Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius highlights the impact that Dr. Barnett is having on the Pentagon and raises The Pentagon's New Map from the purview of foreign policy wonks, military professionals and bloggers into the big-time bright lights of the MSM. He even gets a lot of the story right:

"The enemy "is neither a religion (Islam) nor a place (the Middle East), but a condition -- disconnectedness," writes Barnett. "If disconnectedness is the real enemy, then the combatants we target in this war are those who promote it, enforce it and terrorize those who seek to overcome it by reaching out to the larger world." It's hard to think of a better definition of the cleavages that underlie the war in Iraq or the battle against al Qaeda.

Barnett doesn't see America's role as a neo-imperialist global centurion. Instead, he argues, the U.S. goal must be to promote "rule sets" that are shared by Core and Gap alike. "All we can offer is choice, the connectivity to escape isolation, and the safety within which freedom finds practical expression," he writes. "None of this can be imposed, only offered. Globalization does not come with a ruler, but with rules."

Congratulations Tom !


Dr. Barnett takes on " The Beeb "

Good to hear, hopefully its a springboard for serious exposure in the MSM!
The reason that there is an "enemy" is because we were/are connecting them to the outside world. I don't see how more "connectedness," forced on the ME by us, is the answer. You are asking them to give up their traditional way of life. Such a change has to come from within. If it comes from us it is doomed to be met with hostility and ultimately failure.

I would respond only by saying that we are not forcing connectedness on anyone. We are just creating the possibility for choice with the belief that people will choose freedom, prosperity, and eventually (hopefully) representative government over tyranny, oppression, and isolation. In the end you are right, Muslims will have to accept for themselves any changes in their societies. But we can play a role in making that choice possible whereas the status quo in the ME does not allow fo rthat choice.
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Barnabus wrote:

"I don't see how more "connectedness," forced on the ME by us, is the answer. You are asking them to give up their traditional way of life."

Actually what we are asking is that a tiny minority elite ( secular authoritarian or radical Islamist)in these countries not be permitted to make that choice for their entire society uin a way that preserves their illegitimate control.

It would be one thing if legitimate regimes - legitimate in the sense of having their people's consent - were making a choice to reject connectivity on cultural merits. Unfortunately we have a situation where regimes, ruling against their own people - or powerful coercive minority organizations threatening violence - attempt to control connectivity in such a way that imports of goods, technology or ideas are used primarily to buttress their power over the rest of the hapless citizenry.

And from another perspective, I'm not sure we can " wall off " or contain the spillover effects emanating from these decaying societies. We could " contain " Communism because these regimes spent enormous effort making their own nations into prisons. Syria, Pakistan etc. export their problems as much as they possibly can to western and neighboring states.
Thanks for the comments. Andrew, "we" are forcing connectedness on the ME. A very large portion of the manufactured goods, electronics, and most importantly entertainment, is made for the U.S. market. Whether we like it or not, our choices as consumers decide what is available to the rest of the world. If you live in rural Iran, Afghanistan or anywhere else for that matter, and take a trip to your local town, what do you think you will find in the stores there. You will see mostly "western" goods that frequently confict with your traditional culture (heck I have a hard enough time acting as gate keeper on what my daughters are watching on TV/internet/videos). You can argue that it is their traditional culture that must change, and I would agree but it must come from within (don't ask me how we facilitate that since I haven't a clue).
Mark, it is not clear how tiny that "tiny minority" really is, and even if it is a minority their importance/impact should not be underestimated. If I remember, the Nazi party won at most 37% of the popular vote in the 1932 parliamentary elections in Germany. I think bin Laden would poll higher than that in more than a few countries.

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