The Core and the Gap

I ran across a fascinating Kerry voter yesterday, thanks to c-span. Thomas Barnett is a Professor at the U.S. Naval War College who has some interesting food for thought on the nature of our post cold war global political system, 9/11, the war on terror, and the ‘new rule sets’ we should now be dealing with, and he blogs!

After watching hours of this man speaking on c-span I was moved enough to decide his book, The Pentagon's New Map, deserves a reading. I'll try to pick up a copy today.

From what I have gleaned so far part of Mr. Barnett's thesis is that our Defense structure, dictated by the Cold War fight against the Soviet Union, needs to change from a unified force to two separate forces. One that kills people and breaks things, and another that is a peacekeeping, troubleshooting, public relations, state department with guns. On c-span he said we do the first well and the second not so well at all. Which is why we wage war well, and don't wage occupation with the same efficiency.

In the context of the war on terror he divides the world into two halves. The 'core', nations connected by globalization, and the 'gap', nations unconnected to globalization.

So, why all the dissembling on the part of our political leadership? Well, the truth is, we are just coming to terms with a new grand strategy for the United States, the historical successor to containment, and our government doesn’t yet have the words to explain this vision to the world. So we come off as dishonest, which is a terrible mistake, because this vision describes a future worth creating: making globalization truly global. This is something to be proud of, not something to run from.

The defense community spent the entire post-cold-war period scanning the strategic horizon, desperately searching for the fabled “near-peer competitor” that would someday replace our late beloved foe, the Soviet Union. About eight years ago, most defense strategists fell in love with China, convincing themselves that here was an enemy worth plotting against. Since then, the great bureaucratic push to “transform” the U. S. military into the high-tech warrior force of tomorrow has focused almost exclusively on that conflict model—basically China’s invasion of Taiwan in 2020.

It was a beautiful dream, one easily sold to a Congress whose only interest in national-security planning is “Will you build it in my district?” It also corresponded to the Bush administration’s view of the world prior to 9/11, which focused exclusively on great powers while expressing disdain for the Clinton administration’s feeble attempts at nation-building in Third World wastelands. Frankly, it made everyone in Washington happy, because casting China as the future enemy provided the national-security establishment with a familiar villain: big, bad, and communist.

...The new rule set here is a simple one: We need to refocus all of our war-planning and intelligence systems from the Core to the Gap. This doesn’t mean we still don’t maintain a hedge against possible Chinese mischief. It just means a new strategic paradigm rules the roost: Disconnectedness defines danger. You want to locate the real danger in the system? Focus on those countries or regions most disconnected from the global economy, not those desperately working to integrate themselves with the outside world—like China.

Even though he mentions he will be voting for Kerry there are many things about his theories I find compelling, not the least of which is the fact that Iraq was a war he supported. I am curious to find out why he is a Kerry supporter though.

Anyone else already read his book or have any insight?

Posted by Eric Simonson at September 5, 2004 3:16 PM