The Pentagon's New Map

In discussions on Iraq, the War on Terror, and world affairs generally, Gilliam has referenced an essay by Thomas Barnett entitled “The Pentagon’s New Map.”

It’s worth a read and a discussion, so I’ve started this thread on it.

The link to the essay is:
thomaspmbarnett.com/published/pentagonsnewmap.htm

Gilliam,

Here are some initial thoughts. Obviously many points need further development, but this should get some discussion rolling.

To a large extend I agree with the primary premise of the essay, “disconnectedness defines danger,” or, further elaborated, it is those regions which have least successfully integrated into the global order (the gap) which pose the gravest threat. Where I disagree, however, is in the follow-up proposition that this strategic threat is best addressed through military means.

Barnett is dead on in identifying, as he puts it, the “ozone hole” in globalization as being in serious need of attention, and I second his call for approaching globalization not as a “binary outcome,” but rather as a complex historical process. I think the simplistic approach to globalization is exemplified by people such as Thomas Friedman with his slogan “the world is flat.” Well no, it’s not. Between the “functioning core” and the “gap” is a world of difference (and even between, say Shanghai’s business district and China’s interior provinces there are huge gaps).

Barnett’s argument for the Iraq war essentially comes down to that it is in our strategic interest to establish a functioning, stable democracy there and integrate Iraq (and other “gap” regions) into the core. Were I a supporter of the war, this is essentially the argument I would make. His thesis is that ““disconnectedness defines danger,” is a succinct and astute assessment.

I disagree, however, that large scale military action such as our current engagement Iraq is the answer. Military action will likely take place almost exclusively in the “gap,” as it has since the end of the cold war. Where Barnett sees such activity as primary, however, I see it as supplementary. Arms can uphold the peace, but I do not believe an army can ever “win” the peace, as we are attempting to do in Iraq.

For a democracy to succeed, there are several perquisites, including legitimacy and vibrant civil society. When an outside power (e.g. the US) invades and forces regime change, it undermines the legitimacy of the succeeding government. We tried to get around that problem in Iraq by handing over sovereignty. Some argue that we should have done this earlier; I have strong doubts that even an earlier date for the hand over could have countered the fact that a foreign army deposed a native (even if thoroughly corrupt and repressive) regime. A far better candidate would have been Iran, were strong civil society and democratic institutions already exist – with the fetters of the mullahs removed, native democracy could very well flourish. However, the U.S. is viewed with such distrust by the Iranians (for good historical reasons) that were regime change initiated by the US, I doubt the successor government would be able to garner sufficient legitimacy.

Pre-invasion Iraq had far weaker civil society and democratic institutions, and so presented a poor target for attempts at democracy-building through regime change. A far better strategy would have been to nurture the development of civil society while pursuing a containment strategy against Hussein’s government. The situation in the 90’s wasn’t perfect, but it was better than the current one. In a sense, I am somewhat arguing for a “unilateral” or rather non-UN approved approach here. I would not have lifted the sanctions or the no-fly zones, regardless of what France or Germany or anyone else wanted. However, I would have also encourage greater engagement with the Iraqi people themselves – encouraging Iraqi students to western universities, supporting dissident, democratically minded exile groups, etc.

Remember the lessons from when we face a much larger strategic threat. We did not liberate eastern Europe. Eastern Europe liberated itself. We cannot integrate the gap into the core at gunpoint. Instead, we need to foster the growth of “connective tissue,” and limit the role of the military to providing supplementary security rather than trying to play the role of liberator.

I am not sure Barnett sees military engagement as primary to solving the problem of the gap. Maybe you can quote something that leads you to that assumption.

As for Iraq, I think it is pretty obvious to anyone who looks at the situation objectively and have read the recent revelations coming out of the Oil for Food investigation that Saddam was slowly winning that ‘sanctions’ game. He was getting stronger, not weaker.

[quote=gilliam]I am not sure Barnett sees military engagement as primary to solving the problem of the gap. Maybe you can quote something that leads you to that assumption.
[/quote]

As the blurb at the top of the essay puts it, Barnett proposes an operating theory of the world that “*involves identifying the problem parts of the world and aggressively shrinking them.” Aggressively shrinking, here, seems to mean large scale, sustained military action. Barnett says that “the real reason I support a war like this is that the resulting long-term military commitment will finally force America to deal with the entire Gap as a strategic threat environment.” Iraq, in his mind, is a model for future action, for the only way to change the anti-democratic environment of the middle east “is *if some external power steps in and plays Leviathan full-time.” He believes that security, in the form of sustained military presence, must precede freedom.

I disagree with this ordering. Under Hussein, after all, Iraq had security, but it did not have freedom. Ditto for many past and present autocratic regimes. I say civil society must come first. Military intervention comes to safeguard already existing freedom, not to impose or attempt to create it.

A good model for a transition to democracy would be Spain. Franco was a dictator, but civil society never wholly died under him, so that at his death the country was already ready to make the transition. The transition was led by the king, providing legitimacy. Had the West instead tried to invade and depose Franco, I doubt things would have turned out as well.* *

As for Iraq, I think it is pretty obvious to anyone who looks at the situation objectively and have read the recent revelations coming out of the Oil for Food investigation that Saddam was slowly winning that ‘sanctions’ game. He was getting stronger, not weaker.

The situation could have been dealt with in other ways than by invasion.

[quote=Philip P]As the blurb at the top of the essay puts it, Barnett proposes an operating theory of the world that “involves identifying the problem parts of the world and aggressively shrinking them.” Aggressively shrinking, here, seems to mean large scale, sustained military action.
[/quote]

That is not the impression I get from reading his book. In fact, he proposes a number of methods (none extensively detailed since he tends not to involve himself with tactical details), but military action is only one of many solutions, and only used when other solutions have failed. In fact, he proposes a number of new departments within the DoD that have nothing to do with military action.

[left]If you take this message from Osama and combine it with our military-intervention record of the last decade, a simple security rule set emerges: A country’s potential to warrant a U.S. military response is inversely related to its globalization connectivity. There is a good reason why Al Qaeda was based first in Sudan and then later in Afghanistan: These are two of the most disconnected countries in the world. Look at the other places U.S. Special Operations Forces have recently zeroed in on: northwestern Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen. We are talking about the ends of the earth as far as globalization is concerned.

But just as important as “getting them where they live” is stopping the ability of these terrorist networks to access the Core via the “seam states” that lie along the Gap’s bloody boundaries. It is along this seam that the Core will seek to suppress bad things coming out of the Gap. Which are some of these classic seam states? Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Morocco, Algeria, Greece, Turkey, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia come readily to mind. But the U.S. will not be the only Core state working this issue. For example, Russia has its own war on terrorism in the Caucasus, China is working its western border with more vigor, and Australia was recently energized (or was it cowed?) by the Bali bombing.

IF WE STEP BACK for a minute and consider the broader implications of this new global map, then U.S. national-security strategy would seem to be: 1*) Increase the Core’s immune system capabilities for responding to September 11-like system perturbations; 2) Work the seam states to firewall the Core from the Gap’s worst exports, such as terror, drugs, and pandemics; and, most important, 3) Shrink the Gap. Notice I did not just say Mind the Gap**.** The knee-jerk reaction of many Americans to September 11 is to say, “Let’s get off our dependency on foreign oil, and then we won’t have to deal with those people.” The most naïve assumption underlying that dream is that reducing what little connectivity the Gap has with the Core will render it less dangerous to us over the long haul. Turning the Middle East into Central Africa will not build a better world for my kids. We cannot simply will those people away.***

The Middle East is the perfect place to start. …
[/left]

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The situation could have been dealt with in other ways than by invasion.

We tried that. But I will leave that to the historians to argue in the future. By then, hopefully, we will have more information about what was going on at the UN.

[quote=gilliam]As for Iraq, I think it is pretty obvious to anyone who looks at the situation objectively and have read the recent revelations coming out of the Oil for Food investigation that Saddam was slowly winning that ‘sanctions’ game. He was getting stronger, not weaker.
[/quote]

Correct. France and Russia lifted the restrictions all on their own behind the UN’s back. Moreover the UN is frighteningly ineffectual. Not only was Saddam getting stronger, but huge segments of his population were languishing and perishing. Bottom line: as long as that whole part of the world is unstable, the US is at risk.

Admittedly I haven’t read his book and am only going off the essay available online. Also, as I said, there is a great deal he says which I agree with. I am certainly not an isolationist and agree when he says we cannot simply “mind the gap” but must address it. However, our decision to invade Iraq is not, to my mind, effectively addressing the gap, but rather inflaming it. It is a model of how *not *to do things in the future.

Contrast Iraq, for instance, with Afghanistan. Afghanistan was deep in civil war, barely even a functioning state. Our presence there was nowhere near as destablizing as it has been in Iraq, for there was far less to destabilize. I confess to being far more ambivalent on the morality and wisdom of our Afghanistan actions, but I have no qualms with quite firmly stating that it was a mistake to assume that Iraq would be like Afghanistan. It is not a simple binary of core/gap, for Iraq was very different from Afghanistan, having a strong, centralized, and working government, even if it was an especially brutal and nasty one. Afghanistan, by contrast, had a brutal, nasty, and weak government.

Hmm, looking back at this post I’m not sure I really addressed any of your response. I’ll have to think on it some more and try a better response later.

Democracy in Iraq and the getting rid of Saddam & Baathist rule will have a much greater affect on the Middle East than Afghanistan will ever have in central asia.

[left]Since my position is basically that I agree with Barnett’s assessment but not his execution, especially disagreeing with his position regarding Iraq, I thought I’d further clarify.

Recently while browsing through the net regarding the whole Plame controversy, I came across the following by Joe Wilson. Now, I really don’t have much to say regarding the Plame case (withholding judgment until further facts come to light), but what Wilson says here is pretty close to my own feelings on Iraq, pre-invasion:
[/left]
WILSON: I supported the effort to get Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. And I understood fully that in order to get him out of Kuwait you had to have the credible threat of force. And in order for that force to be credible, you had to be prepared to use it.

MOYERS: What is the trip wire in your opinion for the use of force? What is your trip wire?

WILSON: Well, I’ve always said it’s the first time he poses an obstacle to your conducting an inspection then you go in and you use force against that particular site. But you keep the use of force focused on disarmament.

MOYERS: You are calling for coercive inspections.

WILSON: That’s right. Muscular disarmament, coercive inspections, coercive containment, whatever you want to call it. I don’t think containment’s the right word because we’re really talking about disarmament.
(washingtonmonthly.com/)
Further, I think this approach, played skillfully, could have gotten us more European support (or at least muted opposition).

Phillip,
You can’t “contain” a country indefinately without great hardship on the population. Something has to give. In the case of Iraq, what was going to give, we know now, was the containment. The UN was cracking under the bribes of Iraq.

The book is actually worth the read. It must be in your local library by now. images.amazon.com/images/P/0399151753.01.TZZZZZZZ.jpg [/font][font=Verdana]The Pentagon’s New Map

I think coercive inspections are not a practical idea. Some of the more hawkish members of Congress pushed for this, probably just because it sounded macho. But the inspectors themselves recommended against the idea.

¤ First, it puts the inspectors in danger, in a way that unarmed civilians not in a military group are not.
¤ Second, there is much more potential for misunderstanding and delay (intentional or otherwise) at the facility gate.
¤ Third, it gives the Iraqis another card to play in painting their story about what’s happening. I can easily see them provoking an incident, then blaming it on trigger-happy UN or US soldiers.
¤ Along the same lines, it gives Iraq the look of being an occupied country. It was understood even then that many Iraqis would be unhappy with their sovereignty being trampled upon.
¤ It would increase the size of the entourage, which would make their actions less efficient and easier to track for those Iraqis tasked with warning the soon-to-be-inspected facilities.
¤ It looks even worse when your search for WMDs comes up essentially empty, which would have almost certainly been the case.
¤ Finally, there isn’t really any advantage. The UN had a pretty big stick in the form of an eager US president on the prowl. The Iraqis either cooperated, or the inspectors reported that they had not cooperated. Such actions were corrected in pretty short order, and the inspectors by and large had full freedom to inspect whatever sites they chose.

Unless Wilson has more insight on this topic that I hadn’t considered, I think his suggestion is misguided.

[quote=Digitonomy]¤ Finally, there isn’t really any advantage. The UN had a pretty big stick in the form of an eager US president on the prowl. The Iraqis either cooperated, or the inspectors reported that they had not cooperated. Such actions were corrected in pretty short order, and the inspectors by and large had full freedom to inspect whatever sites they chose.

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[/quote]

I seem to remember the last report said Iraq was still not cooperating. Am I wrong?

[quote=gilliam]I seem to remember the last report said Iraq was still not cooperating. Am I wrong?
[/quote]

Notice my focus on the physical inspections. Iraq’s failings in the eyes of Hans Blix were its failure to fully declare its WMD programs, and its blocking of U2 surveillance flights.

Interim address to Security Council, Jan 27, 2003

Iraq has on the whole cooperated rather well so far with UNMOVIC in this field. The most important point to make is that access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect and with one exception it has been prompt. We have further had great help in building up the infrastructure of our office in Baghdad and the field office in Mosul. Arrangements and services for our plane and our helicopters have been good. The environment has been workable.

Quartly Report, Feb 28, 2003

Since the arrival of the first inspectors in Iraq on 27 November 2002,
UNMOVIC has conducted more than 550 inspections covering approximately 350
sites. Of these 44 sites were new sites. All inspections were performed without
notice, and access was in virtually all cases provided promptly. In no case have the
inspectors seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew in advance of their
impending arrival.

[quote=Digitonomy]Notice my focus on the physical inspections. Iraq’s failings in the eyes of Hans Blix were its failure to fully declare its WMD programs, and its blocking of U2 surveillance flights.

[/quote]

quite

thank you

[quote=Philip P][left]
Recently while browsing through the net regarding the whole Plame controversy, I came across the following by Joe Wilson.
[/quote]

speaking about Joe Wilson:

Wilson (2/02/2003): “Hussein will use WMDs to defend himself”

"There is now no incentive for Hussein to comply with the inspectors or to refrain from using weapons of mass destruction to defend himself if the United States comes after him.

And he will use them; we should be under no illusion about that."

–Joseph C. Wilson
[/left]

[quote=Philip P] I say civil society must come first.
[/quote]

Under Saddam there was no civil society. A society ruled thru torture, rape, human shredding machines, that fills mass graves with women and children ain’t too civil.

Military intervention comes to safeguard already existing freedom, not to impose or attempt to create it.

:rotfl: I would submit the Iraqi people don’t feel like their freedom from Saddam has been imposed upon them. Especially the 8 million who risked life and limb from terrorists to cast their 1st ballots in their 1st free election. Btw, share with us how freedom is imposed upon anyone.

The situation could have been dealt with in other ways than by invasion.

Name one that would have worked. Just one.

[quote=gilliam]Phillip,
You can’t “contain” a country indefinately without great hardship on the population. Something has to give. In the case of Iraq, what was going to give, we know now, was the containment. The UN was cracking under the bribes of Iraq.

The book is actually worth the read. It must be in your local library by now. images.amazon.com/images/P/0399151753.01.TZZZZZZZ.jpg The Pentagon’s New Map
[/quote]

I agree! I purchased the book when it first came out. It was one of the best books I have ever read. I referenced the book in some of my posts several months ago and I never got a response. Nobody showed any interest back then. Maybe I referenced it too early before anyone else learned of it. Great book.

God Bless

FYI –

Thomas P.M. Barnett is a Roman Catholic. He references his Catholic faith in the book. I figured it out before I read the book when I saw he had 2 middle names.

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