Receive "The World According to Tom Barnett" Brief
Where I Work
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

(RESILIENT BLOG) EU Leapfrogs US On Data Privacy Rules – And Punishments, Creating A Regulatory Disruption

Earth within a water drop. Ecosystem conceptTHE EUROPEAN UNION FANCIES ITSELF AS A "RULES SUPERPOWER," meaning it creates new rules within its ranks and, by the power of its economic heft, they are effectively "exported" to other regions in a sort of regulatory osmosis (you do business with Europe, you adapt to those rules, those rules spread throughout your enterprise).

Fair enough, and certainly something the U.S. has been doing on trade for decades ...




(RESILIENT BLOG) How Climate Change Will Test Our Resilience On A Very Local – Even Intimate – Level

gr1LIVING IN THE NORTHERN UNITED STATES, ONE DOESN'T EXPECT TO CONTRACT ESSENTIALLY TROPICAL DISEASES LIKE MALARIA (see Lancet's chart on left), and yet, would you be surprised that, in the early-to-mid-19th century, Norwegian pioneers settling in Wisconsin - as a rule - feared malaria significantly more than cholera?  Malaria actually remained endemic in much of the United States (more in the South, obviously) through the 1940s, whereas today in a state like Wisconsin, virtually all cases that present themselves (roughly a dozen a year) feature travelers just back from tropical locations.  But that's changing, per a great WAPO in-depth story of a few days back ...



(RESILIENT BLOG) Everybody Talks About The [Insert Gripe Here], But Nobody Does Anything About It . . . Without First Establishing Metrics

Resilient CorporationTHE ORIGINAL QUOTE, MISTAKENLY ATTRIBUTED TO MARK TWAIN, CONCERNED THE WEATHER, BUT WE COULD EASILY INSERT "RESILIENCE" TODAY - ALSO MISTAKENLY. It would be a mistake because a lot of people all over the world are working resilience, and yet, like any triumphant management buzzword (big enough to create a C-suite position trend), there's a significant range of thinking as to what the term actually means - hence the interesting blog post ("What is This Thing Called Resilience") by a Harvard academic last year on that very subject. The author, Eric J. McNulty, currently serves as director of research at the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at Harvard's JFK School ...



(RESILIENT BLOG) Resilience Begins In Your Head – Or, You’re Only As Brittle As You Think You Are

Image courtesy of nattavut at FreeDigitalPhotos.netAGE IS WHATEVER YOU THINK IT IS.  YOU ARE AS OLD AS YOU THINK YOU ARE - MUHAMMAD ALI.

Well, a couple of new medical studies suggest that your lifelong attitude toward aging and cognitive decline may significantly shape your risk of suffering Alzheimer's Disease in your elder years:

In the first study, researchers looked at data from 158 healthy people without dementia enrolled in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA). In order to find out how people in the study felt about age stereotypes, researchers used a scale with statements like “older people are absent-minded” or “older people have trouble learning new things.” People in the study gave these answers when they were in their 40s ...



(RESILIENT BLOG) Globalization = Industrial Agriculture = Monoculture = Loss Of Resilience?

WHEN IT COMES TO THINKING ABOUT THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT (TEOTWAWKI [tee-oh-tuh-WA-ki] as we used to call it during the Y2K build-up), science fiction films provide a great venue for projecting today's fears upon tomorrow's technological landscapes. But those fears shift over time. My favorite example:  I grew up with "Soylent Green" (so many people, we've got to eat them!) but settled into my middle-age with "Children of Men" (nobody's having babies anymore!). What happened between those two films was (a) China's one-child policy and (b) ultrasound technology reaching India and allowing abortions en masse (naturally in favor of males - just like China, which "exported" the surplus females via transnational adoption) ...




(RESILIENT BLOG) Internet Censorship As An Inverse Indicator of National Resilience

FREEDOM HOUSE RECENTLY ISSUED ITS 2015 REPORT ON INTERNET FREEDOM, a timely notion given the ongoing debates about encryption, monitoring of social media, etc., in the wake of recent terrorist attacks ... 




(RESILIENT BLOG) President Obama Calls Upon America To Be “Resilient” In The Face of Domestic Terror Strikes, But What Does That Mean?

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S ADDRESS TO THE NATION LAST NIGHT spoke volumes about how we as Americans view the ongoing worldwide struggle with violent extremist organizations, a category within which Islamic terror groups present the biggest immediate challenges.

He began with a description of the San Bernardino shooting, the perpetrators, and the national and local responses to the crisis.



(RESILIENT BLOG) America's Strange Resilience In The Face of Mass Shootings: Is A Tipping Point Looming?

TRUMPETED AMIDST BLANKET MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE SAN BERNARDINO MASSACRE is this stunning fact: America has averaged just over one mass shooting (4 or more dead) a day for 2015 (see WAPO chart on left, clicking to enlarge).  That's right.  Mass shootings are now the norm in America.  Heck, San Bernardino was one of two mass shootings in America yesterday (the other one getting only three paragraphs of local newspaper coverage in Georgia).

If that makes you feel queasy, then you still have a conscience.




(RESILIENT BLOG) Beepocalypse (Not So) Now: The Fundamental Resilience Of The US Beekeeping Industry

WHEN WE SPEAK OF ANY ENTERPRISE'S INHERENT RESILIENCE, we're often talking about its ability to regenerate capacity despite the intervention by some degredating external variable - e.g., an attack or disaster.  Typically, something's got to give, for some period of time, when it comes to your product or service provision:  quality, reach, frequency, price, sheer volume - something. Thus, one question for any enterprise when it comes to thinking about building up its capacity for resilience in the face of disruption is, Which "give" does the least amount of long-term damage?  Here, the simplest example would seem to be market share - as in, What did the event, relative to your resilience, cost you in market share?



(RESILIENT BLOG) China’s RMB To Become IMF Reserve Currency, Crowding Out Aging Europe and Japan

YESTERDAY THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF) ANNOUNCED that China's renminbi would become its fifth designated reserve currency, joining the US dollar, EU euro, British pound, and Japanese yen.  The move comes in response to a several-year campaign by Beijing to have its currency thus credentialized.  For now, central banks around the world hold only about 1% of their reserves in RMB, but Beijing has created an outsized latent reserve currency presence (another 5%)  by concluding numerous significant currency swap deals with major trading partners.  The latter scheme was apparently enough for the IMF to finally move on China's strong desire.




Resilience is something you learn; resilience is something you earn

WHAT YOU SEE IN THIS PHOTO IS THE FUTURE OF AMERICA: Whites as the "majority-minority."  It's my family's holiday photo from a few years back, showing our three "biological" kids along with three whom we adopted from abroad (one from China, two biological sisters from Ethiopia).  If you're surprised to hear that European-descent Americans will "soon" (2043) be outnumbered by non-European-descent Americans, rest assured that I remain equally (and continuously) surprised to find myself the father of a Scot-Irish-German-Chinese-Ethiopian-American family (with three immigrants).

Actually, whites are the majority-minority already in four US states (Hawaii, California, Texas, and New Mexico), and will achieve that status among US children  in approximately three years.  A done deal, as they say, but certainly a stressful one that can engender all sorts of "take back America!" social tensions.  But as we know from history, the most "mixed" societies tend to be the most resilient, while the most racially homogeneous tend to be most brittle.  It's just that such resilience isn't a given, nor is it something with which we are born.  It's something we learn slowly, on a day-to-day basis.  It's an accumulation of experiences.  It's anything but a trivial skill or characteristic.

There's a lot of political controversy right now over the question of accepting Syrian refugees - particularly after the Paris terror strikes (as it has been discovered that one of the assailants snuck into Greece posing as a refugee).  Roughly half of US governors are - under rather dubious claims of authority - declaring their states off-limits, while others are saying they'll be happy to take them.  At first glance, it's easy to write off the former as "racists" or "Islamophobes," but it's both premature and unhelpful to do so.  Because oftentimes it's a matter of strong variations in social resilience, which - again - comes down to experience.

Two recent Washington Post stories explore these variations.  The first introduces the reader to the "first majority-Muslim U.S. city" in Hamtramck, Michigan.  Muslim politicians there recently won the majority of city council seats, and that's naturally created some tensions in a city long dominated by Polish Catholics.  Simplest example:  mosques in Hamtramck are allowed to issue their five-times-a-day call to prayer.  Unprecedented?  Hardly.  Christian churches have long been free to ring their bells to call the faithful to services.  But still, if you've ever traveled to a Muslim country as a non-Muslim and heard the call, it's truly a different frame of reference - something to which it takes a while to get used.

And that's what's largely missing on this particular political "hot potato": the vast majority of Americans (94%) don't - according to another WAPO article - interact with Muslims on a daily basis.  I'm not pointing fingers here: my Chinese daughter is the first Asian with whom I've spoken on a daily basis.  Ditto for my two black African girls.  Does that exposure now make me an expert on either group?  Hardly. But does it make it a lot easier for me to interact with Asians and blacks on a day-to-day basis?  Yeah, it does.  It also makes me highly interested in social and political and economic issues that touch upon these groups.

This is not a call for some facile, kumbaya personal epiphany among all Americans. I'll leave that argument to the preachers.  It's merely an appeal for patience.  America is 50 states, some of which are better prepared to accept an influx of tens of thousands of Syrian refugees - a flow that, in and of itself, represents a global disaster-management task.  But some US states are not - at this time - similarly resilient.  They may lack the experience with Muslims that makes Michigan more adept.  They may already be struggling to process historically heavy Latino immigrant flows (think of states bordering Mexico).  Point being, not all 50 states are equally endowed with this form of social and political resilience right now.

So here's a potentially controversial proposal:  let's encourage Syrian refugees to go where they're most welcome right now, without demonizing those states where politicians say no.  Over time, the success of those more resilient states will set a competitive example.  It's happened many times across US history with regard to numerous waves of immigration.  It's also recently happened with gays and lesbians.  States learn to want their business, their tourism dollars, their investments, and - ultimately - their permanent presence.  Laws are changed, attitudes are adjusted, communities become more accepting, and we all grow more resilient in the process.  Simply put, the more diverse the perspectives we accumulate, the better able we collectively are to surmount current and future challenges.

Something to consider this Holiday Season.


RESILIENT BLOG: Is America Ready For Soft-Target Terror Attacks? Short Of Agreed-Upon Metrics, It’s Anybody’s Guess.

From Time Story

ON WEDNESDAY TIME POSTED A JUDICIOUSLY GAUGED OVERVIEW of the near-term threat posed by ISIS across the United States (“The State of Terror Defenses in the U.S.”).  I say “judicious” because it avoids the usual fear-mongering hype so typical of these stories in the immediate aftermath of any notable terror strike.  The story notes that Americans have about a 1-in-20-million chance of dying in a terror strike (the historical record to date), but that, as a significant “soft power” (our economic, social, media, financial, etc. strengths), we naturally present a lot of soft targets (iconic sights, critical infrastructure, social gathering places) to terror groups ...



RESILIENT BLOG: The Paris Terror Attacks Remind Us That ISIS Needs Our Help To Survive

The Gap Map (real and threatened) as I would draw it today

Posted on November 18, 2015 at 4:40 pm by 

IN A SERIES OF COORDINATED ATTACKS IN PARIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) succeeds in “socializing” a war that it cannot hope to win on its home turf – without our help. Once the “central front” of America’s “war on terror,” this fight is now most definitely France’s to pursue with a vigor that its citizens may well regret. Russia faces similar strategic temptations after its jet airliner was blown up by an ISIS regional affiliate.

Don’t get me wrong: the civilized world (and by that I mean virtually everyone but ISIS) does need to eliminate this millenarian movement’s strategic sanctuary in the Levant. There is no possibility of coexistence with a violent extremist organization looking to trigger an “end times” apocalypse. And yes, that will be a very bloody effort that no one power should attempt to undertake on its own – particularly in a fit of intense national grief and anger over its citizens being heinously murdered ...



Accepting the position of Senior Research Fellow, Knowfar Institute for Defense and Security Studies

I also recently accepted an offer from China's first government-recognized NGO on defense and international security to serve as its first Senior Research Fellow.  It is an incredible honor and I look very much forward to doing some great work with the institute's very impressive staff.

I just agreed to do my first research project for KIDSS on the concept of "splendid little wars."  I will be presenting my findings in Beijing in December.

From the institute's website:

Knowfar Institute for Strategic and Defence Studies (KISDS) is a Chinese think tank which focuses on following and analysing long-term strategic and defence issues. The institute provides government institutions and policymakers with advice based on its independent and in-depth research. Since its establishment, KISDS has been conducting quality research according to its major principles: "independent, objective, deliberation, and discernment." It aims to provide a platform for international discussion of strategic and defence issues, through organizing forums and seminars; publishing academic journals; and interacting with the academic community and think tanks.

Headquartered in Beijing, KISDS is divided into four specialized research units: The Centre for Strategic Studies, the Centre for Battle and Tactics Studies, and the Centre for Eurasian Studies. It publishes five journals, namely, Knowfar Defence Review, CIS and East European Defense Review, Asia Pacific Defence Quarterly, Cyber Review and UAV Review.


Joining the Security Advisory Board of iJet International


I recently signed a three-year contract with iJet International, a fascinating company that truly fulfills a significant slice of what I long described as the System Administrator function.

What I always said about my notion of the SysAdmin was that it would be more civilian than uniform, more USG than DoD, more rest of the world than just the United States, and - most importantly - more private-sector driven than public-sector funded.  So, no, I'm not surprised to be working with this very impressive firm.

From the company's website:

Helping Organizations Operate Globally With Confidence 

iJET International delivers intelligence-driven, integrated risk management solutions that enable multinational organizations to operate globally with confidence. iJET’s end-to-end, tailored solutions integrate world-class threat intelligence, innovative technology, and response services to help organizations avoid threats and mitigate risk.

In 1999, iJET became one of the first companies to offer intelligence-driven risk management to the travel industry — a change that ultimately transformed travel and security departments worldwide. iJET’s Travel Intelligence® and Worldcue® risk-management software revolutionized corporate and government business travel with the promise of keeping employees safe — not just on time.

Building on that legacy, iJET provides Integrated Risk Management solutions that begin and end with intelligence. Our proprietary technology and network of security, intelligence and geopolitical experts allows us to deliver unmatched custom intelligence, preparedness and response solutions that help clients protect their people, facilities, suppliers and information around the world. Whether your business is expanding, consolidating, or maintaining, iJET has the expertise to help you navigate your next steps for success.



Looking for new opportunities

My time as Wikistrat's Chief Analyst comes to an end on 1 July, so I'm back looking for new work opportunities.

Reach me at with any ideas/leads.


TPPA a ‘New World Order’ conspiracy to regulate trade, Dr M warns

Maylay Mail Online by Zurairi AR, 9 March 2015

PUTRPUTRAJAYA, March 9 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed today that the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a “New World Order” (NWO) ploy that would lead to the world’s most powerful countries dominating the global economy.

The former prime minister also claimed that the TPPA, like many other free trade agreements, is a way for the NWO to establish a “one world government” through globalisation, as no other approach appears to be viable any longer.

“It’s not a partnership. All the countries which participate will be subjected to more rules than they ever had before,” Dr Mahathir told the International Conference on NWO organised by the Perdana Global Peace Foundation (PGPF).

“The TPPA is not about free trade, it’s about trade subjected to all kinds of laws and regulations, exposing countries to be sued by the international courts.”

The staunch TPPA critic also claimed that the countries that remain “recalcitrant” or refuse to conform to the trade agreement will be threatened by economic sanctions under this NWO.

Among others, Dr Mahathir listed down Iran and Russia as examples.

The conference accused today the existence of an NWO, where an allegedly secret group of elites are conspiring to rule the world via globalisation and a world government, replacing sovereign nation-states.

Dr Mahathir’s argument was however countered by Washington-based security consultant Thomas PM Barnett, who claimed that the US has put in place measures that seem to penalise itself more than other economies.

“Globalisation comes with rules. US pioneered the creation of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the general agreement on trade and tariffs that became the WTO,” Barnett said, referring to the World Trade Organisation.

“Well, the country most sued, since the WTO court was created, was the US. The country that has lost more suits than anybody else in the world in the WTO court, has been the US,” he added.

Barnett, who is also an author and public speaker, also claimed that the US has even allowed the emergence of rival trading blocs such as the BRICs -- comprising Brazil, Russia, India and China – and MINT – made up of Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey, instead of stifling them.


- See more at:

Full article at


Radio appearance on Missoula MT "Talk Back" Show


Pop!Tech 8 artwork by Peter Durand of Alphachimp


Alphachimp artwork from 2005 "New Map Game": "Blueprint for Action" preview