May 16, 2004

Tom Barnett & The New World Order

You have likely not heard of Tom Barnett. He is a professor of warfare analysis at the Naval War College and a Defense Department analyst. He’s also the man who in 1998 worked with senior executives at Cantor Fitzgerald to study how globalization was changing national security. More recently, though, he’s been briefing the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Pentagon staffers, and the intelligence community his view of the future of US national security and the military it will require, and he appears to be shaping their thinking.

His central tenet is that the world is divided into nation states that are either part of a global community linked by trade, migration and capital flows, or nation states that either refuse to join the mainstream, or can’t because they have no central government or are debilitated by crisis. And for us, Community:Good, Non-Community:Bad (as in the breeding ground of terrorism, disease, and economic imbalance).

Given such a world, Mr. Barnett believes the US military should include two forces: “Leviathan,” which would be a hard-hitting force capable of quickly overwhelming conventional foes, and “System Administrators,” which would focus on bringing dysfunctional states into the mainstream through nation-building operations, and which would travel the world during peacetime building local security forces and infrastructure.

His thoughts, currently captured in a 3-hour PowerPoint presentation he’s developed, are perking ears in the military, intelligence, and government community. He’s delivered the presentation more than 150 times, and recently to the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. His is an interesting and important argument … the most readily available account of which is this article he wrote for Esquire in March, 2003. You can get a more recent take in this WSJ article, reprinted on Dr. Barnett’s website.

And finally, if you really want a glimpse of the man behind Leviathan, you should visit his weblog. A recent post: The New Core pillars at risk (India). (What, you’re not surprised he’s a blogger, are you?)

Posted by Avocare at May 16, 2004 11:18 PM | TrackBack
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