Friday, January 21, 2005

Continuing the review of the deleted scene on the Rule-set shift after the Cold War, usual format prevails with Dr. Barnett's text in bold:

"A fourth rule-set change concerns how we define the major divisions in the international security environment. During the Cold War, it was the West versus the East. In the nineties, most assumed the dividing line would lie between the North (rich) and the South (poor), with the first Persian Gulf War signaling the beginning of resource-focused conflicts between advanced states which lacked key raw materials and developing economies that possessed them in abundance. But as globalization grows more pronounced and visible, the new rule set becomes the division between the connected or globalizing economies of the world (Core) and those which are largely disconnected from the global economy (Gap). In the past we asked, "Are you with us or against us?" From now on, the question becomes, "Are you in or are you out?"

This was a key observation by Dr. Barnett because our bipartisan foreign policy elite was caught in some kind of bizarre doublethink during much of the 1990's. On one level - primarily rhetorical- they recognized that the Soviet collapse, globalization, China's liberalization and the advent of the information economy was an epochal change on part with the rise of the Postwar-ColdWar world after the Second World War. On the substantive political and bureaucratic level the elite resisted tooth and nail the need to internalize that insight and make the real and strategic changes in our national security, defense, intelligence and foreign policies that the United States was making in economic policy.

It was a very weird disconnect, or so it appeared to me, to have these very bright folks in the Bush I. and Clinton administrations assuming structures like NATO would just cruise along undisturbed or with minor tweaking when the fundamental reason for the alliance's existence had disappeared. The Pentagon complemented this unrealism about the diverging self-interests of our allies by continuing a defense posture designed to stop the disbanded Warsaw Pact in the Fulda Gap.

The The good news is, from perusing the recent issues of Foreign Affairs, it seems that this group is starting to get it. 9/11 had something to do with the change, though the obvious lessons there have been resisted as well. Bush's re-election has also helped inculcate the idea that the old world of the elite is not going to return but I am also confident that The Pentagon's New Map has made a difference. Dr. Barnett's book is being read in the power bureaucracies and the think tanks and by the opinion-makers of the old media and in the blogosphere. And slowly - one might say, glacially - favored but outmoded conceits about how the world really works are starting to be dropped. It's a cultural shift in the governmental class to a new idealistic realism.

"A fifth rule set shift involves the difference in defining strategic success. In the Cold War, strategic success could be simply paraphrased as "hold that line." So long as the Soviet bloc was not expanding, we were winning, because it was our contention that the socialist states would weaken and collapse over time. The mistake assumption we made over the 1990s was to assume that the "bad stuff," or conflicts of the international security environment could be safely kept "outside, over there." That was, in fact, the unstated motto of …From the Sea: we wanted to "keep it over there" and -- by doing so -- keep America safe. After 9/11, we know how self-deluding that sort of security strategy really is. Because if there is enough pain "over there," eventually we will be made to feel it "over here." Therefore, "holding the line" between globalization's Core and Gap is not even an option. We cannot wait for the Gap to weaken and collapse; that is already happening and the major reason why security issues there abound. Now the status quo is our enemy and our motto becomes, "shrink the Gap."

Soviet Communism was, in the main, an enemy that represented a centripetal force in world affairs for America. Borders between the Soviet bloc and the West were as stark as the phrase " Iron Curtain" that described them and as menacing as North Korea's disconnected Stalinist regime remains today. The self-imposed isolation of the Soviets inadvertantly helped America's " hold that line" strategy succeed. The end of the USSR and Communism was a great triumph but the high tension of the nuclear stalemate of the Cold War also had acted as a a terrific extrinsic pressure on the behavior of all other states. Actions were measured in terms of the likelihood of a superpower response and the potential dangers of an escalation to nuclear war.

It is no accident that when the Soviets were on their last legs in 1990 Saddam felt safe enough to launch a war of conquest. Minor powers could now, freed from superpower tutelage, become players in their own right again. The collapse of Commnism had reversed the strategic paradigm - the world was now buffeted by centrifugal forces of nationalism and terrorism that caused multinational states to discorporate even as globalization began to re-connect the pieces along economic lines. Many states that had recently been dismissed as autocratic" developing countries" but had adapted early to the reset Rule-set of Globalization suddenly were revealed to be liberalizing " tigers ". The world had been turned upside down.

End Part II.

just a general comment on PNM and connectivity:

I guess I still haven't bought into the general concept that Barnett puts forth. While I applaud Bush's attempt to bring democracy to the ME (since the alternative, see below, is horrible), I think it has little chance of succeeding. We cannot provide them with something that they don't want. The forces for change must come from within. We'd be much better off providing seed money to endogenous groups that are liberal minded and letting it take it's course. Yes that would take decades that we don't have...well we screwed up. The current violence we are experiencing is a reaction to "connectivity." The more connected bin Laden's ilk is to the West, the more violent they become. Being a conservative, it makes much more sense to me to follow a fortress America policy. It is easier to make it clear that any attack on the U.S. will have horrendous consequences than to try and "convert" them to liberal minded westerners. Yes it would be great to have greater business contacts and foster economic development in the region. The problem, however, is that that inevitably means exposing them to even more western culture...which leads to more violence. We can't decide the future of their culture, they have to.

Hi Barnabus

You wrote:

"The current violence we are experiencing is a reaction to "connectivity." The more connected bin Laden's ilk is to the West, the more violent they become. Being a conservative, it makes much more sense to me to follow a fortress America policy."

Unfortunately, while I agree with you that Islamism is in part radicalizing in reaction to connectivity I don't think fortress America has been a viable option for many decades and even less so now.

Muslim migration to Europe is too high to allow Islamism to grow unchecked as an ideology. India, China, Russia, Central Asia, parts of SEA, Africa and Indonesia could also be severely disrupted politically and economically.

The U.S. economy cannot weather that kind of shock and frankly, there's no reason why we should meekly turn over a wide swath of the earth to a murderous gang of religious lunatics even if we could somehow turn back the clock.
(If this comment is posted more than once I apologize.)

Fortress America may not be a viable option, but Fortress Core is. Dr. Barnett identifies four important flows as (http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives/000032.html)

People from the Gap to the Core
Energry from the Gap to the New Core
Investment from the Old Core to the New Core
Security from the Core to the Gap

Imagine a world where we decide to fireall off the Core from the Gap, to ride out Islamism. Seam states with small or no Muslim minorities (say, Thailand) join the Core, while Muslim seam states join their brothers in the Gap. While some of these flows would be reduced, the resulting world would still be a Future Worth Living (at least for the Core)

There would be less people, but Japan has proven that a capital-heavy labor-light economy as possible. Growth would be slower in the Core, but the average wage would be higher (at least in the short term). Energy and Security would still flow, must as it does now. We get dictators' oil, we tople a stupid regime once in a while, life goes on. Investment flows in the Core unimpeeded.

I fear that it would not be too hard for European leadership to expel Muslim immigrants, if it decides to do so. Immigration is unpopular with the people, and European states have grown accustomed to a top-down decision making style. The choise is European leaders' to make.

It is not that this world is "impossible." It is that it is undesirable. It is better to take big deficits now, and more terror attacks now, and a lower average wage now, in exchange for higher growth, a safer world, and a better future long term. I do not know how the American public would decide the issure if it was clearly presented to them. I hope they would support ending world poverty and a better world tomorrow. They have not always been so wise.
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