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  • Great Powers: America and the World After Bush
    Great Powers: America and the World After Bush
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett
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    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
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Other shoe drops in South Korea on U.S. troops

ìU.S. Plans To Cut Third of Troops In South Korea: 12,500 May Be Moved Out: Withdrawal Follows Shifts From Europe, and Sets Off Debate in Seoul,î by James Brooke and Thom Shanker, New York Times, 8 June, p. A1.

One-third is a very big number. The last reduction was only 7k of a total of 44k. This one is 12.5k out of only 37k.

Does this tell you Rumsfeld and company are serious about: 1) taking advantage of what they see as a transformed warfighting/Leviathan force? and 2) moving troops closer into toward the Gap?

Yes and yes.

Itís also a bit of a wake-up call for South Korea. They donít want anything done to scare or antagonize North Korea, so long as U.S. troops remain there. You have to wonder if theyíll be singing the same ìsunshine policyî tune with one-third less U.S. troops to guarantee their safety.

I say, if you want to get South Korea to get serious about the way-past-his-expiration-date problem known as Kim Jong Il, then make it clear to them that itís far more their problem than ours.

Ditto on Japan, where weíll likely pull 14k out of Okinawa and send them north to Hokkaido.


Female circumcision fading somewhat in Africa

ìGenital Cutting Shows Signs of Losing Favor in Africa: A woman who cut her daughters is now a foe of the practice,î by Mark Lacey, New York Times, 8 June, p. A3.

It remains the worst form of male-imposed disconnectedness on women around this planet of ours: basically removing the clitoris in the lite version and sewing up the vagina almost shut in the full-up job. The goal is simple: remove all sexual pleasure for women to keep them tied to their husbands. It is the sexual slavery within the marriage, sanctified by religion, and thank God it is showing signs of fading in Africa. It is easily one of the most bizarre misrepresentations of the Koran that persists to this day in more than two dozen African states.

It is not a widespread practice anywhere inside the Core, only inside the Gap. Why? It reflects traditional societies that tend to keep women down and deny them economic opportunities, and there are simply no truly developed countries where women are so shut out of economic life. To develop is basically to liberate your women. Without enlisting them, you remain poor.


G-8 emerging more and more as security summit

ìIraq and Middle East at Center of Economic Summit,î by Richard W. Stevenson and David E. Sanger, New York Times, 8 June, p. A6.

Before 1973 it was easy to get world leaders together for summits about security, but that dominated the Cold War agenda. Then dÈtente + the oil shocks + demise of the gold-backed dollar and all of a sudden all the big summits were about economics in the late 1970s and you couldnít get leaders together for purely security ones anymoreóexcept for the superpowers. In the 1990s, there basically werenít any true security summitsójust ones about the global economy.

9/11 changed all that. It showed the hole in the system: a true executive function on security issues. G-8 is rising to that role slowly over time, and this summit shows it.

But hereís the rub: Bush comes in and says it should be all about Iraq, democracy in the Middle East, and the Global War On Terrorism, and he saysóin effectóìyou all need to understand that these are all connected in terms of global security!î

Not a bad argument. But what he hears from others is: ìSo is global warming, trade, poverty and AIDS!î

Bush sees the war almost solely within the context of war, while the rest of the G-8 not only see the ìeverything else,î but want Bush to show heís aware of that connectivity as well.


Afghanistan: engine canít go faster than the rest of train

ìKarzai Shows Heíll Cast Lots With a Corps Of Warlords: In a new Afghanistan, signs that power still flows in old avenues,î by Carlotta Gall, New York Times, 8 June, p. A8.

Old story: Karzai wants to go fast on reform, but he canít go any faster than the warlords will let him. Pull away on his own and heís slated for downfall like the Shah of Iran was, but go too slow and he loses credibility both with reformers at home and the rest of the world. So pull his engine must, but it must pull all the trainís cars along for the ride.


Canít kill ëem, then hire ëem in Iraq

ìU.S. Offers Iraqis Public-Works Jobs: In Strategic Shift, Military Aims to Stem Insurgency by Employing the Unskilled,î by Greg Jaffe, Wall Street Journal, 8 June, p. A4.

Sometimes playing the Sys Admin role isnít about doing everything yourself, but getting the locals doing as much as possible for themselves. In a situation when youíre trying to disconnect your enemy from their preferred labor pool (the unemployed), this is not only smart, itís a life saver if you do it well.

We are learning folks, and learning fast. There is no public institution better at learning from failure (nor faster) than the U.S. military.

I am sticking to the prediction in my book: I think people will be surprised by how quiet Iraq is by November, working overwhelmingly in Bushís favor.

And if youíre a Democrat and you catch yourself wishing for bad stuff over there so Bush can be dumped in the election, then shame on you for even thinking that.


Reaganís greatest boondoggle

ìThe Great-Grandson of Star Wars, Now Ground-Based, Is Back on the Agenda,î by Carl Hulse and William J. Broad, New York Times, 8 June, p. A20.

And no, Iím not going to give you that nonsense about how Star Wars led to the collapse of the Soviet Union (spouted even by Gorbachevónot exactly the most strategic of thinkers: I mean, the guy worked himself right out of a dictatorship! And thank God he did . . .), because thatís too fantastic for words. No, Iím going to talk about $80B wasted since 1985 and nothing to show for it.

Now, advocates say that based on that unending story of failure, we need to field a system pronto becauseóafter allóyou could only do so much testing!

Yes! Letís field a system thatís really bad and then . . . test it how exactly in the real world?

Star Wars has been the Defense Departmentís all-time biggest boondoggle. It hasnít generated really anything of valueóeven in technology spin-offs that were achieved there and only there.

As for the Soviet collapse? They simply ran out of history. You can centrally-plan an industrial revolution and a petrochemical one. You can dictate a nuclear one and build up your military like crazy. What you canít do with an authoritarian system is navigate an information revolution successfully.

Thatís what killed the Soviet system. All the major powers went on to the info age and maneuvered their economies into the territory of high-end technology services, something the old Soviet system was simply incapable of. The technocratic leadership of the Gorby generation could see that, and so unleashed glasnost, hoping it would make such a development possible.

It did alright, by leading almost immediately to the collapse of the political system, allowing Russia to reconnect to the global economy.

To be a successful dictator today, you have to keep your economy as disconnected as possible, leaving your economy as backward as needed in terms of IT development.


Centralizing Central Intelligence is not the answer

ìRacing to Ruin the C.I.A.: An ëintelligence czarí wouldnít make us any safer,î by Robert M. Gates, New York Times, 8 June, p. A23.

Gates is right to criticize the notion that creating an intell czar will change anything, absent giving that individual real budgetary control over the sprawling intell community. But that will never happen. The vast majority of the intell community works for DoD and is focused on the warfighting needs of the Leviathan force. Those great chunks of the IC will never come under the control of any intell czar, unless heís based in the Pentagon which would be a huge mistake.

Again, I advocate admitting we need two intell communities to serve two very different functions/forces: give the warfighting-focused intell agencies to the Pentagon for good and make the CIA and others as unclassified as possible and redirect their focus to the needs of the Sys Admin force that ultimately expands to include all aspects of foreign security policy short of war and above the State Departmentís pure diplomacyóto include such things as foreign aid, disaster relief, etc.


China remains the big bet

ìG.M. to Speed Up Expansion in China: An Annual Goal Of 1.3 Million Cars,î by Keith Bradsher, New York Times, 8 June, p. W1.

îBHP Billiton Remains Upbeat Over Bet on Chinaís Growth,î by Wayne Arnold, NYT, 8 June, p. W1.

ìChanges Are Reshaping China: Strains Surface on Social, Political and Economic Systems,î by Kathy Chen + ìBig Banks Pay Heed to New Bottom Line,î by Andrew Brown and James T. Areddy + ìSmaller Banks: Success Story Sours,î by Phelim Kyne, Wall Street Journal, 8 June, p. A13.

GM is as big as it gets in the world, and it sees a huge future for the company in China: building there for a burgeoning Chinese domestic market. BHP Billiton is one of the worldís biggest mining companies, and it is placing similar bets based on Chinaís long-term needs. This is why China belongs on Wall Streetís map and not the Pentagonís map. Instead of plotting for China/Taiwan Straits/2025 and acting like that is grand strategy, the Pentagon should be seeking to do everything it can to expand military-to-military ties with the PLA. We should be following the money and spotting the overlap of strategic interests as they emerge.

Following all that money into China is why banking reform inside that booming economy is probably the number one security issue on the table right now for globalizationís future advanceóeven more important than the Global War On Terrorism. GWOT goes badly in Persian Gulf and youíre talking about a long-term, painful restructuring of both the oil industry in particular and global energy markets in general. Banking reform goes badly in China and you could be talking about Globalization IV (2002 and counting) stopping in its tracks.


YP simply wants to connect and help

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 8 June 2004

Nice letter and a square of quilting cloth (for our 100 wishes quilt for our soon-to-be adopted-from-China baby girl Vonne Mei) from YP from Michigan (but born in Chile). The connections here are overwhelming. Here are some excerpts:

"I've been reading your blog/website regularly and I'm happy to say that not only am I on my way to the post office to mail this off to you, but I'm also going to pick up your new book . . .

I was intrigued by your request, in part because my brother and his wife are about to apply to adopt from either China or Guatemala, and in part because of your world view of fostering connections among peoples is very appealing to me. (I also smiled when I read you are a Packers fan and went to Madison, like my husband.)

As the mother of 3 young children . . . connections are one of the things I am short on these days. I am a transplant to Michigan . . . and I doubt I will ever call it home. I have not found too many people with whom I have things in common and I also think I miss working. So . . I'd like to make you an offer, in case you should ever need it.

I am hoping that you continue your blog (only one I've ever read, actually) and I remember reading somewhere in there that you weren't sure if you were going to turn this groundswell of interest in you and your book into some kind of organization or something, but I hope so. My offer is simply to volunteer to help you in any way that I can . . ..

I wish you the very best in your future endeavors and I wish your family great joy as you bring your new addition home from China. These are very exciting times.


This is exactly the sort of letter I love getting and let me tell you why: she says "I dig the content" and "I offer capacity." So much of the traffic I receive right now is people sending me their content for blessing/editing/review/promotion and asking for my time toward their particular ends, all of which I am sure are worthy in their own way. It's just that it quickly becomes a full-time pursuit if you don't place some reasonable limits on it (like remembering I do have a day-job).

Now, working free (aka doing a favor) is something I do all the time. I just can't do it 100 times a day right now, meaning all those manuscripts will simply pile up in my office. I don't want to discourage people from sharing ideas they feel are commensurate with the vision expressed in the Pentagon's New Map, but neither do I want to forget the names of the children in the process of perusing all this material.

So how do you marry up the offers of capacity with the demands for content review? The temptation is to forward everything to someone like YP, whose very name suggests a review process. She's certainly qualified (great, graduate-level education and significant work experience), but my guess is that the flow would quickly inundate her and I'd end looking for more YP's (and for all I know, she's the one and only who'll ever make such a generous and kind offer).

Better idea, I think, would be to elevate from this website and its limited capacities to something far grander online, where such content flows could be gathered, organized by subject matter, and where peer-to-peer discussion capacity could be provided so not every damn thing would actually need to flow through my email accounts. That would need to be a self-funding venture (meaning someone besides me would need to pay for it), but since I'm not interested in charging people for access, I'd need to find some sugar daddy that would find the discussion worthwhile enough to bankroll--like a foundation or something.

Fortunately, I get emails from people who think along these lines as well, which is just my way of saying that, to the extent this discussion grows beyond both my capacity time-wise and the site's capacity size-wise, plans are currently being laid for its successor. When does this happen (if it does happen?): only as soon as it needs to--or as soon as my underpaid webmaster's wife walks out on him.

And at that point, YP, there may well emerge an online role where your combination of talent and passion can be put to good use. Wish I could tell you more, but since I'm not even sure right now how I myself might be put to good use on such a venture, you'll need to be patient.

I'm more than delighted that the book moves people to all sorts of offers of ideas, time, passion, commitment, etc. In fact, it thrills me to no end. So I want to be responsible--for as much as seems reasonable given the demands of home, the responsibilities of my day job (for as long as I keep it), and my body's need for regular sleep. I will try to not drop any balls in the process, nor burn any bridges unnecessarily.

In other words . . . I am trying to think ahead strategically in the hardest way possible: anticipating unexpected success rather than simply dwelling (and we so often do) on the expected failures.

Either that or this fall I go back to spending most of my free time online at the Packer Plus website (probably bumping into YP's husband now and then).

Go Pack!


If nominated, my wife will leave me

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 8 June 2004

But I will sign any and all books under the right conditions.

Here's the nice letter I get from Jim Molesworth. I cite it for three reasons: 1) to scare my wife Vonne yet again about my potential political aspirations; 2) to give focus to the groundswell that is the Draft Barnett movement (okay, so it's the first and only . . .); and most importantly, 3) to emphasize what I said in the blog yesterday: optimism wins elections.

Here's the letter:

Dear Tom,

Your book is exactly what I am searching for in our Presidential Candidates, which is an account of their vision of the global future and how to get there. I wish you were running for President. I would vote for you. I canít stand being around negative people, and President Bush is all about negative campaigns. I canít vote for negative people.

Thank you for writing this book. Thank you for putting your views down on paper so that I can understand what you are all about. I hope that your future political aspirations (if you have them) include your specific thoughts on issues and a positive goal and plan as laid out in this book. I have not been a very active voter in the last 10 years, mainly because I feel I donít get enough specifics from the candidates to make an informed decision (total cop out on my part, but real non-the-less), and your book has totally awakened my sense of need to be an active voter again. I have sent both candidates an email asking them what their specific views are regarding your descriptions of globalization and the shrinking of the Gap.

I am almost done reading your book. When I am finished, I would like to send it to you to have you sign it. I will include return postage too. Will you sign and return it please?

Sincerely, Jim Molesworth

This guy's desire for a "reproducible strategic concept" by which he can organize his thoughts on political candidates ("Are they moving roughly in the direction I know this country and this world needs to go?") is probably the prime practical reason why I wrote the bookóin short, I wanted one myself. But it's not just Jim and me, Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas wants it too, so do most US Government workers I brief and meetóespecially military officers. We want a unifying theory to our foreign policy: something positive, not based in fear or hatred of any particular group.

I know, I know. I get letters and emails and comments all the time that want me to say/admit/confess that Islam is the problemóespecially radical Islam. People want that enemy, and they want it baaaaad, and radical Islam fits the bill.

But I don't want that, because I think it's wrong, it's narrow-minded and therefore non-strategic in vision, and because I have not chosen to make my life or my work about hating someone else.

More on this in another blog today . . ..


The attraction of "naÔve" optimism

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

All these Ronald Reagan retrospectives remind me of my pet theory that the more optimistic presidential candidate ALWAYS wins:

  • Bush over Gore (nanny scolding type)

  • Clinton both times (unhappy, distracted Bush and dour Dole)

  • Bush (Reagan legacy) over Dukakis (the coldest fish)

  • Reagan (Mr. Optimism and the Teflon president) both times (sad-sack Carter with malaise, another nanny Mondale)

  • Carter (always smiling) over our-national-nightmare-is-over Ford

  • Nixon (with his dÈtente and trip to China) over defeatist McGovern

  • Nixon (with "plan to end the war") over worrywart Humphrey

  • LBJ over Strangelovean Goldwater

  • JFK over nasty, burned-out Nixon

  • IKE both times over too-eggheaded-to-be-optimistic Stevenson

  • Truman over alarmist Dewey

  • FDR over anybody (too many to remember)
So who wins this time? This is why I worry that Kerry doesn't have a chance. His Abe Lincoln-like stiffness and dourness isn't counter-acted by an Honest Abe-like sense of humor (which Lincoln was famous for). Humor always goes with optimism. Pessimists aren't typically funny, unless theyíre raging comicsóand then it's just an act. Optimists can laugh, and there George W. has a big lead over Kerry: he's able to make fun of himself and looks very relaxed doing it. That sends a very strong signal about your belief in yourself and in the future that I think Kerry's campaign is missingófor now.

I say that because Kerry has shown an amazing ability to do what it takes in the crunch to win elections (e.g., his comeback against Weld in MA, his upset in Iowa). But getting loose with voters isn't the same as displaying a sense of underlying optimism, and I still see that missing with his campaign message. Why? At first blush it seems hard to defeat Bush unless you say his policies have sent the world to hell in a handbasket (which they haven'tóthe surest sign being a recent UN report that polled countries and found high optimism on the future of foreign direct investment flows over the next three yearsóone of the best early-warning indicators on global fear I know). And the opposite route seems even trickier: basically agreeing with the pathway but saying "I'll get America and the world there faster!" But that's the one I would advocate, and it's basically what my book is all aboutógetting us there faster.

As I said in the Lamb interview, I offer the vision in the book not for one party or the other, because I know both would need to support it if it were to successfully unfold over the decades required to reach its fruition. And yeah, that's optimism with a capital "O." That's why I'm constantly derided for being "naÔve," "cheerful," and "utopian," just likeódare I say itóRonald Reagan.

Today's catch:

When America makes no military effort in Africa

"New Wave of Repression Seen in Zimbabwe By-Election: Reports of beatings, arrests, bribery and fraud in a local vote," by Michael Wines, New York Times, 7 June, p. A3.

"2 U.N. Peacekeepers Killed in Eastern Congo: New violence coincides with word of a rebel pullout," by Somini Sengupta, NYT, 7 June, p. A3.

When there's not a Western oil worker around . . .
"Gunmen in Saudi Arabia Attack Western Journalists, Killing One: A shooting in a neighborhood with links to Al Qaeda," by Reuters, NYT, 7 June, p. A10.
Bangladeshóa poor man's India on peacekeeping
"Bush, Chirac See Accord Covering U.N. Resolution: Text Will Seek to Reconcile Presence of U.S.-Led Force, Pledge of Iraqi Sovereignty," by Jackie Calmes, Wall Street Journal, 7 June, p. A18.
Leaning into the Gap: when does push come to shove in Korea?
"U.S. Studies Big Troop Cuts in Korea," by Gordon Fairclough, WSJ, 7 June, p. A18.
The Big Man feels confident he can win recall vote in Venezula
"Venezuela's Chavez Vows to Fight Recall Effort," by Jose de Cordoba, WSJ, 7 June, p. A18.
Victory in the GWOT: one woman at a time
"Unveiling New Face of Freedom: Greek Isle Welcomes Afghan Athletes, Including 2 Women, on Way to Athens," by Liz Robbins, NYT, 7 June, p. D1.


When America makes no military effort in Africa

"New Wave of Repression Seen in Zimbabwe By-Election: Reports of beatings, arrests, bribery and fraud in a local vote," by Michael Wines, New York Times, 7 June, p. A3.

"2 U.N. Peacekeepers Killed in Eastern Congo: New violence coincides with word of a rebel pullout," by Somini Sengupta, NYT, 7 June, p. A3.

Hopelessness is the watchword for anyone opposing the dictator Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe today. As one local journalist puts it,

"There's no doubt in my mind that Mugabe is preparing his party, leading his party into a quite serious offensive against the opposition and civil society which is designed to bring about total victory in 2005 . . . If you look at the pattern of things since the 2000 election, you will see that this country is constantly being taken to the brink of anarchy as a political strategy to motivate the ruling party's supporters, to suggest a serious threat to the country; that the opposition is in league with external forces to bring down the regime."
This is Saddam's Iraq or Kim Jong Il's North Korea without any connected U.S. military effort. My point: dictators use this tactic whether we're involved or notóthey just get away with it far more easily when we're not.

Meanwhile the UN estimates that 2/3rd of the population will lack sufficient access to food this yearómeaning malnutrition or worse. That's a classic dictator for you: he'll cut off your access to food before he'll let any resulting connectivity with the outside world possibly lead to his downfall. The world helped Saddam Hussein kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqis through the UN food-for-oil sanctions of the 1990s. Kim kept out the food aid offered by the world in the late 1990s as 3 million of his countrymen starved during a famine. It will happen in Zimbabwe too, andóas usualóthe UN will do almost nothing to stop it beside process paper resolutions.

Oh, but if the US did anything to topple this brutal dictatorship with its military power, that would only be yet another extension of our "empire," wouldn't it?

Too bad Zimbabwe, no peace marchers for you in America.

As for Eastern Congo, it's the same-old, same-old. Pick off a couple of UN peacekeepers and all international flights into and out of Kinshasa are canceled in a heart beat. Two bullets and a capital city in sub-Saharan Africa is disconnected from international air travel.

No Leviathan for Congo, no Sys Admin force for Congo. Thank God there's no American empire in Africa. Better that they all suffer there in freedom from U.S. "tyranny" and "exploitation."

I feeling more of a "realist" by the minute . . . and the sheer cynicism is quite bracing!


When there's not a Western oil worker around . . .

Ö you find yourself a nice, soft Western journalist to kill in Saudi Arabia.

"Gunmen in Saudi Arabia Attack Western Journalists, Killing One: A shooting in a neighborhood with links to Al Qaeda," by Reuters, New York Times, 7 June, p. A10.

And so Al Qaeda's race to disconnect the country from the outside world continues apace.


Bangladeshóa poor man's India on peacekeeping

"Bush, Chirac See Accord Covering U.N. Resolution: Text Will Seek to Reconcile Presence of U.S.-Led Force, Pledge of Iraqi Sovereignty," by Jackie Calmes, Wall Street Journal, 7 June, p. A18.

We asked India for 17,000 peacekeepers for Iraq a while back and were told no. Now weíre working the lines with Bangladesh, a country that's supplied more peacekeepers in recent years than any other state. Why? They get paid $1,100 per monthónot the soldiers, the Bangladeshi government. That's awfully nice pay for work that's reasonably free of riskóas "occupation" goes.

Oops! I know I'm not supposed to use that word when the UN is involved.

But the UN isn't yet really involved in Iraq, which is why Bangladesh will say no until the UNSC resolution is finally worked out.


Leaning into the Gap: when does push come to shove in Korea?

"U.S. Studies Big Troop Cuts in Korea," by Gordon Fairclough, Wall Street Journal, 7 June, p. A18.

U.S. will progressively leave the Korean peninsula because we need our troops elsewhere in this global war on terrorism, and becauseófranklyóthe South Korea military is strong enough to defend itself. Sure, many could die if Kim finally goes over the edge and attacks, but they'd all be Koreans in that scenarioónow wouldn't they?

South Koreans say "We can put up with Kim forever if need be. If he falls, we'll get stuck with the bill?"

Fine, say I: your bill, your blood, your problem. You let us know when you want a real solution, but don't wait too long. This Leviathan's got other, more pressing fish to fryóassuming you all can live with Kim . . ..


The Big Man feels confident he can win recall vote in Venezula

"Venezuela's Chavez Vows to Fight Recall Effort," by Jose de Cordoba, Wall Street Journal, 7 June, p. A18.

Chavez enjoys the support of just under one-third of the population, but because the opposition is so splintered, he'll likely face a slate of Nader-like candidates he can easily defeat in a runoff vote.

How does Chavez keep his people so tight? He uses the oil revenues as his political campaign war chest. Keeps the military happy. Buys enough votes with social programs. Has his militia thugs beat up anyone who gets too uppity.

It's a great system, baby. Classic "big man" modus operandi: treat the national economy like you're piggy bank, cause nothing's too good for the Big Man.


Victory in the GWOT: one woman at a time

"Unveiling New Face of Freedom: Greek Isle Welcomes Afghan Athletes, Including 2 Women, on Way to Athens," by Liz Robbins, New York Times, 7 June, p. D1.

Story focuses on 17-year-old girl sprinter at her first Olympics.

And the reporter says, "She is the new face of Afghanistan, one that will be seenónot hiddenófor the first time."

For the first time ever, a woman athlete from Afghanistan will compete in the Olympics.

Whether you realize it or not, that is a significant victory in the global war on terrorism.


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


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.


Reviewing the Reviews (

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

Hard to believe, but I got a negative review from

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.