Worldchanging.com interviews Thomas Barnett, author of "The Pentagon's New Map" which focuses on the connections between 3rd world development and security.
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The idea that 20 or so of the biggest, richest and most powerful countries should form a functioning executive to decide what national behavior is acceptable and when to commit military forces sounds god-awful.
I can't see how such a group would function any better than the UN Security Council and its 15 members. The assumption appears to be that the bigger countries have common interests, but it wasn't the smaller countries that prevented concensus on the Balkans and Iraq.
Plus, the World's twenty largest economies include Taiwan, Iran and Thailand. Taiwan poses problems with seating arrangements, Iran would be on the agenda, and Thailand needs our help, more than it can offer help. Seems like a smaller group would be in order, one consisting of nations that buy into the larger argument (which probably excludes China and Russia).
I generally support Barnett for articulating a framework for thinking about outcomes of the war which goes beyond military action in a principled fashion, one which I suspect and hope will have some appeal to left of center as well as right. PD cites his weakest point: A seeming naiveté re the differing points of view and interest in the Core. Joe's cite yesterday of James C. Bennett's article on Europe is right on target: If the fissures within Europe and across the Atlantic are so wide, how do we expect even this core-of-the-Core, even less PD's wider sample, to come together around a policy that amounts to the abrogation of the sanctity of borders?
This significance of Barnett's vision lies in its potential to become a lodestar within the US, pointing a way forward that makes sense and isn't purely about self-defense and self-interest. One that's clearly tied to the democratic vision, and which can serve as an external rallying point for like minded nations. The SysAdmin will be a coalition of the willing, if it exists at all.
Here's an alternative view, which suggests that cultural comfort level has a bigger influence on alignments than Barnett seems willing to acknowledge. Plus some good stuff on the UK dilemma, suggesting that it has much more in common with the Anglosphere than the EU.
Interesting, but ultimately flawed in the recommendations.
The reason failed states fester is that other nations have interests at stake. France, China, and Russia for example in the Sudan. Either a single nation or coalition uses it's superior military power to address problems as they occur, or not. Politics won't go away just by the magic wishing dust.
Sys Admin is a STUPID idea. Iraq, West Africa, Somalia all point out for the need for continued warfighting ability ... bandits hope to kill "enough" people to let the old instability continue and their parasitical rule stay in place. The solution to this problem is sadly killing a lot of bandits, till they understand their best course of action is to give up. No other solution but massive force will work.
The antagonism between the NGOs and the military will continue, simply because the NGOs and military have different goals. NGOs are opposed to ANY military force, even one that removes a failed, tyrannical regime, their solution is moderating where they can bad behavior. The military's solution is simply to kill the bad regime and replace it. You can't split the difference in these goals and you have to make a choice ... muddle through with failure and avoid a war, or take the war and brutal destruction that goes with it and hope for a better future absent the failed regime.
Finally, the US will operate in it's own self-interest. That definition may change depending on circumstances and perception of needs and threats, but it will still be just like every other country ... maximizing self interest and national security.
Yes, the USA will operate in its (not "it's") own self-interest, and that is exactly what Barnett advocates.
I have to wonder how many who attack Barnett's ideas actually took the time to read his book carefully. Most of the negative comments here sound to me like reactions coming from a time and a mind-set that will shortly be consigned to history's rubbish heap. The remainder might be helpful in developing the strategic details and the tactics that will implement Barnett's wide concepts.
I actually liked much of what I read in the posted articles, but ultimately his plan calls for increased, systemic intervention in gap countries, necessitating some means of obtaining international concensus to spread out costs, legitimize the effort and obtain the ultimate result of core-gap integration. Barnett (wisely in my view) regards the UN Security Council as insufficient to do this. Thus, he's left with two options: create a new international body or let the U.S. go it alone with ad hoc allies. The former would be the most consistent with his vision, the latter is much more likely and much less effective.
In my post, I initially took a stab at a more realistic group of countries (essentially several NATO countries (including France), plus Australia, Brazil, India and Japan. While a smaller, more idealogically harmoneous group might be more functional, this left out smaller core countries that you would want to participate (particularly smaller European countries) and potentially antagnoized important countries such as China and Russia that Barnett wants engaged. There are also countries in strategic locations that are worth considering, such as South Africa and Turkey.
Perhaps several regional alliances would be more effective: Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, U.S.), Sub-Saharan Africa (France, South Africa, U.K., U.S.), Balkans and North Africa (NATO), Southeast Asia (Australia, France, India, Japan, U.K., U.S.), Middle East and Central Asia (?) A regional framework would reduce the assets available and eliminate the legitimacy of "less interested" approval.
So, I don't have a good answer, myself. I haven't read the book, am I missing something on this point?
Barnes ignores the central question ... why should the US spend money and lives on intervention where there is no political motivation?
Absent the Cold War, there is no case for consistent intervention in failed Gap states where other over-riding strategic considerations take place.
Sudan has oil, but not enough to make it's entrance onto the World Market in a big way a factor in stabilizing the world price. It is not a part of the crucial oil shipping lanes (the Gulf). It is not next to Europe. Therefore the political case for intervention in Sudan is just about nil. I'd have a hard time seeing ANY American President selling that one.
Europe has had a free ride on American power and protection for nearly 60 years. There is no incentive for them to spend anything on Militaries; even Serbia being able to tell NATO absent the US to stick it hasn't woken up Europeans to their total lack of a military. Europeans are quite happy with their arrangement, they spend nothing on military and a lot on social welfare, and don't see any threats on the horizon. They will likely see that until even a weak state neighboring them invades.
China and India have their own interests, and I'm certain their navies will start to intervene in areas of concern for them; but it's in their national interest (protecting investments, securing oil, etc) not the utopia of Barnett.
He's just not politically realistic. As such he's a joke.
Jim Rockford: cripes, read the darn book!
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