TCS Daily

Interview with Thomas P.M. Barnett

By Max Borders - January 25, 2006 12:00 AM

Max Borders: Joining me is Thomas P.M. Barnett, author of the new book, Blueprint for Action. It's a follow-up to the phenomenally successful The Pentagon's New Map. Welcome, Tom.

Thomas Barnett: Thanks for having me.

Borders: Before getting into the details of your new book, Blueprint for Action, would you mind going over the "Core-Gap" thesis, the foundation for your first book?

Barnett: The first book really began out of work I was doing for the Office of Secretary of Defense, helping them think about the international security environment, post 9/11. And my charge was to come up with a logical grand strategy for the United States that would wrap around what a lot of people thought would inevitably unfold in terms of what we now call a global war on terrorism (GWOT).

So the concept of the map really began with a simple mapping, locating on a world map all the places we've been since the end of the Cold War, all the kinds of activities that typically are lumped under the rubric of "crisis response". Not the stuff you plan for particularly, not the stuff you train for particularly, not the stuff you buy for. What we've called the "lesser included" is the stuff you figured if you planned for the big war, you could handle the small stuff.

Well, when you map those out, what you find are strong geographic concentrations, basically running from the Caribbean Rim, the Andean portion of South America, covering most of Africa. In the '90s -- definitely the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asian republics, Southwest Asia, or what most people call the "Middle East," and the Littoral and Archipelago states in Southeast Asia.

If you unite all those regions together, draw a line around 95 percent, leaving a few outliers, for the almost 150 times we've used U.S. military forces in named operations - where the National command authorities say "Go do this", since the end of the Cold War - that shape basically encompasses about one-third of humanity. And it is strongly centered on the Equator.

Now what I did was say, what unites all those regions? Why do they keep attracting U.S. military power? It's not just about energy, because a lot of these countries don't have any. But there is a high concentration of failed states, or states that are dictatorial and can't get rid of their leaders.

And so I designated that region there, going from left to right as I described it, I called it the non-integrating Gap. And I made the main thesis of what eventually became the book, The Pentagon's New Map, that what united these regions most was their lack of connectivity to the global economy. No matter how you measured it, movement of people, goods, services, trading, foreign direct-investment flows, Hollywood Box Office receipts, Internet connection rates, whatever. It was just thinner inside those countries than elsewhere.

And some people would say, "Well the Middle East is really connected". And you'd say, "Really?" We're talking one-fifth of humanity, and about three percent of global trade. That's all in energy, and that's all controlled by very tiny elites inside those countries.

That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about broadband economic connectivity between the masses and the outside world. So a thesis evolves. It says the rest of the worfld, basically the Old West, plus the New East, plus some key players in the South like Argentina, Brazil, South Africa -- I call that the functioning Core of globalization. Counter-pose it to that non-integrating Gap and I say, "What unites these countries? Not necessarily democracy." And I don't signify that as being the sine qua non of anything except possibly the matured form of deep connectivity and political pluralism.

But instead, what I describe as that functioning Core as being those countries that are syncing up, making more alike their internal rule sets, however defined -- legal, social, economic, security -- with an emerging global set that says: "it's all about free trade -- as free as possible, free markets, and collective security." Plus: "Don't war among ourselves." And most importantly, "transparency," because that's what gets you money flows. And that's what gets you that connectivity, which allows for emerging markets to actually emerge.

So you've got two-thirds of humanity coming together peacefully, one-third not. When you look at it that way, it's almost a tautology I've already defined, basically where all the violence is. And then I've laid on a causal explanation.

So you take that picture, Core versus Gap, so to speak, and you say "What are we really doing in a global war on terrorism then?" Well in the first instance, obviously, we're hunting down killing bad guys to prevent them from doing bad things to us.

But in the larger sense -- and this is what the grand strategy should be about -- it should define a finishing line, a happy ending. We should be about integrating countries that are poorly integrated. By creating that broadband economic access, you send them down the pathways of political pluralism. Although I counter in the second book that you have to be very patient with countries' pathways to connectivity. Because whenever you connect a country that was less connected before to a larger globalizing phenomenon, there's going to be natural resistance; there's going to be fear. There's going to be disintegrating tendencies. There's a lot of danger in that.

And that's really the underlying premise that unites both books. I think you're going to need to deal with this reality, as well as larger international institutions and security regimes that would allow you to process and integrate failed states, and turn them down the pathway of better ones. Across these two books, I make these arguments.

But the real underlying principal is: connectivity is the driving process of globalization. As it comes into any less connected region, it creates violence and tumult. We need to be part of a process that allows this globalization process to continue and somebody to deal with the violent externalities that often arise from this process.

So it's not just a matter simply of globalization -- the functionalist view that says: "Hey, it's going to connect everywhere. You're going to get peace eventually everywhere. Don't worry about it." And it's not a matter of going overboard on the Sam Huntington: "Listen, some people are never going to get globalization. They're going to fight it forever," which of course nobody's done historically. The global economy has expanded slowly over time.

And in some dramatic lurches, like when the Wall comes down, it merges those two views -- one functionalist, one realist. One that focuses on integration. One that focuses on violence, and says: "You know what? There's a relationship here. And the relationship is there's going to be, what I call, a military-market nexus that harkens back to the way we used military power in a more integrating and - yes, to some extent "colonial" for the European powers -- scheme back in the 1800s."

Which is why you're seeing the U.S. military -- especially the U.S. Army -- move back in this direction as it modularizes from division structure down to brigade structure. They're moving back to the "frontier army" model. And they're starting to look more and more like a U.S. Calvary from a hundred years ago.

I just spent a few days out at Leavenworth, working on a piece for "Esquire" that's going to come out in a month. And it's really quite amazing, the transformation that's going on there. The way the Army, and the Marines and Special Operations, come in. They're really adapting themselves to this sort of reality. That reality says: "It's a constant effort. It's constant work in the battlefield. There is no off-season. There is no down time in this long war."

We're going to be doing this Cowboys and Indian stuff, for decades. And it's a dramatic, century-reversing sort of shift for a big part of our military. Not everybody agrees with that. Of course the Navy and the Air Force would prefer to fight China (please) -- because that gets them the big platforms they're wedded to.

But I think a crucial aspect of my thinking is that I always say "it's not a matter of influence; it's a matter of accuracy."

Borders: We can imagine generals whose life story was fighting the Cold War. And now they're having to change. And I'm sure that's tough for some of them. It's a bit like "reverse mission creep," where you want to cling to the old mission instead of having to cotton on to a new one -- just for the sake of whatever pays the bill.

Barnett: There's a guy at Quantico who heads the Marine Combat Development Center, a three-star by the name of Jim Mattis. He really cut his teeth in Panama -- which was very much a model for what has come later. In Iraq, then Somalia, then Haiti, then Bosnia, then Kosovo, Afghanistan, and back to Iraq.

Not a cold-war experience among them, really. So for that group, it happens much faster than people realize in the military. The Cold War dinosaurs who really were wedded to the past are, by and large, gone. Even at the top ranks, it's getting hard to find anybody who commanded in Vietnam, for example.

Borders: But one of the conclusions we can draw from all this is that we're not talking about dropping cell phones on poor countries. And we're not talking about a laissez-faire approach.

You agree that it's going to take intercession by a force. And you make the distinction in both books I think, between Systems Administration (Sys Admin), which comes in afterward and does cleanup. And Sys Admin is getting a more prominent role. And the force that does things so swiftly and with such "shock and awe" like in the beginning of Iraq, for example, and Afghanistan - that's the Leviathan side of things.

Can you talk a little bit about that distinction?

Barnett: I'll start off by saying sometimes I get accused -- with this Gap notion -- that I'm advocating globalization at the barrel of a gun. And that we're going to need to invade the entire Gap of 2 billion people to pull this off. We're talking about a hundred nations, roughly. A big numerical superiority of nations—but actually only about one-third of humanity.

At any one time, about three dozen of them are experiencing mass levels of violence, which most people would define as about a thousand deaths from conflict per year. OK? So we're talking about three dozen. And that's fairly steady state over the last 20 years.

On average the last 15 years we've gotten involved with four, or five or six at a time. And for most of these incidents, these are named operations that nobody has ever heard of. We go do a non-combat evacuation operation. And we come in and do a little of this-and-that for disaster relief. Most of the time, we don't get that deeply involved. But it's a frequency that we've maintaining for quite some time.

We did that with our lesser-included forces, or what gets euphemistically called the low-density, high-demand assets. A lot of the civil-affairs guys -- the Seabees, the people who do military police, the guys who do the nation building, the Marines by and large -- that's the force I talk about being the SysAdmin force. That's the force that by and large does your maintenance for a lot of these situations. And really, they can do everything right up-to-and-including your one-stop Falluja and your high-intensity combat. But this force doesn't have long legs.

Now, I counter-posed that to a classic big-war capability that we've maintained out of the Cold War, which has gotten to the point where we can pretty much whip anybody you care to name -- unless you want to create fantastic scenarios around China... which I discount increasingly over time.

But if you want to name any country in which we need to do a regime change, or any force out there that we need to topple, we have such an amazingly transformed high-tech, small footprint, in-and-out (with high lethality) force, which was amply demonstrated in Iraq. The problem is it goes in so fast, and creates so much devastating damage, it can snatch its bad guys and be out of there before we can mount an effective -- what I call, "second half," or win the peace, or System Administrators as I like to call it -- force.

They can come in -- sort of like the social-work force - and actually deal with the aftermath of pulling the evil father out of the house where he's been terrorizing the family for the last 30 years. Because guess what? When you take that bad leader out, like a Saddam, you've got a brutalized population, one that is very suspicious. It's lost its social skills. In many ways it needs to be rehabilitated. And that's historically been a long-term effort. And in most of these situations you're going to see local players who lost out in the change of regime, like the Ba'aths, or others who are going to target us for what they see as our role in the world.

And so you're going to deal with insurgencies quite a bit. And again, that's historically an eight-to-ten-year process. So we've transformed our work fighting force so we've gotten it small, rapid, and very decisive. But we haven't shifted the resources or the training. Iraq's doing it for us. Especially in the Army and Marines -- to that what I call the "second half of the SysAdmin" force. Which, as we start to think about the reality of doing five or six years here, five or six years there -- if we're going to be involved with this world, it's going to create a cumulative requirement for labor and effort that goes way beyond what we've got. The fact that we see, already in Iraq, one just the United States can muster.

And that raises the more difficult questions: where are you going to find the bodies to do this? I point out in the second book that there are bodies. India's got a million troops. China has got 2.3 million troops. It just so happens, if you stop thinking about them as near-peer competitors, and start looking at them as global economic giants on the rise, they seem to want the same things we want. They want energy out of Central Asia and the Middle East, safe and secure. They want access to raw materials in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the Chinese are sending in people in big numbers.

So if you can just break out of the paradigm of the past, I'm saying, the people that you're traditionally assuming are your competitors, or possible enemies, in many ways they're going to end up being your best friends in the future because they're going to allow you to locate the labor where the problem is.

Borders: You're claiming that we're going to need more multi-lateral efforts. You even talked about Sebastian Mallaby's idea of an International Reconstruction Fund. And we're going to have to go back to a more of a NATO-type model, perhaps re-purposing NATO itself for that effort. You even think that SysAdmin should be a "Cabinet-level" entity. And I'm quoting you when you say "Cabinet-level." Do you still pretty much believe that's the case?

Barnett: I spend a lot of time with foreign governments and foreign militaries -- what I see is everybody moving towards this reality: "Listen, global and economic peace is not in the works. And great power war is really not in the works either.

We find ourselves too interconnected, and there's nukes sitting on the top of everything. And that allows us to have this second rerun of globalization. It would be very different from the one that occurred a hundred years ago.

So people look around and they say "What am I doing? Where do I see fear in the system? And danger?" Everybody's coming to the same conclusion. I'm going to end up dealing with fail-safe or bad regimes inside what I call the Gap.

I mean my map appeals to militaries around the world because, when they plot their efforts around the world guess what? Their map looks exactly like ours. I mean the Canadians basically took the non-integrating Gap concept and made it part of their new national military strategy. And they just call it "the non-integrating Gap." And when the Press called them up and asked about it they said, "Well, it's not a question of agreeing with Barnett. It's just where we go".

So in the second book, I outline what I think is a logical fixed-part system, basically starting and ending with the UN. You've got the UN to indict them in the UN Security Council. You need some sort of executive function, which I think is more logically located inside an expanding G-20. It's a G-8 now at the senior level. Ministerially, it meets at the G-20 level as well. And when you look at that roster of the G-20 -- which was an expansion of the G-7 by Clinton late in his second administration -- it really encompasses my entire Core. It's 90 percent of the [world's] money.

And so if you can get that 20 group collective to say, "Well we've seen the indictments come out of the UN Security Council. This is a bad situation. We want Mugabe gone. Let's call up the Leviathan. We know who that is. It's the U.S. military. We send the Leviathan in -- but with the clear understanding that everybody's going to pitch in on the follow-on SysAdmin effort -- which would be a force more international than U.S., more civilian than uniformed military, more private sector, ultimately -- because it's about connecting them -- than public sector." And it would obviously, within the U.S. military, be far more Army and Marines than Air Force and Navy. You make that commitment an up front prerequisite for unleashing the Leviathan

The fifth piece is Mallaby's concept, the IRF International Reconstruction Fund, which is something the World Bank has toyed with -- and I think ultimately they're going to end up creating it. Because I think it's a specific effort to make post-conflict, post-disaster, post-whatever the sixth piece back to the UN sponsored, international court of justice in the Hague. So you indict them to start it, and you put them on trial at the end.

And what you're doing with this process is contextualizing the use of U.S. military power. You're saying: "We want it. It's an important function. You are the only guys that can do this Leviathan stuff. And frankly, we need you to be a hub in the spokes of all our efforts on the SysAdmin because you've got the logistics and the command-and-control."

But if you're going to use this force, you need to be able to seek our approval. And we need to make a process of our choices transparent. Because what sinks these things is not getting the world to decide that Saddam's a bad guy. Everybody saw that. And frankly, everybody wanted him gone. What they couldn't agree upon was the second half -- of what happens next.

And that's really what I'm trying to propose in the second book. And it really lends itself not just to thinking about conflict or regime change. I think most of the integration efforts we're going to end up doing inside the Gap, frankly are going to be driven by disasters, not by regime change.

So in many ways the SysAdmin force, as well as the ultimate push package -- what I start calling now, "development in a box" -- is what you want to shove into Baghdad after the statues fall. It is really the same one you want to shove into New Orleans after Katrina. It's the same one you want to take to Aceh after the Tsunamis and to Kashmir after the Pakistani tremor.

Borders: This is where I hit a wall in Blueprint for Action.

Barnett: As did I.

Borders: First, global development organizations are notoriously bad at development.

Barnett: Definitely.

Borders: And they're usually better at creating co-dependency between themselves and the the Gap states...

Barnett: Stipulated.

Borders: Of course, any time you create a new bureaucracy -- especially a big one -- they're almost always going to experience mission creep. They're never going to want to put themselves out of business, which is what we would hope for this brighter future.

And finally, multi-lateral organizations usually have trouble reaching consensus -- as they did with Iraq. So, pulling the trigger with Leviathan and getting everybody's buy-in on invading a country is going to be virtually impossible in an age when people are either scared that they could be next, or that fear Leviathan.

Barnett: Well, my counters would be: that's why I don't try to make the decision-making process for the use of Leviathan resident inside the United Nations. Because I guarantee you, it will never happen. Or it won't happen well. And there would have to be extraordinary circumstances.

I don't think, post 9/11, we're going to wait for real obvious things like Country A attacking Country B -- because Country A doesn't attack Country B any more. That's going the way of the dinosaur too. And yet, there's been 13 million -- high estimate -- definitely at least 10 million violent deaths in the world, overwhelmingly over 90 percent inside the Gap, since the end of the Cold War.

So there are a couple of Holocausts sitting there that we all sat through and watched. You can't look at those Holocausts and look at the environmental degradation that goes with them -- or enables them - nor the disease, nor suffering and say: "I would like to be able to do something. I can't find it within me."

Well the Global War On Terrorism gives us a larger rationale based on fear -- go figure -- to actually give a rat's ass about some of these situations. But it dovetails with a lot of rising interest from those New Core states like India, Brazil, and China, who want greater access because of their rapidly expanding economies.

So my counter to the argument - and it's a good argument -- is to say: "I want John Kerry's 'global test.' OK? But I'm not going to ask about 170 countries for their permission. I'm going to ask about 20 countries and they're going to be the rich countries. And they're going to be the countries that could put money against this problem. And frankly, they should be the ones who are tapped to put money against them -- because they're rich.

Borders: So you're less likely to get buy-in from them for Mugabe, who is a self-contained tyrant. But certainly if there are implications for the G20's interests, or establishing some sort of trade, for plugging them into the global economy. You think that they can be convinced?

Barnett: I think they can because the Chinese put up with Mugabe. What they're interested in is what is inside Zimbabwe's economy. So I think the key thing is negotiating a sense of process that says: "This is how we make sure everybody gets access. And this is how we make sure the people of Zimbabwe actually get some sort of development; instead of profits concentrated among the elites from their exporting raw materials."

We need to create a real connectivity process. You see companies trying to experiment with this more and more, like with Exxon Mobil and Chad. They know that there's a responsibility here. But we've got to make it more than just Exxon trying to pull this off on its own. We've got to make it a bigger effort.

Borders: How do you keep SysAdmin from turning into the World Bank with guns? Basically keeping peoples at subsistence through aid -- but not really transforming the institutions, or what you call "rule sets".

Barnett: That's where I would say the concept of the International Reconstruction Fund (IRF), or a competitor to the World Bank that's set up for this specific function is actually the best route. In all these things people want to say, "Let's just reform the UN. Let's just reform the World Bank." What we find in history is, if you give somebody the monopoly on something, they'll do a crappy job. I guarantee it. And if you make them a public worker at the same time, it won't be good.

So what you need to create are cannibalizing agents that instill a sense of competition. And that's why I would argue for something separate from IMF and World Bank that focuses just on SysAdmin.

And then, what creates the potential for a new relationship between the military and the market side. And that's where I put it. Not the military on the relief side, but the military on the market side. There is a natural timetable, or a clock ticking, that is set in motion whenever you send in troops. We're watching this right now in Iraq and Afghanistan. People want the sense of a coming pull-out.

And that's a difference that's really compelling, because it allows us to think: "Well if I only have three years in Iraq to get something done, to jump start that economy, that's a whole different dynamic, with different political pressures, different thinking, different inputting processes." There are different relationships between key players who historically may have gone into a place like West Africa and said: "We're going to be here for the next 60 years building this country. And if we're not more successful 60 years from now than we are today, well that's the world as we know it. And my grandchildren can come back here as Peace Corp volunteers."

That mentality has definitely got to stop. And it's actually a positive thing to have this global war on terrorism overlay, because again it creates that timetable and a sense of pressure -- which I see as a huge opportunity. Some people are ready to toss it already and say: "Vietnam all over. Let's pull out, and let's go back to the way things were."

Whereas I see this as: Iraq is an amazing opportunity to explore what it would mean to actually bring somebody in. We did it in Germany and Japan. Obviously these are different cases. But you know what? There's nobody really fighting us in the traditional sense of a competing super power, or a competing ideological bloc.

In the grand scheme of things, the transnational terrorists -- despite all our efforts to turn them into super humans -- they number in the thousands. They offer no alternative economic package. They are a total back-to-the-future kind of offering. From a historical perspective, I'm less impressed by them than I have been by anything that's come before. I know some people want to blow them up into the next greatest thing. But with terrorists, you're down in the weeds. Still, these are the toughest nuts, to be sure.

But it's a big transition in my short 15-year career. The start of somebody who planned war against the Soviets, nuclear war, then went to planning war against regional hegemons. Now you tell me I've got to run around and catch bad guys. This is not a bad trend!

That's the big shift here. I keep saying it again and again to people. And I get more and more positive response because the numbers of people who believe in this are growing -- simply through experience. We can't deal with this future that we find ourselves in, unless we're willing to let go of the past more ... and simply admit that wonderful trajectory we've been talking about is real. And that's opportunity.

Strategic planning is not about dealing with worst-case scenarios in the future. It's actually what we do the worst at. We respond to failure well. We have a hard time responding to opportunity. And that's what we're missing here.

Borders: If you became President tomorrow, and you had a Congress full of Tom Barnetts, what single thing would you be sure to do and why?

Barnett: I would go for what I advocate in the first chapter of Blueprint for Action. I would say to the world: "Our commitment to expanding the global economy, not democracy per se, but expanding economic opportunity and connectivity. And I'd be patient with countries and cultures in terms of how they want to manage that content -- in some instances even control it outright."

I'm not going to tell people how to live their lives other than certain minimal aspects required in my view of the future. That is: you've got to give people broadband economic opportunity with the outside world -- connectivity. What they choose to do with it has to be an evolution of their cultures. It can't be mandated from outside.

But to show I'm serious about putting money, effort, people, and a commitment of the U.S. Government behind this issue over time, I'd create a Cabinet-level position I euphemistically call the Department of Everything Else in my book. But one that was really about getting countries from the Gap to the Core.

I say you've got a department of war that takes care of the Gap. You've got a department of peace that manages the Core. What you don't have is anybody who's really on the hook to help poor, disabled, damaged, suffering countries inside the Gap -- to bring them up to somehow join the Core.

I think that's the number-one thing we do strategically in terms of security. It makes us safer. It makes better relationships with other countries around the world. I think it makes us richer over time. And I want to signal our desire to do that. I would probably recast the Department of Homeland Security to do this. And that would be the biggest signal I'd send to the outside world. "This is not about us, this is about you. And our commitment to making the world a better place -- and in doing so, making America more successful, more secure and more prosperous."

Borders: Tom Barnett, I appreciate your talking with us.

Barnett: Thanks so much for having me on.

Click here to listen to an excerpt from this interview.


Inadequate theory
A new theory that does not explain all (or at least all except trivial or suspect data) cannot be expected to supplant older theories. It will not be useful.

Mr Barnett's new theory seems to ignore two major facts:

1 Countries like China and Russia apparently do not agree that war between nation states is obsolescent. Also, given the corruption that goes to the top level of their regimes, could they be trusted for 'sys-admin' tasks?

2 The demographic time bombs in Europe and, to a much lesser extent, in North America.

I think that Barnett meant that even the most dysfunctional of relationships are still relationships. You pull an abusive father out of a family and there's still negative fallout from that. It may be a positive on net but there is pain there too. It works much the same with countries. You pull a Saddam out and there are all these problems that reappear that he had been suppressing. They eventually get resolved and it's a net positive but the pain along the way is real, the feeling of brutalization is real.

Doctors have this problem all the time. They commit violence on the body regularly. For example CPR is violent and can lead to bruised, even cracked ribs while it's saving your life. Surgery always brutalizes the body. But it would be absurd to give up all the benefits that these brutalizations provide so we put up with the bad to get the good.

Great changes -- but more Human Rights is needed
Since Barnett seems to agree with the need for a "World Cop", we don't disagree so much on result, but he's such a "realist" he avoids condemning the non-threatening dictator states (especially China).

I understand his political need to avoid directly supporting democracy -- but it's a fatal flaw. Only by supporting democracy can the Moral Authority be mustered.

He should push more for an expanded, democracy only NATO-based Human Rights Enforcement Group. The failed states, like Sudan and Zimbabwe, are failing because of the lack of human rights for the people.

While focussing on democracy puts China on the sidelines, it's the only way to keep the American Public supportive of such effort. Regime change or adjustment to "our *******" isn't good enough.

The increasing lack of people in the Core is a big long term problem; which can prolly be solved by helping India achieve Core developed status.

Try reading the book or the blog
The demographic issues weren't covered in the interview but they certainly were covered in PNM. Try looking up "four flows" and Barnett in Google and you'll find plenty of material.

The incredible weakness and fragility of both the PRC and Russia makes me not take either the PRC or Russia's belligerancy for granted. Russia's demographic collapse is profound and the PRC is a house of cards waiting to be blown over. Even if they actually were as belligerant as they make themselves out to be, they're so vulnerable to non-military strikes actual action would be very foolhardy.

No Subject
"The failed states, like Sudan and Zimbabwe, are failing because of the lack of human rights for the people."

Well, no. Lack of human rights are a symptom of rot, not the cause. Given an environment with consistent rule of law, basic civil liberties you've got a setup where people can flourish.

"The failed states, like Sudan and Zimbabwe, are failing because of the lack of human rights for the people."

Lack of human rights is a symptom of a failed culture, not a cause.

Randolph Bournes validated
Bourne said that war is the health of the state. This interview put a face on the complete state health-care package---perpetual conflict and war.The "good" tyrants ridding the world of "bad" tyrants--and with 2:1 odds at that!
God help the young, present and future, who will be offered up for sacrifice while the likes of Borders and Barnett sip coffee and have their tete-a-tete in comfy armchairs and heated buildings.

The Perpetual War
You can only seriously hold this point if you think that the non-integrating Gap is a natural state of affairs. I do not. The Gap exists because the natural voluntary agreements that people form between each other are continually being disrupted by national and international elites who profit from the disruption. The disruption is acccomplished with violence.

In the normal course of affairs, the victims of those elites would regroup in the Core, raise an army, and run those elites out of power. The Core restricts exiles from doing that for very good reasons, with the full catalog being available in any decent history of the Thirty Year War.

So we frustrate the honest and the good from revolution and throw them in jail if they try anyway. We preserve the peace, but it's a peace stacked against the normal people and in favor of the evil and violent "over there" so that we all can live in peace "over here". In short, our peace is bought with their blood.

In a world where sub-national groups can cause mass casualty events to punish us for this kind of activity, maintaining a strict westphalian attitude is just untenable. Exiled and refugee patriots from the Gap who are frustrated in their quest for justice by the Westphalian rules of the Core will transfer anger to us and we will suffer violence, even terrorism, because of it.

We can use our police and military forces to deny Gap revolutionaries justice (denying them justice and earning their enmity) or become their tribunes by pulling their homelands into the Core with a lot less mess than they could do by themselves. Those are the choices on offer. Pick one.

Remember the founding
The point I was trying to make is that 1/3 of the world should not as a matter of principle be saved from themselves by the other 2/3--namely the US.
You'll remember from American history of course that Washington, Jefferson, Madison and many others admonished that we not become entangled in foreign affairs. The words of Taft say it all:
"Even if it were desirable, America is not strong enough to police the world by military force. If that attempt is made, the blessings of liberty will be replaced by coercion and tyranny at home. Our Christian ideals cannot be exported to other lands by dollars and guns. Persuasion and example are the methods taught by the Carpenter of Nazareth, and if we believe in Christianity we should try to advance our ideals by his methods. We cannot practice might and force abroad and retain freedom at home. We cannot talk world cooperation and practice power politics."

Madison before him said: "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting (or fixing) a foreign enemy." Parenthetical by me.

civil rights
consistent rule of law and basic civil liberties are the very starting point of human rights.

If you don't have them, then there is no human rights. Therefore, the lack of human rights is the cause of the rot.

Tiananmen Square
"I would go for what I advocate ... not democracy per se, but expanding economic opportunity and connectivity. And I'd be patient with countries and cultures in terms of how they want to manage that content -- in some instances even control it outright."

I assume by "control it outright" you mean China and the Communist Party's total control of public information. This's not a strategy for long-term success.

Communist party shuts newspaper supplement
Financial Times, January 26 2006

The propaganda department of China's ruling Communist party has shut down a widely respected newspaper supplement that angered officials by reporting on sensitive political and social topics.

The move to shut down Bing Dian, or Freezing Point, a supplement published by the China Youth Daily, marked an escalation in government efforts to clamp down on any perceived signs of dissent in the country's media.

Read Huntington's Clash of Civilization
Barnett will take you only so far. Having read both his books, I still go back to Sam Huntington's book "A Clash of Civilizations" - Huntingtons idea of civilizations colliding along 'fault-lines' - fills in the huge gaps in Barnetts theory. Barnett dismisses Huntington, largely because he's trying to sell books, but his arguments against whole civilizational conflict that transcends mere geo-economic and political influences is unconvincing. Read Huntington and then go back to Barnett, see which one makes more sense.

Human rights?
states fail because of lack of human rights is tantamount to say people are poor due to a lack of money. What do you do about it? We are stumped for an answer to "I surrender"

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