an Odd Position on Iraq: Kerry, Critical of the War, Has Done Little To Differentiate His Approach From Bushís,î by Christopher Cooper and Greg Hitt, Wall Street Journal, 7 April, p. A4


Key node in the network

ìMadrid Bombing Suspect Is Key al Qaeda Liaisonî

by Keith Johnson and David Crawford, Wall Street Journal, 7 April, A17.

This one follows up my previous post about how hard it can seem to label the Madrid bombers (Tunisian group, Moroccan group, al Qaeda, or al Qaeda franchise? -- see The Branding of a Networked Opponent)

Iíll give you the first couple of paragraphs:

ìThe suspected mastermind in the March 11 train bombings in Madrid has connections to several major al Qaeda attacks in recent years, including the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S., suggesting that the Madrid bombings were more centrally organized than previously thought.

The career of Amer el Azizi sheds light on how al Qaeda is bringing jihad, or holy war, to Europe. According to investigators, he is the liaison between the raw and fanatical North African recruits who served as foot soldiers in the Madrid bombings and battle-hardened al Qaeda troops like himself.î

Nice accompanying chart details his linkages to 9/11, 3/11, Iraq insurgency, terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, and Casablanca bombings.

This guy is a ìconnector,î to use Malcolm Gladwellís phrase, or a key node in the network.


Follow-up: Russia-NATO

ìAs NATO Grows, So Do Russiaís Worriesî

by Sergei Ivanov, Russian Foreign Minister, New York Times, 7 Apr, p. A21.

Referencing TM Lutasí commentary on a previous post regarding the Belgian F-16s put into the Baltics, I really commend the tone of this piece.

First, note this one: ìIraq is now occupied by the United States and its allies, including some of the countries now joining NATO.î He says ìitsî allies. What that line tells me is that we have missed the boat in attracting Russia to that coalition, which is a shame, because they have real worries about Muslim terror groups and have a historical fear of the ìthreat from the South.î

But he goes on to say: ìRussiaís position is not that of a malicious onlooker, gloating over Americaís and NATOís failures. On the contrary, despite the differences that still exist between Russia and NATO, we want to cooperate with the alliance to ensure global security.î

Man, can someone get this guy a seat at the table?

Even China doesnít have one, and thatís a country that answered the call ìCheck please!î when the U.S. floated all those T-bills in early 2003 to pay for the war, so I guess weíre just not thinking far ahead enough.

Maybe if we had a Russian specialist as NSC boss . . ..