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

3.3 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

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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: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #391,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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