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
9:43AM

Looking back and ahead: this presidential election

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 6 June 2004


The 60th anniversary of D-Day and Ronald Reagan is dead, two events that remind us of the power of myths. The myths surrounding the Second World War are almost too many to mention: that all Americans were behind the war (never trueóespecially at the beginning), that is was an unending string of successes (too many screw-up along the way to mention), that it was a ìgood warî justly waged (except for ignoring the Holocaust, the fire bombings, using nukes), etc. Reaganís myths are equally fantastic in many ways: he reduced the role of government (it grew exponentially under him, as did Washington itself), he won the Cold War through his military build-up (the move to a professional military was the key change to getting the force we enjoy today, the defense build-up began under Carter, and it was Nixonís dÈtente that did the most damage to the Soviet Union), and that he represented old-time values (the first divorcee as presidentóand a Hollywood actor who only played at war).


Admitting such myths donít make these events or accomplishments any less real, or important, or essentially positive; it just means weíre honest with ourselves that nothing is ever as simple as it seems, never so black and white, never so clear from the beginning. World War II really ended much of what was bad about the 20th century and began much of what became good about the 20th century, and D-Day was the turning point of all thatóeasily the most important day of the entire century. We lost more U.S. soldiers on that morning than weíve lost in this entire Global War on Terrorism to dateóin fact more than all the combat deaths weíve suffered since the end of the Vietnam War. Good war? It was horrible from start to finish, but it created a lot of good in its wake.


I could say the same for Reagan. There was little I liked about his administration, as charming as he was personally. In many ways, his term was a horribly painful course correction from the historical pathway this country had slipped into across the 1960s (both in foreign policy and in domestic affairs), and even I dismayed at much of his conduct throughout his presidency, much good came in coincidence with that reign. People believe it was the changes Reagan created within the government that remade America, but frankly they were far more minimal than imagined. The real remaking of America happened in the private sector, and little of that had anything to do with Reaganomics. It was simply the business world coming to grips with the emerging phenomenon we would later describe as globalizationógiving up certain fantasies about how America could remain a global economic power while maintaining the myth of lifetime employment in a single field, much less with a single employer. Pretending Reagan was responsible for all that is like pretending Clinton made globalization magically appear on his watch.


Nonetheless, America as a whole went through a very difficult retooling of expectations and assumptions about the role of the government, the role of the private sector, and the role of the United States in world history. We are still dealing with that amazing course correctionóperhaps reaching an apogee in our occupation of Iraq today and our attempts to remake the security order of the Middle East.


Are we in the midst of another course correction?


I donít think so.


I think whoever gets elected in November will end up doing much the same thing in this Global War on Terrorism, as well as much the same things in response to the continuing economic challenges posed by globalization. The main questions will be about speed, as in ìHow fast?î versus ìHow slow?î Clinton was fast on economics and slow on security. Bush is the opposite in many ways. Will Kerry constitute a return to Clinton? Not as much as many might think. I imagine his basic approach will be to go a bit slower on each: mitigating globalizationís effects on workers and pursuing the GWOT in a more bottom-up fashion (focusing on the root causes and less on regime change).


The big question for me is which administration can really make the effort at constructing the international organizations and strategic alliances necessary to generate that A-to-Z Core-wide rule set on processing politically bankrupt regimes, because until that happens, itíll be hard to image lasting successes occurring in the effort to shrink the Gap. If you arenít willing to take down the bad guys on top, itís hard to imagine how your efforts at working the underlying conditions will lead to permanent, positive change.


Bush II might end up being that working-on-the-legacy sort of affair like Reagan II, i.e., willing to take huge chances on big dreams (remember Reaganís crazy offer to Gorby to get rid of all nukes there and then?). It could be hugely aggressive in reshaping key relationships like Nixon II did with superpower ties. Or it could be the same sort of dumb-ass vindictiveness weíve too often seen from this White House. But I tend to be optimistic on such things. Why? I expect Bush to win in November.


But there are good reasons to believe Kerry could be even better, even in a first term that willóas alwaysóbe obsessed first and foremost with winning a second term. Hereís an excerpt from Joshua Micah Marshallís current piece in the Atlantic Monthly (ìKerry Faces the World,î July/August) that suggests they might get the ìnew mapî a bit better than the Bush White House (although the similarities of thought are much more noticeable than the differences, I will admit):

ìBy the mid-1990s this [Balkans experience] had led the Clinton Administration to focus on terrorism, failed states, and weapons proliferation, and as it did, its foreign-policy outlook changed. The key threat to the United States came to be seen less in terms of traditional conflicts between states and more in terms of endemic regional turmoil of the sort found in the Balkans. ëThe Clinton Administration,í says Jonathan Winer [former Clinton official], ëstarted out with a very traditional Democratic or even mainstream approach to foreign policy: big-power politics, Russia being in the most important role; a critical relationship with China; European cooperation; and some multilateralism.í But over the years, he went on, ëthey moved much more to a failed-state, global-affairs kind of approach, recognizing that the trends established by globalization required you to think about foreign policy in a more synthetic and integrated fashion than nation-state to nation-state.


As Winer argues, the threats were less from Russia or China, or even from the rogue states, than from the breakdown of sovereignty and authority in a broad geographic arc that stretched from West Africa through the Middle East, down through the lands of Islam, and into Southeast Asia. In this part of the world poverty, disease, ignorance, fanaticism, and autocracy frequently combined in a self-reinforcing tangle, fostering constant turmoil. Home to many failed or failing states, this area bred money laundering, waves of refugees, drug production, gunrunning, and terrorist networksóthe cancers of the twenty-first-century world order.


In the Balkans, Holbrooke, Clark, and other leading figures found themselves confronting problems that required not only American military force but also a careful synthesis of armed power, peacekeeping capacity, international institutions, and nongovernmental organizations to stabilize the region and maintain some kind of order. Though the former Yugoslavia has continued to experience strife, the settlement in the Balkans remains the most successful one in recent memory, and offers the model on which a Kerry Administration would probably build. As Holbrooke told me, the Bush Administrationís actions in Iraq have shown that the Administration understands only the military component of this model: ëMost of them donít have a real understanding of what it takes to do nation-building, which is an important part of the overall democratic process.í


A key assumption shared by almost all Democratic foreign-policy hands is that by themselves the violent overthrow of a government and the initiation of radical change from above almost never foster democracy, an expanded civil society, or greater openness. ëIf you have too much change too quickly,í Winer says, ëyou have violence and repression. We donít want to see violence and repression in [the Middle East]. We want to see a greater zone for civilizationóa greater zone for personal and private-sector activity and for governmental activity that is not an enactment of violence.í Bush and his advisers have spoken eloquently about democratization. But in the view of their Democratic counterparts, their means of pursuing it are plainly counterproductive. It is here, Holbrooke says, that the Administrationís alleged belief in the stabilizing role of liberal democracy and open society collides with its belief in the need to rule by force and, if necessary, violence: ëThe neoconservatives and the conservativesóand they both exist in uneasy tension within this Administrationóshift unpredictably between advocacy of democratization and advocacy of neo-imperialism without any coherent intellectual position, except the importance of the use of force.í


Because Afghanistan was the Bush Administrationís first order of business following the 9/11 attacks, the results of this policy have advanced the furthest there. And because Kerry is on record as saying he would increase the number of U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan, itís probably the clearest measure of how a Kerry Administration would differ from Bushís. Afghanistan is a subject that Kerryís advisers and other senior Democrats turn to again and again. When I interviewed Joseph Biden in late March, he recounted a conversation heíd had with Condolezza Rice in the spring of 2002 about the growing instability that had taken hold after the Taliban was defeated, in late 2001. Biden told Rice he believed that the United States was on the verge of squandering its military victory by allowing the country to slip back into the corruption, tyranny, and chaos that had originally paved the way for Taliban rule. Rice was uncomprehending. ëWhat do you mean?í he remembers her asking. Biden pointed to the re-emergence in western Afghanistan of Ismail Khan, the pre-Taliban warlord in Heart who quickly reclaimed power after the American victory. He told me: ëShe said, ëLook, al-Qaedaís not there. The Talibanís not there. Thereís security there.í I said, ëYou mean turning it over to the warlords?í She said, ëYeah, itís always been that way.í


Biden was seeking to illustrate the blind spot that Democratic foreign-policy types see in Bush officials like Rice, who believe that if a rogue state has been rid of its hostile government (in this case the Taliban), its threat has therefore been neutralized. Democrats see Afghanistan as an affirmation of their own view of modern terrorism. As Fareed Zakaria noted recently in Newsweek, the Taliban regime was not so much a state sponsoring and directing a terrorist organization (the Republic view) as a terrorist organization sponsoring, guiding, and even hijacking a state (the Democratic view. Overthrowing regimes like that is at best only the first step in denying safe haven to al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Equally important is creating the institutional basis of stability and liberalization that will prevent another descent into lawlessness and terroróin a word, nation-building.î

You have to pardon my skepticism here, but if this is the great distinction between the Republicans and Democrats on the tasks that lie ahead in the GWOT, then we already basically have a bipartisan consensus on what is necessary to win. Marshallís clever word-splitting notwithstanding (not a regime that supports terror but a terrorist network thatís hijacked a governmentóoooh! Those are truly profound differences in how they view the threat!), I see both sides identifying roughly the same swath of the world (the Gap), and arguing that regime change makes sense in certain key circumstances, and that it will have to be followed by serious nation-building efforts over the long term if real success is to be had. All I see in this ìdifferentî Democratic view of the world is the current emerging wisdom on how the GWOT must involve both regime change and nation building. Hell, everybody gets that now.


The Kerry campís big claim right now is, ìWe get this reality better than the Bush people do!î Winerís rewrite of Clinton Administration history is a complete retread of the same intellectual evolution that the Bush Administration went through after 9/11 (off of great-power wars and into Military Operations Other Than War). Clintonites can claim they realized this first; they just canít claim they did anything particularly important to effect this change within the Pentagon or the U.S. military. Remember, these guys let the military basically downgrade MOOTW in relation to ìtransformationî focused on China/Taiwan straits/2025. The Bush Administration went down the same pathway until 9/11, and then got the same religion the Clintonites now claim they got after the Balkans experience. Wow! Same difference!


The real questions on the table right now are which administration would move faster to reform the Department of Defense for the challenges ahead. Both sides are indicating a serious willingness to go beyond tinkering and engage in some serious restructuring, but neither side is offering anything beyond a few sundry ideas here and there (ìstabilization forceî and ìglobal peacekeeping forceî from the Bush people and rapidly expanding the Spec Ops forces from the Kerry camp). I like both ideas, but for Holbrooke to say ìthey have no coherent vision and we doî is a bit like the kettle calling the pot black. Neither side for now has laid out a coherent vision.


Thatís why I wrote the book. Thatís why last night it crept back into Amazonís top 100 (at 98) a full six weeks after release: people want that vision even if neither camp can offer it to them yet. By forcing such a debate within this campaign, Americans will get a better presidential administration in the endóno matter who wins.


Everyone needs to be asking both sides: ìOh yeah, and what exactly will you do to make that ëvisioní come about? How far will you go? What new rule sets will you enshrine in new international organizations designed to really pull off this future worth creating? And how willing are you to deal with allies necessary to make this future really materialize? Not just Europe, but Russia, China, India, Brazil and so on? Not just in NATO, but in the WTO and elsewhere? Be specific on what youíd do better and faster than the other guy!î

9:26AM

Boy, am I glad my book didn't come out this week!

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 7 June 2004


Imagine trying to get your author on a talk or news show today when it's

Ronald Reagan all the time! I mean, the guy can't help dying when he did,

but it would really slam-dunk some author struggling to get his or her face

on TV right now--unless they had a book on Reagan (check out all the Reagain

books in Amazon's Top 100 right now).


That's why I did not appear on the Peter Boyle show (630am KHOW Denver) this morning at 10:10 EST (8:10 Mountain) as scheduled. I'll go on tomorrow

(Tuesday, 8 June) at the same time.

7:54AM

Reviewing the Reviews (antiwar.com)

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 7 June 2004


Hard to believe, but I got a negative review from antiwar.com.


Here's the full text, with my fuller commentary to follow:

New Map, Same Bad Destinations

A Review of The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the 21st Century by Thomas P.M. Barnett

by Karen Kwiatkowski


Dr. Thomas Barnett, Harvard trained political scientist and self-described Pentagon futurist, has a bone to pick with the Bush administration. America's invasion of Iraq was a great achievement, but the President hasn't yet shared with Americans why we are staying there, for Ö well, forever. Barnett's latest book, The Pentagon's New Map, cheerfully explains that there is no exit strategy for Iraq or Afghanistan. He writes, "We are never leaving the Gap and we are never 'bringing the boys home.' There is no exiting the Gap, only shrinking the Gap Ö and we better stop kidding ourselves about 'exit strategies.'"


Barnett's view is this: The world is divided into a culturally and economically connected Core and a disconnected Non-Integrating Gap. It needs a post Cold War "rule-set reset" to ensure that the disconnected ones ñ states and individuals ñ are not excluded from the game. The security of the international system is the new American responsibility. We must organize and act in a way to combat violence originating, for the most part, from individuals and groups operating from the disconnected Gap. He believes the good news of our rule-set should be actively shared, and that this sharing is natural, good, moral and non-imperialistic. Barnett is a self-described optimist who fully intends to leave behind a far safer and better world for his children and mine.


Using market, computing and advertising idiom, Barnett explains that there are two key roles that United States must play in the 21st century ñ that of rule-setting Leviathan and that of System Administrator. His book lays out how the Department of Defense must bifurcate accordingly into two robust capabilities: a killer app that is speedy, stealthy, powerful, young, male, deadly and used overseas only, and its mild mannered opposite, a policing-oriented force that uses military and civilian law, works at home and abroad and is not bound by posse comitatus restrictions. The Leviathan force and the System Administrator force are the main ways of getting America's greatest export commodity ñ security ñ out to the "customer."


As in any other free trade, we are as benefited by the exchange as is our "customer." Barnett explains, "This exporting of security is, in large part, nothing more than a by-product of the U.S. military's continuous worldwide operations. We are the only military in the history of the world to possess a planet-spanning command scheme." Barnett's book explains how this capability can and should be used to create a global future "worth creating."


Reading this book took a tremendous amount of fortitude on my part. The staff officer and strategy analyst in me enjoyed the strategic debate, reminisces about PowerPoint and the tribulations of a being a mid-level apparatchik-cum-smartass, and reading about Pentagon personalities. But the Burke-loving libertarian in me was increasingly gripped by a strange combination of amazement and terror. Barnett mustn't take this personally; I feel the same way when I read Sam Huntington.


Barnett's Leviathan is Hobbesian, a paternalistic stabilizing and restraining force within which free activity and thought is permitted. He has clearly never heard of Robert Higgs's Leviathan or how the nature of government as an institution is to exploit and seek crises in order to grow, cultivate and confiscate power in a zero sum game with increasingly unwilling but politically irrelevant subjects. Barnett admits to being an economic determinist, apparently unimproved through his recent work for global financial services company Cantor Fitzgerald. To his credit, while he doesn't use the language of contract, consent and choice, he does see how security, trust, shared rules, and economy are related and symbiotic. He does understand why direct foreign (and presumably domestic) investment is a mark of national health, wealth and wisdom. But his prescription struck me more like the idiosyncratic The Road to Wellville than a practical means of fostering peace in our time.


The Pentagon's New Map is cartographically designed to support the mission of eliminating Gap states. In this quest, the American military as well as the American social political system will be reoriented. The military becomes both Leviathan attack forces and System Administrator nation builders supported by a global garrisoning scheme that retains most of our Cold War overseas bases and adds new launching pad bases in new places. Soldiers of the future will get orders not only to Japan and Germany, but to strange new bases in Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Djibouti, and ultimately West Africa, Southern Africa, and South America.


Barnett points out that the American social political reorientation has already started, and that our new organizing construct rests on two key documents: The PATRIOT Act of 2002 and the 2002 National Security Strategy. The PATRIOT Act might be described as a legislative assault on the Constitution, approved sight unseen by the Congress. The National Security Strategy introduced the radical concept of pre-emptive executive war. The sleeping legislative and aggressive executive are complemented by a silent judiciary which, in an interesting way, is represented by what Barnett calls a "real answer man," Attorney General John Ashcroft. An "answer man" is a "new source of authority within the government Ö armed with extraordinary legal powers, which might strike many citizens as threatening their basic civil rights." The idea here is that in a post 9-11 environment, we needed new domestic rule-sets. Barnett shares his observations because he had predicted this exact scenario long before 9-11. Perhaps he picked up this idea after studying Germany in the 1930s.


Throughout the book, the author presents himself as an optimist, a good Catholic, an outside-the-box thinker and a serious military strategist. What struck me as I read The New Pentagon Map was that had Dr. Barnett not explained these things, I would never have guessed. His remedy of American-led global assimilation using military decapitation of out-of-favor and hated regimes and military nation-builders to accelerate our version of clean slate socio-religious-economic rule-sets until history becomes terminal is not cause for optimism. His rejection of the ethic of Augustine, Aquinas, and certainly the sitting Pope is not exactly being a good Catholic. Outside-the-box thinking in the American year 2003 is not represented by timid variations of mindless neoconservatism, neo-Jacobinism and muscular Wilsonianism. And Barnett's advice for Pentagon function and organization is remarkably impractical from either a Clausewitz or a Sun Tzu perspective, and it certainly violates Constitutional mandates for national defense.


As for Core and Gap relations, I couldn't expunge a mental image of a connected powerful Core in Northwest D.C. and an economically disconnected and violent Gap in Southeast D.C. Would correcting this be a job for Leviathan Force or System Administrator Force? Are we also going to send Marines into Lancaster County, Pennsylvania? And do we do all this before or after we've eliminated all the disconnected Gaps overseas? I know that Barnett is worried about the poor underprivileged citizens in violent disconnected overseas societies. But his philosophy in less perfect or moral hands would put at risk all kinds of people and cultures who choose to be different and isolated.


It is clear that Barnett takes his ideas seriously. But he also offers some curious inconsistencies. For most of the world, Barnett is adamant that barriers must come down, that engagement and integration must happen; he spends several pages explaining that he dislikes the divisiveness of the term "arc of instability." Yet, in the case of Israel, he advocates a wall separating the West Bank and Gaza from Israel, "to keep suicide bombers out while creating a de facto border between the two states, separating a demographically moribund Israel from a youth-bulging Palestine." This is different from his advice for America and the rest of the Core, which is, "Without this [flow of labor from the Gap to the Core], overpopulation and underperforming economies in the Gap will lead to explosive situations that spill over into the Core. Either way, they are coming. Our only choice is how we welcome them."


To write effectively about a military-market link and a "security market" requires expertise in security issues and political science, as well as knowledge of economics and boots-on-the-ground experience. Barnett has plenty of the former, but very little of the latter. He observes a lack of connectivity in the Gap, even while he speaks of the billions and billions of American dollars remitted from immigrant workers back home. He writes dismissively of the extensive paperless banking system of hawala, of landlocked Bolivia running a ship flagging industry, and of small and large countries that band together in opposition to the U.S. to gain favorable World Trade Organization decisions. Barnett's shaky grasp of economic principles and lack of understanding of how markets (and states and individuals) function degrades and weakens his argument, and thus his prescription for a safer global future. His intentions are exceptionally honorable, but every person, state and market in the world, in both Core and Gap, would successfully evade, resist or illegally profit from America's use of a "planet spanning command-scheme." I'm not convinced that Barnett's cure would be any better than the disease. It would surely cost far more in American liberty, constitutional democracy and blood than it would be worth.


Irving Kristol lamented recently, "It's too bad. I think it would be natural for the United States Ö to play a far more dominant role in world affairs Ö to command and to give orders as to what is to be done. People need that. There are many parts of the world ñ Africa in particular ñ where an authority willing to use troops can make Ö a healthy difference." I think Barnett would agree wholeheartedly. However, it would be a far better service to American national security if Barnett, in his next book about what to do with military force and how to encourage global order, would read more of Thomas Paine, "Rights of Man, Part Second."


"A great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government. It had its origin in the principles of society and the natural constitution of man. It existed prior to government, and would exist if the formality of government was abolished. The mutual dependence and reciprocal interest which man has upon man, and all parts of a civilized community upon each other, create that great chain of connection which holds it together. The landholder, the farmer, the manufacturer, the merchant, the tradesman, and every occupation, prospers by the aid which each receives from the other, and from the whole. Common interest regulates their concerns, and forms their laws; and the laws which common usage ordains, have a greater influence than the laws of government. In fine, society performs for itself almost every thing which is ascribed to government."


One final note. The Pentagon's New Map includes the use of a German word I had never heard of: Gˆtterd‰mmerung. It means "a turbulent ending of a regime or an institution." If we follow Barnett's national and global security advice in The New Pentagon Map, we just might achieve Gˆtterd‰mmerung ñ not in rogue states where he expects, but back home in Washington. Come to think of it, perhaps we should be encouraging Dr. Barnett in his efforts.

COMMENTARY: I do take this as the definitive sort of libertarian review of my work, reflecting all the paranoid fears of government control, conspiracies (exploiting and seekingódare I say "manufacturing" crises to confiscate power!), and globalization-at-the-barrel-of-a-gun fantasies. The distortions of the book are multiple, but not worth combating, for once I see the non-too-veiled reference to Nazi Germany ("Perhaps he picked up this idea after studying Germany in the 1930s."), I know we're into the territory of the black helicopters and one-world-government types. Her lowlight? Suggesting I intend on sending in the Marines to "connect" the Amish of Pennsylvania. Wow! She really nails me on that one! Exposed at last!


What's sad, is that with someone that starkly libertarian in their outlook, you never really can tell when they're being sarcastic or just plain wacko. I know, I get their emails on a daily basis.


That this comes from a retired military officer should come as no surprise, nor lend any further credence to her analysis. You basically come across two sorts of extreme ex-military types: the ones who think the military is the answer for everything and the ones who see the military as the great evil of history. The rationale for either answer isósadlyótoo often found in that person's sense of how well their career went: the military-as-bad crowd tends to come overwhelmingly from those denied flag rank, whereas the military-as-everything-good crowd tends to retire with more than one-star on their shoulder boards.


I do like her criticism of my raging inconsistencies (as one famous wag put it, consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds everywhere) because it reveals her essential belief system: all wars/governments are bad and since I am not a true believer in her libertarian cause (to include the demise of our government in Washingtonóapparently the source of much evil in our society and the world), all my ideas are bad. I do plead to inconsistency in my ideas: I think wars are sometimes quite needed, and I think government is not evil but good.

6:47AM

Another country heard from (China)

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 5 June 2004


One of those days you live for as a father: up early with number one son for baseball game. Itís coach-pitch and Iím pitching the first inning. My allergies are something fierce and Iím throwing the ball all over the place, actually hitting the kids every so often. Kevin is last batter because his stomach is giving him fits and he keeps having to hit the head (go to the bathroom). I pitch about 20 times to Kevinóalmost all of them bad. I hit him three times in a row. I couldnít stink any worse if I was drunk Iím so dizzy from the clogged sinuses. Kevinís getting fairly irate. Finally, I switch with the other coach: he pitches and now I catch.


First pitch to Kevin and my boy almost hits it into Narragansett Bay he smokes it so hardóan easy home run to end the first inning.


Whew!


Then home for a day with my youngest son Jerry. We practice some small-ball basketball on a Little Tykes hoop. Heís pretty good. But then we try soccer for the first time. Jerryís just four and can begin in the YMCA league next fall, so I wanted to try him out. Amazingly, he hits with either leg just as easily, and watching him take to soccer is like watching a fish hit the water. We play for about an hour, and every time he scores, he demands that I fish the ball out of the net and we start all over. No begging, no effort, he just wants to play and play and play.


I think Iíve found my soccer player.


Tonight itís the second showing of our Catholic grade schoolís production of Annie, where my daughter Em has multiple neat roles and backs up the Annie who sings the signature number ìTomorrow.î


All in all, a great day for this dad.


But it gets even better.


Last night I was watching the tape of a recent TV appearance I did on a Philadelphia Sunday news program, just to see how I did. Vonne, my wife, walks in and says, ìRemember last year at this time you were all ready to back out of the book idea, saying you didnít think you could actually write one and itíd be bad and such a failure anyway so why bother? See! If I hadnít have pushed you to go through with it, you would have missed out on all this fun stuff youíve done since itís come out!î


Sheís absolutely right. It has been fun. But far more than that, the book got out on the table a host of things that needed to be saidónot just for Americaís national security but for the issues of global peace. I treasure two types of emails most: the ones from servicemen and women (especially those serving in Iraq) and the ones from scholars overseas. The ones from the military say Iím answering some important mail as far as theyíre concerned: stuff that needs to be done if America is going to prevail in this Global War on Terror. But the ones from overseas are even better on many levels, because they say that the vision Iím pushing here makes sense not just to Americans, but to many from other nations as well.


Those emails tell me Iíve succeeded in uncovering that holy grail of strategic vision: the reproducible strategic concept, or something that others can understand the very minute they hear about it. It just makes sense. Itís translatable. It speaks to common understandings, fears, dreams, hopes, etc. Itís not just something youíve dreamed upóit was there all along simply waiting to be discovered.


Writing this book was great, but having it out and about has been like Christmas every single day. Every day I open my email accounts I find something hugely gratifying or exciting waiting for me there, and it makes my life very exciting right now.


Hereís the one I found today: an email from a ìChinese Scholarî based in Beijing:

Dear Dr. Barnett:


I wish to express my great interest in your excellent book, ìPentagon's New Map,î as well as my authentic respect to your extremely important academic work. Dr. Xue Yong of Yale University writes an article introducing your discussions on the grand strategy for U.S. in an age of globalization, which is published in a very popular Chinese newspaper, Southern Weekend. I am eager to read your whole book.


I believe your book and your far-sighted viewpoints will become a hot topic in China. You book remind us to attach greater importance to more extensive and more in-depth strategic dialogues between China and U.S.


Did anybody express the intention to translate your book into Chinese? Perhaps I can do something helpful to accelerate publishing of the Chinese Version of your book.


Please accept the sincere congratulations from a Chinese Scholar.


Niu Ke, PhD

Associate Professor

Dept. of History, Beijing University

Beijing, China

Obviously, it is always neat to get a complimentary note from a professional colleague, but to get one from China is especially neat, because it says the vision translates.


You can bet I sent this guyís email on to my agent. I would love to see the book translated into Chinese and published there, because if it doesnít make sense to the Chinese, it wonít be worth much in the end. Thatís how big and important Chinaís future development is to that global future worth creating. There is simply no excluding China from that future. Itís more a matter of making sure the global rule sets that emerge over the coming years simply make room for all that China is becoming. Doesnít mean we give them everything they want, nor does it mean we treat them preemptively like a future enemy at every strategic opportunity. It simply means China is too important to ignore, sidetrack, push away, or disrespect. If you want to plan that future worth creating, China has a seat at the tableóno ifs, ands or buts.


Iím preparing my briefing for Beijing University even as I type this blog . . . . and yes, someday I will deliver it.


The review essay by Dr. Xue Yong is found at: http://www.nanfangdaily.com.cn/zm/20040603/xw/tx1/200406030025.asp. My eternal thanks to the first person who gets me a translation, and my immediate gratitude to Niu Ke for alerting me to its existence.


Hereís the catch of the day:


I have seen this number before: China and alternative fuels

ìChina Pledges to Use More Alternatives to Oil and Coal,î by Mark Landler, New York Times, 5 June, p. B1.
Sachs on the intelligence community
ìDonít Know, Should Care,î by Jeffrey D. Sachs, NYT, 5 June, p. A25.
Development is all about the women
ìRemaking Iraq Without Guns,î by Irshad Manji, NYT, 5 June, p. A25.

6:33AM

I have seen this number before: China and alternative fuels

ìChina Pledges to Use More Alternatives to Oil and Coal,î by Mark Landler, New York Times, 5 June, p. B1.


When we did the NewRuleSets.Project workshop on ìAsian Energy Futures,î we had our experts, way back in May 2000, pick a number for the percentage of energy China would generate from alternative sources in the year 2020. They picked 9 percent, or roughly double what the Department of Energy said in their spring 2002 International Energy Outlook publication (5 percent).


Why did my Wall Street experts say this? They said China and the rest of Asia would simply choke on all that coal-generated pollution if they did not push alternative fuels as much as possible as their economies continued their dramatic growth in coming years.


I wrote the first edition of the Asian Energy Futures report in late 2000.


Then DOE put out their 2001 report. In that report, DOE basically doubled its projected share of alternative fuels in Chinaís energy profile for the year 2020 from 5 percent to 10 percent. It was such a profound shift in just one yearís time. Why? DOEís estimates of the current percentage of alternative fuels in Chinaís mix jumped from about 5 percent to 8 percent. Most experts felt that number was soft, meaning inflated by the Chinese government (not directly so much, but because China was claiming to be using so much less coal in generating its total energy over the late 1990sóshutting down mine after mine).


So I came out with a revised Asian Energy Futures report in mid 2001. Why did I feel the need? China was growing so dramatically and the profile of its energy usage was altering quite rapidly year to year. When DOE then projected that recent Chinese data into 20-year projections, the swing on the far end of that calculation was simply enormous. My report felt very out of date in just a year, and China was the problem.


So I updated it the report. Check it out if you want on the NewRuleSets.Project site.


Why do I recount all this? The article I cite from the NYT today announces with great exclamation that China is now declaring its alternative fuels share of total energy will reach 10 percent by 2010!


Will China make it happen by then? Possibly. The bigger point is that they realize they need to do more to reduce their use of coal and oil andóin the processóreduce both pollution emitted and dependency on foreign sources (which is skyrocketing right now and will in the future almost no matter what China doesóbut it has to do all it can anyway).


Was this foreseeable? Absolutely. Just thinking systematically about developing Asia and its rising energy requirements, as we did in the project with the help of our Wall Street partners, meant you could easily imagine such moves well in advance of their appearance. Understanding such macro-driving factors in international relations is how you imagine where countriesí strategic interests are heading over time. When you see a confluence of such interests, you see the utility of strategic partnerships and alliances.


This is why I see China and the United States as strategic allies in the future. Not just in Asia, but in the Middle East as well. Hell, after the U.S., I canít think of a country more interested in shrinking the Gap than China. In some ways, itís very survival may depend on it.

6:25AM

Sachs on the intelligence community

ìDonít Know, Should Care,î by Jeffrey D. Sachs, New York Times, 5 June, p. A25.


Jeffrey Sachs basically takes the U.S. intelligence community to task for knowing almost nothing about the Gap. Heís absolutely right.


His main beef is that U.S. development programs for the Gap have been progressively ìguttedî going all the way back to the early Reagan years (very true) ìto the point that there is little institutional understanding about societies seething because of mass unemployment, rapid population growth, pervasive disease and chronic disease.î


What heís basically saying is that not only does the intell community lack such knowledge, the whole US Government is badly understaffed in terms of such understanding, and I think heís right. Wherever he looks throughout the USG, ìI see woefully few individuals with expertise about the low-income world. This is too bad, because the low-income world (roughly, those who live and die on less than $2 per day) constitutes 40 percent of humanityóand most of the places where American troops have fought and died in recent decades.î


Mark Warren, my personal editor on PNM and my two articles for Esquire, recently edited Sachsí piece for his magazine. When he was done with the piece, he told me that Sachs and I share a world view that is amazingly coincidental, in his opinion. I was a bit surprised by Markís judgment, but after reading this piece, Iím beginning to understand his point.


Sachsí op-ed ends with:

ìWe must have leaders who recognize that the problems of the poor arenít trifles to leave to do-gooders, but are vital strategic issues. For the first time in decades, we must strive to understand problemsótropical disease, malnutrition and the likeóthat are unfamiliar to us but are urgent concerns of billions of people abroad. In the case of a superpower, ignorance is not bliss; it is a threat to Americans and to humanity.î
This guy and I talk the same language of shrinking the Gap, weíre just focused on different vectors toward the same solution set. Being an enemy of my enemy, I recognize an ally.

6:22AM

Development is all about the women

ìRemaking Iraq Without Guns,î by Irshad Manji, New York Times, 5 June, p. A25.


I cite this article simply for this brilliant sequence:

ìAn investment in Muslim women benefits men and children too. Testifying to this multiplier effect are the signs in some Afghan schools: ëEducate a boy and you educate that boy; educate a girl and you educate her entire family.í Indeed, the 30-year record of microlending shows that Muslim women have helped nourish their neighborhoods and towns by building their own businesses. As for the repayment rate? A bankersí fantasy fulfilled: 98 percent.


With that in mind, suppose Washington joined a coalition of rich allies around the worldóthe Group of 8 nations as well as private foundationsóto offer women in Iraq a coherent programs of microbusiness loans. Pursuing this type of soft power could also compel government transparency in a way that even popular movements couldnít. Only a broad and inclusive business class that can be taxed by the state will, in turn, convince the state to develop institutions that respond to people. Americans know this principle better than anybody. Itís called representation with taxation.î

The connectivity displayed in that analysis is brilliant: women, education, entrepreneurship, business development, tax base, responsible governmentóshrinking that Gap one womenóI mean, one familyóat a time.

1:33PM

Reviewing the Reviews (Congressman Mac Thornberry, R-TX)

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 4 June 2004


Mac Thornberry chairs a group of House representatives who get together informally to discuss issues of national security. His staff invited me down in the spring of 2003 to brief this group. Thornberry seemed very impressed with the material, and so I later tapped him for a blurb for the book, which he gave (it appears on the back cover of the jacket). According to his staff, he's reading the book for the second time right now, which gives you a sense of how this guy really burrows into material he finds important.


According to Greg Jaffe, the Wall Street Journal reporter who wrote the page-one profile of me, when he spoke to Thornberry, he said something to the effect of, "Every time I approach a vote on anything having to do with U.S. interactions with the outside world, I ask myself, Will this measure help shrink the Gap?" When Greg told me that, I was really ecstatic, because that's the sort of "reproducible strategic concept" effect I was hoping to achieve with the bookósomething anyone could use to guide their decision-making on a daily basis. The quote Greg used from Thornberry in the article was actually this one: "Since the fall of the Soviet Union we haven't had a global strategy with bipartisan appeal that can survive changes in administration and in Congress." Jaffe then states that "[Thornberry] thinks this could fit the bill"ómeaning my Core-Gap theory.


Well, to my complete amazement, Thornberry reviews the book for the Washington Times (the Post has yet to review and apparently the NYT continues to pass on doing one). Here is the review in full with my commentary to follow:

Washington Times

June 3, 2004

Pg. 21


Rethinking Strategy


The Pentagon's New Map


By Mac Thornberry


One of the most remarkable aspects of American policy during the Cold War was the consistency of vision and purpose over 40 years as Congress and the presidency switched from party to party. With relatively few exceptions, the broad middle of both parties shared a strategic concept ó containment ó and stuck with it. The American people supported it.


That shared overall strategic concept has been missing since 1991. It is not that Republicans have one vision and Democrats have a competing one. Both parties have been struggling to articulate a strategy that fits the seemingly chaotic post-Cold War world while also gaining the cooperation of our allies, as well as the approval of the American public.


Even if we had total agreement on pursing the war on terrorism, the goal of defeating the terrorists does not constitute a worldview. We may well kill or capture all the members of al Qaeda, only to find others simply have taken their place. Terrorism is a symptom of something deeper, and we have to understand and then try to address those deeper security issues. In an increasingly interdependent world, we need an overall approach that can guide not only our defense and security policy, but also our economic, diplomatic and humanitarian policies. We need a bipartisan strategic concept that brings it all together.


Tom Barnett has proposed such a concept in a provocative new book. A professor at the Naval War College, Mr. Barnett has briefed his ideas to military officers and policy-makers around Washington and has fleshed out his briefings in "The Pentagon's New Map," a title that masks the scope and importance of his work.


He begins by drawing a new map that divides the world into the "Functioning Core," those stable countries where there is little threat of war or widespread violence, and the "Gap," where there is much violence and upheaval. A review of American military deployments since 1991 reveals that they have overwhelmingly been in the Gap. The Gap is also where terrorism is created and exported.


The difference between the Core and the Gap is the level of connectedness with the rest of the world. The more connected a country or a people are ó the more telephone lines, the more trade, the more freely capital flows, the more mass communication and Internet access they have ó the less likely it is that they will engage in violence.


Connectedness with the rest of the world is good and desirable. Disconnectedness is trouble. "Eradicating disconnectedness is the defining security task of our age," Mr. Barnett writes. "With that growing connectivity around the planet, we see the need for political and security rules sets that define fair play . . . More rules mean less war." As we reduce the disconnectedness by increasing the Gap's contacts with the outside world, we shrink the Gap. Only then do we truly drain the swamp of the hatred and isolation that breeds terrorists. Ultimately, we eliminate "entire generations of threats that our children and grandchildren would otherwise face."


Mr. Barnett's theory has a number of implications for U.S. policy.


It means that we must succeed in Iraq, which has become "a showdown between the forces of connectedness and disconnectedness in our world."


It means that more trade, especially with the Gap, is good. It does not require that we give away the store in trade negotiations, but we should continue to push back the frontiers of protectionism at home and abroad.


It means we should take a new look at our foreign aid. Does it promote connectivity or does it perpetuate stagnant systems where young people have little hope for a better life? Suicide bombers may always exist, but where there is hope for the future, they are seen as criminals rather than heroes.


We need a different kind of military from the one we built to wage the Cold War. Actually, Mr. Barnett argues we need two militaries, one that is high-tech and lethal with global reach, the other designed to help Gap countries achieve stability and to get up on their own feet.


We also need a State Department suitable for the 21st century, oriented toward "shrinking the Gap" and toward aggressively waging the global war of ideas. Even more important will be the coordination of all government departments and agencies and all that they do.


Some will attack Mr. Barnett's ideas because they portend much change and threaten existing interests. Others will ask why we should care about what happens in the Gap. September 11 answered them. We cannot isolate ourselves, and we cannot allow understandable fear of change to prevent us from facing the world ahead. In a world where, as the president said, "a few evil men can kill on a scale equal to their hatred," there are no guarantees, but we know that if we do not go to the world, the world will come to us.


We need a positive, unifying vision of a better, safer world if we are going to continue to ask the American people to sacrifice their treasure and their lives. Mr. Barnett may or may not be the next George F. Kennan. But he gives us a good starting point to make sense out of the random, chaotic, perplexing, swift-moving events and also gives us a positive road map toward a more peaceful, prosperous and hopeful future.


Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Republican, represents the 13th District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives and serves on the Armed Services Committee, the Budget Committee, and the Select Committee on Homeland Security. He is chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Science, and Research & Development.

COMMENTARY: This is a great review in so many ways. First, a nice summation of the argument. Second, the first time anyone lays out the policy implications so neatly and so boldly. To me, the fact that he does this and doesn't just whine, "draft and taxes!" says he gets my message accurately for the challenges AND opportunities it presents. Finally, for him to even mention me in the same breath as George Kennan is a really nice gesture. Of course, he hedges a bit because there's nothing smart in his coming right out and declaring that. But just putting that on the table is saying a lotóit's saying as far as he's concerned, he's now got a vision he can run with and he's asking others to consider it in the same way. So all in all, I could not have asked for a better review from someone who's really sticking his neck out to give this one to me. But that's the sort of guy Mac is, which is why he's so well respected on the Hill.

1:25PM

Steve Forbes drops a line

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 4 June 2004


Rec'd a FEDEX at the college while I was on the road. Inside is a "first bound" advance copy of Forbes (7 June 2004, probably on stands now), and a signed letter from Steve Forbes stating, "You might be interested in one of the items on page 42 of the enclosed FORBES magazine."


So I open it up and on page 42, under the feature title of "Other Comments" (which follows Mr. Forbes' own weekly editor's column, suggesting he picks these himself) is a series of quotes from recent articles. Mine is at the top of the list (actually, under a quote from Winston Churchill: ìNothing is more dangerous in wartime than to live in the temperamental atmosphere of a Gallup Poll, always feeling one's pulse and taking one's temperature."). It looks like this:

"Reign of Terror


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."


--THOMAS P.M. BARNETT, Washington Post"

Pretty nice to make both Forbes and Rolling Stone (forthcoming) in the same month! That must mean we're working the middle ground fairly effectively.

1:22PM

Upcoming media/publications in June

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 4 June 2004


Just a quick listing of stuff: all of which I will blog and try to publicize in advance:


  • First, the CSPAN broadcasting of the mega-brief will likely occur in either late June or early July. I will probably be in-studio live following the prime time showing of the brief to answer call-in questions. Not sure if Lamb will be there with me or someone else. When we find out about this, we will post.


  • Quoted excerpt from Washington Post Outlook article from April in June 7 special issue (Investment Guide) of FORBES magazine on page 42.


  • Interview to appear in one of the Rolling Stone issues in June. Don't know any more on that right now.


  • Monday, 7 June at 10:10 EST (8:10 Mountain): appear on Peter Boyle show (630am KHOW Denver) for about 10-15 minutes.


  • Tuesday, 8 June will appear on NBC Providence evening news show between 5-6pm EST (local broadcast only).


  • Thursday, 10 June will appear on National Public Radio's "On Point" show between 8-9pm EST. On Point is syndicated throughout much of the country, so it would be a matter of checking local listings. It is recorded out of WBUR in Boston. I will probably be remote in Providence.


  • Later in June I will be on Ken and Daria Dolans' new national talk radio network show. Exact date to be determined.

  • That's all I have for now.

    1:11PM

    Talking to WSJ's Chip Cummins on energy security in the PG

    Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 4 June 2004


    Scrambling day for me at the office: catching up on travel vouchers and setting up surprise travel to Raleigh NC for awards banquet speech at worldwide conference of civil affairs officers (cosponsored by US-based professional association of civil affairs officers and the US Army's Special Ops commandóguess that would be the Delta or "D boys" themselves). Their original speaker fell through and so I'm going to fill in later this month. Trick was to arrange flights so as not to miss last YMCA baseball game and mini-party at Pizza Hut. Can't disappoint my boy.


    Spoke a bit with Chip Cummins by phone. He's London-based and writes about energy a lot for the Wall Street Journal. He's working a story about future security issues relating to the oil industry there (big surprise given recent events). I didn't really have any good names for him to tap in OSD (Office of Secretary of Defense), but I did tell him why I think energy security in the Mideast will again rise to top of pile for many inside the Pentagon:

  • Iraq occupation "transforms transformation" and moves its focus from warfighting to peacekeeping.

  • All the rising issues with private contractor security firms working with the military in the Middle East; a lot of what they do is guard facilities.

  • Fact that GWOT has pushed al Qaeda back into similar pattern of operational reach that Mideast terror groups displayed in 1980s: can bomb around Mideast and reach into southern Europe (pay attention Greek Olympic officials!) but not really any farther.

  • Reality that al Qaeda targets Westerners in oil industry in Saudi Arabia now, but eventually will go after all foreign workers (mostly southern and east Asians) and then the House of Saud itself in efforts to get the kingdom where it will hurt most: the oil industry.

  • Recent moves in Pentagon to highlight security issues relating to sea traffic of oil through SE Asia.

  • Overarching reality that bulk of oil coming out of Persian Gulf now goes to Asia, and Asia is going to double energy requirements in coming years, so you know it's going to come from Gulf and from Saudi Arabia itself to a large degree.

  • You put that all together and I see oil security looming very large in Middle East for U.S. military forces in coming decades. But as I say to Cummins, the real missing link here is what should be the emerging role of Indians, Chinese, Japanese and anyone else in Asia dependent on Mideast oil. In short, we need to "Easternize" both the Iraq occupation and our future security alliance of great powers in the Gulf.


    Here's today's catch:


    The right debate on restructuring the intelligence community

    "Tenet's CIA Exit Will Spur Debate On Spy Agencies: Chief's Departure Comes Ahead of Critical Reports On Intelligence Gathering," by David S. Cloud and Scot J. Paltrow, Wall Street Journal, 4 June, p. A1.
    Leaning into the Gap: why Kim comes next
    "A Pentagon Plan To Sharply Cut G.I.'s In Germany: A Global Rearrangement: Two U.S. Army Divisions Would be Withdrawn From German Bases," by Michael R. Gordon, New York Times, 4 June, p. A1.
    Kerry sounding more right notes on transformation
    "Kerry Says He Will Adapt Military for New Dangers: Promises of more troops and changes in technology," by Jodi Wilgoren, NYT, 4 June, p. A21.
    Why nuclear arms control is dead
    U.S. to Make Deep Cuts in Stockpile Of A-Arms," by Matthew L. Wald, NYT, 4 June, p. A16.

    12:59PM

    The right debate on restructuring the intelligence community

    "Tenet's CIA Exit Will Spur Debate On Spy Agencies: Chief's Departure Comes Ahead of Critical Reports On Intelligence Gathering," by David S. Cloud and Scot J. Paltrow, Wall Street Journal, 4 June, p. A1.


    Tenet's departure from CIA will allowóalong with upcoming critical reports stemming from both 9/11 failures and poor intell on Iraq's WMDófor new and far bigger debate on future evolution of intelligence community.


    Here's the wrong debate: "We need a domestic spy agency!" We don't. FBI is just fine. Stopping "them" coming in is not the answer; we need to deal with them at the source, which is what we're doing in the GWOT (Global War On Terrorism), as messy as that is right now in Iraq and the Middle East in general. Again, look at where the bombs are going off since 9/11: over there and not over here. We don't need a domestic CIA.


    Right debate: Reconfigure the intell community along the same lines as my breakdown of the Defense Department into a Leviathan/warfighting force and a Sys Admin/peace-enabling force. Defense Intell Agency and all the military service agencies serve the Leviathan force and stay classified, but the CIA is reborn as unclassified agency serving the Sys Admin force openly. As for the field agents, I would break off the paramilitary types and donate them directly to an expanded DIA working for the Leviathan. The regular spies I would keep in a separate externally-oriented agency that works directly for the Presidentósort of the rump-state survivor of CIA as currently configured. But that vast bulk of the current CIA that does analysis I would turn into an open-sourced arm of my Sys Admin force and I would model it on the operations of the current National Intelligence Council, which isóby faróthe most open part (and not surprisinglyóthe smartest, best run, and sporting the best analytic record) of the Intell Community.

    12:55PM

    Leaning into the Gap: why Kim comes next

    "A Pentagon Plan To Sharply Cut G.I.'s In Germany: A Global Rearrangement: Two U.S. Army Divisions Would be Withdrawn From German Bases," by Michael R. Gordon, New York Times, 4 June, p. A1.


    This story is just another in a long line of stories about how we're going to disengage militarily over time from East Asia and Western Europe so we can move bases and troops and our attention closer in towards the Gap. This one is about Germany. Usual fears voiced: "you're killing NATO!" But clearly we have to grow beyond such nonsensical fear in our relations with our oldest allies. As for East Asia, we need to take down Kim Jong Il and use his corpse as the building block of an East Asia NATO that secures our future strategic relationships with a united Korea, Japan, and most importantly China.


    Expect more stories like this one and the one last month about tapping numbers of ground troops from South Korea. Great chart in NYT story shows how we currently have 73K troops in Germany and roughly 80k in Japan and South Korea. If we are going to get serious about shrinking the Gap, make no mistake: Kim comes next.

    12:53PM

    Kerry sounding more right notes on transformation

    Kerry Says He Will Adapt Military for New Dangers: Promises of more troops and changes in technology," by Jodi Wilgoren, New York Times, 4 June, p. A21.


    Kerry is beginning to focus his national security message much better: we are poorly arrayed militarily for the tasks lying ahead. Credit the Bush Admin on rethinking global basing structure and restructuring Reserve Component, but likewise credit Kerry for beginning to move this debate on restructuring the active duty force itself. He's talking about adding 40k troops and doubling the size of Special Ops forces, plus shifting investments from Star Wars to technologies aimed at defeating transnational terrorists directly (not waiting for them to fire missiles and hoping we can deflect them).


    Here's the key excerpt from the article:

    "The senator acknowledged, for example, that the administration "was right to call for the 'transformation of the military,' but said it had been too focused on 'classic conventional wars, rather than the dangers we now face in Iraq, Afghanistan and in the war against Al Qaeda.'"
    Amen I say to you! Bring on the Sys Admin force!

    12:51PM

    Why nuclear arms control is dead

    U.S. to Make Deep Cuts in Stockpile Of A-Arms," by Matthew L. Wald, New York Times, 4 June, p. A16.


    Point I push in the book: isn't it amazing how nobody talks about strategic arms control anymore inside the Core, but only about WMD proliferation inside the Gap?


    Why is this? The Core is set on MADóno two ways about it. We may dream inside the Pentagon about war with China, but it's complete bullshit. MAD applies there as it does throughout the Core.


    It's inside the Gap that we worry about powers having nukesólike Pakistan, Iran, North Korea. And we worry about those technologies spreading, because we catch these guys selling secrets for pennies on the dollar on a regular basis.


    But that danger isn't answered with either lotsa US nuclear missiles or with any half-assed Star Wars (which will never work worth a damn and cost bijillions). No, that issue is answered with preemptive war when called upon.


    This overarching reality of strategic stability inside the Core is why my old boss at CNA Linton Brooks, now head of the National Nuclear Security Agency, can announce with almost no fanfare (p. 16, you note) that the U.S. will dramatically cut its strategic arms arsenal, leaving the nation with "the smallest nuclear-weapons stockpile we've had in several decades."


    Linton called the decision historic. Absolutely.

    3:52AM

    End of the roadófor now

    Dateline: SWA flight from BWI to Providence, 3 June 2004


    I canít believe Iím heading home for a reasonably long stretch of time with no travel. Feels like Iíve been on the road most days since late April. This morning when I woke up in the hotel, I had no idea where I was.


    The big bright spot right now, I keep fielding phone calls and emails about the CSPAN interview with Lamb on Book Notes. The reach of that show continues to amaze me.


    Less of a bright spot: the sense that the great run is over. But I feel like itís definite that the message and the vision is out there now, and that things are going to start happening for me, the book, and for this country. The word I hear from people a lot right now is ìgalvanized,î which is a great word.


    Galvanized for what? Iím not sure. But there are so many good ideas out thereólike renewing the Spirit of America. Thatís why I feel this vision connects with people: it touches our innate ability to be both optimistic and generous. Plenty will say none of this can be done (too costly, too hard, too long term).


    I saw a greatest generation imagine a future worth creating and pull it off over the second half of the twentieth century. I see our time just beginning . . ..


    And yet . . . I foresee a very slow weekend for me . . ..


    Hereís the catch:


    The good, the bad, and the Kim Gone Crazy

    ìSigns That North Korea Is Coming to Market,î by James Brooke, New York Times, 3 June, p. W1.


    ìNorth Koreaís Drug Habit,î by Victor Cha and Chris Hoffmeister, NYT, 3 June, p. A27.

    Saudis: What meóworried about terrorism?
    ìPreying On Saudi Arabia,î by Jim Hoagland, Washington Post, 3 June, p. A19.


    ìTo Thwart Terrorism, Saudis Outline Controls on Charities,î by Susan Schmidt, WP, 3 June, p. A16.


    ìSaudi Attack Spurs More U.S. Workers To Pull Up Stakes,î by Neil MacFarquhar, NYT, p. A1.

    Doctors without bodyguards
    ìFive Aid Workers Shot to Death In an Ambush in Afghanistan: The Taliban admit to the killings and promise more,î by Carlotta Gall, NYT, 3 June, p. A5.
    China wants Britneyóbut not too much
    ìPop Notes,î by K. Wilcox, WP, 2 June, p. C5.
    Another EU in the makingóinside China!
    ìChinese Provinces Form Regional Economic Bloc: Beijing Backs Move to Lower Barriers,î by Keith Bradsher, NYT, 2 June, p. W1.
    GlasnostóChinese style
    ìChina Opens a Window on the Really Big Ideas: The public gets to hear the great decisions of state kicked around,î by Howard W. French, NYT, 2 June, p. A4.
    How to buy a war without really approving
    ìCurrency exchange rates matter and will play a prominent role in determining the kind of recovery the U.S. economy experiences,î Hal R. Varian, NYT, 3 June, p. C2.
    The Core is ready to get real on ag subsidies
    ìW.T.O. Moves to Revive Talks on Farm Subsidies: After disappointment in Cancun, a mood for compromise between the rich and the poor,î by Elizabeth Becker, NYT, 2 June, p. C4.

    3:32AM

    The good, the bad, and the Kim Gone Crazy

    ìSigns That North Korea Is Coming to Market,î by James Brooke, New York Times, 3 June, p. W1.


    ìNorth Koreaís Drug Habit,î by Victor Cha and Chris Hoffmeister, NYT, 3 June, p. A27.


    Kim gives a rare economics lecture to a factory thatís been designated a new showcase of profitability. Ooooh! Hereís the joke about such an experiment in a regime that controls the economy as tightly as Pyongyang does: all such ìexperimentsî succeed simply because everything associated with their production, labor, distribution, etc. is prioritized in the otherwise-totally commanded economic system.


    Meanwhile, a good story about how Kim really keeps his amazingly cruel regime propped up: the government directs farmers to grow opium poppies which are then harvested and marketed globally by the regime as heroin. Good evidence exists that Pyongyang exports its illegal narcotics to at least 20 countries.

    3:30AM

    Saudis: What meóworried about terrorism?

    ìPreying On Saudi Arabia,î by Jim Hoagland, Washington Post, 3 June, p. A19.


    ìTo Thwart Terrorism, Saudis Outline Controls on Charities,î by Susan Schmidt, WP, 3 June, p. A16.


    ìSaudi Attack Spurs More U.S. Workers To Pull Up Stakes,î by Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, p. A1.


    Hoaglandís article highlights an argument Iíve been making for a while in conferences: the real sign of success in the Global War On Terrorism (GWOT) is that the bombs are going off in the Middle East and southern Europe and not over here. During the heyday of Middle East terrorism in the 1980s, thatís where the bombs went off as wellóand terrorism was a ìEuropean problemî that had little to do with us.


    Hereís the best excerpt:

    ìThe terrorists ëare acting not out of strength but out of desperation, using up the resources they have left,í a senior Saudi official told me recently. Local al Qaeda affiliates ëstrike soft target within their range,í rather than execute strategic plans made elsewhere to break American power and install an Islamic caliphate as the new global hegemony.


    That Saudi analysis sounds too good (and too self-serving) to be true. But there is evidence on both sides of the proposition from recent events.


    After nearly a decade of aiming its heaviest blows at distinctly American targets, al Qaeda is operating closer to home. Its two most important terrorist attacks in May were on foreign workers at Saudi oil installations, in Yanbu and then Khobar. Those atrocities followed two bloody suicide bombings in the kingdom last year, as well as other skirmishes there, and al-Qaeda-style attacks in Morocco, Turkey and Spain.î

    Well, 9/11 gets the world a U.S.-led GWOT and since then, no attacks in U.S., but plenty back in the same spots where such terrorism flourished in the 1980s. I guess the big question will be over time: How will Europe react to the return of terrorism?


    Second article is one that all the major papers are running: the Saudis finally start cracking down seriously on charities that obviously fund terrorism. The royal family is going to force all the old charities to merge under the control of an official Saudi commission that will oversee their operations. Why did this finally happen? U.S. Treasury officials were set (and did so at a joint news conference with Saudi officials yesterday) to designate the chief of al Haramainóone of the biggest and strongest Saudi charities whose chairman is a government minister!óas a financier of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.


    Hopefully, thatís $40 to 50 million taken off the table in the GWOT.


    Meanwhile, al Qaedaís plans to drive out Westerners from the kingdom is proceeding apace. A lot are leaving after the latest attack in which 3 of the 4 terrorists escaped scot-free.


    Are the Saudis worried? Not yet. As the oil minister declares, ìThere is a market illusion how much the kingdom is affected by foreign workers.î


    Wrong. There is an illusion about how much the kingdom is dependent on Western foreign workers. The kingdom is very dependent on foreign workers, the vast majority of which are south Asians and southeast Asians.


    This is why we need Indian and Chinese troops in Iraqótheir oil, soon their blood too.


    But the arrogance of the Saudis is stunning: today al Qaeda focuses on Westerners, then all foreigners, and then when the Saudis are left alone, theyíll focus on the royal family itself. That the Saudis are too stupid to see this strategy is simply beyond meóeither that or theyíre too afraid to admit al Qaeda is winning for now.

    3:24AM

    Doctors without bodyguards

    ìFive Aid Workers Shot to Death In an Ambush in Afghanistan: The Taliban admit to the killings and promise more,î by Carlotta Gall, New York Times, 3 June, p. A5.


    The effort by the Taliban to re-disconnect Afghanistan from the outside world is not going away any time soon. Thirty-two aid workers have been killed since March 2003.


    The Taliban was pretty clear about what theyíre doing. Abdul Hakim Latifi, their spokesman, said, ìWe killed them because they worked for the American against us using the cover of aid work . . . We will kill more foreign aid workers.î


    The five who died were from Doctors Without Borders.

    3:18AM

    China wants Britneyóbut not too much

    ìPop Notes,î by K. Wilcox, Washington Post, 2 June, p. C5.


    The Chinese Ministry of Culture approves the proposed tour by Britney Spears on one condition: they have to inspect all her outfits before she goes onstage.


    Britney, the live Barbie doll, recalls my story from the book about Iran banning all Barbies in their country (something Saudi Arabia later did as well).


    China, ever more relaxed on things sexual (they have no choiceóthanks to the Internet), wants their Britney and the connectivity she brings; they just want to manage her content a bit.