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The Right Way

I just started reading Thomas P.M. Barnett’s book, “The Pentagon’s New Map”. I’ve heard some over in the Bush-fan column use it to justify the President’s invasion of Iraq, but even having only read the first chapter so far, it’s clear they’re wrong. If you are familiar with Barnett’s book and you agree with him, then there is no way you can support President Bush’s foreign policy.

In his book, Barnett provides a long-term security and foreign policy framework to accompany President Clinton's continuing legacy of globalization. He separates the world into two groups: the Core, arguably the US, EU, Japan, and others who see globalization as a culturally neutral, "rules based" force for good in the world; and the Gap, consisting of those countries like North Korea, Saddam's Iraq, and other countries that seek to completely disconnect from the world.

Barnett's argument is that globalization caught the Core without a set of political and security rules for dealing with the Gap, "We got lazy, counted a little too much on the market to sort it all out, and then woke up shocked and amazed on 9/11 to find ourselves apparently invited to a global war."

One of the key Democratic foreign policy beliefs is that the United States will not be secure until citizens of every nation enjoy a decent standard of living, the opportunity to better themselves, and a representative government that respects basic human rights. This may sound similar to President Bush's plan to spread democracies across the globe, but it differs in one fundamental way: John Kerry and most Democrats believe the Core can best be expanded by focusing on incentives and the positive aspects of joining the global community. The Bush administration, with its policy of preventative war, is intent on spreading democracy as quickly as possible, primarily through the use of military force - Barnett calls it the "who's next?" strategy.

Barnett says, "The quickest way to secure America absolutely is to run hog-wild with preemptive strikes against the most dangerously disconnected states... But a mindless pursuit of America's short-term security is likely to damage globalization's capacity for expansion, and therein lies our best hope for increasing our security over the long haul."

In fact, Barnett spends the first chapter repeatedly spanking President Bush. Barnett says that Saddam needed to be dealt with, but not in a way that shatters the Core. Sound familiar? John Kerry is on the same page as Barnett when he says, "Saddam Hussein was a threat. There was a right way to disarm him and a wrong way. And the president chose the wrong way."

Barnett also uses the rolled-up newspaper on Bush by ridiculing his use of the Pentagon rather than the State Department to plan foreign policy. Barnett smacks Bush again for not having a comprehensive plan in Iraq and Afghanistan for ensuring that the previous "disconnecting" government is not replaced by another because, "anything less is a waste of our servicemen and -women."

But most of all, Barnett takes Bush to task for seriously weakening the Core itself by imposing divisive new rules like preventative war and the Patriot Act, "If, in waging war against the forces of 'disconnectedness', the United States ends up dividing the West, or the heart of the Core [including France and Germany - AP], then our cure ends up being worse than the disease."

Barnett says the post-9/11 security rule set we use, like Bush's preventative invasion of Iraq, must pass the "global test". He says, "No matter how logical or necessary our new rule sets may appear to us, if we cannot sell them to a large chunk of the planet, we lose our credibility as a competent superpower, and our rules will invariably be dismissed by other cultures as reflecting an American bias, not universal truths."

John Kerry understands this; after all, John Kerry was instrumental in helping Clinton kick start the globalization movement in the first place. Barnett has briefed Kerry on the concepts in his book. Barnett believes, "now we need a Clinton-like dealmaker on security for the next four years. I frankly believe Kerry is closer to the mark than Bush on that."

Posted by American Pundit at October 12, 2004 1:50 AM