Friday, October 28, 2005


Continued from yesterday. Background here and here. Part II: Laying Out the Map, and shrinking the Gap.

Thomas Barnett: In this second slide you see the map that Bill McNulty, the mapmaker for the New York Times, made for Esquire for the original article we published in March 2003. The map shows the roughly 150 times we've sent our forces around the world since 1990. Most Americans are poorly aware of how often this has occurred. As I like to say, the "first great neo-con Bill Clinton" used military forces around the planet like no president had before. Bush and company just continued this amazing trend and elevated it and concentrated it after 9/11 with the Global War on Terrorism. When the map comes up, you'll see that line that I drew around the vast bulk of the cases, yielding the shape across the map that I call the "non-Integrating Gap."

In a nutshell, the Gap includes the Caribbean Rim, the Andea portion of South America, Africa, the Caucasus, the Middle East, Central Asia and Southeast Asia. Now, to call that the Gap doesn't mean all states within are poorly connected to the global economy, because some are very connected, like Costa Rica, Israel, Singapore. It's more a critical mass argument: you put a mansion in the ghetto and it doesn't make it the suburbs. So the question becomes: What is the natural grand strategy to emerge from this view of the world?

I make three arguments.

First, we need to improve our immune-system response to 9/11-like shocks to the system that I like to call System Perturbations. The same skills you bring to NYC after 9/11 are the same ones you bring to Baghdad after Saddam is toppled or New Orleans after Katrina.

Second, we need to firewall the Core off from the Gap's worst exports, like drugs, pandemics, terror.

Good example, I walk through Hong Kong International Airport last year and have my body temp scanned passively. If I had had a temp, then no travel, a new rule set after SARS.

Third and most important tenet: the Core's big powers must come together to shrink the Gap progressively by tackling bad actors and security "sinkholes" that ruin investment climates and keep foreign money from accessing--you guessed it--cheap labor. I know some call that "globalization at the barrel of the gun", but I call it the military-market nexus that's been with us throughout history.

The most controversial concept in PNM, which I flesh out in Blueprint, was that we need two military forces to shrink the Gap.

The first force we already have: the warfighting Leviathan. That force worked wonders in Iraq, toppling Saddam with ease in three weeks with 137 combat casualties. Their victory marked the end of the war, or what Bush called, quite controversially..."mission accomplished."

The second force we do not have, but we're building quite rapidly thanks to the debacle that's been the Iraq "peace." That second force I call the System Administrators force, or the SysAdmin force for short. That's the force that will do peacekeeping, nation-building, crisis response, and counter-insurgency--and like we've seen in Pakistan or Asia after the tsunamis-- also the disaster relief. That force will have military capabilities at its core, but it will be highly "interagency-ized," meaning it will feature lotsa labor from around the US government. It will also be highly civilian, or mostly civilian, because it will have a lot of developmental expertise. And it will be highly internationalized, meaning the bulk of the bodies will be non-American.

How do we get the world to agree to all this?

This is the thrust of the second book: Blueprint for Action.

The key concept contained within is this: we need an A-to-Z rule set for the Core powers (old West and new East) that allows them to find agreement on how to process politically-bankrupt states in the Gap. The analogy here is to the A-to-Z embryonic rule set we already have for economically-bankrupt states. You saw it in action with the IMF guiding Russia through its sovereign bankruptcy in 1997 and then Argentina very recently. Russia paid 50 cents on the dollar when it reached "Z," and Argentina only paid 30 cents. Both countries were allowed to do this (basically skip paying a lot of sovereign debt) because both performed a lot of changes that the IMF asked for.

Not pretty, and a pretty loose rule set, but it gets better each time: more transparent, more obviously zero-sum. Countries fear it less, so it works.

The big question I ask in BFA is thus: what would such a rule set look like for politically-bankrupt states? What is "politically bankrupt?"

Shorthand: too much government (dictators) or too little (failed states).

The former tend to support terrorists (dictators like to make mischief beyond their borders) and the latter tend to attract them like parasites. If you want to win the Global War on Terrorism, you can't just kill bad guys. They replace them too fast. No, you have to shrink the operating domain of the enemy by replacing bad states with good, and in that process helping the one-third of humanity still trapped in the Gap to join the global economy in a fair and just manner.

Let's pull up the third slide now please...

Continued tomorrow...

Posted at 12:13 AM | Permalink


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