Monday, October 31, 2005


Continued from Friday. Background here and here. Part IV: Globalization for good, waging peace with India and China, playing a map game, fighting pistol-packing peacekeepers, gaming the new map, briefing Kerry, and handicapping the 2008 elections.

Hamlet Linden: When you say "globalization", a lot of people, especially in the EU-- probably a lot of folks in the audience here-- don't think about peace and prosperity. They think exploitation, sweatshops, economic imperialism, etc. How do you speak to their concerns?

Thomas Barnett: First, please read Martin Wolf's Why Globalization Works book, as it's the best. Globalization does many things when it comes into a country that's was previously poorly connected, and I talk about this at length in the book. First, multinational corporations tend to pay, on average, 50% higher wages than similar industries in the [local] economy can pay. That's why there was 1.5 billion in the world living on less than a dollar a day back in 1980 and only 1.1 billion today. That's a reduction of 400 million as the population in the world increased dramatically, so 40% of the world lives on less than a dollar a day in 1980 and only 20% in 2001 (adjusted for inflation, of course). That flow of outside investment is crucial, because no countries in the history of the world have grown their economies without access to outside capital.

Now with development comes higher local pollution, without a doubt, but that tapers off dramatically with development and actually improves as you get advanced. Of course, global pollution, like CO2, continues to go up even with advanced development. But that's another discussion.

But the key thing that happens is with outside capital triggering industrialization is that the private sector becomes more demanding of the public sector. Good markets make good governments, not the other way around. So if you want democracies, then extend the economic connectivity of globalization and then let the locals decide how to govern themselves over time. Eventually they will move to pluralism, but frankly, almost all will make the development journey as single-party states, like Singapore did, or Japan, or South Korea, and China today.

William Hauptmann [calling out from the audience]: You've said China has an internal Gap-Core divide. You also said China and India might provide the bulk of an international SysAdmin force. This seems a contradiction. Please discuss it. Did this come in the New Map Game [a wargame based on Barnett's ideas]?

TPMB: Both China and India do have large internal "gaps," and thus their pace of progress will be determined by the rural poor's ability to keep up with all the change demanded by opening up the economy to globalization. I call this the Theory That the Train's Engine Can Travel No Faster than the Caboose.

So if that's the case, how can they help on the SysAdmin force?

Easy. The SysAdmin force is mostly about bodies, not capital. Both have huge standing armies, full of cheap labor. Both countries are very interested in peace and stability in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. Why? They need the raw materials and energy. China is already all over Africa, making deals, sending in people, building roads and infrastructure.

Yes, in the New Map Game, a special wargame we played in Newport, Rhode Island last June using futurists and defense experts, we did see the China team get awfully explicit about being okay with America being the Leviathan (taking down the bad guys) and China playing the SysAdmin role big-time. In effect, the Chinese said in the game, "You set the table and we eat the meal. We have cheap labor and are willing to do the grunt work of development in these tough locales. Don't worry, we'll sell many of the resulting products to you-- the West--in Wal-Mart."

This is a fundamental economic dynamic that is logically repeated in the military realm: the Old Core of the West will make most of its money in coming years off the New Core, selling them all sorts of manufactured, high-end goods. Meanwhile, the New Core will make much of its money off the Gap, taking those raw materials and manufacturing low-end, but increasingly higher-end goods. The trick in all this is to make sure the Gap economies get off their current dependence on low-end commodities. For this to work, everyone needs to move up the ladder of production.

SNOOPYbrown Zamboni: Tom, in the book you use the term "pistol-packing Peace Corps." What's that refer to? Is this part of the SysAdmin group, or who does this describe? Who runs it and how do you join?

TPMB: It's a fun term, and I like to use fun terms. Pisses off the academics and for that alone it's worthwhile. "Pistol-packin' Peace Corps" just means my SysAdmin force won't be some wussy UN deal, like the African Union peacekeepers who can merely take photos in Sudan after the Janjaweed rape and kill all the women and children in a village they've attacked. As I like to say, "They shoot photos, don't they?"

No, my SysAdmin will have a mini-Leviathan within known as the Marines. Kill their aid worker, and these guys will come over and lay a Falluja on your ass. If you shy from the violence, then your enemies will simply trump you. Working the Gap is like what Sean Connery's character in The Untouchables talked about: If he brings a knife, you bring a gun, and you ask yourself whether or not you're willing to do what it takes to stop the criminal behavior. Remember the 13 million estimated dead from violent conflicts around the world since 1990.

SZ: Many of us here listened to the podcast of your talk at Pop!Tech 2004. There you spoke of the United States as being in some senses "older" than Europe, in that it's gone through similar developments but on an accelerated time-scale, with similar rule-set clashes, civil wars, a single currency, etc. Thinking about the Gap countries you'd like to see ushered into the Core, they've sure got a lot of historical accelerating to do! We've heard of technological leapfrogging, but how many formative historical phases can people really leapfrog in a small amount of time?

TPMB: True enough and good point, but my Theory of the Train Engine Traveling no Faster than the Caboose says this: the models for movement into the Core are not the US or Europe or Japan (Old Core) but New Core players like India, China, Russia and Brazil. Don't assume 100% solutions when the Chinese and Indians could typically give you 25% solutions that do the trick far more cheaply.

HL: You briefed John Kerry about your ideas, in the run-up to the last election. Tell us about the experience.

TMPB: I was asked in by the Pentagon team of the Kerry campaign, and I briefed them on my ideas. That was last July [2004]. I was told the ideas were passed along, like my "Don't plan to win the war unless you plan to win the peace." I did not meet Senator Kerry at that time. That F2F happened this spring in his Senate office. I briefed his entire senior staff and him for about two hours. He asked very sharp questions throughout, making a lot of good arguments for what he called, during the campaign, "the global test" for using US military power around the world. He liked the A-to-Z a lot.

He also said something I used in Blueprint for Action: (in effect) Why create a new Department of Everything Else (my cute name) to house this SysAdmin force? Why not consider adapting and growing the Department of Homeland Security in this direction over time?

I thought that was brilliant, because there's so much talent trapped in DHS. I've since heard that idea from a lot of people, but first from Kerry. He was very impressive that way.

But make no mistake, despite being a lifelong Democrat, I am open to working with both sides all the time. As I say, my guys are never out of power. They are always on duty, and I will always do what I can to help them wage both war and peace better. I'm 43. I can't wait out anybody's term and I never will. Too much life on the line.

HL: Related to your meeting with Senator Kerry, Tom, I wonder what American politician could move your ideas forward, to convince the American people and the world that this is the path (the hard path) forward?

TPMB: I like Rep. Mac Thornberry (R) of Texas, a lot. I like new first-term congressman (another Republican) from Kentucky called Geoff Davis. I like Harold Ford of Tennessee (Dem) who is running for the Senate there. I like my new Senator here in Indiana, where I just moved to, named Evan Bayh. Many Dems see him answering the only question that matters in 2008: "Name a state you can carry that Kerry could not (namely, Indiana and Ohio)." Not being able to answer that question is what makes Hillary seem weaker, IMHO.

But things can change rapidly, so I keep my mind open.

Continued Wednesday...

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The only thing worse than a neocon is a wannabeocon.

Posted by: Luciftias Neurocam at Oct 31, 2005 10:12:39 AM