The first of many wars?
March 6, 2003 9:52 AM   Subscribe

The Pentagon's New Map is probably the frankest asssessment yet of why neo-cons want to go marching into Iraq - and, maybe, keep on marching. An instructor at the U.S. Naval Military College tells us why "military engagement with Saddam Hussein’s regime in Baghdad is not only necessary and inevitable, but good."
posted by kgasmart (79 comments total)
Quite interesting. I've been looking for an online version of this to link to, but you beat me to it. Even if you aren't convinced, at least it demonstrates that "no blood for oil" is tripe.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:01 AM on March 6, 2003

By golly, you're right! It's blood for global domination.
Oh wait, now we call it "Washington takes real ownership of strategic security in the age of globalization."

Now there's something we can get behind.
posted by 2sheets at 10:14 AM on March 6, 2003

The article does a great job of enumerating the reasons why 'the gap' should be shrunk, but is very weak on why the US alone should be doing the shrinking. What the US is accomplishing right now seems to be the shrinking of the power of the UN, which may work to the advantage of our military but does not work to the advantage of humanity, long-term.
posted by soyjoy at 10:16 AM on March 6, 2003

Perhaps. But at the same time it lends a good deal of weight to the "Americans as imperialist aggressors" argument.
posted by ook at 10:16 AM on March 6, 2003

Very interesting, thanks.
posted by pjgulliver at 10:16 AM on March 6, 2003

I wonder why none of the Central American countries are included in the "Handicapping the Gap" section. Maybe it's because of our great efforts to improve the lives of people in Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador over the years by funding terrorists and propping up dictatorships.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:20 AM on March 6, 2003

"Helping economically underdeveloped countries through bombing."
posted by goethean at 10:22 AM on March 6, 2003

God, what a bucket of crap.
posted by johnnydark at 10:25 AM on March 6, 2003

I spent an inordinate amount of time wondering why the Pentagon's new map featured Benicio Del Toro so prominently.
posted by Skot at 10:28 AM on March 6, 2003

This is the most compelling assessment of the pro-war cause that I have seen so far. However, I feel that the US administration is not doing enough to substantiate the point that we bring in enough resources to the troubled regions to warrant stability. An even worse problem is the current administration's horrendous PR job on the Iraq war. Contrary to the article's argument, now is probably not the best time to attack (occupy, stabilize...) Iraq from an international relations point of view. If only the Coalition overthrew Saddam and installed a base there in 1991, this could all have been easier...

I end up wondering whether the whole "stabilizing regions via selective occupation" thing can be effective, all things considered. It has certainly worked for Japan and SK, but what will be the political price and collateral damage to pay for overt occupation in today's seemingly peaceful international arena?
posted by azazello at 10:28 AM on March 6, 2003

"Conform or die."
posted by Red58 at 10:29 AM on March 6, 2003

I spent an inordinate amount of time wondering why the Pentagon's new map featured Benicio Del Toro so prominently

maybe the bombing campaign isn't going to start until the high point of White Rabbit.
posted by stifford at 10:32 AM on March 6, 2003

My reaction after reading this was, maybe the U.S. is the only country that can do this, and maybe now is the time to do it - but what in hell gives the U.S. the RIGHT to do this?

It sounds a hell of a lot like that "New World Order" the right used to be so concerned about. Now, of course, the right is on board with it.
posted by kgasmart at 10:32 AM on March 6, 2003

To further counter the article's point, the CIA has a much more impressive track record of destabilizing regions than the US military has of stabilizing them - over the past 50 years, anyhow.
posted by azazello at 10:32 AM on March 6, 2003

Too bad our Salesman-in-Chief had such a bad pitch, eh? And too bad our two potential pitchmen in 2000 were uncharismatic bores? Lord knows that Gore would have gone into technocratic gobbledygook trying to justify an invasion of Iraq.
posted by solistrato at 10:49 AM on March 6, 2003

great, so as soon as the world votes on this, we can get cracking. I'll just pass out the ballots --
what's that? Ohhhhh we're doing it whether anyone wants us to or not. This is somewhere in the back of the constitution, i take it?
posted by condour75 at 10:50 AM on March 6, 2003

This works very nicely as a theory for why to invade Iraq. It doesn't do a thing to explain anything else the US Administration is doing. Shouldn't we be giving North Korea the attention it wants to help nudge it out of the Gap? Wouldn't it be better to end the trade embargo against Cuba?

I wonder about some of his choices. Why is Romania in the Gap for instance, but not the Ukraine?
posted by Slothrup at 10:52 AM on March 6, 2003

I don't think it's accurate to say that Barnett is promoting U.S. global domination. Instead, he wants to get everyone to play by the rules of globalization, acclaiming China's involvement with the WTO, etc. and belittling Gap nations for striving for "some seventh-century definition of the good life." He points out that pragmatic benefits of the pro-globalization position in contrast to the chaos of the Gap, but he also admits that working towards globalization does not mean you will be trouble free (e.g. Argentina.)

This points to the disconnect between the two opposing camps in the political struggle over war. In Barnett's corner, you have the "hawks" promoting war, hoping to get everyone to follow the strategy of globalization in order to shape it into a better system through active global involvement. Opposing them, the "doves" would rather let nations work out their turmoil and come to their own national conclusion. Is globalization, as defined by Barnett, a good solution to the problems of worldwide governance? Yes, as shown by the quality of life issues and other statistics he outlines. And his map of the world shows that all of the nations in the "Core" have invariably moved towards globalization. But it is not the only way, and it may well not even be the best way.

The article presents a well-reasoned picture of the world today and its problems. But the central question of the larger issue is still unanswered, and doubtless will remain so indefinitely. Should we try, by military force if necessary, to bring the nations of the world together under a good governmental strategy that has been proven to improve quality of life for its participants in the long term? Or is it better to allow them to develop independently, potentially through violent internal conflict, and eventually discover the unique strategy that allows them to function both as a self-sustaining nation and a member of the global community?
posted by Fourmyle at 10:53 AM on March 6, 2003

"In some ways, what I'm trying to argue is a new sort of containment—a containment of the new bad places and the desire to shrink them." (Thomas Barnett) I see it clearly:

THE GAP: "The gap is a globe-spanning region of bad places and bad people, from which evil comes forth to besiege our way of life. It is unclear as to why this badness develops, or why it should seek to target us, but it is of paramount importance that we reduce the number of countries within the Gap's evil embrace. We will accomplish this by continual warfare, until the Gap is destroyed. Then, peace and harmony will reign" *cue: chorus of songbirds and swelling violin music*
posted by troutfishing at 10:53 AM on March 6, 2003

I think the most important bit in the whole thing was

Naturally, it will take a whole lot more than the U.S. exporting security to shrink the Gap. Africa, for example, will need far more aid than the Core has offered in the past, and the integration of the Gap will ultimately depend more on private investment than anything the Core’s public sector can offer. But it all has to begin with security, because free markets and democracy cannot flourish amid chronic conflict.

which seems to be an eminently responsible theory -- granted, with the current gang in power, i'd be prone to substitute corporate interests for democracy in that sentence... I'd be a hell of a lot more comfortable with an effective UN peacekeeping corps, modeled after the French Foreign Legion perhaps. Plus, think of the cash we could get if we sold the UN all our damn overseas bases and handed off the world police duties...
posted by badzen at 10:55 AM on March 6, 2003

I absolutely agree with the author that countries that disappear from global view are dangerous. Couldn't agree more.

I absolutely disagree with the author that the way to bring them into the fold is through invasion. Couldn't disagree more.

The way to bring the world into an amenable form of globalization would require more concentration and sustained ability than this (or perhaps any single) nation can muster: diplomatic pressure, economic changes, forceful sanctions. These look wimpy.

But show me -- go on, show me -- where military invasion of a non-compliant but not directly aggressive nation has done anything good.
posted by argybarg at 11:03 AM on March 6, 2003


posted by pjgulliver at 11:08 AM on March 6, 2003

And Argybarg, while the piece sanctions an invasion of Iraq, it does not call for subsequent invasions. Rather, it calls for security guarrantees. These are very different things.
posted by pjgulliver at 11:09 AM on March 6, 2003

Fourmyle - It all sounds remarkably altruistic, doesn't it? Funny that much of the world doesn't see the selflessness inherent in the US drive towards war. Besides the "Gap" itself, we seem to be up against a "perception" gap, eh?

"...Opposing them, the "doves" would rather let nations work out their turmoil and come to their own national conclusion..." So there are just two possibilities?....

Barnett, I infer, does not include international treaties and agreements from which the US has walked away from under the GW Bush adminstration - on Land mines, small arms sales, human rights, greenhouse gas emissions, international law, biological weapons, nuclear weapons testing (I could go on some more...) - in his definition of "Globalization".

Mr Barnett certainly uses many words. I can sum up his argument in less than 50: "The new threats to world - and US - safety will emerge from the politically and economically chaotic, war torn, backward nations of the world which we must invade, one by one, selflessly imposing a Pax Americana until all the world has been ordered and pacified. Then we may sleep in peace."
posted by troutfishing at 11:11 AM on March 6, 2003

pjgulliver - "while the piece sanctions an invasion of Iraq, it does not call for subsequent invasions. Rather, it calls for security guarrantees." - Catch 22!: You cannot negotiate any security guarantees with many of the "Gap" nations, which tend to lack strong, stable centralized government. So, I would assume that Barnett is indeed calling, implicitly, for a whole series of invasions.
posted by troutfishing at 11:16 AM on March 6, 2003

Would anyone here argue that shrinking "the gap" is a bad thing? Does anyone think the UN, as presently structured, has the will or ability to take on the task? If you answer "no" to both of these questions, I would be interested in hearing alternatives to the US taking on the task. If it's your opinion that we (meaning the collective, globalized we) shouldn't be sticking our noses into the affairs of other countries, that's a fair point for debate, but I think the author does a good job of pointing out why we should. If this is the real reason we are going to war, it would be nice if the administration had enough confidence in the American people to explain it as such.
posted by cyclopz at 11:18 AM on March 6, 2003

What this guy forgets to mention, is how the government will invariably screw everything up. E.G. - most of the countries on that map have all ready been victims of U.S. geopolitical tinkering in the past. And, their current situation is in direct correlation with that past interference.
posted by trbrts at 11:24 AM on March 6, 2003

Troutfishing, it implies nothing of the kind. It does imply that the US works with other militaries. Its highly possible to work on things like training with foreign militaries without resorting to invasion.
posted by pjgulliver at 11:35 AM on March 6, 2003

cyclopz - That's easy. Rather than walking away from most major international treaties and conventions it was considering signing or already a signatory to, the US could actually attempt to BUILD UP international institutions (such as the UN, International Courts, etc.) rather than gleefully tearing them down while loudly proclaiming at the same time "International bodies are ineffectual!"

The US could not immediately back out of acting, to an extent, as the "World Cop" by virtue of our expensive and powerfull military which -were it to suddenly disappear- would cause terrible world destabilization. But we could - in Iraq and elswhere - act to enforce some rough Global consensus rather than doing as we are now - in essence, making a rude hand gestures and disparageing, patronizing comments and slurs about the concerns and wishes of the rest of the World. Eventually - over time and with funding - the UN or some successor body could take over the job of "Global Cop".

Gradual, negotiated disarmament - on a World level - would accompany this process and so the money currently spent on military budgets could be redirected to address actual human needs: and so most of the economic and social problems of "Gap" countries could be solved quite easily.

The Bush adminstration is fundamentally uninterested in this course because, among other things, it would restrict American power and influence and force us to submit to World legal jurisdiction.
posted by troutfishing at 11:35 AM on March 6, 2003

I agree completely with the idea that the gap must be shrunk. However I do not believe that a bombing campaign and occupation will make this happen. I deel there are better ways, because the effect this will have as an unprovoked strike will be a negative one. The pump needs to be primed before you can launch such a massive operation. Also I would like to know how he squares his thoughts with the idea that Russia, which was not invaded, pillaged, and built up from scratch, is now an emerging power?
posted by cell divide at 11:41 AM on March 6, 2003

I fully support bombing the Gap. Can we take out Old Navy while we're at it too?
posted by blue_beetle at 11:46 AM on March 6, 2003

But Troutfishing, how do you even define world legal jurisdiction at this point?

I consider myself liberal, and have a strong and healthy respect for global institutions and disagree violently with many actions of the Bush administration.

But realistically, right now, the global institutions are deeply flawed when it comes to utilizing force. First, any force authorized by the UN is in essence US force. Europe has deliberately not built up its global military capabilities and it will be some time before Europe would be able to function militarily outside of its homeland. The only other possible "global cop" presently is China, and I think we can all agree that whatever fear people have of America playing a global cop, the current PRC playing such a role is truly terrifying.

Second, the UN as a decision making body gives large and prominent voices to countries that hold values completely opposite those of America and the west. At the risk of being redundant, this is an organization the elected LIBYA to be chair of its human rights conference. The UN makes no distinction in assigning membership and responsibility between nations that respect international legal obligations, individual rights, democratic institutions, freedom of speech, etc, and those who don't. I don't want my security decisions premised on votes in such an unrepresentative world body.

So what's the alternative? Should the US sign some of the treaties you mention? Undoubtedly. Should we be more engaged in seeking to strengthen international institutions like the UN? Yes.

But, for right now, the US military is the only player that can take on global security responsibilities effectively. And, while you may disagree with them, many serious people view the current situation in Iraq as something that must be dealt with in the short term. Saying, let's postpone global military efforts to strengthen world security until competent global organizations can be created is not a solution, it's buck passing.
posted by pjgulliver at 11:47 AM on March 6, 2003

pjgulliver - As in the "School of the Americas"? And remember - due to the "Doctrine of Preemption", the US cannot tolerate the existance of any possible military threats. So these foreign militaries - which I assume would function like the paid mercenaries or hegemonic allies of the Roman Empire, could never be allowed to become very powerfull.

You think I bandy about the "E" (empire) word carelessly? Not at all: "the defense secretary's office sponsored a study of ancient empires — Macedonia, Rome, the Mongols — to figure out how they maintained dominance. " . Don Rumsfeld thinks ahead. He did slip up in using the term "Pax Americana" so much in "Rebuilding America's defenses" though........

By the way WBUR showcased a BBC interview with Rumsfeld ( on it's "On Point" show last night. The BBC reported questioned Rummy quite openly on the "E" word and on issues of possible US hypocrisy regarding Iraq - and on future plans for the invasion of other countries. You don't get that sort of thing in the US.
posted by troutfishing at 11:49 AM on March 6, 2003

nofundy loves to read troutfishing posts. thanks.
posted by nofundy at 12:05 PM on March 6, 2003

This isn't neo-Con. This is modern political geography, on the left or right.

The article doesn't say we should invade all these countries - it proposes more aid for Africa, for example - but it does propose that we need to get rid of the most ruthless leaders in those nations, especially the non-democratic ones. Especially again the ones that have attacked five of their neighbors and killed hundreds of thousands of their own, like one Stalin-lookalike who's been in the news these days.

Why shouldn't the US stop these destabilizing elements? The old US and the UN period has failed to stop the genocides and many destabilizations of the past few decades. Some, like N. Korea because of their proximity to Seoul, cannot be dealt with militarily. Others, like Iraq, can. Still others simply need a boost into the Core that is provided by good government, increased education, better health facilities, regional stability and free trade (this includes the West getting rid of tariffs and the like).

This plan is basically as unselfish a foreign policy as possible. I fail to see why, aside from a general anti-Bush mentality, what's so offensive in it. Has the US messed up before? Sure. But I'd say supporting dictators in Nicaragua was a far less tragic mistake than not liberating Cambodia from Pol Pot's purge.
posted by Kevs at 12:06 PM on March 6, 2003

We might go on endlessly talking about the rights and wrongs of this posted view. Suffice it to say it does not speak (necessarily) for the views of the Bush group. It seems that Bush himself implied that taking over Iraq would send a strong message to other nations in that region to stop encouraging terrorism--Iran, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia. And then that region "controlled" the suggestion seems to be that AIDS will take care of other nations! For me, imporant and a rising area of contention is the -stans bordering Caspian Sea, with militant muslims replacing non-militant muslims (thanks to Sadui money) and the quest by France, China, US, Russia for the gas, oil, and mineral deposits.
Clearly posters here are too often caught up with US is bad or US doing right thing rather than viewing why this position might be on target.
Finally, though the US is the only super power around, it is easy enough to begrude what that country does. But look back to other "imperialistic nations," ie, Portugal, Spain, France, Russian, England, Rome, Byzatium, Ottomans....they too have had their hand in the pie...and on the horizon: China.
posted by Postroad at 12:06 PM on March 6, 2003

PNG is in the gap, Solomons isn't. The world is in good hands.
posted by rschram at 12:07 PM on March 6, 2003

Eliminate diversity and you eliminate potential for change; shrinking "the gap" only makes sense if you are dead certain that "the core" has got it right. I see a list of big problems that should be solved before we declare that it's time to tame the rest of the planet. Globalization is good at being global, and really bad at living in the ground it sits on. It's good for profit and efficiency, but bad for sustainable resource use; good at moving production where the resources are, bad at supporting healthy communities. This is not the world I want to live in.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:10 PM on March 6, 2003

Pj - We've been over this before......

You wrote (charactorizing my approach as) - "...let's postpone global military efforts to strengthen world security until competent global organizations can be created is not a solution, it's buck passing." - I actually didn't say that. I suggested that it was far wiser for the US to address potential world problems and threats by listening to the opinions of other nations and enlisting (relatively uncoerced and un-bought) world support in potential US military actions. And, simultaneously, working to build up world institutions and agreements rather than gleefully tearing them down.

If the US is the 800 pound Gorilla, does this mean that it is either good or wise for it to throw it's weight around in naked displays of world military dominance? Doing so - unconstraind by world opinion - so we risk becoming, in the eyes of the world, that which we say we fear and hate: a force for evil. (yes I said that. Evil.)

Nominal world legal jurisdiction - or it's definition - is not really the problem. Enforcement is the real problem. Yes, the US is seeking to act as an enforcer - as it sees fit. But only within our own fluid, shifting and self-serving definition of legality: the "The legality du jour".
posted by troutfishing at 12:17 PM on March 6, 2003

.....and on the horizon: China." (Postroad)

Postroad - "We might go on endlessly talking about the rights and wrongs of this posted view. Suffice it to say it does not speak (necessarily) for the views of the Bush group." - I think the nations of the world will pay as close attention to US actions and behaviors on the world stage, as to the writings of it's geo-strategic thinkers. Currently, much of the world questions US motives because the Bush Administration has acted in an imperious manner - not to mention the longstanding US habit of undermining troublesome governments (often democratic ones). Americans themselves might forget our little foreign "adventures" but those on the recieving end certainly do not.

Nofundy - You like my posts because we're both marching - in naive and blindered liberal lockstep - towards an idealism which is in fundamental denial of the fact that it's a cruel, dangerous world out there! - Salud.
posted by troutfishing at 12:39 PM on March 6, 2003

An interesting article.

It raises the question: what do you do with countries that are beyond the pale?

The US has basically said: You play by these rules:no terrorism, no genocide, and no nukes, or you don't play. This policy predates Bush.

Clinton and Blair ousted Slobo because he violated rule 2. The Taliban broke rule 1 and Saddam broke rule 3. Bush probably hopes NK will stop breaking rule 3 so that he doesn't have to deal with that headache.

understandably, not everyone likes this, but there is only one power capable of enforcing these rules. It has no credible alternatives. The EU is too risk averse and the UN treats everyone who runs a government as a legitimate actor.

Plus, to make matters worse, America's critics, such as Chirac are too inept to figure out how to co-opt the US and bring it under more multilateral control. Accusing the US of war crimes when it deloused prisoners' beards or blocking action on what it considers a vital national security issue (Iraq) just pushes it out of the system. See Clinton & China for the right way to co-opt those too big to confront.
posted by ednopantz at 12:53 PM on March 6, 2003

The US has basically said: You play by these rules:no terrorism, no genocide, and no nukes, or you don't play.

Of course it says this selectively and hypocritically, and thus it has just about zero credibility with the rest of the world. And I'm not talking about 20 years ago, I'm talking about barely squeaking when last year, Pervez Musharraf basically gave himself another 5 years as dictator, in a country that a) has nukes and b) harbors terrorists. Then there's our sell-out of the Kurds to Turkey in exchange for ousting Saddam. And the Chechens to Russia in hopes of getting an abstention rather than a veto.

The problem with realpolitik is that everyone has access to the same rulebook. We assume that the other players in this game are unaware of our strategy, when in fact they can use it to abuse their own power. What nasty-ass dictator, right now, is reading the wolfowitz defense strategy, or this "pentagon map", and figuring out new ways to game the system by becoming our one-time ally? It worked for Saddam once.

As the joke goes, "how does the US know Iraq has WMD?" "They kept the receipts."
posted by condour75 at 1:19 PM on March 6, 2003


First, Pakistan is an entirely different situation from Iraq. To begin with, it has a sizable arsenal of nuclear weapons already, so the challenge isn't "how do we stop this crumbling nation from getting nukes" its "how do we deal with this crumbling nation that possesses enormous destructive potential." Two very different propositions, to be met with different strategies.

Second: I'm not sure what all of this talk of "selling out the Kurds" is. Yes, we are not letting the Kurds declare independence, and yes, we were willing to let Turkish troops into the north when it appeared a large and robust US armored force would also be there to keep the peace. This may be offering the Kurds something short of what they want, but it is no way selling them out. The territorial integrity or Iraq has been request #1 of all governments in the region.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:26 PM on March 6, 2003

ednopantz - and if the US doesn't get it's 2nd UN Security Council resolution passed, it then chucks deference to the "rules" out the window and invades Iraq anyway?

The US, in choosing to abide by rules only if - and when - it finds them convenient, and as the "only one power capable of enforcing these rules." (your words) is now increasingly viewed by the rest of the World as an 800 pound gorilla run amok.

Meanwhile, today in North Korea...........
posted by troutfishing at 1:27 PM on March 6, 2003

pj - I'm certain that the lesson of the US reluctance to confront North Korea or Pakistan has been well taken, and that a number of nations have just quietly shifted their covert nuclear aquisition programs into hyperdrive.

It's simple realpolitik. It's well known now that the US envisions a program of knocking over troublesome regimes one after the other. The only guarantee against a US attack now is a sufficiently credible nuclear counterforce.
posted by troutfishing at 1:33 PM on March 6, 2003

Looking down from my god-like heights I begin to realize that current US policy isn't to reduce problems from non-working states, but rather prop up governments that don't work. I'll go out on a limb and state that the author's "Gap" countries are considered non-working by neo Cons and Bushites. That is to say they don't represent the best interests of the citizen. However, propping up states that won't work inherently due to demographics, history, and other factors like corruption and suppression of legitimate opposition is not the way to go.

Bombing the sense out of countries that don't hold to the democratic ideals of those in power in the US is not a valid response. It smacks of the imperialistic tradition that drew artificial lines across geographic areas in the first place.

Rather the US would be better to encourage non-violent programs that address issues such as racism, poverty, corruption, militarism etc. I want to see something akin to the separation of Czechoslovakia rather than invading Iraq and keeping its "territorial integrity" for the sake of global financial markets. After all, wouldn't it be more peaceful long term if Kurds have their own state, the Sunnis could deal directly with Iran etc etc?

I just get the feeling that the author is proposing something akin to Tito's Yugoslavia where differences were glossed over with a smiling face and when the threat of force is removed all the rivalries resurface.

I also wonder how such a policy would effect genuine movements of political reform and democracy. If the US won't let the Kurds have their own autonomous region or state how are those rivalries and tensions diminished?

Call me racist, but I firmly believe that not all people are ready for democracy and capitalism nor do I think it should be imposed from outside. These Gap states should be allowed to develop and move to the core at their own rate with the attention and assistance of the Core countries and not via military actions. History isn't a glorious march to civilization and sometimes people need to grow weary of their condition (be it political repression, military losses, ethnic conflict etc) before they can move on to something better. You have to want something more and work toward it rather than have it given to you or else you won't understand the price paid.
posted by infowar at 1:38 PM on March 6, 2003

thus it has just about zero credibility with the rest of the world

Actually, it has a lot of credibility. It has what is called a credible threat. If you don't think Syria, for example, feels threatened, think again. They aren't cracking al-Q for the US because they like us. Ditto the Pakistani leadership. These guys understand that they are pretty close to crossing that line and are behaving accordingly. Far from counting on ignorance, an informed consumer is this policy's best customer, so to speak.

Troutfishing--you mean if the US doesn't get an 18th resolution from the UNSC it is in the wrong? Of course, that would make all the difference. [/Sarcasm]. When I said the UN was basically worthless to enforce global order, I meant it. It is incapable of enforcing the terms of a 12 year old cease fire on a a tin pot thug with maybe 1000 nerve gas shells.

And if they can't do it, the US will.

To remind our audience: The US participates in multilateral institutions because they serve its interests. America's partners are trying to act (or not act) in ways contrary to America's interests and are shocked, shocked, to discover America less than enthusiastic about these institutions.
posted by ednopantz at 1:39 PM on March 6, 2003

The most salient argument here is the one promoted by troutfishing: "Barnett, I infer, does not include international treaties and agreements ... in his definition of "Globalization".


Ironically, Barnett acknowledges that globalization is a process. Then he ignores that important distinction and treats globalization as a goal. He is correct in the first instance: globalization is a process. Therefore, the Core world must engage in the process of deciding what to do about (and with) the Gap world.

Improving the Gap world isn't a goal, it's a process. Improving the Gap is synonymous with following international rules and expecting the Gap to follow those rules. If the United States flouts those rules, that is the example that the Gap will follow.

In this way, globalization is similar to democracy. Both are processes, not results. In November and December 2000, George W. Bush and his handlers (including five-ninths of the Supreme Court) confused process with results. The Bush administration is doing it again with the U.N. and Iraq.
posted by Holden at 1:48 PM on March 6, 2003

ed - where are your pantz? Seriously though - that's an honest mouthfull, and too much for me to take up now. I'll let some other fresh-faced, bushytailed Mefi partisan clash with you on that. I have to install a bathroom sink.
posted by troutfishing at 1:52 PM on March 6, 2003

*crawls out from under sink*

Holden - thanks, and an impressive extension ( "Improving the Gap is synonymous with following international rules and expecting the Gap to follow those rules.") of my original comment. *bows to H for sublimely pellucid analysis, pats self on head, too, for good measure...hums a little tune, dances a little jig*

*crawls back under sink*
posted by troutfishing at 2:00 PM on March 6, 2003

The US participates in multilateral institutions because they serve its interests.

Ah, but that's a two way street. You'll find that our global dominance is curiously dependent on the rest of the world. As Bruce Sterling said:
"One brick through the window of a French McDonald's – vandalism. Ten thousand bricks through ten thousand French McDonald's – more effective than napalm. McDonald's, Monsanto, Microsoft... and hey, that's just the M's."
posted by condour75 at 2:14 PM on March 6, 2003

The blackout nations -- the ones in "the Gap" -- cannot be brought back into the light by force. They have to be directed back by persuasion, sanction, diplomacy and economic means. Otherwise the "victory" is meaningless.
posted by argybarg at 2:48 PM on March 6, 2003

troutfishing: our little adventures? like saving S. Korea from the North invasion? like saving Kuwait? like German and Japan in WWII, ?

What is becoming clear, as sthe guy (whose nake I alas forget--kagen?) says in expanded paper (into small book) is that countries with lits of pwoer see power as solution to problems (US) and countries with little tend more to compromise, eschew war, talk, give in. What, says the author, seems necessary is a balence because the use of force is seldom a full answer and a chamberlain-like passivity is too often an encouragement. And that is the difference between us and Europe (plus the Atlantic Ocean).
posted by Postroad at 2:48 PM on March 6, 2003

Ah, but that's a two way street.

Um, that's the point. The trouble is, that some European actors don't get that. They demand a veto on American actions without offering anything in return.

Sign a treaty that lets you prosecute my people any time you can dream up some charges? Submit my security issues to a vote by my actors looking to stymie me? Fund an organization that some consider to be little more than a tool to reduce my freedom of action? Wow! Where do I sign up!?

By choosing a path of feeble confrontation, Chirac and Co. are running the UNSC headlong into its most powerful member. The US will do as it pleases and consult the UNSC less often in the future. Far from co-opting up the hyperpower, they have driven it out of the system. Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!
posted by ednopantz at 2:49 PM on March 6, 2003

Sorry to be so pesky with but yet another post. I am simply trying to give more specific pointer to the book I had mentioned. The book getting much attention because of the US v. Europe split:
that is spot for the review but you need to Reg, free at NY Times.
posted by Postroad at 2:52 PM on March 6, 2003

We might go on endlessly talking about the rights and wrongs of this posted view.

Try to remember this thread when Russia invades Georgia--not in the Gap on Barnett's map--citing our invasion of Iraq as precedence. Remember this thread and the myth of Pandora and her box.
posted by y2karl at 3:12 PM on March 6, 2003

actually, ednopanz, in Gulf War I our allies paid 80% of the costs. So that's a pretty good reason to work multilaterally, if you want a purely practical reason to stay in that sort of organization.

Am I right in assuming that we all still agree that power derives from the consent of the governed?
posted by condour75 at 3:15 PM on March 6, 2003

It sounds a hell of a lot like that 'New World Order' the right used to be so concerned about. Now, of course, the right is on board with it.

Minor note: "New World Order" was popularized by George Bush 1.0's use of the term in his state-of-the-union address to Congress in 1991.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:25 PM on March 6, 2003

Just as a hypothetical, not necessarily my real views:

Why should the US be the only veto wielding member constrained by the Security Council? As has been pointed out numerous times, France and Russia are both currently pursuing major military operations without UN blessing, France in Cote D'Ivoire and Russia in Chechnya. While the Chechen operation is technically an internal matter, it is clearly the sort of war that those who support the council as a the only legitimate source of war-waging authority would argue is within the council's purview. And does anyone honestly believe the PRC would consider itself bound by Council Authority if it felt its security was threatened? Does it not refuse to take the Taiwan issue to the council? And what of other major nations? Do India and Pakistan consider themselves bound by council directives when in confrontation?

I wish this was not so. I wish the Council really was the only organization that could authorize the use of force. But it quite simply isn't. And if the US becomes bound to the neglect of a council unwilling to enforce its own word, the only real victors will be those who currently work outside council authority.

But all this is moot. The US has worked within the international system, to an extent that no other major power has previously. In pure legal terms the US has been authorized to go to war in the Gulf since the Hussein regime broke the terms of the cease-fire in 1991, authority compounded by the subsequent sixteen resolutions, whose terms have also not been met.

What remains lacking is the full support of total global opinion. But what other nation is forced to abide by the whims of global public opinion? Certainly not France, which by testing above-ground nuclear weapons since Chirac came to office remains the only declared nuclear power to conduct substantial testing in a very long time. Certainly not Russia, and clearly not China, which ignores domestic opinion as well.

Some rambling thoughts.
posted by pjgulliver at 3:36 PM on March 6, 2003

back a ways ...

Pjgulliver: But realistically, right now, the global institutions are deeply flawed when it comes to utilizing force. First, any force authorized by the UN is in essence US force.

Not so: Australia led the UN security team that brought stability and democracy to East Timor, at least for a little while. Comparisons to Russian, French, or Chinese unilateralism only reinforce the illegitimacy of that means, as far as I can tell.

What infowar said. The US needs to acknowledge that there are incredible complexities in the developing world that aren't easily addressed by us alone. Take a look at the history of British imperialism: even after decades of British-produced stability, few of its colonies made it to the democracy and industrialization outside Barnett's "Gap." India is probably the closest, and its democracy was home-brewed. Countries have to develop at their own pace. Multilateral engagement and humanitarian support are the way to go.
posted by win_k at 3:46 PM on March 6, 2003

I don't have time to devote to the issue of developing world complexity. However, I work often in the developing world, and I have full respect for the immense difficulty such radical change as discussed implies.

Australia did lead the UN mission in East Timor. However, that mission was delivered from Australia to East Timor by US transport aircraft, and some of its heavy equipment was delivered by the US Navy. US intelligence provided aerial reconnaissance during much of the Australian presence. The ammunition and spare parts for the Australian personal weapons (I forget the make) were supplied by the US as Australia hadn't budget in the past several years for ammo and parts beyond training requirements.

However, again, those points are moot. The US isn't the largest contributor to UN Peacekeeping missions. Canada has lost more men for the UN the the US (if you disregard Korea.) But the US is the only member of the UN with a global military capability and the only nation able to act on Chapter 7 in a global capacity. Chapter 7 implies combat. It implies warfare. No other nation can undertake this effort far beyond its borders. So if the UN is to have a global military capability, it must rely on the United States. No other nation can really do more than patrol an already agreed upon peace. Bosnia proved this when the EU, which at the time was regarded as a collection of militarily powerful NATO nations, could not effectively support their own peacekeepers.
posted by pjgulliver at 3:59 PM on March 6, 2003

posted by pjgulliver at 4:10 PM on March 6, 2003

I could have sworn somebody posted this yesterday.
posted by hama7 at 4:18 PM on March 6, 2003

stifford, that was funny.
posted by muckster at 4:21 PM on March 6, 2003

No doubt Barnett's plan will be welcome news to the Person Sitting in Darkness.
posted by homunculus at 4:49 PM on March 6, 2003


Call me racist, but I firmly believe that not all people are ready for democracy and capitalism nor do I think it should be imposed from outside. These Gap states should be allowed to develop and move to the core at their own rate with the attention and assistance of the Core countries and not via military actions.


The blackout nations -- the ones in "the Gap" -- cannot be brought back into the light by force. They have to be directed back by persuasion, sanction, diplomacy and economic means. Otherwise the "victory" is meaningless.

I think this is the case some of the time. Iraq, right now, is different. The difficulty is confusing dictators with populations. You are absolutely correct: One cannot force democracy on an unwilling population. But if a population largely desires it, and is completed dominated by a dictator - force alone can remove him.

In the first Gulf War, the Iraqi population - large numbers of whom hated living under Saddam's rule - were invited (by the US) the rise against him. The US then stopped short of deposing him - the result being that he murdered thousands who had spoken out.

Despite the fact that the antiwar protesters who claim to speak on behalf of the Iraqi people get most of the press - whenever it becomes possible to glimpse a bit of what the Iraqi people themselves think, you find a population that despises living under Saddam, is ready for democracy, and merely wants the help it needs.

There was an interesting article in yesterday's WSJ, by a reporter who visited northern Iraq - to attend an opposition conference. Expat Iraqis from all over the world are gathering. The opinion of Iraqis about what should be done in Iraq (which should carry more weight than anyone else's - including the UN's) is unequivical: Invade now. Forgive me for quoting at length ...
"An exuberant force exudes from the Iraqis braving for the final push. At the main conference hall in the Kurdish town of Selahaddin, where the opposition meeting is taking place, all talk is of post-Saddam life. "I am dreaming of Baghdad," a giant of a man, a former member of the elite Republican Guard who joined the opposition in 1993, tells me. The other day, there was a homecoming party for resistance fighters who are secretly returning from Detroit, London, and the Netherlands for the final day of reckoning. Every little scene--old friends embracing; a debate about the national anthem of free Iraq; the arrival of a secret envoy from a large tribe in the government-controlled areas--is strangely touching. The mountain air is brisk with confidence.

The mood of the street is not too different. Outside Baghdad's reach, the two self-governing Kurdish enclaves here have established relatively free societies. There is all you cannot find in Baghdad--freedom from Iraqi intelligence, satellite TV, Internet cafes, cell phones and a lively media environment. Yet so long as Saddam remains in power, the experiment here will remain vulnerable. There will also be no justice done for the millions killed or scarred by Saddam's aggression. The images of antiwar demonstrations across Europe could not look more meaningless in this context. The other night, a young hotel employee asked me emphatically: "Why do people in Europe want Saddam?" It was not a rhetorical question.

The steadfastness and yearning for freedom here may not make its way into the news stories, but it will ultimately reshape this nation. Policy makers in Washington should stop worrying about every little detail that might go wrong in the war or post-Saddam period; for it is abundantly clear to anyone here on the ground that Saddam's house will be dismantled by Saddam's citizens, and army, and bureaucrats, and scientists. In fact, during my time here, free Iraqis in the north and the occasional visitors from the yet-to-be-liberated parts kept asking the same question, "When are the Americans coming?" Really, when will they come? "

Iraq is not a nation that the US is attempting to force democracy upon, it is a nation that has been living a torturous nightmare for a long time. Peace activists are not speaking on behalf of the Iraqi people - the Iraqi people love their country, want self-determination, have - on their own - already been formulating democratic practices, and need only one thing: An initial force more powerful than Saddam.
posted by MidasMulligan at 5:24 PM on March 6, 2003

Quoth ednopantz:

To remind our audience: The US participates in multilateral institutions because they serve its interests. America's partners are trying to act (or not act) in ways contrary to America's interests and are shocked, shocked, to discover America less than enthusiastic about these institutions.

But the institutions even exist because of the assumption (probably a good one) that tryin' extra hard to make interests align is better than simply pursuing ones own.

Right now there's two questions that I'm turning over in my head. One is whether the US would be satisfied by total WMD disarmament from Iraq (I'm pretty sure the answer is no -- the current admin means to change the regime, for better or worse). The other, more important one: Why can't we get cooperation from Germany and France? That's not a rhetorical question for people to seize on and give pat answers for ("because they're idiots"). What I mean is: has anyone asked Germany and/or France (and any other recalcitrant allies) the question what would it take? What would it take for you to get on board with this?

I am pretty sure this conversation has taken place, in fact. I'm just unable to find anywhere where it's publically taken place, so I'm left to fill it in with my own assumptions (and also ponder the implications of the apparent lack of discussion). Anyone have ideas of what's happening here?
posted by namespan at 5:53 PM on March 6, 2003

Side note about my last comment: it may seem to be getting offtopic, but I think it's not. My question is really about whether it's the specific strategy mentioned in the article that's come between the US and its currently recalcitrant allies, or whether there's some other underlying issue that's making it hard.
posted by namespan at 6:01 PM on March 6, 2003

Overwrought jargon plus wide-ranging bullshit plus enthusiasm for war. The US military's strategic writings are as predictable in form as a Tom Clancy novel.

The opinion of Iraqis about what should be done in Iraq (which should carry more weight than anyone else's - including the UN's) is unequivical [sic]: Invade now.

That's disingenuous bullshit piled upon the WSJ's sanctimonious bullshit, Midas, and you know it. Even those Iraqi opposition groups who met at that conference, and who want Saddam removing from power are far from convinced that the US will do it in a way that doesn't fuck them over. And they have every right to believe that: the WSJ talks about the quasi-autonomy of the Kurds, without mentioning that it was the first bargaining chip offered up to the Turks.

So, the Iraqis know that supporting an invasion on American terms may simply screw them in a slightly less painful way for the next decade. That's what I call equivocation.

Why do you hate the Iraqis so much, Midas?
posted by riviera at 6:19 PM on March 6, 2003

Here's a novel notion, assuming that the US conquers Iraq and sets up a military government: importing huge numbers of foreigners to re-create Iraq from a Balkanized state held together by a dictator, to a multi-national secular liberal democracy.

Large numbers of people from the Philippines, South Korea, Mexico, and eastern Europe, where unemployment is high but there is a willingness to work, could be brought in until they dominate the place. The US could train both the police and a professional military, and after not just rebuilding the country, but exploding its economy with prosperity, these people could either stay as guests or get dual citizenship.

Convert Iraq into a giant Singapore!
posted by kablam at 7:23 PM on March 6, 2003

And a bit more equivocation here:

Dr Abas says there is a paradox in that while his party opposes the war he believes many Iraqis inside the country have become so desperate that they may support it. His argument reflects the psychological dilemma which keeps Iraqis awake at night. "People in hell think nothing can be worse. They just want to end it. But we see the bigger picture as well as fearing it will lead to death and destruction for our families at home. We have two problems with the United States. First, its track record. In 1991, when the aim was simply to get Saddam out of Kuwait, they destroyed the infrastructure of the country. People couldn't understand why they bombed power stations and bridges all over Iraq."
posted by riviera at 7:24 PM on March 6, 2003

kablam: Convert Iraq into a giant Singapore!

Or a giant Israel...
posted by Sonny Jim at 8:18 PM on March 6, 2003

"troutfishing: our little adventures? like saving S. Korea from the North invasion? like saving Kuwait? like German and Japan in WWII, ?" - No, Postroad - I was thinking of these little adventures

Namespan - "....My question is really about whether it's the specific strategy mentioned in the article that's come between the US and its currently recalcitrant allies, or whether there's some other underlying issue that's making it hard....." - I think that underlying issue is called the "Pax Americana": Europeans find this notion distastefull, obnoxious, megalomaniacal, scary, intimidating, creepy, grotesque, ill-advised, mundanely evil....(pick three descriptive terms from above list)
posted by troutfishing at 9:03 PM on March 6, 2003

I think that underlying issue is called the "Pax Americana"

The last US diplomat to meet with Saddam Hussein concurs.
posted by homunculus at 9:31 PM on March 6, 2003

Both the WSJ and NPR published "they're throwing babies out of incubators" propaganda pieces this week. No mention is made about the repercussions to the people from duplicitous Bush promises in these puff pieces, only how glorious liberation by US forces will be. We are sure to see Iraqis waving US flags in the streets as our military passes by "liberating Iraq" with no questions about where those flags came from. Unilateralism in the name of imperialism needs only one name and transparent propaganda pieces may convince some but surely most on this site know better.
posted by nofundy at 5:26 AM on March 7, 2003

The Pentagon has their new map, but China has their own map as well.
posted by homunculus at 2:12 PM on March 7, 2003

Chris Hedges, the author of War is a force that gives us meaning, is going to be interviewed on this week's NOW.
posted by homunculus at 3:31 PM on March 7, 2003

Has anyone else noticed that the picture of Barnett in the linked article looks like a religious icon, halo and all? St. Barnett?
posted by win_k at 5:54 PM on March 7, 2003

« Older bad bunnies   |   Stalin killed to prevent nuclear war? Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments