View Full Version : Pentagon's New Map

10-16-2005, 12:49 AM
If anybody is willing, I would be interested in hearing this illustrious body's take on Barnett's theories.

M. J. Dougherty
10-17-2005, 06:49 AM

My personal opinion is that Dr Barnett is correct in his assessment of how the Beltway works and how pursuit of funding and resources for narrow parochial service/agency interests drives national security policy. But then, personal experience has jaded me considerably.

I also believe that he is overly optimistic in his believe that the "non-integrated" countries and regions will embrace new rule sets or even have the desire two. Furthermore I disagree that some of the countries/regions he includes in integrated countries are truly part of the team. From my perspective countries like Malaysia and South Korea play a good game of smoke and mirrors, but lack strategic depth in economic development, democratic political institutions and social stability.

10-18-2005, 01:58 AM
I agree that he is overly optimistic. His assertion that inclusion is a panacea is naive, although he admits to extreme optimism in his book.

I like the breakdown of core, gap and seam. And I think in less radical cases, he is correct. Cuba, for example, I believe could be solved with engagement.

10-24-2005, 03:06 AM
I'm currently working my way through PNM, but I get really distracted by him tooting his own horn. Granted, to be a visionary one probably needs a significant amount of ego. Unfortunately, it's kept me working on this book for over a month.

Generally speaking, I like the concept as I've seen so far. I haven't reached the part when I decide if it's pie in the sky or actionable.

Am I the only one who finds this book much more difficult to consume? I guess they can't all be like COL T.X. Hammes' "The Sling and the Stone."


Mike Greene
Major, FA

10-24-2005, 08:12 AM
Am I the only one who finds this book much more difficult to consume? I guess they can't all be like COL T.X. Hammes' "The Sling and the Stone."

Like the others I found his material on rule sets, the gap/core divide and the knowledge of dealing with military bureaucracy insightful. However, Barnett also totally lost me with tooting his own horn. So you're not the only one.

My own personal bias from reading his work and blog, and it is an ad hominem I guess, is I don't see the guy as a competent strategist at a personal level. Barnett is gaining a wide influence within government and within the community. Yet he gives an air of personal arrogance and does not take criticism very well, especially if it doesn't fit in with his PNM world view (see his 'reviewing the reviews' (http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&q=%22reviewing+the+reviews%22+site%3Athomaspmbarne tt.com&btnG=Search&meta=)). I might add though, that his discussion (http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2005/10/the_opensource_.html#comment-10368171) with John Robb was a lot more civil than he usually is, so maybe he is capable of control. These two traits which he sometimes exhibits: Arrogance and Academic insecurity, leave me to believe that Barnett might be exploited by a cunning enemy in war time considering his influence. I guess that is my own view though. I've never met the guy. He may be totally different outside of being a strategic showman that I've seen portrayed in his books and blog. Does anyone else think different?

10-25-2005, 11:01 PM
Agree with the posters here. Barnett has one idea of how to look at the world and the problems we face in it. His is a good idea, which is why we should pay attention to it; however, it is still only one idea and should not be looked at as a "grand unifying theory" that explains everything.

He sometimes comes across as trying to simplify things too much, like Thomas Friedman in "The Earth is Flat".

10-29-2005, 04:19 PM
"Arrogance and Academic insecurity, leave me to believe that Barnett might be exploited by a cunning enemy in war time considering his influence"

I'm sorry but this is absurd and frankly, an unfair insinuation.

Tom has flown off the handle on his blog on occasion in a way that is self-defeating and in a style that I would not personally use, but Washington is not exactly short on public figures with healthy egos and combative attitudes. That being said, I also know that Tom has a high degree of respect for the ideas and experience of thinkers like Chet Richards and John Robb.

Much of Dr. Barnett's work is not in the public domain having been done in the form of studies or projects for the U.S. Navy, OSD and the NIC and in collaboration with people like H.H. Gaffney and Admiral Arthur Cebrowski. While it is fair and expected that there should be disagreement about the validity of his PNM theory, we're pretty much safe from shadowy foreign cabals seeking to control American defense policy by manipulating Tom Barnett.

10-29-2005, 09:55 PM
I think that Barnett raises some interesting points with his gap and core theories.

However, I don't think there is anything at all revolutionary about "rule sets". A rule set is nothing more than a combined model and framework, and as such it will have to be completely revised if the measured factors are too drastically changed or become irrelevant, or others become more important.

A rule set explains the world in a very limited time frame with a narrow sense of situational awareness. This is essential for many reasons, some being:

It addresses the world as a whole based on situational factors, this is impractical on the verge to impossible. There are too many. It also increases probability of successful deception of self.
With the caveat that I have only read the PNM (Esquire) and some other articles by Barnett, it seems like he fails to address specific regional differences and causes for demise.
While connectivity is a very important factor, since he fails to properly address others he has doomed his current rule set to be insensitive to situational change.
A time limited model for which it is not clear when update is required and which does not factor in many significant reasons for hostility makes you blind.
At best it can serve to explain some phenomena in our world at this time, it leaves much more to chance.
Hence it cannot serve as an effective guide to the future.
Consider this model or framework as a drawing of the world, from his memory of what he has seen. If you put this into an OODA view you will notice that Barnett, unfortunately not alone in doing so, base his drawing primarily on what is happening in the world. That is quite alright and is something that must be done to a certain degree, and for some situations it is the most efficient. What that implies is that the thinking behind actions is lost. What you're seeing are symptoms, it's the end of the unfolding cycle. That's what his drawing portrays. How many world views and feelings about connectivity, although it is still not the lone factor, do you think exist? I don't think it is even remotely likely that he has predicted this correctly. Even if connectivity would be the overaching measure stick, it still does not address whatever influences people in other directions and which may have a major impact on what they decide to do and make others do.
Barnett needs to ask himself just what is communicated between people. He can start with himself and any senior Pentagon official and then do an estimate of the chat between al-Zarqawi and Ali al-Jihadito the VBIED constructor. It matters not only that people are connected and are influenced by western culture, the effects of which are not apparent and are not the same for everyone, they will also use that connectivity to communicate their ideas, their teachings, their hatred.
And so on...

So, no, I don't see why I should either like or not like his ideas. I don't think there is anything at all novel about his IMHO misconceived perception of communication and usage of same-old ancient, useful human tools (models and frameworks). I don't think it can fill the horizontal plane of anywhere from the tactical to strategic level.

I think that what we need is a structural change of western and eastern institutions. And some adaptive thinking, among other things.

Just my .02.


Jedi Barista
11-21-2005, 03:35 AM
I actually had never heard of Barnett until I saw his C-Span presentation to the NDU. I don't think much differed between his PowerPoint brief and the contents of PNM. While I agree that he may come across as somewhat eccentric (tooting his own horn), I think this is necessary as it gives us some insight into how the Beltway thinks.

In response to Martin's post which addresses Barnett from an OODA perspective, I would assume that the argument is that Barnett has "de-synched" himself in the Orient phase of the OODA cycle. I didn't perceive his arguments as claiming to be the end-all/be-all of global policy; however, I believe he did identify the primary common denominator for our future threats. Where I think Barnett's arguments derive their greatest strength is in how they try to warn American policy makers from collapsing inwards on their own OODA loop. This is why he finds it just as important to explore how we make policy decisions in addition to how the rest of the world perceives us (the Core).

11-22-2005, 08:30 PM
I saw that presentation too. It was interesting.

Collapsing inwards, policy decisions, perceptions: Agreed.

The problem I have with this is not that it breaks old patterns, and not that it makes people think about different aspects. That's good, kudos to him for that. What I find annoying is how he takes a vital aspect of the world we live in - communication - and simplifies it to the extent that the actual use of the perspective misses a lot of vital accompanying points that goes under the same header. Alas, I believe that he doesn't represent the concept of communication very well at all and that the effects therefore become terribly misguided - while still striking some hole in ones.

It's very clearly not an end-all and source of everything for policy making, I don't think he believes that either. I do think that he wants to be the creator of this century's greatest paradigm that lays a basis for the rest. That, I do not consider it fit for. As for his touting... maybe it's needed, I think it's out of proportion.

Then, of course, thoughts about models and frameworks... I'll cut here.

I will have to pick up the PNM, doing a personal project concerning these matters.


11-23-2005, 05:12 PM
Dr. Chet Richards has reviewed Blueprint for Action over at DNI. Strongly recommended reading.