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.)
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