Hell’s First Cousin

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

What Thomas Barnett proposes in The Pentagon’s New Map and Blueprint for Action is bad in two senses, William S. Lind argues — it won’t work, and if somehow it did the result would be evil:

In both books, Barnett divides the world into two parts, the Functioning Core and the Non-Integrating Gap. This is parallel to what I call centers of order and centers or sources of disorder, and I agree that this will be the fundamental fault line of the 21st Century. Barnett’s error is that he assumes the Functioning Core will be the stronger party, able to restore order in places where it has broken down. [...] A cynic might suggest that the United States can’t even do this in New Orleans much less in foreign countries.

If somehow this worked, it would bring about Hell’s first cousin, Lind says — a Brave New World:

He would create an inescapable new world order that bears a remarkable resemblance to the one Aldous Huxley described in his short novel Brave New World, published in the 1930s — a “soft totalitarianism” where the first rule is, “you must be happy.” Happiness, in turn, is a product of endless materialism, consumerism, sensual pleasure and psychological conditioning. If that sounds like a good description of American popular culture, it is exactly that culture Barnett proposes to force down the throat of every person on earth, with the U.S. military serving as the instrument of coercion.


  1. Doctor Pat says:

    On the other hand, Barnett’s strategy — rather than his strategic goal — sounds completely compatible with the referred to work of Martin van Creveld. Namely, that there are low-intensity, guerrilla conflicts that shade into police actions and nation building. And there are also conventional, tank columns and jet fighters-style wars. And the army that is trained and equipped to deal with one is unsuited to the other.

    Hence, Barnett’s idea that you should stop sending soldiers into wars they aren’t suited for, and you should not compromise your preparation and end up with troops suited for neither situation, but you should just have two different forces. That way you aren’t sending tanks against teenagers throwing rocks, and you aren’t sending youth workers against tanks.

    If you are going to go around fighting wars — a big if, I’ll admit — then it’s better to not be an idiot about it.

  2. Isegoria says:

    I believe that Lind would agree with the notions that (a) we should stop sending soldiers into guerrilla wars they’re not prepared for, and (b) we should stop preparing soldiers for guerrilla wars rather than “real” wars. I don’t think he would recommend training a second force for police actions and nation-building though, because he considers that kind of thing futile. Mencius Moldbug would likely add that the futility comes from our lack of will to grasp the nettle and truly rule those regions we want to pacify.

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