The Pentagon’s New Map

 There are big picture thinkers and then there are BIG PICTURE THINKERS. Thomas P.M. Barnett is one of those BIG PICTURE THINKERS.


The Pentagon’s New Map is very engaging and nearly overwhelming. However Barnett (as big of an egghead as he is) is able to weave his theories through his professional life and his private life. He translates his theories into examples that are easy to understand and he has a pretty good sarcastic streak to boot.


The MTV version of the book is that the Pentagon got a “rule set reset” on 9/11. Up till then it had been stuck in a post-Cold War search for a “near-peer” competitor (hopefully China to replace the USSR). This post 9/11 world that the US finds itself in is not a battle between Al Qaeda but an enemy that is “neither religion (Islam) nor a place (the Middle East), but a condition-disconnectedness.” (Pg 49) He later goes on to describe the Functioning Core vs. the Non Integrated Gap or the connected vs. the disconnected. He actually has a map of it where the connected include the US, Europe, Russia, India, China, Japan, Brazil, and Mexico to name a few of the big ones. Those who are disconnected include Saudi Arabia, Africa, Columbia, Tajikistan, and several others.


Barnett argues that the Core needs to integrate the Gap or as he calls it “shrinking the Gap” if we are to have lasting peace and stability. The Core needs to keep globalization on the move. Where the Pentagon fits in is by exporting security. Being either the “Leviathan” force and by being the global cop.


He gets into some big picture details about how to do this but the main point he makes about the Pentagon and its roll in globalization is that is has to think of war and conflict in terms of everything else. That everything else is mainly economic. For example China more than likely won’t go after Taiwan because they are too tied into the global economy and are becoming more so every day.


It is important to remember that Barnett is an analyst. He currently resides at the Naval War College and started off in the Center for Naval Analyses. He gets through to people in the bureaucratic world by giving really bitching power point briefs. He does admit to being a democrat but does support the Bush Administration in many regards. The democratic people he does include in his argument range from Fareed Zakaria to Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman. So take his opinion as you may.


In the end I found Barnett’s book incredibly interesting, insightful, and the best book I have read since Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars. His argument is much more in depth then I am able to cover in this review but he explains it in a way that makes sense AND is riddled with hope. He believes that the world will be a better place. So if you are interested in globalization and the military’s role in its expansion pick up this book. Make time to read it and make time to think about it. Like I said earlier, it is almost overwhelming but very engaging.


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