Thomas Barnett, Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating.
Rudyard Kipling called it “white man’s burden.” For President Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921), it’s “manifest destiny.” In the post-911 world, political scientist Thomas Barnett, author of “Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating,” calls it “shrinking the gap,” a program of global intervention that would entail
If there’s such a word as lovable imperialist though, Barnett is that guy. His analysis transcends the stiff ideological boundaries that separate the liberals from conservatives as well as the idealists from the practitioners of realpolitik. He likes an aggressive global constable’s role for America but he also embraces ideas that are considered “progressive” by the standards of the Left (e.g. empowerment of women, debt relief for poor, countries, removal of export and production subsides, easier rules on migration of labor from poor to rich countries) and rejects US President George Bush’s unilateral approach to international relations.
The world according to Barnett is composed of the “integrating core” comprising largely of the highly developed capitalist countries, essentially the OECD whose advancement were brought about by greater integration and interdependence in the global capitalist system. The next group is called the “new core,” countries that we usually call newly industrialized countries including
In economic terms, shrinking the gap means greater “connectivity” which he defines as the “changes brought about by the information revolution, including the emerging financial, technological, and logistical architecture of the global economy.” Obviously, shrinking the gap implies a vibrant global trading system, strong global institutions like the World Trade Organization, and the adoption of popular measures like the abolition of export and production subsidies that constrain exports from developing or Gap countries to the Core. It also means facilitating the flow of people, energy, money and security from surplus area to regions deficit, i.e. the people from Gap to Core, energy from Gap to Core, money from Old Core to the New Core as well as the Gap, and security from Core to Gap. Like Thomas Friedman, author of the Lexus and the Olive Tree and The Earth is Flat, Barnett assumes that globalization and connectivity are all forces of good that need to spread globally to bring progress to all the corners of the globe.
By shrinking the gap, by opening these societies to the forces of globalization and change, Barnett argues that these countries will transform for the better as they are forced to adopt the best practices and the “rule sets” that underwrites the behavior of the more successful group of nations. Supposedly, shrinking the gap would also mean creating economic and social opportunities for the young population in the Gap states, thus preventing them from getting under the spell of “Salafi jihadists” who are preaching disconnectedness and isolation.
Discussions on economic issues, however, are only a small part of the book. Most of it is about how
Could you imagine the
The current generation grew with the idea that
Barnett thinks the spread of connectivity worldwide is a threat to terrorists who envision an isolated, utopian dominion free of Western influences. That’s why he proposes to transform the Core’s military forces to be composed of the Leviathan, the high-tech lean and mean strike force for surgical operations against terrorist and the larger SysAdmin (Systems Administrators) forces that are equipped with the cash, skills, and equipment to perform effective post-conflict stabilization, nation-building as well as for other functions like humanitarian missions and disaster response. If Barnett would have his way, he will take down Kim Jong Il of
Many readers would certainly find a lot of Barnett’s assumptions discomforting. His first person accounts of his hobnobbing with policymakers in