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Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating Hardcover – October 20, 2005

3.4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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The world is a mess. Iraq is becoming another Vietnam. Iran and North Korea are trying to get nukes or may already have them. Al Qaeda is still on the loose. In the middle of this turmoil, Tom Barnett believes America stands at a threshold. It can withdraw into itself. Or it can seize an opportunity to forge the most peaceful period in human history, where war becomes unknown. Barnett is a former professor at the U.S. Naval War College and senior advisor to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He has been called "one of the most important strategic thinkers of our time."

Barnett maps out a sweeping new vision for the U.S. military in Blueprint for Action, the sequel to his influential previous book The Pentagon's New Map. He says the U.S. military has a massive doctrinal flaw. It has an unrivalled power to win wars. But it has little ability to win the peace. Witness Iraq, where virtually no thought was given to postwar stabilization and reconstruction. He advocates creating a new Department of Global Security in the U.S. government, tasked with putting countries back on their feet after an armed intervention by U.S. forces. He says the new department would also work to reduce economic and social instability in "disconnected" regions of the developing world. "It all starts with America and yes, it all starts with security," he writes. Barnett's vision is highly U.S.-centric and recalls the "white man's burden" philosophy of British colonial authorities. He advocates "regime change" in North Korea and Venezuela. And his solutions for the problems of the Third World are straight out of a banker's mouth: privatization, deregulation, globalization. But Blueprint for Action is an important account of the current thinking and debates at the highest levels of the Pentagon. --Alex Roslin

From Publishers Weekly

Military-strategy consultant Barnett follows his ballyhooed The Pentagon's New Map with this unconvincing brief for American interventionism. Echoing the now conventional wisdom that a larger, better-prepared occupation force might have averted the current mess in Iraq, Barnett generalizes the notion into a formula for bringing the blessings of order and globalization to benighted nations throughout the "Non-Integrating Gap." A "System Administrator force" of American and allied troops—a "pistol-packing Peace Corps"—could, he contends, undertake an ambitious schedule of regime change, stabilization and reconstruction in Islamic countries and as far afield as North Korea and Venezuela, making military intervention so routine that he terms it the "processing" of dysfunctional states. Barnett's ideas are a rehash of Vietnam-era pacification doctrine, updated with anodyne computer lingo and New Economy spin. Implausibly, he envisions Americans volunteering their blood and treasure for a "SysAdmin force" fighting for international "connectivity" and envisions the world rallying to the bitterly controversial banner of globalization. Worse, he has no coherent conception of America's strategic interests; "the U.S. is racing... to transform [the] Middle East before the global shift to hydrogen [fuel] threatens to turn the region into a historical backwater," runs his confused rationale for continued American meddling in the Muslim world. That Barnett's pronouncements are widely acclaimed as brilliant strategic insights (as he himself never tires of noting) bodes ill for American foreign policy. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (October 20, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399153128
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399153129
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


-Senior Managing Director, Enterra Solutions
-Contributing Editor, Esquire magazine
-Columnist, World Politics Review
-Blogger, Thomas P.M. Barnett's Globlogization
-Contributor, Esquire.com's The Politics Blog
-Public Speaker, The Merit Agency (jen@themeritagency.com)


-B.A. in International Relations and Russian Literature, University of Wisconsin, 1984
-A.M. in Soviet Union Program, Harvard University, 1986
-Ph.D. in Political Science, Harvard University, 1990


-Great Powers: America and the World After Bush (2009)
-Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating (2005)
-The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century (2004)
-Romanian and East German Policies in the Third World: Comparing the Strategies of Ceaucescu and Honecker (1992)

Thomas P.M. Barnett is a strategic planner who has worked in national security affairs since the end of the Cold War. Since 2005, Tom has served as Senior Managing Director of Enterra Solutions, LLC, a strategic advisory and technology firm. There, he has partnered with CEO Stephen DeAngelis in pioneering new software-based methodologies for managing complexity in supply chains, critical infrastructure, large healthcare systems and postconflict development efforts.

A New York Times-bestselling author and a nationally-known public speaker who's been profiled on the front-page of the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Barnett is in high demand within government circles as a forecaster of global conflict and an expert of globalization, as well as within corporate circles as a management consultant and conference presenter. An award-winning professor, Dr. Barnett has written for Esquire, Wired, National Review, and the Washington Post, and has been interviewed by Rolling Stone, The Economist, Time, BBC World Service, CNN, Fox News and numerous foreign media. Tom Barnett has been described by U.S. News & World Report's Michael Barone as "one of the most important strategic thinkers of our time."

Dr. Barnett is best known as the author of Great Powers: America and the World After Bush (2009), Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating (2005) and The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century (2004). Described by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius as "a combination of Tom Friedman on globalization and Karl von Clausewitz on war," the wide-ranging volumes have generated an enormous amount of reaction from around the world, leading to foreign editions in Japan, Turkey and China, as well as profiles in London's Daily Telegraph, Denmark's Borsen, and Switzerland's WeltWoche (among many others).

In addition to his speaking and consulting, Tom Barnett is a prolific blogger on current global events at his website www.thomaspmbarnett.com, where he counts among his tens of thousands of readers representatives from all the major U.S. military commands, virtually all U.S. federal departments, numerous foreign governments, and major research and corporate entities the world over.

Tom has been a Contributing Editor for Esquire magazine since the beginning of 2005, and he currently writes a weekly online column for World Politics Review and contributes regularly to Esquire.com's "The Politics Blog."

From 2005 to 2009, Tom wrote a syndicated print column for Scripps Howards News Service, and served as a visiting scholar at the University of Tennessee's Howard Baker Center for Public Policy and a visiting strategist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

From 1998 through 2004, Prof. Barnett was a Senior Strategic Researcher and Professor in the Warfare Analysis & Research Department, Center for Naval Warfare Studies, U.S. Naval War College, Newport RI, where he taught and served--in a senior advisory role--with military and civilian leaders in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, Central Command, Special Operations Command, and Joint Forces Command. From November 2001 to June of 2003, Dr. Barnett was on temporary assignment as the Assistant for Strategic Futures, Office of Force Transformation (OFT), Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he worked with (then) OFT Director Vice Admiral Arthur K. Cebrowski (USN, ret.) on a cluster of strategic concepts that link change in the international security environment to the imperative of transforming U.S. military capabilities to meet future threats.

Dr. Barnett has published a number of articles explaining these strategic concepts, which he presents comprehensively in "what may be history's most famous Pentagon briefing," declared syndicated columnist Jack Kelly. Dr. Barnett has delivered this brief well over a thousand times to a cumulative wordwide audience of more than several hundred thousand government officials, military officers, industry and think tank representatives and opinion leaders.

At the Naval War College, Dr. Barnett also served as Director of the NewRuleSets.Project, an ambitious effort to draw new "maps" of power and influence in the world economy. The project was conducted in partnership with the Wall Street broker-dealer firm Cantor Fitzgerald, which hosted three full-day "decision event" workshops atop World Trade Center 1 (at the Windows on the World restaurant). Prior to this study, Dr. Barnett directed the Year 2000 International Security Dimension Project.

Before joining the College in August 1998, Dr. Barnett served as a Project Director in both the Center for Naval Analyses and the Institute for Public Research, the two major divisions of The CNA Corporation (CNAC), a private research firm located in Alexandria, VA. His two major accomplishments during his CNAC career were: 1) serving as a member of the Naval Force Capabilities Planning Effort that developed the new strategic concepts eventually published in the Navy's White Paper . . . From The Sea, the first draft of which he co-authored along with a handful of senior naval officers; and 2) pioneering and managing CNAC's contractual relationship with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

While at CNAC, he published several dozen reports, essays, and annotated briefings on a wide variety of subjects.

In the mid-1990s, Prof. Barnett penned a book-length manuscript entitled, The Emily Updates: A Year in the Life of a Three-Year-Old Battling Cancer (1998), which he plans to publish as a book in 2011.

Professor Barnett has a BA (Honors) from the University of Wisconsin with a double-major in Russian Language and Literature and International Relations (emphasis--U.S. Foreign Policy). At Wisconsin, he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa his junior year. Following Wisconsin, Dr. Barnett earned an AM in Regional Studies: Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia and a PhD in Political Science (major-International Relations; minor-Comparative Politics) from Harvard University. His dissertation was entitled "Warsaw Pact-Third World Relations, 1968-1987: Explaining the Special Roles of Romania and East Germany" and was subsequently published by Praeger. While at Harvard, he served as Research Assistant to the Director of the Russian Research Center, Professor Adam B.Ulam, and worked as a Teaching Fellow in the History and Government Departments.

Thomas Barnett is also a Green Bay Packer season ticket-holder (Gold Package), and as one of the stockholders of the franchise, he feels it is essential to check up on his investment on a regular basis. His seats are located in the historic "South End Zone" of Lambeau Field. Prof. Barnett's maternal grandfather, Gerald Clifford (1889-1952), was a 1991 inductee of the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame.

Thomas and Vonne Barnett live in Indiana with their four children.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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I was first introduced to Barnett's work with the famous PowerPoint presentation on C-Span. I then picked up <u>The Pentagon's New Map.</u> I've lent out both the DVD of the presentation and the book several times. I believe it's a must read for anyone who wants to fully understand just what the heck is going on in the post-9/11 world.

<u>Blueprint for Action</u> is the follow-up to PNM and in many ways is a response to feedback that the presentation and book inspired. If PNM was the answer to "what the heck is going on" then BFA is the answer to "why the heck are we doing this anyway?" But most impressively, the "why" Barnett gives us is not some doom and gloom of what needs to be avoided, but what glory can be achieved.

Barnett is joy to read as a writer, especially since many of his contemporaries like to bog down their works with a lot of jargon and 50-cent words that can alienate the average reader. Barnett needs no such tricks to make his work impressive. Audacious and bold by its very nature, BFA not only gives the big picture view of "where do we go from here?" but delights readers with glib analogies and (often biting) humor along the way:

"I ended up lecturing at both Beijing University and the China Reform Forum, the think tank of the Central Party School in Beijing...

One Chinese professor went so far as to say that since my work could never be received well in America but would naturally be understood in China, I should quit my job... to engage in the formulation of grand strategy for the Chinese, who, he noted, had more than enough grand strategic issues to deal with right now!...
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Format: Hardcover
It is rare that I read something truly original in the realm of foreign policy. Every two months, I get a new Foreign Affairs, where the lefty academics will come out of their ivory towers to tell us the world is America's fault, the right will tell us that we're the biggest nation on earth we should take avantage of it, while others tell us in 20/20 hindsight what we should have done.

Thomas Barnett's first book was truly original, and pure genius.

This book puports to be a blueprint for how to implement the things discussed in the first book. While I found myself disagreeing, it still forced me to thing about our foreign policy in new and interesting ways.

Like what if China was a trust ally?

Anyways, I reccommend the book for anyone interested in our foreign policy in this post-Cold-War,post 9/11 era.

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Format: Hardcover
(Something tells me the reviewer from Publishers Weekly didn't even read this book and instead just penned the review based upon some crib notes).

I won't debate any of Barnett's specific arguments as other reviwers have done.

He makes very understanadable that in the past generation the world has become majority with free market societies. This represents an incredible challenge to reactionary forces in the Middle East. How to help the modernizing elements of Arab, Persian, Asian and LAtin American socieities navigate their way into the global community is the key question in Barnett's arguments. This is called 'Shrinking The Gap'.

Rather than being a US led enterprise, Barnett makes if very clear this will be a cooperative efffort among the UN, the G-20 (20 largest economies), the ICC and the American military. The UN as your grand jury, the US military as your police force, the ICC as your criminal court witht the G-20 as your financier. A very intriguing possibility and one that should be discussed.

Once you dispose of bad actors (Kim Il Jong , Chavez, Castro) you have to follow up with intense development and reconstruction. Barnett notes that our failure to do this in Iraq is the chief source of our troubles today. The ultimate idea is to bring failed states quickly into connection with the global community so they can reap the benefits of globalization. If one can revamp and stablize a failed state, then foreign investment will flow into new lost-cost labor centers.

Overall, a very well thought out and provocative book. Barnett lays out his arguments logically and makes it easy to follow his train of thought.

A major drawback of the book is Barnett's constant use of his own jargon (one sees this in his blog also). One gets the sense he is very much in love with his own words. This is why I only give it four stars

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Format: Hardcover
After reading the reviews of The Pentagon's New Map (although I have not read the book itself), I was anxious to read Barnett's second book for implementing the ideas from his first book, especially now that they have been tested and revised by countless interviews, reviews and military briefings. Barnett does not disappoint. Blueprint For Action is the most original, outside-the-box, out-on-a-limb position I have heard in a very long time. Whether you think his ideas will work or not, I highly recommend reading it because it suggests new ways of thinking about politics, war and our friends and enemies. It's refreshing to see someone, as noted by another reviewer, who doesn't spout Democratic or Republican dogma, but goes off on his own. Personally, I think it makes a lot of sense, in most areas, and we'd be a lot better off if our leaders adopted these strategies (which it sounds like they may be starting to).

Some reviewers seem to get hung up on some facet of his book: "One part of his 400+ page book might be wrong" (gasp!), but if you are going to develop a blueprint for American strategy for the next few decades, who is not going to be wrong on some points? Another criticism I've read of Barnett is that he paints a rosy picture of how the world a priori is going to get better. He doesn't. He repeatedly hedges his vision, stating that there are many opportunities for derailment. (Otherwise, you wouldn't really need his book to help avoid them.)

After seeing our country blunder into many nation-building exercises since the end of the Cold War, with or without a antecedent war, it's not a question of whether we want to or will get involved with future nation-building, it seems to be a matter of how we do it.
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