Professor Thomas P.M. Barnett is a Senior Strategic Researcher and Professor in the Warfare Analysis & Research Department, Center for Naval Warfare Studies, U.S. Naval War College. He has been a pentagon insider for most of his career. Mr. Barnett has a comprehensive plan for countering terrorism that promotes global civil and economic rights. This plan is detailed in a new book, “The Pentagon’s New Map”. This book is the culmination of decades of study.
The New Map, that Barnett has drawn, divides the world into two sectors. On this map countries are either one of the “Core” nations – the haves — or one of those in the nonintegrated “Gap” – the “have nots”. The Core consists of those nations that promote themselves internationally through a relatively free ﬂow of trade, people, direct foreign investment, and security. These nations are characterized by political stability and rising standards of living. Core nations include the U.S., Europe, Japan, Israel, much of the former USSR, China, India, parts of South America, the UK and its affiliated nations – Canada and Australia. The nations in the “Gap” include Pakistan, North Korea, most of the Middle East, Africa, Central and South America. The Gap nations either refuse to or are unable to work with the Core. The Gap nations are marked by political instability, cultural rigidity, and extreme poverty.
Barnett, a Catholic, sounds as if he were a Buddhist. His military strategy is based on the interconnectivity of all things – including war and peace. He explains that the enemy is neither a religion (Islam) nor a place (the Middle East), but a condition – disconnectedness. The disconnected are isolated, deprived, repressed and uneducated. For women this too often means that they are “barefoot and pregnant”, sometimes seen, but rarely heard. For Gap men this means that their lives are characterized by ignorance and boredom. For the masses in the Gap this means that there is a lack of choice and very limited access to ideas, capital and travel. However, for the elite in the Gap it means absolute control and the ability to amass great wealth. The enemy is disconnectedness. Those who profit from it, who enforce it and who promote it should be our targets.
Barnett realizes that terror is rooted in poverty, illiteracy, cultural isolation and political instability. People living in Gap nations have little hope. People with nothing to lose will take extreme actions.
Not surprisingly Barnett claims that the Pentagon views war simplistically. It views war only within the context of war. To these planners the world is black and white. You are for us or against us. Therefore, military strategy for the most part focuses on preventing horrific scenarios caused by other nations. On the other hand, Barnett posits that we must view war within the context of everything else since all things are interconnected. Consequently, military planning should focus on increasing connectivity; rather than just countering catastrophes. Planning should focus on shrinking the number of nations in the Gap by spreading economic wellbeing and building the security of the Core.
Terrorists tend to emerge from long endured conflicts in the Gap nations. Thus, the Core must act to end these conflicts. Yes, the U.S. should act as the global cop. Terrorists want to sever the connectivity between nations. Destroying global disconnectedness is the only way to achieve security for the U.S. Consequently, nations in the Core must keep a free flow of labor, energy, money and security to and from the Core areas where these are plentiful to the Gap where they are scarce. The flow, the connectivity, is the key.
Militarily this means that the Pentagon has to handle two types of conflicts. Part of the military must be high tech and able to move swiftly in order to put down rouge states and quash bloody civil wars. The other part of the military must be low tech and sensitive to the local people in order to act as the “System Administrator” and help rebuild nations and provide security. These actions combined will increase connectivity and provide hope for the people living in the Gap.
Barnett, at times, sounds like an apologist for BushCo. Most notably he supports the invasion of Iraq because Saddam thrived on disconnectedness. However, he is critical of the administration’s unilateral military actions and fearmongering rhetoric. For Barnett, BushCo has failed in its imagination, in its words and in its deeds. The war on terror gave the administration the opportunity to define a grand strategy. Instead, BushCo has spoken of an almost vindictive concept of preemptive war, which has only frightened our allies. Moreover, BushCo’s preemptive war puts at risk the global flows of energy, security and investments and the Patriot Act puts at risk the free flow of people from the Gap to the Core.
In addition, Barnett’s prescription for Iraq is sound. He believes that the U.S. must internationalize the occupation force, bolster the Iraqi police and get direct foreign investment. Moreover, his Map and plan for waging global peace has great merit. I highly recommend “The Pentagon’s New Map” and Barnett’s positive vision to everyone concerned about the direction of the current war on terror. Barnett calls himself a dreamer, while I don’t agree with all of the aspects of his vision, I too dream that BushCo and future administrations would heed Barnett’s advice.
2 million people live in the Gap. The nations of the Core must do everything in their power to offer these people a hopeful future. In their hope lies peace.
(A postscript: The publisher gave me an advance copy of Professor Barnett’s book on the off chance that I would review it. I had no idea whether or not I would like or agree with anything in the book and I told the publisher that I might not write any commentary on the book. I read the book over the past month and found myself agreeing with most of Barnett’s conclusions and recommendations. Robert Byrd)