[Update: Hamlet has an awesome series of event write-ups with edited transcripts and lots of pics starting here]
Thomas P.M. Barnett joined us in Second Life today to discuss his new book, Blueprint For Action: A Future Worth Creating. Read on below the fold for the transcript (with slides), which is outstanding. Thomas rapped with us for two full hours, held nothing back, and seemed to really enjoy his first foray into the metaverse. He's pictured below onstage in Second Life and at Pop!Tech 2004 (as prep many attendees listened to his podcast from that event).
Big ups to Hamlet Linden who masterfully split the organizing duties; Ichiro Tokugawa for creating the virtual United Nations Assembly Hall where the event took place; lilith Pendragon for sculpting Thomas's lifelike avatar; Falk Bergman for publishing the virtual Blueprint book; Frans Charming for coming up with an alternate text interface, and Csven Concord for the super cool rotating globe highlighting the Gap countries. Another great team effort.
Note: Original linebreaks and chat from the floor have been deleted for ease of reading
Hamlet Linden: Not too long ago, Thomas P.M. Barnett helped run meetings between top Wall Street analysts and top Pentagon brass that pondered the future of the world. The financial folks were mostly excited by the potential of China. The military folks were mostly worried by the potential of China. The year was 2000. The meetings took place atop World Trade Center One. Very shortly after that, China would be about the last thing the Pentagon officials were worrying about. And many of the Wall Street analysts sitting around the table would be dead.
In the months after 9/11, Thomas Barnett left his post as senior strategic researcher at the Naval War College. He became the Assistant for Strategic Futures in the Department of Defense's newly-created Office of Force Transformation. His task was nothing less than creating a grand vision of US strategy in a profoundly changed world. "Don't we have one? Isn't it written down and kept in a locked drawer somewhere deep in the Pentagon?" Barnett wondered out loud. Nope, his boss told him. That was his gig. What eventually came out of that assignment was "The Pentagon's New Map", a much-read Esquire article published in 2003, just as Coalition forces were poised to cross into Iraq. It became a 2004 bestselling book of the same name, spelling out a unique and powerful way of looking at the world. In Barnett's world, there is a Functioning Core--globalized, deeply connected nations trading and living in peace. And there is a Non-Integrating Gap--disconnected, impoverished regions comprised of failed states and rogue regimes, whose very disconnectedness represents a mortal threat to the Core. And in between both, "Seam states", nations like Thailand and Pakistan, trapped between both realms, while the Gap?s worst dangers pass across its borders.
*Blueprint for Action*, the book he's here to talk about today, is the political/humanitarian/military course chart for the map he's already laid out. A comprehensive plan for shrinking the Gap, while bringing more countries into the Core's peaceful and prosperous embrace. For finding, as the book's subtitle suggests, a future worth creating. And because global connectivity is so essential to his vision, it's a future worth discussing here, with an audience from all over the world, in this international culture and economic community we call Second Life. So ladies and gentlemen, we are very proud to introduce Thomas Barnett.
Tom, since most of our audience hasn't read *Blueprint for Action* yet, can you give us the cocktail pitch, to start us off? Say you meet Bill Clinton at a party, and he says, "Tom, I hear your new book has a lot of great ideas that I want to mention on my next international friendship tour. Give me a summary." What do you tell him in the 3 minutes you have before he wanders off to talk with Bono on the balcony?
Thomas Barnett: Sure. The whole map concept began quite simply by mapping where we sent U.S. military forces around the world in the 1990s, or since the end of the Cold War. Once we plotted all those crisis responses, I simply drew a line around 95% of them, leaving outside onlythe most distant outliers. Then we asked a simple question: what was it about all these regions that brought U.S. military interventions time and time again? The operating theory? These are the regions least connected to the global economy. So PNM the book basically laid out that map and proposed that the grand strategic goal fo the U.S. after 9/11 was to "shrink" those regions by integrating them. Some of this would require military interventions (i.e., rogue regimes that kept their populations involuntarily disconnected from the outside world, failed states that simply couldn't provide adequate connections to the global economy). But most of the integration would be peaceful, and perfromed by the private sector through foreign direct investment.
In many ways, then, PNM proposed that the military come back to society, eschewing the distance that had emerged between them and civilians during the Cold War. I call this the military-market nexus: admitting that the warrior class exists to protect the merchant class and that merchants pay for that protection. This is what keeps the global economy safe to prosper and expand. To accomplish this, I made a series of arguments in PNM for a new type of military organization. In Blueprint for Action, I extend those arguements even further. Next slide please.
Thomas Barnett: In this second slide you see the map that Bill McNulty, the mapmaker for the New York Times, made for Esquire for the original article we published in March 2003. I am told the map is coming up as I speak. Plese be patient. The map shows the roughly 150 times we've sent our forces around the world since 1990. Most Americans are poorly aware of how often this has occurred. As I like to say, the "first great neocon Bill Clinton" used military forces around the planet like no president had before. Bush and company just continued this amazing trend and elevated it and concentrated it after 9/11 with the Global War on Terrorism. When the map comes up, you'll see that line that I drew around the vast bulk of the cases, yielding the shape across the map that I call the "non-Integrating Gap." In a nutshell, the Gap includes the Caribbean Rim, the Andea portion of South America, Africa, the Caucasus, the Middle East, Cenetral Asia and SE Asia. Now, to call that the Gap doesn't mean all states within are poorly connected to the global economy, because some are very connected like Costa Rica, Israel, Singapore. It's more a critical mass arguement: you put a mansion in the ghetto and it doesn't make it the suburbs. So the question becomes: What is the natural grand strategy to emerge from this veiw of the world?
I make three arguments. First, we need to improve our immune-system response to 9/11-like shocks to the system that I like to call System Perturbations. The same skills you bring to NYC after 9/11 are theasame ones you bring to Baghdad after Saddam is toppled or New Orleans after Katrina. Second, we need to firewall the Core off from the Gap's worst exports, like drugs, pandemics, terror. Good example, I walk through Hong Kong International Airport last year and have my body temp scanned passively. If I had had a temp, then no travel, a new rule set after SARS. Third and most important tenet: the Core's big powers must come together to shrink the Gap prgressively by tackling bad actors and security "sinkholes" that ruin investment climates and keep foreign money from accessing--you guessed it--cheap labor. I know some call that "globalization at the barrel of the gun", but I call it the military-market nexus that's been with us throughout history.
The most controversial concept in PNM, which I flesh out in Blueprint, was that we need two military forces to shrink the Gap. The first force we already have: the war-fighting Leviathan. That force worked wonders in Iraq, toppling Saddam with ease in three weeks with 137 combat casualties. Their victory marked the end of the war, or what Bush called, quite controversially "mission accomplished." The second force we do not have, but we're building quite rapidly thanks to the debacle that's been the Iraq "peace." That second force I call the System Administrators force, or the SysAdmin force for short. That's the force that will do peacekeeping, nation-building, crisis response, and counter-insurgency--and like we've seen in Pakistan or Asia after the Tsunamis--also the disaster relief. That force will have military capabilities at its core, but it will be highly: "interagency-ized," meaning it will feature lotsa labor from around the US government. It will also be highly civilian, or mostly civilian, because it will have a lot of developmental expertise. And it will be highly internationalized, meaning the bulk of the bodies will be non-American. How do we get the world to agree to all this?
This is the thrust of the second book: Blueprint for Action. The key concept contained within is this: we need an A-to-Z rule set for the Core powers (old West and new East) that allows them to find agreement on how to process politically-bankrupt states in the Gap. The analogy here is to the A-to-Z embryonic rule set we already have for economically-bankrupt states. You saw it in action with the IMF guiding Russia through its sovereign bankruptcy in 1997 and then Argentina very recently. Russia paid 50 cents on the dollar when it reached "Z," and Argentina only paid 30 cents. Both countries were allowed to do this (basically skip paying a lot of sovereign debt") because both performed a lot of changes that the IMF asked for. Not pretty, and a pretty loose rule set, but it gets better each time: more transparent, more obviously zero-sum. Countries fear it less, so it works. The big question I ask in BFA is thus: what would such a rule set look like for politically-bankrupt states? What is "politically bankrupt?" Shorthand: too much government (dictators) or too little (failed states). The former tend to support terrorists (dictators like to make mischief beyond their borders) and the latter tend to attract them like parasites.
If you want to win the Global War on Terrorism, you can't just kill bad guys. They replace them too fast. No, you have to shrink the operating domain of the enemy by replacing bad states with good, and in that process helping the one-third of humanity still trapped in the Gap to join the global economy in a fair and just manner. Let's pull up the third slide now please.
Thomas Barnett: On it you will see my proposed 6-part, A-to-Z rule set for the Core to come together and shrink the Gap by exporting security to its worst situations. First half, let's call that the war. Second half, let's call that the peace. Remember: War in Iraq went well, it's the peace that sucks. If you keep calling what we have in Iraq now the "war," then all your answers will be war-answers, and none of them are really applicable here. We have to get better at the peace. Tough? Yes. More expensive? Yes. But there is a fundamental rule-set change that we must adapt to nowadays: Wars have gotten cheaper, faster, easier, and less manpower intensive. But that means that the peace has gotten costlier, longer, harder and more manpower intensive. Either adjust to that rule set change or continue to field the force we have today: a first-half team that plays in a league that insists on keeping score until the end of the game. Our enemies have cracked this code: they sit out the first half and then go on the offensive in the second half. This is the essence of what the Marines like to call Fourth Generation Warfare: attack your enemies' morale through a strategy "bloody-ing their nose" again and again.
Hamlet Linden: heh
Thomas Barnett: So, turning to the 6-part rule- set, what do we have in place in the world today that we can put to use? First, we have the UN Security Council and their "special investigator" agencies, like the IAEA that just won the Nobel Peace Prize. Their role, collectively, is to look for bad behavior, cite it, debate it, and issue grand jury-like "Indictments." But the UN can do nothing beyond that, which is what gets you 13 million dead from conflicts around the world since the end of the Cold War, even though interstate war goes the way of the dinosaur. The UN is set up to respect state sovereignty. That worked to prevent WWIII in Europe, but not all this violence that continues in the Gap unabated by the Cold War's end. Another element we have in place is the awesome military power of the U.S. as de facto Leviathan in the system. That force is more than happy to take down the "indicted" leaders. They say: "you want me to take him down? Fine. It will cost you $20 Billion and I'll do it on Tuesday, but I'll want to leave by the weekend," it says," because I don't do nation-building."
The third element we have in place right now is the International Criminal Court in the Hague. That court was set up ostensibly to try war criminals from Gap countries, where there are not robust enough legal systems to prevent that sort of thing. The U.S. fear the ICC will put our troops or leaders on trial when we try to do things militarily in the Gap. So we've cut bilateral treaties with almost all Gap nations that gives us blanket immunity. If these are the three pieces we have today, then what are we missing? Between teh UN Security Council's expression of will and the U.S.'s ability to wield that awesome Leviathan, there needs to be some "Functioning Executive" body that translates the will of the global community into action, or someone with real bucks. In my mind, that somebody is the G-8, or group of eight major economies, a council that inevitably enlarges into the G-20, which will end up being basically my entire Core because it takes in China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, etc.
The G-20 is the logical Functioning Executive to decide when and under what conditions the Leviathan is authorized to take down bad actors or regimes in the Gap. So the first half is the UN Security Council indicts the bad guys, the G-20 issues the warrants for arrest, and then the U.S. Leviathan does the takedown, like U.S. Marshals. The second half is also made of three segments. We're missing the first two: a SysAdmin force of peacekeepers and nation-builders that's populated mostly by such "new Core" pillars as China and India (two huge armies). And what Sebastian Mallaby of the Washington Post has called an International Reconstruction Fund that's modeled on the IMF but specializes in rehabbing politically-bankrupt regimes post-conflict. The G-20 would fund the proposed IRF, just like the IMF. The last of the six pieces and the third of the second half would be that Inte3rnational Criminal Court that I mentioned earlier.
So to sum up: UN indicts, G-20 issues warrant, U.S. Leviathan takes down, SysAdmin maintains peace, IRF rebuilds and ICC puts on trial. You will say: you are a dreamer and this is way too much to ask for! I will tell you this: we've already used this A-to-Z system successfully twice: Bosnia and Kosovo. In both instances, we had NATO be the Executive and collections of UN agenies work the rebuild and peacekeeping. Not very well, mind you, but okay. What I'm talking about is this; This need does not go away any time soon. It is not a "neocon fantasy" or a GOP or Dem-only problem. The Gap cannot be voted out of office. You either get good at this process of moving states from conflict to peace, or from the Gap to the Core, or we watch another 13 million or so die in the next decade and a half. Your kids will definitely ask you what you did to prevent the roughly two Holocausts-worth of death on your watch during these years, and if your only answer is to say, "well, I wanted to do better but I was so busy with my go-go-, high-tech life that I couldn't manage anything better! Well, I consider that a pretty poor and indefensible response. I see major powers moving beyond war and conflict among themselves, but I still see one-third of humanity, noses pressed to the glass, wanting in on this big party we call the global economy, and yes, we'll need to wage some war to make that happen.
That's prety much what I wanted to highlight from the second book, Blueprint for Action, here today. Why don't we move onto questions at this point.
Hamlet Linden: Great. Thanks for the brief.
Hamlet Linden: When you say "globalization", a lot of people, especially in the EU-- probably a lot of folks in the audience here-- don't think about peace and prosperity. They think exploitation, sweatshops, economic imperialism, etc. Please speak to that concern.
Thomas Barnett: First, please read Martin Wolf's "Why Globalization Works" book, as it's the best. Globalization does many things when it comes into a country that's was previously poorly connected, and I talk about this at length in the book. First, multinational corporations tend to pay, on average, 50% higher wages than similar industries in the economy can pay. That's why there was 1.5 billion in the world living on less than a dollar a day back in 1980 and only 1.1 billion today. That's a reduction of 400 million as the population in the world increased dramatically, so 40% of the world lives on less than a dollar a day in 1980 and only 20% in 2001 (adjusted for inflation, of course). That flow outside investment is crucial, because no countries in the history of the world have grown their economies without access to outside capital. Now with development comes higher local pollution, without a doubt, but that tapers off dramatically with development and actually improves as you get advanced. Of course, global pollution, like CO2, continues to go up even with advanced development but that's another discussion.
William Hauptmann: You've said China has an internal Gap-Core divide. You also said China and India might provide the bulk of an international SysAdmin force. This seems a contradiction. Please discuss it. Did this come in the New Map Game?
Thomas Barnett: But the key thing that happens with outside capital triggering industrialization is that the private sectr becomes more demanding of the public sector. Good markets make good governments, not the other way around. So if you want democracies then extend the economic connectivity of globalization and then let the locals decide how to govern themselves over time. Eventually they will move to pluralism, but frankly, almost all will make the development journey as single-party states, like Singapore did, or Japan, or South Korea, and China today.
Now for William's question ... Both China and India do have large internal "gaps," and thus their pace of progress will be determined by the rural poor's ability to keep up with all the change demanded by opening up the economy to globalization. I call this the ... Theory That the Train's Engine Can Travel No Faster than the Caboose. So if that's the case, how can they help on the SysAdmin force? Easy. The SysAdmin force is mostly about bodies, not capital. Both have huge standing armies, full of cheap labor. Both countries are very interested in peace and stability in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. Why? They need the raw materials and energy. China is already all over Africa, making deals, sending in people, building roads and infrastructure. Yes, in the New Map Game, a special wargame we played in Newport RI last June using futurists and defense experts, we did see the China team get awfully explicit about being okay with America being the Leviathan (taking down the bad guys) and China playing the SysAdmin role big-time. In effect, the Chinese said in the game, "You set the table and we eat the meal. We have cheap labor and are willing to do the grunt work of development in these tough locales. Don't worry, we'll sell many of the resulting products to you--the West--in Wal-Mart.
Paradigm Brodsky: rofl
Thomas Barnett: This is a fundamental economic dynamic that is logically repeated in the military realm: the Old Core of the West will make most of its money in coming years off the New Core, selling them all sorts of manufactured, high-end goods. Meanwhile, the New Core will make much of its money off the Gap, taking those raw materials and manufacturing low-end, but increasingly higher-end goods. The trick in all this is to make sure the Gap economies get off their current dependence on low-end commodities. For this to work, everyone needs to move up the ladder of production.
SNOOPYbrown Zamboni: Tom, in the book you use the term "pistol-packin’ peace corps." What's that refer to? Is this part of the SysAdmin group, or who does this describe? Who runs it and how do you join?
Thomas Barnett: It's a fun term, and I like to use fun terms. Pisses off the academics and for that alone it's worthwhile.
Hamlet Linden: heh
SNOOPYbrown Zamboni: :)
Thomas Barnett: "Pistol-packin' Peace Corps" just means my SysAdmin force won't be some wussy UN deal, like the African Union peacekeepers who can merely take photos in Sudan after the Janjaweed rape and kill all the women and children in a village they've attacked. As I like to say, "They shoot photos, don't they?"
Hamlet Linden: Ooof.
Thomas Barnett: No, my SysAdmin will have a mini-Leviathan within known as the Marines. Kill their aid worker, and these guys will come over and lay a Fallujah on your ass.
Hamlet Linden: heh
Thomas Barnett: If you shy from the violence, then your enemies will simply trump you. Working the Gap is like what Sean Connery's character in "The Untouchables" talked about: "If he brings a knife, you bring a gun," and you ask yourself whether or not you're willing to do what it takes to stop the criminal behavior. Remember the 13 million estimated dead from violent conflicts around the world since 1990.
Hamlet Linden: You briefed John Kerry about your ideas, in the run-up to the last election. Tell us about the experience.
Thomas Barnett: I was asked in by the Pentagon team of the Kerry campaign, and I briefed them on my ideas. That was last July. I was told the ideas were passed along, like my "Don't plan to win the war unless you plan to win the peace." I did not meet Senator Kerry at that time. That F2F happened this spring in his Senate office. I briefed his entire senior staff and him for about two hours. He asked very sharp questions throughout, making a lot of good arguments for what he called, during the campaign, "the global test" for using US military power around the world. He liked the A-to-Z a lot. He also said something I used in BFA: (in effect) Why create a new Department of Everything Else (my cute name) to house this SysAdmin force? Why not consider adapting and growing the Department of Homeland Security in this direction over time? I thought that was brilliant, because there's so much talent trapped in DHS. I've since heard that idea from a lot of people, but first from Kerry. He was very impressive that way. But make no mistake, despite being a lifelong Democrat, I am open to working with both sides all the time. As I say, my guys are never out of power. They are always on duty, and I will always do what I can to help them wage both war and peace better. I'm 43. I can't wait out anybody's term and I never will. Too much life on the line.
Paradigm Brodsky: Why should American's feel comfortable about our young men and women of this "Leviathan" force, fighting at the command of a group of non-Americans?
Thomas Barnett: On Brodsky: You have it backwards: The Leviathan force remains with the U.S., it's the SysAdmin force that will come under the command of others. This has already happened many times in peacekeeping. You just never heard about it because it went well.
Hamlet Linden: Related to your meeting with Senator Kerry, Tom, I wonder what American politician could move your ideas forward, to convince the American people *and* the world that this is the path (the hard path) forward?
Thomas Barnett: I like Rep. Mac Thornberry, R of TX, a lot. I like the new first-term congressman (another Republican) from KY called Geoff Davis. I like Harold Ford of TN (Dem) who is running for the Senate there. I like my new Senator here in Indiana, where I just moved to, named Evan Bayh. Many Dems see him answering the only question that matters in 2008: Name a state you can carry that Kerry could not (namely, IN and OH). Not being able to answer that question is what makes Hillary seem weaker, IMHO. But things can change rapidly, so I keep my mind open.
SNOOPYbrown Zamboni: Many of us here listened to the podcast of your talk at Pop!Tech 2004. There you spoke of the United States as being in some senses "older" than Europe, in that it's gone through similar developments but on an accelerated time-scale with similar ruleset clashes, civil wars, a single currency, etc. Thinking about the Gap countries you'd like to see ushered into the Core, they've sure got a lot of historical accelerating to do! We've heard of technological leapfrogging, but how many formative historical phases can people really leapfrog in a small amount of time? Maybe speak to that for a bit.
Thomas Barnett: True enough and good point, but my Theory of the Train Engine Traveling no Faster than the Caboose says this: the models for movement into the Core are not the US or Europe or Japan (Old Core) but New Core players like India, China, Russia and Brazil. Don't assume 100% solutions when the Chinese and Indians could typically give you 25% solutions that do the trick far more cheaply.
Hamlet Linden: Ok, one last question before I start giving Tom the voluminous questions piling up from the audience in my inbox. In the Afterword of your book, you offer a tantalizing prediction that a massively multiplayer online world may one day overthrow a real dictatorship. Take us through your thought process on that extraordinary idea.
Thomas Barnett: Watch Super Bowl teams today play Madden before the real deal. It's fascinating and gives a weird glimpse of how things could really go down. Then think about how MMOGs could advance in the next 20 years. Imagine if the Defense Department had MMOG'd the Iraq occupation in advance (actually, more than a few of us pushed for that), inviting in a host of players from around the world to teach us all the possibilites ahead. Think about how much smarter we could get. But then also think of the demonstration effect that could have on a leader targeted for takedown. I think we could make it strong enough to essentially scare someone out of office, by wargaming them into a panic: "This is what will happen to you! Would you prefer this golden parachute or peace-bargain in the ICC whereby you avoid a death sentence?"
Hamlet Linden: Heh. OK, now turning to audience questions. Someone named Dear Leader asks: "If you envision the Old West and New East successfully working together, how to you account for the failure of the West now to muster sufficient political will and democracy aid to rescue Belarus?"
Thomas Barnett: Belarus simply doesn't rank, so failure of action there signifies little. When you propose something like this, you will always get someone saying, "But my favorite example is not covered here! So this pathway is inconceivable!" My response is this: Better to do what you can on the worse cases and work your way down the list over time. Once you demonstrate you can do it and gin up that list, many countries will shape up out of fear of the inevitable once their name appears on the list. No one's list has Belarus anywhere near the top right now, but eventually it would rise if we started tackling the worse cases.
Hamlet Linden: Gus Plisskin asks: "India might join a SysAdmin force. China and the United States have far too many competing interests. For example, could any such SysAdmin force deal with a conflict in the Spratley islands?
Dear Leader: And that's why a place like Belarus can sell arms to Iraq because you don't prioritize it. They can be the bag-men for Russia.
Thomas Barnett: China and the U.S. really have very few competing interests, other than our strange, still-on-the-books promise to defend Taiwan at all costs (which should be jettisoned immediately). We have no competing interests in the South China Sea. That's China and Japan acting like children over a resource pool they must logically share. Japan's economy was lifted last year out of a decade of depression/recession. This happened because of 80% of their export growth going to China. Fighting over energy is asinine. A few foolish military and political leaders on both sides dream of this nonsense, but no business leaders on either side do. That relationship will normalize over time, as it will between China and the U.S. In all such instances, we need to move beyond the Cold War-trained generation of leaders and onto the post-Cold War generation, who see things very differently, both here and in China and Japan.
Hamlet Linden: Justice Soothsayer asks: "How do you respond to the criticism that your grand strategy is an example of institutionalized racism - your Non-Integrating Gap states (NIGs) are composed of poor black and brown folks?"
Thomas Barnett: Hardy har. Are you forgetting all the brown and yellow faces throughout Asia that are in my Core? This is an old race card, easily discarded. No race inside the Gap does not exist in serious numbers inside the Core, including Muslims. There are no peoples that lack the market "gene" or the "democracy gene." Go easy on the Social Darwinism. Stay focused on connectivity. Nice, gender-neutral, race-neutral--like money.
Hamlet Linden: Mr. Barnett, your plan is certainly very provocative, especially in the way it completely ignores culturally ingrained religion. Can you extrapolate somewhat on that topic?
Thomas Barnett: You haven't read BFA if you say the vision ignores religion, because I talk about it at length. Religions of all sorts exist in both the Core and Gap, as all are represented in each. In the Gap, each version of any religion tends to be more hardcore and conservative than it's counterpart in the Core. Religion in "hard times" is a survival function, pure and simple. Religion in the Gap does not stand in the way of economic connectivity or progress, it simply reflects the lack of each. Same with demographics: too many babies doesn't lead to poverty, poverty leads to too many babies. You want more tolerant faiths in the Gap, then more it toward development. All of the Core's versions of faith were hard core and much more conservative . . .until we got rich. So not a problem you cite, but the symptom of one.
Hamlet Linden: OK, this one from Hank Hoodoo: "What, if anything, should the SysAdmins in Iraq be doing differently right now?"
Thomas Barnett: Not a whole lot, given the reality that we didn't have the numbers or the spread of "civilizations" that we should have had at the start. Most of the mistakes we could have prevented way back when by doing the SysAdmin right are now past that particular fix.
Hamlet Linden: Ooof.
Hank Hoodoo: Yes, that was what I was afraid you'd say
Thomas Barnett: Key thing now is being done: train up the Shiites and Kurds to police their own. We were amazingly successful in nation-building in Kurdistan over the past 12 years, just giving them air cover in the No-Fly -Zone and not telling them how to do a damn thing. They built a functioning state-within-a-state in the meantime. Our nation-building effort in the Shiia portions also go fairly well, as judged by Sistani's ability to keep civil war from erupting and taking al-Sadr back into the family despite his violent reach for power (very slick). Sistani would have won the Nobel for Peace if I had a say. So the Kurds and Shiia come together in a new Iraq. We do well by training up that force. To the extent both continue to invite the Sunnis back into the fold, despite the raging insurgency, great hope still exists that the Sunni Triangle can quiet down
Thomas Barnett: If it does not, then the Kurds and Shiia will fight that battle on their own increasingly from here on out (and gladly). Is this a sad outcome? Hardly. Basically a repeat of Yugoslavia, another pretend country created by empires long long ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Hamlet Linden: OK, SeanMcTex Galatea asks: "You said that you felt the "too busy" response was pretty indefensible. And yet, many people feel they wield very little political power individually. Beyond voting a certain way, what action would you suggest individuals take?"
Thomas Barnett: Plenty of pressure to be waged. Tell your leaders you want our ag subsidies ended and that we must open up our economy to Gap food exports. Demand foreign aid be increased. Stop asking for lower taxes. Support concepts like the SysAdmin Force the One Campaign, Jeffrey Sachs' efforts. Realize that the same force that does Baghdad after Saddam can and should do New Orleans after Katrina. Make all that horizontal thinking and understanding apparent to your congressional delegation, etc. Make clear to the Beltway pinheads that you're not as stupid and selfish as they insist you are.
Hamlet Linden: Heh!
Thomas Barnett: Get CNN and Fox to stop calling Iraq a "war" and start calling it a "peace" that we're bungling. Demand "peace" answers and don't just call for pullouts. Get to know your local evangelical community because--guess what?--that community is super-engaged on human rights and the environment and other key subjects of concern in the Gap. Don't assume you're the Left has all the answers because historically it has a horrible record when in power. In sum, network beyond your comfort zone. Diversity is left and right, not just left with a lot of different-colored faces, although that's a great start. The diversity of color on the other side is profound too, when you choose to engage them.
Hamlet Linden: Alexander Daguerre asks: "In PNM, you're clear that the ICC should be used to try Gap bad guys for their crimes but that the Leviathan should be exempt. Is that still your opinion? What about the SysAdmin force?"
Thomas Barnett: Let me answer the "only Americans should fight" question alongside this one. Why American will constitute the vast bulk of the Leviathan force is because we have the only force on the planet that can do that sort of warfare at sustained lengths distant from our shore. Done well, we're talking casualty rates that will be very low, like those that the American public ignored throughout all our interventions across the 1990s, with the only freak-out occurring in Somalia (Black Hawk Down).
Garnet Psaltery: Oh thank you so much for disregarding British forces.
Quantum Kamloops: America including the UK, is perhaps more accurate.
Thomas Barnett: The Leviathan force can't come under the ICC because if it does, then the countries involved in this activity (basically US, Brits, and the others who increasingly join us in Special Operations stuff) simply won't be willing to do it any more. All we need to do is make sure that the only countries that join us in Leviathan activity are ones that can police their own war crimes through effective military law. That's not hard. The SysAdmin must come unde4r ICC purview, because it's not the SWAT team but the community police force that must effectively segue into the local nation developing that capacity on its own. Again, separate war issues from peace ones.