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The Pentagon's New Map Paperback – May 3, 2005

3.7 out of 5 stars 142 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This bold and important book strives to be a practical "strategy for a Second American Century." In this brilliantly argued work, Thomas Barnett calls globalization "this country’s gift to history" and explains why its wide dissemination is critical to the security of not only America but the entire world. As a senior military analyst for the U.S. Naval War College, Barnett is intimately familiar with the culture of the Pentagon and the State Department (both of which he believes are due for significant overhauls). He explains how the Pentagon, still in shock at the rapid dissolution of the once evil empire, spent the 1990s grasping for a long-term strategy to replace containment. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Barnett argues, revealed the gap between an outdated Cold War-era military and a radically different one needed to deal with emerging threats. He believes that America is the prime mover in developing a "future worth creating" not because of its unrivaled capacity to wage war, but due to its ability to ensure security around the world. Further, he believes that the U.S. has a moral responsibility to create a better world and the way he proposes to do that is by bringing all nations into the fold of globalization, or what he calls connectedness. Eradicating disconnectedness, therefore, is "the defining security task of our age." His stunning predictions of a U.S. annexation of much of Latin America and Canada within 50 years as well as an end to war in the foreseeable future guarantee that the book will be controversial. And that's good. The Pentagon's New Map deserves to be widely discussed. Ultimately, however, the most impressive aspects of the book is not its revolutionary ideas but its overwhelming optimism. Barnett wants the U.S. to pursue the dream of global peace with the same zeal that was applied to preventing global nuclear war with the former Soviet Union. High-level civilian policy makers and top military leaders are already familiar with his vision of the future—this book is a briefing for the rest of us and it cannot be ignored. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Barnett, professor at the U.S. Naval War College, takes a global perspective that integrates political, economic and military elements in a model for the postâ€"September 11 world. Barnett argues that terrorism and globalization have combined to end the great-power model of war that has developed over 400 years, since the Thirty Years War. Instead, he divides the world along binary lines. An increasingly expanding "Functioning Core" of economically developed, politically stable states integrated into global systems is juxtaposed to a "Non-Integrating Gap," the most likely source of threats to U.S. and international security. The "gap" incorporates Andean South America, the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and much of southwest Asia. According to Barnett, these regions are dangerous because they are not yet integrated into globalism's "core." Until that process is complete, they will continue to lash out. Barnett calls for a division of the U.S. armed forces into two separate parts. One will be a quick-strike military, focused on suppressing hostile governments and nongovernment entities. The other will be administratively oriented and assume responsibility for facilitating the transition of "gap" systems into the "core." Barnett takes pains to deny that implementing the new policy will establish America either as a global policeman or an imperial power. Instead, he says the policy reflects that the U.S. is the source of, and model for, globalization. We cannot, he argues, abandon our creation without risking chaos. Barnett writes well, and one of the book's most compelling aspects is its description of the negotiating, infighting and backbiting required to get a hearing for unconventional ideas in the national security establishment. Unfortunately, marketing the concepts generates a certain tunnel vision. In particular, Barnett, like his intellectual models Thomas Friedman and Francis Fukuyama, tends to accept the universality of rational-actor models constructed on Western lines. There is little room in Barnett's structures for the apocalyptic religious enthusiasm that has been contemporary terrorism's driving wheel and that to date has been indifferent to economic and political factors. That makes his analytical structure incomplete and more useful as an intellectual exercise than as the guide to policy described in the book's promotional literature.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; Reprint edition (May 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425202399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425202395
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Thomas Barnett is a remarkable and very admirable fellow who has written a book that should certainly be read by more Americans. The book is well-written and Barnett comes across as someone who sincerely wants to improve the security of the United States and the world. Barnett has a powerful and inspiring (some may say intoxicating) vision of the role of the US in the 21st century. The only problem is that his approach is not workable.
Those who've read the likes of Martin Van Creveld and Thomas Friedman will find some familiar thinking in this book. The author's main contention is that "disconnected" countries, those that aren't connected via information and economic networks to the rest of the world, are a huge source of danger. Such countries are usually run by a nasty elite who essentially tyrannize their populations who are left poor and angry. Having been left poor and angry, these disconnected people are ripe for becoming terrorists and their nations ripe for the location of terrorist networks, crime syndicates, and so forth. Hence, we need to use military force to go in, defeat the nasty people running things, and enforce a new order that will give the oppressed people of these societies hope so they won't need to bomb us. In the process, we'll give them new law enforcement agencies that will crack down on criminal syndicates.
Reactionary types will accuse Mr. Barnett of being some kind of neo-imperialist or perhaps a global fascist. Nevertheless, I personally think that Barnett sincerely believes that what he is proposing would be a "good thing" and that it would improve the lives of the people he seeks to liberate. I'll leave the name-calling to someone else, as there are unquestionably lots of people running around who are willing to do just that.
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Format: Hardcover
First, I would disagree, at least somewhat, with the previous reviewer who has stated that there is little new in this book. Whether or not this is original (and Barnett certainly does not claim his argument is), it is the first attempt to address these issues that is getting traction in the Washington political community. This is very, very significant. Hopefully, the (many) flaws of this book and its ideas will get corrected and refined over time, but it has captured the imagination and provided the metaphors that probably are and will define our foreign policy over the next 25 years.

Second, I do agree that this book should have stayed an article. It is one-third autobiography, one-third description of Pentagon decision-making, and one-third description of his own ideas. This makes it amusing to read, but difficult to process as an analytic argument.

Third, this book offers what I believe is the most honest reason for the war on Iraq yet. It could not be offered by a politico, but it can be offered by someone on the inside watching the decisions evolve. I think that he clearly illustrates what Wolfowitz meant when he said the war was fought for "bureaucratic reasons".

In summary, I strongly recommend the book for its discussion of a likely strategic direction for our country. The discussion of Pentagon decision-making and planning is likely also useful to people to wonder why it's so hard to change that organization.
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Format: Hardcover
Dr. Barnett deserves credit for presenting some out-of-the-box thinking to a mass audience. The issues he addresses are of vital importance, and we need to discuss them as a nation. This book certainly injects some provocation and some creative thinking into the debate.

However, the book is to a large degree a stream-of-consciousness essay without all that much real "meat" to it. It's probably at

least 100 pages longer than it needs to be, and many of its pages contain repetition of the same grand themes without any rigorous effort to translate these themes into real-world actions.

Indeed, it looks to me as if Barnett's grand themes lose much of their force when they are confronted with real-world facts. By arguing largely at the conceptual level, Barnett manages to avoid confronting some of the strongest objections to his views.

Some of the major arguments Barnett makes, and my thumbnail takes on them:

1. No military on earth can match that of the U.S., and none ever will.

Barnett derides the Pentagon's "worst case planning," arguing that there's no rational basis for doom-and-gloom. Perhaps there is no power that, today or in the near-term, can present a truly global threat to the U.S. military. However, our current or potential enemies don't need to defeat us across the globe -- they can act regionally or locally.

We certainly haven't reached the point that an attack on North Korea would be a cakewalk, and in both the Persian Gulf and in the Straits of Taiwan our navy could in the foresseable future face some serious threats. (Just for example, Iranian dhows equipped with hypersonic anti-ship missiles.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had heard that Barnett held himself in high esteem--I just didn't realize it would go on for 448 pages. He spends the first 30 pages discussing how innovative and brilliant he is. I was disappointed to find out that this is what passes for intellectual argument these days. There is little here that wasn't in the international development literature from the late 1970's and early 1980's. It just seemed new because the previous works were forgotten. He lost his remaining brownie points when he mentioned natural gas (CH4) as a carbon free energy source. I didn't even take organic chemistry and knew that was wrong. Solar, wind, nuclear--carbon free. Still curious, read his Esquire article instead. At least that editor was able to keep his ego in check. Check it out from the library instead of wasting the money.
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