David Ignatius in the Washington Post writes about Thomas P.M. Barnett's book
The Pentagon's New Map, which offers thinking about the state of the world seems resonant with the "global voices" discussion last week's "Bits and Bytes" conference at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, in that Barnett argues for a focus on global connecteness:
Barnett's central thesis is that today's world is divided into two categories: the "Functioning Core" of nations connected to the global economy and prospering as never before, and the "Non-Integrating Gap" of nations disconnected from the matrix of wealth and progress and therefore spinning toward chaos. Most of America's military interventions in recent years have been in the Gap, notes Barnett, but we have failed to understand that we face a common enemy there.
The enemy "is neither a religion (Islam) nor a place (the Middle East), but a condition -- disconnectedness," writes Barnett. "If disconnectedness is the real enemy, then the combatants we target in this war are those who promote it, enforce it and terrorize those who seek to overcome it by reaching out to the larger world." It's hard to think of a better definition of the cleavages that underlie the war in Iraq or the battle against al Qaeda.
Barnett doesn't see America's role as a neo-imperialist global centurion. Instead, he argues, the U.S. goal must be to promote "rule sets" that are shared by Core and Gap alike. "All we can offer is choice, the connectivity to escape isolation, and the safety within which freedom finds practical expression," he writes. "None of this can be imposed, only offered. Globalization does not come with a ruler, but with rules."
I heard Mr. Barnett interviewed on NPR, and hoped that the book would go into more depth on his global vision. Unfortunately most of the book discusses the career path of a Pentagon wonk: the importance of showing one's Powerpoint to the upper brass.
Saw his Power Point presentation on CSPAN and what I got out of it is that you raise the annual per capita to $3000 or more and violence tends to abate and that the economic/social battle will be fought through civil administration rather than open warfare.
Since CSPAN, I've paid attention to his blog on thomaspmbarnett.com and found it useful. He's thinking seriously about things that deserve such attention.
I wonder, what do 'we the connected' have to learn from 'them the unconnected'?