May 21, 2004

Barone Reviews Barnett

A friend of mine sent me an email link to a US News Michael Barone column reviewing Thomas Barnett's ideas about Core/Gap. Barone 'gets' much of Barnett's thesis, missing badly only on the PRC. The line between Core and Gap can be viewed sharply, and for simplicity's sake, mostly is. But if you look at the map that Barnett is referring to, in small print, you see that it's not a black and white line but a "95% confidence" line. Barnett recognizes that it's possible for the line to move in either direction, positively (adding states to the Core) and negatively (losing "New Core" states to the Gap). What Barnett is saying is not so much that the PRC can't turn into a strategic threat but that for it to do so, it would have to cross back over to the Gap (possible but hard) and strike before its military fell to pieces from lack of money to maintain it.

Barone brings up the specter of WW I where globalization I countries traded a great deal but still went to war. But the more apt comparison isn't WW I but England and Scotland. Today, it is not that Germany and the US trade (though we do) our economies are more interlinked than that with German firms buying up American ones and vice versa. The pain of disentangling a corporate structure that is half in enemy territory is a powerful incentive to exert yourself on behalf of peace. And, as time goes on, this intertwining of fortunes will increase, making war even less likely.

Posted by TMLutas at May 21, 2004 07:53 PM