Tuesday, November 16, 2004


The New, Real 'Realism'?

Need a break from bleak pondering on the Bush Administration's dysfunctional authoritarian foreign policy? Wondering 'wither globalization'? (and why someone like Tariq Ramadan is identifying with the 'anti-globalzation' forces on the far left)? May I recommend checking out Thomas PM Barnett's weblog? Barnett is a military strategist who insists that globalization is not only inevitable, but a positive force (if handled intelligently). He notes that terrorism and other serious instability flows exclusively from the un-globalized, non-integrated areas of the world he calls 'the Gap'. In his fascinating book The Pentagon's New Map, he calls for, among other things, a bifurcated American military; one part heavy-duty warriors - who strike and leave - and another, much larger part he calls the 'Sys Admin' force, which does police action, peacekeeping, nation-building, etc. I am not qualified to do a total critique of his approach, but my basic impression is that he makes a lot of sense (and his wonderful refusal to be diverted by stifling, worn-out Ideology is like a cool zepher on a hot day).

Here he is, for example, on the future of Asia vis a vis the Middle East:

Already, Asia as a whole takes the lion's share of the energy coming out of the Persian Gulf, dwarfing what this country imports from the region. Our energy requirements will rise by less than a third over the next two decades, whereas Asia's will roughly double over the same time span. In short, we can expect India, China, a united Korea, and Japan to all come militarily to the Middle East in a much bigger way than their miniscule efforts to date. They will come either to join the growing security alliances our current efforts in the region will hopefully someday beget, or they will come to salvage what security relationships they can out of the strategic disaster we have generated by our mistakes. Either way, these Asian powers will be coming, because their economic interests will eventually compel it. My point is this: nothing we should do in this realignment process should be construed by any of these states as constituting a zero-sum strategy on our part to deny them military—much less economic—access to the region. If anything, our base realignment process should not only encourage stronger military ties with all of these states, but do so in such a way as to facilitate their eventual entry into the region under the conditions most conducive to our long-range objectives of transforming states there into stable members of a larger security community that will be—by definition of both geography and economic transactions—more Asian in character than Western.

Keep your eye on the C-SPAN schedules for his return to that network around Christmas.

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