Barnett, professor at the U.S. Naval War College, takes a global perspective that integrates political, economic and military elements in a model for the postâ€"September 11 world. Barnett argues that terrorism and globalization have combined to end the great-power model of war that has developed over 400 years, since the Thirty Years War. Instead, he divides the world along binary lines. An increasingly expanding "Functioning Core" of economically developed, politically stable states integrated into global systems is juxtaposed to a "Non-Integrating Gap," the most likely source of threats to U.S. and international security. The "gap" incorporates Andean South America, the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and much of southwest Asia. According to Barnett, these regions are dangerous because they are not yet integrated into globalism's "core." Until that process is complete, they will continue to lash out. Barnett calls for a division of the U.S. armed forces into two separate parts. One will be a quick-strike military, focused on suppressing hostile governments and nongovernment entities. The other will be administratively oriented and assume responsibility for facilitating the transition of "gap" systems into the "core."
Barnett takes pains to deny that implementing the new policy will establish America either as a global policeman or an imperial power. Instead, he says the policy reflects that the U.S. is the source of, and model for, globalization. We cannot, he argues, abandon our creation without risking chaos. Barnett writes well, and one of the book's most compelling aspects is its description of the negotiating, infighting and backbiting required to get a hearing for unconventional ideas in the national security establishment. Unfortunately, marketing the concepts generates a certain tunnel vision. In particular, Barnett, like his intellectual models Thomas Friedman and Francis Fukuyama, tends to accept the universality of rational-actor models constructed on Western lines. There is little room in Barnett's structures for the apocalyptic religious enthusiasm that has been contemporary terrorism's driving wheel and that to date has been indifferent to economic and political factors. That makes his analytical structure incomplete and more useful as an intellectual exercise than as the guide to policy described in the book's promotional literature.