I am proud to claim that I have been an unabashed supporter of Thomas Barnett and his vision of a grand strategy to achieve a better future for our children. This past week a press release announced the publication of Barnett's third and most important book to date. I have posted the entire release with emphasis on some key points.
By Thomas P.M. Barnett
G.P. Putnam's Sons
Pub Date: February 5, 2009
America and the World After Bush
Thomas P. M. Barnett
"The Pentagon's New Map is easily the most influential book of our time. I never dreamed that a single book would change my outlook on the United States' role in world affairs, but one has."
- Thomas Roeser, Chicago Sun-Times
- John Petersen, President, The Arlington Institute
- Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
Barnett's theories and arguments are non-partisan. His supporters are both Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives. Simply, he provides a way to frame the debate on how to make globalization truly global, retain great-power peace, and defeat whatever antiglobalization insurgencies may appear in the decades ahead. Above all he shows us that although there are many great powers at work in this complex world, it is America that has the greatest opportunity to extend or to sabotage globalization's stunning advances around the planet.
Barnett also looks at what the Bush-Cheney administration did right including its handling of a provocatively nationalistic government in Taipei; China's rise in general; Vladimir Putin's consolidation of power in Russia and that country's reemergence as a player to be reckoned with in international affairs; steering the U.S. through rough waters in global trade without succumbing to congressional or popular pressure for trade protectionism; and displaying a real strategic imagination regarding key development issues (outside its failed reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq).
A journey through America's two great historical arcs: the creation, transformation, and taming of the United States from 1776 to the start of the twentieth century; and the subsequent projection of that "states uniting" model upon the global landscape, beginning with the administration of Theodore Roosevelt. In no uncertain terms Barnett shows that globalization as it exists today is an environment of our creating--the result of a conscious grand strategy pursued from the earliest days of our republic right through Bush's decision to invade Iraq. "What we've done is spread the same competitive spirit that drove our rise to other great powers now seeking to replicate that rise," says Barnett. "The trick will be in having the patience to steer the emergence of this global middle class while allowing the political freedoms of the rising great powers time to catch up with the economic freedoms they're beginning to attain."The core of GREAT POWERS consists of a chapter devoted to each of the five major elements of U.S. grand strategy. In each domain Barnett looks at the most important long-term trend for making globalization truly global in a post-9/11 world. He then explores a serious recent disruption that prompted new thinking on our part or a retrenchment from our grand strategic vision; offers a sense of the new rules that seemed to emerge as a result of the disruption; and outlines the "new normal" into which we slowly settled as the Bush years wound down. Jumping back outside the U.S. he then shows what happened to the long-term trend as America headed off on its own toward its "new normal." Finally, he identifies the major realignment we need to make to bring us back in line with the world of our creating and then lays out the global development we should be crafting over the next five years.
Barnett has begun to offer excerpts from this soon to be released book on his popular blog that he has maintained since first coming onto the scene with his best selling The Pentagon's New Map and Blueprint For Action .
Here is a taste of one of my favorite excerpts.
The American Trajectory
"The harsh truth is that most developing countries that embrace markets and globalization do so as single-party states. Sure, many feature a marginal opposition party, just as the Harlem Globetrotters always play the Washington Generals, but they're still single-party states. Mexico was like this for decades, as were South Korea and Japan.
Once economic development matured enough, a real balance took hold, and power started shifting back and forth between parties. Malaysia heads for the same tipping point today.
Americans, especially experts and politicians, typically view these regimes with a certain disdain, wondering how a public can put up with a manipulative political system where elites decide who runs for high office and only a tiny fraction of the population has any real influence. We demand more competition, more suffrage, and freer elections--now!
But take a trip back with me to the beginnings of our own country, and let me try to convince you that America needs to summon more patience with such developments, because we often demand of others what we certainly didn't have ourselves as we struggled to our feet as a nation. .
Remember this: Our country was born of revolution, including a nasty guerrilla war waged by a ragtag collection of militias against the most powerful military in the world at that time. We fought dirty, even launching a surprise attack during a religious holiday. We mercilessly persecuted fellow citizens who sided with the occupational authority. The enemy branded our military leader a terrorist. In fact, its parliament was the first in history to use such terminology to describe our violent attacks against its commerce. And true to our violent extremism, we "elected" this rebel military leader our first president in 1789. I use the word "elected" loosely, because he essentially ran unopposed--by design.
Less than 2 percent of our country's population was actually able to cast votes, as roughly half of the states chose electors in their legislatures--rich landowning patricians selecting one of their own. This rebel leader ran unopposed again for reelection three years later in 1792. When the general finally stepped down in 1797, an outcome by no means certain, he was replaced by another revolutionary leader--an unlovable enforcer to whom the revolutionary elite had delegated a number of unsavory jobs over the years. Like the general, this radical lawyer wasn't associated with an organized party as such. His revolutionary credentials were beyond reproach.
Our third president, one of the world's most notorious radical ideologues, ushered in a period of single-party rule in 1800. During that election, only six of sixteen states actually allowed the "people"--white men who met certain qualifications--to vote in the presidential race. Certain racial groups were denied the right to vote, as were women.
This one-party rule, subsequently dubbed the Era of Good Feelings, extended almost a quarter-century, getting so stale at one point that an incumbent president ran unopposed.
Finally, a whopping forty-eight years after we issued our famous Declaration of Independence declaring all men equal, we conducted a presidential election in which three-quarters of the states let their citizens vote directly for electors.
Four years later, in 1828, America finally saw an "outsider," meaning someone not from the first revolutionary generation or its immediate progeny, win the White House. Naturally, he was another war hero, who, over his eight years in office, brutalized his political opponents so much that they mockingly dubbed him "King Andrew."
The "king" then displayed the Putinesque temerity to handpick his successor, earning him the equivalent of a "third term."
This was the first half-century of American political history.
It took us 89 years to free the slaves and 189 years to guarantee African-Americans the right to vote.
Women waited 144 years before earning suffrage.
If a mature, multiparty democracy was so darn easy, everybody would have one. "(pp. 73-75)