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Archive for July 17th, 2004

Saturday, July 17th, 2004


Tom Barnett’s book , The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century is hip deep in concepts which makes it both an intriguing read and a difficult review. But since this is a blog I’m free to tackle the book in parts and today I’d like to look at Barnett’s key concepts of Connectivity and his four flows of globalization that “connect ” societies and nation-states into an interdependent whole. If you have a copy of PNM handy I strongly recommend you take a look at Chapter 4 ” The Core and the Gap “. It’s the one where Dr. Barnett lays out the war on terror in ” the context of everything else” – which is the essence of strategic thinking.

Context is important because it’s what usually gets dropped in these types of discussions because most government experts and academics are by definition niche specialists. They resist moving their arguments and ideas into the realm of everything else because it messes up their crisp clean models with real-world complications in fields where they do not feel nearly so expert. This is a major reason why American national security, foreign policy and even military planning seldom rises above the level of tactical thinking…that is when we are not stuck in crisis management, ad hoc, muddle through mode. American strategic thinkers have been so few – Brooks Adams, Alfred T. Mahan, Woodrow Wilson, Walter Lippmann, George Kennan, Paul Nitze, Herman Kahn, Richard Nixon – that a book like PNM, like Kennan’s ” X” article, fills a crucial intellectual gap at the policy planning level of our government.

Dr. Barnett advocates a Global Transaction Strategy to “shrink the Gap” and promote Connectivity to integrate disconnected states into the Core, advancing the process of globalization – and in so doing extending the benefits provided by the ” Rule Sets” associated with liberal democratic capitalism and the rule of law, broadly defined. Barnett further refines the enormous historical phenomenon of globalization to ” four flows” between the Core and the Gap ( p. 192).

                               PNM MODEL OF GLOBALIZATION

“…four essential elements, or flows, that I believe define it’s basic functioning from the perspective of international stability. These four flows are (1) the movement of people from the Gap to the Core; (2) the movement of energy from the Gap to the New Core; (3) the movement of money from the Old Core to the New Core; (4) the exporting of security that only America can provide to the Gap.”  

In other words, Barnett is defining globalization as a dynamic exchange relationship involving migration, resources, money and power.


He further elaborates on his model with ” the Ten Commandments of Globalization” (p.199-204):

1.   Look for resources, and ye shall find

2.   No stability, no markets

3.   No growth, no stability

4.   No resources, no growth

5.   No infrastructure, no resources

6.   No money, no infrastructure

7.   No rules, no money

8.   No security, no rules

9.   No Leviathan, no security

10. No will, no Leviathan

“Leviathan” is the enforcer of rule sets, in all practical purposes the United States acting alone, with an ad hoc coalition or through international organizations where we have a preponderant influence.


Dr. Barnett concludes his chapter with a superbly insightful (i.e. I agree with him here 100 %) explanation that conceptually ties together rogue state dictators and non-state actor terrorists into the Gordian Knot of menace that they truly are in reality (p. 205):


” A bin Laden enginerrs a 9/11 with the expressed goal of forcing the Core to clamp down on it’s borders, seek its energy elsewhere, take it’s investments elsewhere and ‘ bring the boys back home”. He wants all of that connectivity gone, because its absence will afford him the chance for power over those left disconnected.”


An explanation that applies equally well to Kim Jong-Il as to the erstwhile master of al Qaida. I’m just wondering why the hell the Bush administration hasn’t grabbed this one since they’ve been struggling to convince their critics ( who are invested at treating rogue states, terrorism and WMD as disparate unrelated problems in order to do little about any of them)  that the dots that they know in fact to be connected, connect in a comprehensible way. 



My first reaction to the section on the PNM Model of Globalization was that while Barnett has described the major categorical relationships of globalization the idea could still face some further refinement in terms of defining globalization ( and what connectivity really is ) as an action. What exactly is it ?

Jude Wanniski once made the brilliant observation in his book, The Way The World Works, that there is and always has been only one market in existence – the global market. Wanniski’s statement implied, correctly in my view, that the term ” Globalization ” is really describing something other than a new connecting of markets and cultures because they have always been connected to some degree however small. Even North Korea, in its self-imposed lunatic isolation, was never an autarky. The DPRK always had foreign goods, people and ideas – starting with Communism itself- flowing across its borders – the difference was in terms of degree.

Tariffs, immigration quotas, censorship, banking regulations, propaganda, environmental rules, cultural preferences or aversions, borders, police, armies, bureaucratic paperwork and all the other man-made obstacles to Tom Barnett’s ” four flows” do not stop the transactions and interactions – they slow them down and limit them to an artificially narrow, politically chosen, rate.


I would therefore define globalization as ” the general acceleration of the rate and widening of the parameters of exchange “. When we discuss globalization’s effects we are looking at the results of a recent global increase in the speed and the range of human interactions compared to the past, thanks to trade liberalization, the internet, the fall of Communism and the other systemic changes of the last twenty years.


Connectivity” might be a good way to express the degree to which a nation has maximized their possible rate and range of exchange – The UK is more ” connected ” than Russia which in turn is more ” connected than Kazakhstan. If I was more able at quantitative analysis I could probably bat out a reasonably valid, rough and ready 100 point scale to measure a nation’s connectivity in terms of ” the four flows” ( Unfortunately “…this is a job for…Brad DeLong !” or at least somebody with a Ph.d in Econ ). It could be plotted out on a bell curve and at a certain tipping point a nation could be considered “ disconnected” which is where you would expect to find many states of the Gap. I would also include the movement of ideas as a ” fifth flow” of globalization, particularly scientific ideas but Dr. Barnett was looking at globalization the prism of strategic American and Core interests – hence the movement of people, energy, money and security. 

Next post I want to examine the PNM strategy as it relates to China’s connectivity as part of ” The New Core”.  Four years ago, on the H-Diplo listserv, in a post called “ The Coming of the Global Hypereconomy” I posited some observations regarding the potentially centrifugal effects of an uneven spread of connectivity with high rates of speed in a nation of the size of China. I’m not certain if I would be as pessimistic today but the post does retain a great deal of congruence

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