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WPR's The New Rules: Slouching Toward Great-Power War

Arguably the greatest strategic gift offered by America to the world over the past several decades has been our consistent willingness to maintain a high and hugely expensive entry barrier to the “market” that is great-power war: first by deterring outright war with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and then by maintaining a lopsided and unipolar military superiority in the post-Cold War period. However, a case can be made that in recent years, the greatest threat to this enduring component of global stability arises from within the United States itself -- namely, a national security establishment intent on pressing the boundaries of this heretofore rather sacrosanct responsibility.

Read the entire column at World Politics Review.


Wikistrat's chief analyst quoted in Reuters piece on cyber struggle landscape

Disagreements on cyber risk East-West "Cold War"

Fri Feb 3, 2012 11:32pm IST

LONDON - With worries growing over computer hacking, data theft and the risk of digital attacks destroying essential systems, western states and their allies are co-operating closer than ever on cyber security . . . 

But many Western security specialists say the evidence against both nations -- particularly China -- has become increasingly compelling.

"China is currently engaged in a maximal industrial espionage effort that it justifies internally in terms of a catch up strategy (with the West)," says Thomas Barnett, chief analyst at political risk consultancy Wikistrat and a former strategist for the U.S. Navy. "The key question here is: can China assume the mantle of intellectual property rights respect fast enough to avoid triggering economic warfare of the West... If it can't, then this is likely to get ugly."

Read the entire column at Reuters.


Wikistrat's chief analyst quoted in Reuters piece on great-power rivalries in the Mideast


Here's the intro and my section:

Global "great power politics" returns to Mideast

LONDON | Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:28am EST

(Reuters) - With Russia sending warships to discourage foreign intervention in Syria, and China drawn more deeply into Iran's confrontation with the West, "great power" politics is swiftly returning to the Middle East . . .

Chinese officials might be willing to use sanctions to negotiate better oil prices from Iran, but there seems relatively little prospect that they will stop buying even if Tehran's rival Saudi Arabia makes up the difference in output.

"Each time the West tightens the leash, Beijing quietly avails itself of the slack," says Thomas Barnett, a former strategist for the U.S. Navy and now chief analyst at political risk consultancy Wikistrat. "The more explicitly Washington bases its global strategic military posture on the perceived Chinese threat, the more Beijing will welcome - and even overtly encourage - these diversions" . . . 

Read the entire article at Reuters.


Chart of the day: Flat-liners versus climbers on L.T. energy demand

From an otherwise regurgitating Economist special report on state capitalism, a wonderfully clear chart on primary energy demand, aggregated as billion tons of oil equivalent.

Not amazing: semi-flat growth for Russia, given its demographic slide.

Impressive for US and EU: the efficiency angle keeping growth flat, despite modest economic growth and significant demographic growth for US.

Curious is Brazil's capacity to keep its curve semi-flat.

So that leaves only the two great risers as demand climbers: China's stunning trajectory and India's late-blooming-but-likely-to-skyrocket-from-that-point-on curve (India surpasses China in labor around 2030 and then grows 50% larger, suggesting it will replicate China's trajectory on some level, understanding that its energy profile could be dramatically different in those future decades).

To me, this is a great example of why the military containment strategy (keep the PLA boxed-in in East Asia is dangerous - and counterproductive.  China needs to go so incredibly global due to its energy demand that it's only natural that it build up power projection and become more contentious on the issue of energy security. America can address all that or go super-unimaginative and make it all about an arms race in East Asia, believing that we'll temper China's behavior by doing the same things we did with the Sovs in the Cold War.

But making China feel nervous at home makes it harder for it to address its growing overseas dependencies in the very same regions where the U.S. is becoming less interested in providing stability and more focused on just killing bad guys. Conceivably, our willingness to go anywhere we want, when we want, to kill anybody we want, would make the Chinese feel better about their interests in these regions. But this thin-green-line approach, augmented with the transparent encirclement strategy in East Asia, essentially works to keep China nervous on both scores by insinuating that growing Chinese military capacity is automatically bad - both at home and extra-regionally, unless, of course, the Chinese become "transparent" in the direction of the very same superpower that threatens them in their home region with its world-class military (the same one that's just declared China to be its primary force-sizing threat from here on out).

Bit much, huh?



Charts of the day: US debt and petroleum

From Business Insider (via Zakaria's GPS site) comes the following listing of who holds US public debt.

  • Hong Kong: $121.9 billion (0.9 percent)
  • Caribbean banking centers: $148.3 (1 percent)
  • Taiwan: $153.4 billion (1.1 percent)
  • Brazil: $211.4 billion (1.5 percent)
  • Oil exporting countries: $229.8 billion (1.6 percent)
  • Mutual funds: $300.5 billion (2 percent)
  • Commercial banks: $301.8 billion (2.1 percent)
  • State, local and federal retirement funds: $320.9 billion (2.2 percent)
  • Money market mutual funds: $337.7 billion (2.4 percent)
  • United Kingdom: $346.5 billion (2.4 percent)
  • Private pension funds: $504.7 billion (3.5 percent)
  • State and local governments: $506.1 billion (3.5 percent)
  • Japan: $912.4 billion (6.4 percent)
  • U.S. households: $959.4 billion (6.6 percent)
  • China: $1.16 trillion (8 percent)
  • The U.S. Treasury: $1.63 trillion (11.3 percent)
  • Social Security trust fund: $2.67 trillion (19 percent)

The Global Post's Tom Mucha writes the post as revelation: See! China doesn't own the U.S.

Okay, so China doesn't own the US anymore than we get all our energy from Saudi Arabia, but China is the single biggest foreign holder - more than 3 times the long-time historical champ UK and more than recent historical champ Japan.

And yes, we do get a picture sort of like our oil situation, where our biggest supplier remains ourself (here, in various forms, accounting for roughly 2/3rds) and other big suppliers remains long-time friends.

But what's also been clear when we've floated large amounts recently is that China is the one great foreign buyer out there who can soak up our surges, so it does play a bit of a Saudi Arabia-like role in things, and that's not to be dismissed.

Then also via Zakaria' site comes the following US Energy Information Agency chart:

The clear long-term trend here, per the North American energy export boom in the works (Wikistrat's next community simulation to begin shortly), is the declining role of petroleum imports, dropping from the high in 2005 (60%) to under half today (49%) and down to just over a third (36%) by 2035.

Things you note:


  • Flatness of demand curve!
  • Significant rise in production - part of the fracking revolution!


The combo yields America's resumption of its role as a net exporter of petroleum products for the first time in over six decades!

Compare that picture to China's and ask yourself if you'd switch energy challenges with them.

Of course not.

But back to the first point: China is the big saver in the system of the last two-three decades. That means it's not only our great release-valve source of money for things like our national debt. It plays that role increasingly around the globe - to wit, the recent Wikistrat sim on "China as the de facto World Bank for Africa."

My point in the pairing: excitement over our improved energy picture, yes, but realism on the future of money - especially given this fear-threat reaction embodied in Obama's strategic "pivot" to China.


Wikistrat post @ CNN/GPS: Nine roads to November

Editor’s Note: The following piece, exclusive to GPS, comes from Wikistrat, the world's first massively multiplayer online consultancy.  It leverages a global network of subject-matter experts via a crowd-sourcing methodology to provide unique insights.

Upsetting both conventional wisdom and the party establishment’s preferred narrative, New Gingrich’s big win in South Carolina’s Republican primary last weekend has dramatically energized the GOP race. While it suddenly feels like a two-man fight between Gingrich and the previously presumptive nominee Mitt Romney, in truth, the party’s three main wings (country-club moderates, Reaganites,  and the farthest-right social conservatives and libertarians) remain deeply divided, suggesting a lengthy and drawn-out battle across the remaining GOP primaries. Taking that as our starting-point assumption, Wikistrat polled its global network of strategists for scenarios as to how this might unfold and what it could mean for the November general election.

Read the entire post at CNN's GPS blog.


In honor of Newt's SC victory . . . remembering a 2006 dinner with him

The post from back then, reposted in full. The dominant impression: wide-ranging knowledge, reflecting a huge memory.

Speaking with the Speaker, and a great reporter

Referenced from:

THURSDAY, MARCH 23, 2006 AT 5:35PM

Last night was pretty good. Sat at the head table with the hosting general of the Joint Flag Officer Warfighting Course and Newt Gingrich, who seemed to know a lot about me (saying things like, "this is a book I know you'd find interesting" and stuff like that, and asking a lot of questions that revealed some knowledge).

Gingrich is a pretty easy guy to talk with. Inquisitive as hell, he asks question after question and then he spits out theories every so often at high speed, often linking them to American history. His favorite point of comparison to today was the tougher years of the Civil War.

I countered more with the settling of the West, and we went back and forth some on the subject, which was fun.

Also, covered Iraq, where the consensus of the table (us and five or so 3-stars) was that we toppled the regime but that we should have kept the government (mostly because we were prepared to topple a regime but not to replace a government). Gingrich really liked that enunciation, and wrote it down on his Delta flight coupon sleeve, upon which he took notes throughout the night (not a napkin note-taker, he).

Gingrich asked me about Indiana (why I was there), said he loved the zoo there (I told him we had just visited and were members; he countered that he was a zoo freak who visited them every town he traveled to), and compared his Wisconsin experiences to mine (his wife is from a town not that far from my hometown).

Chatting through a dinner with him is pretty much what you'd expect, having seen him on TV so many times: accessible, very fast, likes to hear himself talk but listens very intently as well (asking you to repeat stuff he likes, or typically following up everything you say with a question). Serious Republican, no doubt, and he wears his credentials openly on every point, but not hard to converse with or conduct a reasonable argument. It's not hard to see why the military likes to have him around so much. He's a fascinating guy, and who doesn't like all the Civil War references?!

When I got up to talk, I was a bit nervous, or rather, a bit too tired, as I often am when I talk late after talking early (I am not the young man I once was), so I stumbled a bit on the first couple of slides, in part because the mike started feeding back and in part because my clicker did not work whatsoever, which was baffling, because we tested it all out earlier in the afternoon.

I had one of the hosting personnel swap out the batteries and it did little good: instead of clicking the keypad, I could use it but basically only if I held it almost over the laptop. Very weird. Worked fine back in my room. Really wonder about the RF quality of that room, which is a none-too-rare experience for me in venues.

Anyway, once I got warmed up, it flowed. But I was surprisingly more stark and forceful than usual, which I didn't credit to Gingrich being there so much as my sense from the room: about three dozen 3-stars from all services. Basically tough faces to work: thinking hard, agreeing or disagreeing hard, and working it all out very seriously in their skulls.

You can just sense that with certain rooms: this is not entertainment to them but something far more serious. So you just go with the feeling, and the delivery adjusts.

Still, I was a bit surprised. Just didn't expect such a strong flow.

Went about 60 (norm is 30) and then did about 30 Q&A, which was exceptionally good, and tougher than usual. Seems like everyone had either read or was reading PNM.

Signed about 25 copies of BFA afterwards, and Gingrich came up and said how much he liked the talk. What was especially cool during the signings was hearing what I heard several times during the earlier one that afternoon: senior officers saying this was one of the rare times in their lives when they ever bothered to get an author to sign their copies, which is kind of a weird compliment but one I get in its meaning--namely, people saying they don't usually get touched by a book but that this one did it for them. You get that sort of feedback from a 3-star and you feel pretty good about your decision to put it into print.

Then the real treat for me: a long chat over beers with Greg Jaffe of the Wall Street Journal. He showed up at the reception because he heard I was talking (Gingrich flew in as well for the talk). Both he and Newt would have come anyway that night or early the next morning for their own stints with the JFOWC, but it was a real honor to have them both attend the dinner because of me.

I hadn't spoken F2F with Greg for a while, so a great discussion on what good reporting is over the reception before dinner, and then just a nice long private conversation (no flags) on the porch outside our rooms after the dinner and talk, a conversation that ran until midnight.

That meant I got little sleep before my flights home to close on the house this afternoon, but it was worth it. I respect Greg so much, and like him personnaly as well, that it was really great to have that time together, jawing our way through a host of defense and mil topics. Greg's been on the Pentagon beat for so long, and he's so on top of his game. Still, I'll be interested to see what the paper has in store for him next. He's simply too good a reporter just to keep doing the same thing forever. Frankly, I don't think he can get much better at what he covers now than he already is, and that's a recipe for stagnation if you're not careful.

Weird fact about Greg: his first newspaper job was in Montgomery, which is why he's easily talked into this course.


Addendum #2 to Saturday's unburdening

First, understand that I am hurting from last Sunday big time. This whole week was depression personified. Until the SB is over, I live in a sad, limbo-like existence, dreaming of Cullen Jenkins' return because the Eagles got too many old-man high-price free agents to re-sign.  It's pathetic, but there I am - Jerome stewing beside me.

David Emergy asks for a "hell yes!" on the presidential field versus an my admittedly weak endorsement for Romney and my I-can't-have-her lust for Hillary.

Emblematic of America, I don't have that candidate in hand - which is why I'm still window shopping when it comes to passion.

Yes, the right "wrong" person could warm me up again on Obama.  Santorum would do it, as would Paul, as would Gingrich in the end - as much as I admire his imagination. I wouldn't cross the aisle for any of those three.

I would get jacked for Giuliani, and have said that often.  My dream ticket remains Rudy and Michael Bloomberg. I like Giuliani's leadership capacity and I love Bloomberg's adventurous technocratic personality. I think he's the most exciting tinkerer out there, and a huge global influence in that role (vastly underappreciated, but most people don't get the coastal mega-city network vibe that's out there, making things happen on globalization). The two of them would be my version of a progressive ticket: fixers with no serious ideological bent. I had hopes for Obama on that score, but the smartest-guy-in-the-room thing got in the way. Rudy's and Mike's egos are accomplishment based, not loved based, and I really love that in leaders.

Frustrated with the field?  Let me count the ways.  I do agree with Newt: this is an historic and crucial election, and the idea that Obama just glides in with mega-buck spending stikes me as very bad for the country. I think he can win, but only with great negativity, and then I think we have four years of an embattled president whose main outlet of foreign policy is already spoiled with the strategic "pivot" choice. I don't want America to play four more years of the waiting game.  I want better.  I want progressive movement that regains the only lead worth capturing vis-a-vis the two great risers of the age - China and India: I want America once again being the best provider of sharp new answers that move the ball with purpose. Obama accomplish the basic realignment from Bush that I advocated in "Great Powers," but after that, I've seen litte-to-no strategic purpose or momentum, with the big choice on China being stunningly unimaginative in nature (i.e., he either wants to cover his defense "ass" on spending, which is silly given his vigorous killing program, or he can't stand up to the Pentagon, or he's actually dumb enough to believe this sort of empty posturing is worthwhile - I like none of my choices here).

If my only choices are Mitt and Barack, I choose the former as being more likely to achieve some momentum, but I am unhappy with this choice. Mitt feels too much like Mondale or Dole or McCain - the my-turn candidate, which to me just guarantees a second term to somebody who will do very little of value with the opportunity.


Deficit myths: it's still all about healthcare, so Obama was right to work it. And yet, I want him gone in 2013 [WITH ADDENDUM]


Got asked in Belvoir this last week about the present situation in US and what must be done.  I answered by citing my own household economy as microcosm:


  • Far more competitive world means earning potential is harder to achieve;
  • That income "haircut" means past debt patterns unsustainable, thus the deleveraging that continues (done better by individuals, families, firms, everybody but the Fed Gov!);
  • Housing is key (our move to short sale old house was big financial achievement of 2011), and curing that is key to allowing workers to move (that's why we did it this year, while the right constellation of circumstances presented themselves, in preparation for eventual 2014 move back East for job-related purposes);
  • Education is key (I pay 7 tuitions: 2 preschool, 2 grade school, 1 HS, 1 undergrad and 1 grad) to maintaining future possibilites, so investment trumps damn near everything; and yet,
  • Healthcare is huge drain (I pay my own now and the pre-tax cost, by my estimate, is between $30-40,000, meaning that's how I gotta earn to cover it all from stem to stern).


So larger reality for US not unlike my family: we had to scale back everything to preserve what matters, which is healthcare and education; we had to solve the housing situation to allow for renewed labor mobility; we haven't really seen our standard of living go down at all, and yet we've made wrenching changes to be able to live on a much smaller consumption footprint. All tough adjustments, but incredibly worthwhile.

But again, healthcare is huge and seemingly unassailable from my perspective. We are exceedingly careful about how we spend those dollars, even as that's the last thing - besides education - that we want to scrimp on.

Of course, if we don't have six kids, then my life is dramatically simpler on all scales, but there again, what keeps America strong?  Demographics, so that's worthwhile too.

Citation here is Alan Blinder op-ed in WSJ.  Great stuff.

"Four deficit myths":


  1. Americans now demand deficit reduction like never before. Not true.  Jobs matter far more now, as does healthcare and housing. Just understand, polls on this subject are no more definitive than they were 20-30 years ago.  This is not our current obsession.
  2. Our deficit is so bad right now that massive cuts are required immediately. Also not true. We have no trouble selling debt in this global economy. Yes, long-term deficit issue is acute, but key is setting in place conditions for long boom that takes care of that. See Europe for austerity approach.
  3. The ten-year reduction focus makes sense. Bad thinking. Little can and will be accomplished in any 10-year plan. The problem if far longer in scope - see demographics, and thus the solutions must be similarly gauged.
  4. America has a generalized problem of runaway spending. Very untrue. The only part of the Fed budget that's really exploding is Medicare and Medicaid, so it's still mostly about healthcare.


In short, "we have a humungous healthcare problem."

Anybody familiar with the US defense budget has long said the same thing: we don't have operations or acquisition or training or personnel crises. The "imperial overstretch" argument remains complete academic bullshit.  We primarily have a healthcare crisis that is extended into pension system. Everything else pales.

In my family right now, the biggest short-term threat, now that we're mortgage free and successfully deleveraging across the board, is healthcare. Huge drain.  Big uncertainty. Encourages self-defeating avoidance behavior on many levels (which we try desperately to be smart about). Leaks into everything.

When GOP says Obama went off deep end on healthcare because country didn't want that or didn't elect him for that, they miss the mark.  It is clearly the biggest internal challenge we face - short and long term. It is the hidden villain on everything. Saying it was a diversion is - itself - a diversionary election-centric tactic.  

But still, I would trust a Romney to finesse its implementation better than an Obama, whose political and negotiating skills I no longer respect, and whose stunning ignorance of, and antipathy toward, business has become an unacceptable leadership flaw - given the tough adjustments still to come.

And yes, I LOVE that Romney did it first in Massachusetts - and did it intelligently. That is a huge credentializer in my mind.

Americans' distrust and anger toward globalization and big business is stunningly misplaced. Globalization has made the world so much better, but it now challenges us in ways we've long gotten used to avoiding because of our long-term privileged position in the global economy, which itself reflected gross historical injustices stemming from colonialization, WWII, socialism in the East, etc. None of those things were our fault, and we took the lead in overcoming them all, but we did live in a pretend world of superiority on that basis across the second half of the 20th century.

That world is gone, and good riddance, say I, because it was supremely unfair to the majority of the planet, and I don't want to live in this world by exploiting others unnecessarily.

So our succees in spreading American-style globalization now comes back to haunt us, demanding we adjust. That's not about demonizing business, even as it is about cleaning up some incredibly bad form on Wall Street (a regular task, just bigger this cycle). It's also not about demonizing China, who is our biggest ally in the global economy going forward - like it or not.

Romeny will say stupid things on China to win the GOP nomination. Obama is already doing stupid things. On the business, it's clear who's hostile and who's not.

Looking ahead, I want a dealmaker, a difference-splitter, a realist on business who acts based on experience and not sterile theory. I also want somebody who can rationalize our military budget and global presence without resorting to idiotic, default targeting of the Chinese.

Romney is far from ideal on all those scores, but he does beat Obama, in my mind, on every one of them.

I stil maintain Obama was the best choice of the two in 2008. I would still vote for him all over again, given the repeated chance. I do think America, however, would have been much better served by a Hillary presidency (I voted for her in the primary), and since I can't get that this time around, I'll make do with the alternative, who I think will have a far better chance of working with a Republican House and Senate than Obama will - given overall Boomer political proclivities (most Boomer politicians are just above cartoon-grade in their motivations, skills and intelligence).

No, I would take Obama over the two jokers (Santorum and Paul) and the complete wild card (Gingrich). And yes, this would be my first vote for a GOP presidential candidate in my entire life.

And my logic on all this if decidedly unemotional (can I toss in that I'm the father of two African-come-to-America daughters, just to be safe?).

This isn't personal in the least; this is strictly business.


I don't use that political term of art (anti-business), because I don't think it's true. I don't think his policies have been particularly anti-business.

I think he doesn't understand business (ignorance) and on that basis tends to vilify and scapegoat business (antipathy) for our continuing poor recovery. The silliness over "taxing millionaires and billionaires" is, to me, just rhetorical nonsense. Those people pay plenty, but no matter how much more we tax them (I am indifferent on the subject), it won't change our fundamental issues. So, to me, rolling with political gamesmanship like that says serious change isn't what he's looking for, otherwise he would have gone with Bowles-Simpson and not ignored what everyone said were sound recommendations.

I also cite the ignorance issue for what I consider to be generally bad-for-business-but-bad-for-everybody-else-too policies in combating the crisis. The administration just hasn't done enough to encourage deleveraging throughout the economy, instead preferring stimulus spending to cure a financially-driven overhang crisis, which, per Rogoff, is the wrong medicine chasing the wrong disease.

I won't claim to have tracked the US economy enough to have said, I told you so way back when, because I most certainly did not. But it's hard for me to accept that a guy as smart as Obama couldn't find enough people around him who were smart enough to realize that stimulus splurging after a financial crisis only gets you a follow-on fiscal crisis without actually improving the financial hang-over/debt overhang. They still don't seem to get that, and as long as they don't, I think business will hold off on investment and hiring because consumers are forced to keep their spending low (I certainly am).

So all I am left assuming is that he doesn't know business (ignorance) and made patently bad choices out of some antipathy to business (it is hard to advise the guy who's certain he's always the smartest guy in the room). I say that because business has largely argued for a far stronger deleveraging focus versus the path Obama has taken. That path did include bailouts for Wall Street firms (not sure history will be kind there) and Detroit (am certain history will be kind there and have said that throughout in posts and speeches - but there I cite the global car industry, which is something I have tracked).

Finally, if Obama were both smart on business and less into his business-can't-be-trusted mode, I think he would have pursued opening up the US economy to Chinese investment instead of staying stuck on the RMB's value and this bizarre strategic "pivot" to East Asia, where apparently our weaponry and national "will" is going to keep us economically engaged in the region despite openly targeting the biggest economy there, a country, by the way, that we expect to finance this military buildup in the Pacific. But that's just me saying I don't trust how he views or understands global business.

In general, I do think Obama is a smart guy, but he's displayed enough dumb/antipathy WRT business for me to want him swapped out versus keeping him another four years. The global economy right now is in fairly precarious shape, and I don't see his administration being able to work with a GOP congress over the next four years any better than he has the past 3. We can say it's all GOP hostility but Bill Clinton managed that, and Reagan did with the Dems. Obama is just not that guy. He matches the GOP's Manichean view with too much of his own, along with a pride and self-confidence in his supreme intelligence that I think is his biggest weakness.

We've have world-class brain presidents (Hoover, Carter, Obama) and they manage to have attract hard economic times. I have come to greatly prefer emotionally intelligent presidents (FDR, Reagan, Clinton) or incredible dealmakers (Johnson, Nixon). That's why I will take Romney and his blandness and his difference splitting and flip-flopping and non-agenda. I want a manager who moves the process along for the next four years, rather than the perceived/actual ideologue who attracts more fight than he's worth and isn't clever enough to realize when he needs to bend instead of stand proud.


China as Africa's De Facto World Bank - the Wikistrat video

This is a recorded briefing that I generated from the recent Wikistrat internal training simulation entitled, "China as Africa's de facto World Bank." It summarizes the points I gleaned from the wide-ranging simulation (dozens of wiki pages filled with all manner of brainstormed ideas, strategies, options by several dozen analysts) and summed up in an 8-page report.

This was the first major video production in the set-up I have constructed - after excruciating testing and accumulation of equipment - in our new rental home, which, in various parts, doubles as my work environment. Fortunately for me, virtually everyone else in my family is in school, with youngest Abebu starting within months. So during the day I have the house completely under control, meaning I can meticulously set up the gear, test at length, and pursue recordings and subsequent processing/production in peace.

Ah, the life of the bootstrapped start-up!

Naturally, comments and suggestions are welcomed on content, presentation choices (there are many ways to skin that cat, given the tremendous volume of ideas generated by any one simulation), and video capture.

One correction already accomplished: on this taping I set up a flatscreen for video feedback (I can see screen's content and myself in foreground) just to the right of the camera.  That gives me a slight off-camera eye orientation, which I thought was fine for simulating an audience interaction. But in retrospect, we decided that a straight-into-the-camera style would be better.  That is accomplished in an improved set-up that involves a smaller feedback screen being place just below the came - as in, within a couple of inches. That way I can look directly into the feedback and be, for all practical purposes, looking directly into the camera. The feedback screen is crucial because all of these briefs will be screen-content heavy and first-and-one-time briefs on my part, meaning I can't possibly memorize every click like I do on my regular brief. In that way, it is a LOT like doing the TV weather: lots of data/info to get through and you need to position yourself in front of the screen while not blocking it.  I do fairly well on this first try, but can obviously get smoother - trick being the feedback presents itself in a mirror image.

Another fix in the works: I lost my clip for my clip-on mike and therefore had to wear below the camera line because my substitute clip ain't so elegant.  That meant I picked up the clicking sound from my remote controller a bit too much - for my taste. New one is in the mail, so next time I'll wear the mike far higher and hopefully not pick up that sound.

Overall, pretty happy with the effort. At first, I repeat the text too much, but I warm up over time and get more extemporaneous and relaxed as I got more comfortable with moving myself around. This is far different from me being tracked by a cameraman on a big stage, because I go completely unconscious on my style and let the camera-guy deal with all that.  Here, with a fixed camera, I have to adjust my style somewhat. So a bit stiff at first, improving throughout, and clearly something I will grow more easy with it as I repeat the process.


Wikistrat post @ CNN/GPS: 10 strategic issues with Obama's East Asia "pivot"


Editor’s Note: The following piece, exclusive to GPS, comes from Wikistrat, the world's first massively multiplayer online consultancy.  It leverages a global network of subject-matter experts via a crowd-sourcing methodology to provide unique insights.

The Obama Administration recently released a military strategic guidance document, which calls for a strategic “pivot” from the Middle East to East Asia. This bold move replaces President George W. Bush’s “long war” against violent Islamic extremism with a new, ongoing effort to shape China’s military rise.

What are the strategic, military trade-offs of this historic shift? Wikistrat, the world’s first massively multiplayer online consultancy, recently tapped its global network of several hundred analysts to ponder this question. This online network offers a uniquely powerful and unprecedented strategic consulting service: the Internet's only central intelligence exchange for strategic analysis and forecasting, delivered - for the first time - in a real-time, interactive platform. Exclusive to GPS, here are Wikistrat’s top ten strategic, military issues to bear in mind as this “pivot” unfolds:

Read the entire post at CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS site.


The New Rules: China Must 'Pay Globalization Forward' in Africa

Globalization's historical expansion from Europe to North America to Asia has featured a familiar dynamic: The last region "in" becomes the integrator of note for the next region "up." Europe was the primary investor, customer and integrator for the U.S. economy in its rise during the 19th and 20th centuries, and America subsequently "paid it forward" with East Asia in the decades following World War II. Recently, it has been Asia's turn, primarily through China, to pay it forward once again with Africa, arguably the hottest integration zone in the global economy today.

Nonetheless, in Washington -- and especially inside the Pentagon -- China's rising influence across Africa has been viewed with genuine trepidation. Beijing's "non-interference" mantra doesn't exactly jive with President Barack Obama's stern focus on counterterrorism, while China's rapacious hunger for raw materials fosters fears of strategic minerals being "cornered." .


Read entire column at World Politics Review.


WPR's New Rules: Worried by China's Rise? Watch Out for its Decline

Much of what drives America’s current phobias regarding China stems from the dual -- and fantastically linear -- assumptions of America’s terminal decline and China’s perpetual ascension. We are thus led to believe that China no longer needs the United States and that America, in turn, can do nothing -- short of increasing military pressure -- to constrain the Middle Kingdom’s rise to global hegemony. On all scores, nothing could be further from the truth. China and the United States suffer a level of strategic interdependency that is vast and shows no signs of reduction. Simply put, America cannot stay rich without China, and China cannot get rich without America.

Read the entire post at World Politics Review.


WPR's The New Rules: U.S. Clutching for Straws With Energy Independence

The United States is on the verge of an industrial renaissance, according to energy experts enthusiastic about technological advances surrounding the “fracking” of shale gas and the processing of “tight oil.” America is sitting on a century-worth of natural gas, and the Western hemisphere boasts five times the reserves in unconventional oil as the Middle East claims in the conventional category. Suddenly, all our fears of resource wars with China and never-ending quagmires in Southwest Asia seem to melt away, heralding with great certainty another American century based on the promise of energy independence. As “deus ex machina” moments go, this one arrives just in time for a nation magnificently down on its luck and itself.

Read the entire column at World Politics Review.


WPR's The New Rules: U.S. Must Engage With World Beyond Security Threats

Thanks to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and the two wars they spawned, it seemed like the near entirety of President George W. Bush’s two terms in office were characterized by efforts to define, harness and exploit fear. Despite living in the most peaceful, prosperous and predictable period in world history, Americans became convinced that they faced an unending era of war, impoverishment and chaos. That muddled mindset put us painfully out of touch with the rest of the planet.

Read the entire column at World Politics Review.


NPR's All Things Considered: My appearance yesterday on US-China relations

The segment:

Analyst Spells Out U.S. Interests In Pacific Rim

November 17, 2011

President Obama used his trip to the Pacific Rim this week to announce plans for a new American military base in Darwin, Australia. The move changes the stance of U.S. forces in the region — countering the growing strength and presence of China's military. Guy Raz talks with Thomas P. M. Barnett, chief analyst for Wikistrat, a consultancy that provides geopolitical analysis. He's also executive vice president of the Center for America-China Partnership.

Download this: or go here to find the NPR/ATC page.



WPR's The New Rules: How to Stop Worrying and Live with the Iranian Bomb

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest report on Iran’s nuclear programsurprised no one, even as it created the usual flurry of op-eds championing preventative “next steps.” As I’ve been saying for the past half-decade, there are none. Once the U.S. went into both Iraq and Afghanistan, the question went from being, “How do we prevent Iran from getting the Bomb?” to “How do we handle Iran’s Bomb?” That shift represents neither defeatism nor appeasement. Rather, it reflects a realistic analysis of America’s strategic options. With that in mind, here are 20 reasons why Iran’s successful pursuit of the Bomb is not the system-changing event so many analysts are keen to portray.

Read the entire column at World Politics Review.


Wikistrat's "The World According to Tom Barnett" 2011 brief, Part 8 (Q&A on global economic crisis)

More Q&A from my presentation of the current Brief to an international military audience in the Washington DC area in September 2011.

Audience question was about the global economic crisis and role of China in global economy.


WPR's The New Rules: Obama Must Avoid the 'China Threat' Trap

No credible international affairs specialist would contend that the 2012 presidential election will hinge on U.S. foreign policy, given the state of the U.S. economy and the widespread social anger that one sees bubbling up across the country. What's more, Americans -- if not Beltway partisan pundits -- have achieved a certain sense of consensus on foreign policy under President Barack Obama, whose leadership has displayed a palpable "give them what they want" dynamic that reflects his desire to keep overseas issues on the back burner while he focuses on domestic ones.

Read the entire column at World Politics Review.


Wikistrat's "The World According to Tom Barnett" 2011 brief, Part 6 (Flow of Security)

In this section I cover the symmetricization of the Long War, nuclear proliferation (and the lack thereof), how America shaped this world with its grand strategy, and who the key superpowers will be in the post-2030 landscape.