A Post-Modern Nimrod

u201CThe peasants of the Old World tell a remarkably uniform tale of a mad hunter from the North and East who claimed to rule the world in the insane conviction that he had conquered God with his arrow. Such… was the archaic and mysterious Nimrod, the mighty hunter of the steppes, who shot an arrow into the sky… and when a shower of blood ensued believed he had conquered God and won for himself the universal kingship. The story is based on a genuine hunting ritual of great antiquity, but the literary reports all chill with horror at the thought of a man who first turned his arrows from the hunting of beasts to become u2018a hunter of men,' who founded the first great state, invented organized warfare, and u2018made all people rebellious against God.'u201D [1]

Ancient literati may have quailed at the Nimrodian program, but contemporary spokesmen for power are made of sterner stuff. Thomas P. M. Barnett of the U.S. Naval War College is one such: a sort of Midwestern Oswald Spengler, keen to throw Destiny's dice. Barnett, whose program is revealed in his book, The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2002), was trained by only the best Cold War liberals at Harvard, the school that gave us napalm. He has been called a George F. Kennan for the new century. He seems more a reduced James Burnham for a very brief century.

Like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman, Barnett seems to have a Self that is universal. It expresses the deepest needs and wants of the very cosmos. Literary critic Quentin Anderson notes, in passing, that Emerson may have u201Csimply carried on the activity of being or becoming u2018Emerson'….u201D [2] In reading Thomas Barnett, one gets at times the impression that his work is all about the activity of being or becoming Barnett.

Barnett is all things to all people. Given competing visions, he can affirm them all, as long as they are imperial and grand. He is bipartisan and non-sectarian. He believes that once his sheer clarity and strategic genius hit home, all Presidents and administrations of whatever party will carry out his program forevermore.

Barnett's now famous map is the conceptual center of his book. His vision is more and more cited, and he may have created a following. This means big trouble, as we shall see. [3] In addition, Barnett means to create a new language whose very framing will force those who buy it to accept his grandiose prescriptions for u201Ca future worth creatingu201D (The Pentagon's New Map, p. 5, his italics). The effect is somewhat like having Oliver Cromwell come back as a motivational speaker, who then divides his time between Pentagon briefings, Rotary Club meetings, and doing commentary on Fox News.

Barnett is not, of course, the only man with a plan just now. Joseph Nye, dean of the nicer liberal imperialists, has repackaged u201Csoft power,u201D Walter Russell Mead wants balanced and nuanced US world rule, and even Harlan u201CShock and Aweu201D Ullman has a manifesto out, although he speaks mainly in military terms. Barnett seems more dangerous than the others, however, because he has catchier phrasing, trendier slogans, bolder strokes of simplification, and always, his map.


Working amidst u201Chard, or physical, scientists,u201D Barnett writes, he u201Cwas forced to introduce a lot more rigor into [his] thinkingu201D and to develop u201Creproducibleu201D concepts grounded, apparently, on u201Creal-world statistics.u201D The notions thus derived can be u201Creplicate[d]… in mind after mindu201D (p. 19).

The latter proposition seems, in this case, most unfortunate.

Barnett doesn't want to make war against a mere tactic — u201Cterrorismu201D — he wants to crusade against his own abstraction, u201Cdisconnectedness,u201D in behalf of another one: u201Cconnectedness.u201D This may be the first u201Cwaru201D fought for-and-against verbal nouns. Along the way, globalization becomes so reified that it u201Chas a pastu201D and, evidently, a great future. A great deal can and must be sacrificed, it seems, to a particular reading of this (by now) irritating construct.

Thus: u201CWhether we realize it or not, America serves as the ideological wellspring for globalization. These united states still stand as its first concrete expression. We are the only country in the world purposely built around the ideals that animate globalization's advance: freedom of choice, freedom of movement, freedom of expression. We are connectivity personified. Globalization is this county's gift to history…. More important, to abandon globalization's future to those violent forces hell-bent on keeping the world divided between the connected and the disconnected is to admit that we no longer hold these truths to be self-evident: that all are created equal, and that all desire life, liberty, and a chance to pursue happiness. In short, we the people needs to become we the planetu201D (p. 50, his italics).

Emerson, Whitman, Father Abraham, the St. Louis Hegelians, Woodrow Wilson, and many others will turn in their graves, if we fail to impose this vision on the world.

Next, Barnett opens up his half Marxist/half neoclassical jug of economic moonshine. Whichever it is, it is determinist — with no human actors to be seen, just vast impersonal forces (so to speak) — with problems built into the market economy at the ground floor (p. 51). You and I just knock around somewhere on an indifference curve with disaster looming, and wait for just the right institutions and u201Crule setsu201D in the form of big government to save us.

Human beings do reappear, but mainly as u201Cbad actorsu201D and heroic (US and allied) rule enforcers. All this has brought us to the notion of u201Crule setsu201D (pp. 9–10 and passim), which Barnett deploys to refer to laws, agreements, rules of warfare, and (most importantly) whatever it is that the US just did and would like to justify.

u201CAmerica can only increase its security when it extends connectivity,u201D globalization, and the lot. u201CIt is not enough for the Core to survive. It must growu201D (p. 56). The u201CCoreu201D refers, of course, to those advanced industrialized nations who play by the same rules, roughly North America, Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and a few others. u201CNew Coreu201D refers to China and the East Asian u201Ctigers.u201D This leaves what Barnett calls u201Cthe Gapu201D — the great sink of failure and despair, which Americans must both fear and rehabilitate. Everywhere, we must u201Csellu201D our u201Cnew rule sets,u201D lest u201Cother culturesu201D reject them u201Cas reflecting an American biasu201D (p. 57).

Along the way, we learn a bit more about Barnett, his career, his power lunches, etc., than we would like to; but this need not keep us. His critique of other Pentagon defense scenarios is interesting (pp. 57 ff), but his sensible remarks concerning the two (or 2 ) war scenario and a competing one involving war with China, do not exactly compel intellectual assent to his alternative. Soon enough, u201Casymmetrical warfareu201D appears, giving the reader a justified fright, since u201Cthe sources of mass violence have migrated downward, or from the state to the individualu201D (p. 85). At the same time, we learn that Good States have learned to compete economically rather than militarily. Wars today are internal; they are civil wars and separatist wars

Barnett does not like separatists and exclusionists, with one exception.

Barnett writes, that the US spent the 1990s u201Cbuying one type of military while operating anotheru201D (p. 96). The US should have prepared for dirty little wars. The fact that u201Casymmetrical warfareu201D simply means that sometimes the wogs fight back, is lost in the shuffle. Already in 1966, Carroll Quigley speculated, that light defensive technologies might benefit weak states vis–vis strong states, and revolutionary movements vis–vis established orders. [4]

Contemporary wars of the Iraq I and II kind u201Care wars between the system and renegade statesu201D or even u201Cnonstate actors and the system.u201D The usual business now comes up, about u201Cfailed statesu201D which are u201Cindirectly a source of threat to the United Statesu201D (pp. 86–88). This represents our first meeting with one of Barnett's characteristic postmodern inversions. Time was, when we were said to be u201Cthreatenedu201D by hostile states; now, it seems, the very absence of an effective state is as great, or a greater, threat to us. It therefore behooves us — along with the rest of the Core — to go around building substitute states in these places, before their disorder spills across their porous borders and injures us.

But, as argued by political scientists Youssef Cohen, Brian R. Brown, and A. F. K. Organski in 1981, a good many Third World conflicts u201Care defensive in nature: they are all brought about by the aggressive expansionism of the state,u201D especially where u201Cstates are still involved in the primitive accumulation and centralization of power resources.u201D These writers suggest that, u201Cover a relatively long period of time state expansion will generate violent conflictu201D and thus u201Cit is the progression toward greater order itself that produces much of the relatively greater violence we find in new states.u201D They conclude that, u201Cthe evidence strongly suggests that the rate of economic development is related to both the rate of state expansion and collective violence in a way that runs contrary to the way postulated by the dominant view on such matters.u201D Further, u201Cstate expansion seems to produce much more violence than economic growth…. Rather than state expansion being an antidote for the violence produced by economic modernization, our rather limited evidence shows that it is economic modernization which is the antidote to the violence produced by state expansion.u201D [5]

Barnett recounts how 9/11 ended idle speculation about war with China, and how his map of doom – already worked out, he tells us, by 1996 — came into its own (pp. 105 ff). And what do we get from this map? We get an inverted core-periphery analysis, which in effect accepts the description of the world put forward by socialist historians Immanuel Wallerstein and L. S. Stavrianos. Indeed, the result looks quite a lot like a map of 19th-century European colonial empires, with a few additions and subtractions. Odd, that these places are still troublesome after all the efforts made to civilize them. Odd, too, that these places have a rough correspondence with known world oil reserves.

Barnett's map and matching ideology do not, he says, amount to an imperial vision. The United States is not an empire. After all, would an empire have u201Cbeggedu201D contemptible u201Clittleu201D UN members to permit it to go to war? (p. 119). The obvious answer is, that an empire would do that, if it wanted borrow legitimacy from an institution it had invented in an earlier phase of imperial planning.

For Barnett, it is not about empire; it is all about globalization: u201CKnowing where globalization begins and ends essentially defines the U.S. military's expeditionary theater,u201D he writes. Globalize, and u201Cthe world will reshape your future far more than you can possibly hope to influence the world in returnu201D (pp. 121–122). This sounds a bit like Marx on u201Calienatedu201D labor, but no matter.

America must lead the battle for globalization. After some u201Chard compromisesu201D Americans hardly recall (like the u201CCivil Waru201D!), u201Cwe have become — a multicultural free-market economy whose minimal rule sets (telling us what we cannot do, not what we must do) allow for maximum individual freedom to go where we want, live where we want, and conduct our lives how we wantu201D (p. 123, my italics). This is our u201Cexperimentu201D; and it qualifies the US as world savior and final court of appeal. A u201Cnew security contract between America and the rest of the worldu201D has arisen, so that, now, u201Cu2018homeland defense'u201D is the same as u201Cu2018Core security'u201D (p. 142).

Noting increased US intervention after the Soviet collapse, Barnett brags that u201Cthe U.S. military is the only force in the world capable of traveling long distances and actually doing something significant once it gets thereu201D (p. 149).

And some of us had thought it was Fed-Ex!

The map of these interventions revealed u201Ca shape… encompassing the Caribbean Rim, the Andes portion of South America, virtually all of Africa, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East, and most of Southeast Asiau201D (p. 149). Barnett faults the Bush administration for not having grasped the whole Core-Gap idea as yet (p. 156).

So the gist of everything in the context of everything else, is just this: The peaceful industrial democracies of the Core, led by (guess which) trigger-happy Super Power, will bring the New Core up to civilized speed, while suitably bombing, invading, occupying, and assisting the Gap, until everyone enjoys FDR's various freedoms and peace and plenty reign everywhere. An honest day's work to be sure, but u201Cweu201D are up to it, armed with our usual can-do, know-how, Yankee restlessness, and the new map.


Barnett pulls more arrows from his quiver as he goes. He derides terrible liberal-left hysterics who worry that his plans amount to u201Cu2018perpetual war.'u201D Cynics, he says, u201Cblame the Gap for its own problems….u201D Salonfhig right-wingers say the project is just too big to do, while bad right-wingers u201Cadvocate a sort of civilizational apartheidu201D for the Gap and u201Cprefer segregationu201D — so they are just like Osama bin Laden. (pp. 159–160).

One has to admire such a deft playing of the race card in such a cause. Barnett takes on the persona of a universal Earl Warren deciding Brown v. Board of Education for the world. Will the forced busing be inter-oceanic? We begin to see that Barnett has no sense of where state coercion occurs or what it is. Apparently, there is never anything like coercion inside nice liberal Core states.


Under the slogan u201Cshrink the Gap,u201D Barnett contrasts the u201CHobbesianu201D Gap with the u201CKantianu201D Core and its u201Cperpetual peace.u201D The Gap is u201Cless free, on averageu201D with low life expectancies and a young population. Thirty-one of the thirty-six main terrorist groups u201Coperate primarily inside the Gapu201D — although here I suspect Barnett has spared us some historical details and context (pp. 160–166).

This is good stuff. Barnett is scaring stuffy old bourgeois aldermen into funding midnight basketball so the ghetto won't get them. He foretells u201Cthe Gap's progression [from] Hobbes to Locke to Kant, or from conflict to rule sets to peace….u201D Three philosophers for the price of one, and it will work wonderfully, provided the absurd assumptions of the currently popular u201CDemocratic Peaceu201D theory are true. [6]

Leaving aside the dubious Dim Peace business, there is another question on hand: is democracy itself free of problems? Apparently not, and this is precisely the thesis of a forthcoming book by the historical sociologist Michael Mann. Focusing on ethnic cleansing, he writes that u201Cmurderous cleansing is moving across the world as the world modernizes and democratizes.u201D In a passage rather unfavorable, ceteris paribus, to connectedness, he writes: u201Cwe never find murderous cleansing among rival ethnic groups who are u2018separate but equal.'… After all, if South African apartheid had actually lived up to its own ideology… involving u2018separate but equal' development between the races, Africans would never have revolted. They revolted against the fact that apartheid was a sham….u201D [7]

Now, if state building as such causes massive strife and if compulsory connectedness within states under construction does not guarantee tranquility, however democratic the states, then an imperial crusade to impose democracy worldwide may not be the royal — or even republican — road to eternal peace and prosperity.

Nevertheless, for Barnett, u201Cshrinking the Gapu201D reduces the danger to us all: an admirable shakedown.


America, Barnett asserts, is u201Cintimately identified with a historical process that some within the Gap fear will destroy the world they know and love — and they are right to fear itu201D (p. 167). I think we can second the motion. u201CAmericau201D — by which he means the US federal regime, headquartered in the u201Cten miles squareu201D — has been doing just that at home for some time.

After 1945, Barnett writes, the US, selflessly set up the existing world economic order, i.e., embedded corporatism [8] (my term); and now the US must u201Cplay a similar system-administrator role in the realm of international securityu201D (p. 168). And here he begins unwinding his favorite analogy: US foreign meddling as a kind of internal police work. After all, the US u201Chas spent the last half century trying to extendu201D its domestic u201Cinternal-security rule set around the planetu201D (p. 171).

Anyhow, arms control is dead and future US intervention is all a matter of where. The US will farm out some peacekeeping and social service jobs to allies. There is no exit, ever (p. 173).

US diplomacy, so to speak, will involve u201Cno negotiationu201D with a u201Cbad actor.u201D No: u201Cyou simply keep ratcheting up your demands for compliance, and when the regime cannot comply and cannot be provoked into a precipitating action by your constantly growing military pressure, you preemptu201D (p. 175, my italics). This used to be called aggression, but why quibble? While Barnett presents this proposed diplomatic style as wholly new, we have seen it before, at Ft. Sumter, in the run-up to the Spanish American War, in the months before Pearl Harbor, and in the planning for Operation Northwoods. [9]

Still, setting it out so openly does make for a breath of cynically fresh air, as do Barnett's variations on the theme that u201Cu2018might makes right.'u201D Really, since Europe won't spend money on security, u201CAmerica earns a certain right for unilateralism in the Gapu201D and needs legal leeway (no war crimes for u201Cusu201D) in the Gap (pp. 175–176). We shall return to Mr. Barnett's notion of u201Clawu201D a bit later.

Warming to his subject, Barnett writes that, in the good work of u201Cexporting securityu201D the US will u201Cwant lots of small, Spartan-style facilities dotting the Gap.u201D Further: u201Cwe are never leaving the Gap and we are never u2018bringing our boys home'u201D (pp. 178–179). u201Cu2018Disconnected defines danger,'u201D he says (p. 182).

Well, that'll scare the bourgeoisie and make them hand over their wallets.

It's not about instability, he continues; it's about justice. After all, the Cuban government seems perfectly stable, but Barnett, for various reasons, wants to include Cuba in the Gap. Nor is the Core-Gap business anti-Islamic, it's anti-fundamentalist, and fundamentalism in the Gap u201Cis still mostly about external networking…. Religion used to be like that in America, say a hundred years ago or right up to the point when we created a social welfare systemu201D (pp. 186–187). Well, thank God for FDR.


In the interest of shoring up the foregoing, Barnett unleashes his peculiar brand of economic determinism. Along the way, he seems to assume all manner of state policies into the economy and then attributes the results to economic activity as such. It would seem, then, that the determinism is as much political as u201Ceconomic,u201D but this is by the way. The result is a sort of inverted Leninism.

u201CFour flowsu201D are essential for the ongoing health of globalization, according to Barnett. These are: immigrants from Gap to Core, energy from the Gap to New Core (mainly China), money from the Old Core to the New, and u201Csecurityu201D from Core to Gap. He issues some prescriptions to make everything work (p. 192).

Europeans must quit being u201Cxenophobicu201D and import millions of happy workers, who can pay taxes to support failing welfare states; and ditto for the terrible Japs. Why, if they imported all the new folks they need, well, u201Cit wouldn't be Japan anymore; that would be an entirely new country. I personally believe that would be a better Japan….u201D (pp. 209–211).

Mr. Barnett would like a different Japan. There is no arrogance shortage when he is on duty. Can the Japanese be consulted, or would that be an excess of democracy?

The key to keeping the Four Flows going is, of course, the US, u201Cthe honest brokeru201D wherever it goes: u201Cour security product is a known commodity,u201D hence rising u201Cglobal demandu201D [!] for it. Indeed, u201CU.S. security is the only public-sector export from the Core to the Gap that matters….u201D This export makes it possible for otherwise cowardly businessmen to engage in foreign direct investment. To make globalization go, the US undertakes the u201Crehabilitationu201D of the Gap: u201CWe are backfilling political rule sets to realign them with economic rule sets that had leaped aheadu201D (pp. 237–242).

Evidently, if there were to be less investment here, and more investment there, and if trade were to flow along somewhat different routes than it does now, it would be the end of life as we know it. It is the revolutionary destiny of the US to keep trade going in the proper channels. It is worth a few score wars, especially since we won't call them wars.


In pursuit of the Single Approved Path to Prosperity, the US makes u201Cother states feel more secure.u201D You bet. u201CSometimes exporting security means training their future military leaders at our schools, like the Naval War Collegeu201D (p. 231) — or, the School of the Americas, one could add.

At a time when a new strategic doctrine is born every week, Barnett announces his preference for u201Cwar within the context of everything elseu201D (p. 260, his italics). It is hard to see what this can possibly mean. I suppose he is saying that most strategies run aground because one or another u201Cvariableu201D can't be controlled. Therefore, the solution is to control all the key u201Cvariables.u201D Good luck.

Barnett claims to have sold his vision to u201Cyounger officers, the ones who will run this world in a decadeu201D – and the mask of social concern seems to be slipping. But never mind, even if younger officers will run the world in a decade, u201Cthe United States Government [is] the greatest force for good the world has ever knownu201D and u201Cthe U.S. military is the single greatest instrument of that good as wellu201D (p. 270, my italics).

Barnett spends a good part of his book reiterating how great and incomparable the power of the US state and military is. The very Catholic Lord Acton said something about power corrupting…. One might therefore wonder whether or not all its enormous power might deliver u201Cthe greatest force for goodu201D etc. into corruption.

Such possibilities do not seem to trouble Barnett, and they will probably not trouble his cadre of Decembrists, should he manage to train one up: the Age of the Power-Point Napoleons lies before us.


So how will the aspiring US praetorians accomplish their manifold philanthropies? Barnett writes: u201Cwe are now waging wars on individual bad actors throughout the Gap.u201D But if the US is fighting individuals, how is it u201Cwaru201D – in the sense of Waco and Ruby Ridge, perhaps?

One way involves a typically American substitution of technology for thinking: u201CWe will close on a standard of warfare where an unmanned aerial vehicle operating on the other side of the world can locate, identify, and kill a terrorist within eight to nine minutes — all at the push of a button.u201D Poised thus on the edge of utopia, u201Cwe can render organized mass violence of all sorts essentially obsoleteu201D (p. 272). Comment is hardly needed.

And so we return to the beginning: u201Cto those who held broad lands… the arrow was the high and holy symbol of possession; to those who cultivated those lands it was u2018looked upon… as the appropriate missile of the robber, or of one who lurks in ambush.' The antithesis is complete: there is no understanding between Abraham and Nimrod because each is sure the other is mad.u201D [10]

Actually, Barnett supplies suggestive evidence as to who is mad.

He describes u201Cthe three-front waru201D — here, in between, and there — u201Cwhere nothing is sacred and no one is ever absolutely safe.u201D To fight back, the US must unleash a u201CSystem Perturbationu201D to destroy the other side's u201Crule setsu201D (pp. 274–277).

Unhappily, the US needs u201Ca new lexiconu201D so as to be understood (p. 287). More integration of Gap and Core is needed, because u201Cdiminished expectationsu201D drove 9/11 (pp. 284–285). And thus the old domestic American liberal-sociological explanation for crime goes global, as US military might bestrides the globe, looking for u201Croot causes.u201D Sustaining and purifying the world system, u201CAmerica will resume its historical role as the most revolutionary force on the planetu201D (p. 294). The whole thing begins to resemble Soviet propaganda, even if it lacks the Soviets' intellectual seriousness.


With so much at stake, it quickly develops that we really need two militaries: a u201CLeviathan forceu201D to blow up everything in its path, albeit with much hailed u201Cprecision,u201D and a u201CSystem Administrator forceu201D (hereafter: u201CSisyphusu201D [my suggestion]) to do the social work. This is the logical consequence of insisting that the US welfare-warfare state be universalized for the Good of All. Of course Barnett hates it when people joke about the social work army. This is serious business, after all, and indeed it is.

We have the u201Crightu201D to rule because we invented globalization and we do so, because u201Cwe can and because it is goodu201D (p. 301). To conduct our worldwide philanthropies, the US military must get back u201Cto its original roots,u201D (p. 302) which I imagine involves Indian wars and burning Atlanta and Columbia and shelling Charleston every so often.

u201CAmericau201D — whatever that means to Barnett — becomes in effect, the long-awaited World State, which will deal with u201Cbad individual actorsu201D everywhere (p. 304, his italics). No child left behind, no bad actor unbombed, and no soul unsaved.

Now comes a dubious analogy from physics: owing to u201Csecurity deficits in the Gap,u201D power vacuums arise, filled by u201Cbad actorsu201D (p. 306). Note the interesting twist (another inversion) on the old power vacuum argument. No longer do we fear that some rival empire will step in (as in the Philippines); now the horrific threat is that someone local will run a locality. The war must go on, until all that is local, bad, and u201Cpastu201D is stamped out by the universal and good. The future's ahead.

One is reminded of Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, whose speech at Cooper Institute in November 1867 counted Indian tribalism, feudalism, states rights, and German disunity on the side of evil, and centralization, larger states, and Union on the side of good. [11]

Meanwhile, the US government does well by u201Cexporting sovereign debt,u201D i.e., swindling the world market with paper dollars worth less and less, but u201Cthis seemingly unfair transactionu201D is yet another US good deed because the US is exporting u201Csecurityu201D in exchange for the paper (pp. 308–309). As the happy process rocks along, u201Cthe Core gains the greatest military contractor the world has ever seenu201D (p. 314) — and humanity scales new heights in the long march from status to contract to contractors.

The Two-Model Army will keep humanity from flying apart into separateness, segregation, apartheid, ethnic exclusivity, and the Horrors of the Past. Sisyphus — the System Administrators – u201Cwill export security nonthreateninglyu201D and u201Cbuild nations wielding nonlethal technologies appropriate to the policing systems they will generate as legacies to the succeeding political orderu201D (p. 320). Naturally, u201Ctransparencyu201D is mentioned.

Sisyphus u201Cwill be thoroughly multilateral, bureaucratically multilingual, and able to coexist peacefully with any nongovernmental organization or private voluntary organization on the scene.u201D Its bureaucrats will be older, married, etc. u201CThe Leviathan force will remain under military lawu201D but outside the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. Presumably, it will have military music to go along with the military u201Clawu201D — to steal a comparison first made by Robert Sherrill. The Sisyphus u201Cwill not be bound by Posse Comitatus restrictions on operating within the United States. It will be a far more police-like force, connected to society and always available for insertion into homeland security operationsu201D (pp. 321–322).

The Sisyphuseans will u201Cu2018serve and protect' both at home and overseas. To its detractors, the System Administration force will be a u2018mobile police state,' pure and simpleu201D but no, it will practice u201CCore justiceu201D and all is well (p. 322). But this is not an argument, and the Sisyphus does look like a mobile police state.

And the slow-motion American coup picks up speed.

Leviathan will require u201CSpartan launching-pad bases around the Gap,u201D but its forces u201Cwill largely surge from bases within the continental United States to interventions overseasu201D (p. 324). Is this the return of warriors-as-nomads? [12]

The National Guard will go into the Sisyphus, as will the recently created Homeland Security Department (or Heimatsicherheitsbro) (p. 325). I wonder what this will do for enlistments in the Guardia Nacional? All in all, it is a strange fate for what used to be the state militias to be hijacked as imperial occupation forces.

Bear-hugging u201Cthe future worth creating,u201D Barnett writes: u201CMy definition of just wars is exceedingly simple: They must leave affected societies more connected than we found them, with the potential for self-driven connectivity either restored or left intactu201D (p. 326).

Let us rephrase this experimentally (we Americans are great experimenters):

u201CMy definition of just bank robberies is exceedingly simple: They must leave the smallest number of tellers and customers dead, while stimulating local commerce via an imagined Keynesian multiplier effect, once the money is spent in approved markets.u201D

Being u201Cliberators, not mere protectors of the status quou201D gives the u201CAmerican way of waru201D a u201Cmoral edgeu201D (p. 328), or certainly a surplus of cant. u201COur wars need to expand the good, not simply check the evil.u201D During the Cold War, we u201Clost track of America's revolutionary story line, which sees us remaking the world in our own image of freedom, connectivity, and the rule of lawu201D (p. 329). Yes, we have met the Jacobins, and they are us.

u201CWe simply go after bad guys, using weapons with a real moral dimension, such as smart bombsu201D and such extraordinary u201Cpower, armed with moral principle should equal a real grand strategy.u201D Thus: u201CWhen a Special Operations soldier laser-guides a bomb into a bad guy's house, killing all inside, but sparing all around, we are saying that America owns the consequences of its wars.u201D This is, Barnett avers, a u201Cuniquely American way of waru201D (pp. 330–331).

Certainly it involves a uniquely American form of self-deception. And u201Ckilling all inside, but sparing all aroundu201D suggests that Barnett spends a bit too much time in the Old Testament. That – or the US government is in fact God walking on the earth.

There are parallels, of course, to Barnett's embrace of permanent frontier war:

u201CThe prospect of a constant state of war on the Eastern border filled him with satisfaction: it would he said, help build a strong race and prevent Germany from sinking back into European decadence…. Hitler's idea of u2018world domination' is not to be understood as a permanent state of peace, but as a constant state of war with the assurance of German pre-eminence: with a number of small armies it would be possible to dominate a large number of peoples permanently.u201D [13]

Now let us rephrase the above paragraph to suit the present case. Mutatis mutandis, we have:

u201CThe prospect of a constant state of peacekeeping by bombardment, invasion, assassination, and social work filled Barnett with satisfaction; it would he said (or implied), keep globalization going, and give the decadent Europeans healthy outdoor work. Barnett's idea of u2018world domination' is not to be understood as a permanent state of peace or war (as understood in days of yore), but as a constant state of postmodern war-and-peace-together-again with the assurance of US pre-eminence: with a number of small armies it would be possible to dominate a large number of peoples permanently so as to bombard, uplift, and civilize them.u201D


Barnett's map-based educational project seems an impressive structure. He has invoked the name of Hobbes to support his claim that only the US can bring law and order to the Great Frontier. Is this enough?

Belgian jurist Frank van Dun writes:

The idea that the state is a form of organized lawlessness is a recurrent theme in liberal thought. It underlies the many attempts to civilise or tame what Hobbes aptly called the u2018Leviathan.' The aim is to institutionalise constitutional checks and balances…. In other words, the liberal idea implies that, at least in times of peace, the state should be controlled according to law. In many ways, this constitutional approach was very successful…. Nevertheless, constitutionalism was more effective as a source of legitimacy than as a check on the powers of the state. Liberals all too easily acquiesced in the state's claim to represent or embody the law…. The state, the institutionalised form of (preparedness for) lawless war, came to be regarded as a necessary institution of lawful peace.

Van Dun adds: u201CTo the extent that liberals subscribed to this view — and they did so en masse — they conceded the main point of political ontology to the apologists of statism: that war, not peace, is the normal or natural condition of human life. This is perhaps the most basic axiom of statism. It implies that there is no natural society, no u2018spontaneous order' (as Hayek would say). Man plus man equals war. The whole of the statist philosophy is contained in that simple statement.u201D [14]

To say that security must precede law, is to say that law (or justice) is the will of the stronger. On this point, I think we can present Hobbes and Barnett with a Scottish verdict of u201Cnot proven.u201D The political scientist Anthony de Jasay writes of such Hobbesian models:

The statist solution to satisfying the enabling conditions of an economic order that is both beneficent and spontaneous, is visibly defective. A weak state, especially one with no stored-up reserves of legitimacy, lacks the wherewithal; it has little taxing power to extort it; there can be no efficient economy to extort it from, because the state has lacked the wherewithal to provide the enforcing order that could make it efficient. A strong state, supposing it is logically possible prior to an efficient economy, could find the wherewithal; but no reason is furnished why it would choose to refrain from using its strength in ways that would probably be more harmful to an efficient market than the much-dreaded mafia. For cogent reasons, it is almost bound to invade and override property rights instead of protecting them, to impose the terms of contracts rather than to enforce those the parties choose, to engage in ever more substantial redistribution of wealth and income, for this is the logic of the incentives under which states operate.u201D [15]

It begins to seem that Hobbesian states are as much impediments to, and destroyers of, economic life as they are u201Cpreconditionsu201D of it — if indeed they are that at all. From around 1500 A.D., modern, abstract bureaucratic states have treated pre-existing social bodies and institutions as rivals to be forcibly overcome. Social bodies outside the state have increasingly existed on sufferance, their existence a concession of the state.

Political theorist David Gross summarizes the process:

u201CIn the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the state went on the offensive against virtually every kind of intervening body existing between the individual and the state itself…. Only the public and private corporations, the communal guilds, the local social groupings, and the numerous customary institutions compatible with what the state saw as its higher raison d'tat were sanctioned. Even though many of the intermediate bodies were historically antecedent to the state, they had to be legitimized by various governmental agencies in order to have the right to continue operating.u201D [16]

A certain kind of u201Cindividualismu201D grew up alongside the all-embracing state. Gross writes: u201COne of the principle assumptions of the period around 1800 was that of the state as a liberator of the individual. It was the state, after all, that was given credit for freeing the individual from the dead-weight of tradition, the individualist's chief bte noire.u201D [17]

It is not clear that the bargain was a very good one. Gross notes some possible drawbacks, including a kind of u201Cindividualism based on a convergence of the private ego and the will of the state, an individualism that expressed itself in terms of nationalistic or patriotic sentiments. The type of individualism that took this route lost its merely personal character and found in the nation the most solid foundation for a stable identity. Paradoxically, this form of individualism fulfilled its original, particularistic goals only by transcending and, in a sense, universalizing them: the nation-state simply became the self writ large.u201D [18]

As states colonized time via mass public education, they spread their new gospel of freedom within – and only within – the state. In their telling, Gross observes, u201Cprogress became virtually synonymous with the growth of the centralized state,u201D and the state became the demiurge of history, which u201Cdrives and pushes the world forward to actualize its potential; if it were not for the state as a catalyzing agent, history would remain static, tradition-bound, and incomplete.u201D [19]

This is rather like Barnett's view of things, although he has, it must be admitted, found the One True State, the One which will complete the work of Spirit in History. Of course any selves not grounded on identification with that state may suffer. This will not matter, I suppose, because (to paraphrase an old joke about Baptists) being a Hobbesian doesn't keep you from sinning, but it does keep you from noticing it.


In presenting what may seem to some a convincing system, Barnett benefits from the general American ignorance of history. His own view of history seems utterly conventional, and on this infirm foundation he raises the mighty superstructure of his world-saving project. Thus he writes: u201COur entire society was built by people who refused to accept the old waysu201D (p. 151). This could use a little refining.

In addition, Barnett tends to assume the legitimacy and rightness of all past US exercises in organized violence. He decries our failure to lead the world after World War I by joining the League of Nations (p. 195). He takes as given the whole u201Cdemocratic peaceu201D theorem, which in practice operates as a rationalization of past Anglo-American military successes.

Barnett's chief methodological breakthrough consists of having everything both ways. It is an important prop of his system. Thus, he wants the tools, toys, and payoffs of military adventurism, but shies away from the old social-militarist story in which mass sacrifice of blood and treasure leads to social rebirth. Instead, we shall sacrifice just the right amount of our children and wealth, as determined (doubtless) by econometric u201Cmodeling.u201D Otherwise, we shall go about our business protected, warned, and supervised by a benign and minimally intrusive police state. As he puts it: u201CIn my mind, if the Pentagon does its job right, the rest of the country gets to go about its business with as little change as possibleu201D (p. 53). This calls to mind the classic British imperial posture of arrogant complacency mixed with occasional bouts of hysteria about losing some of the lads on the Northwest Frontier.

For the tender-minded, Barnett can be the most sentimental bleeding-heart liberal; for the tough, macho types, he offers thunderclaps of TNT, bolts of righteous American lightening sent halfway round the world.

As for economics, Barnett sees the essential u201Ctransactionu201D within the Core as a fair exchange of inflated US dollars for the export of US security services. But where is the demonstrated preference? [20] I, for one, will believe the proposition that this is a market exchange, when the foreigners show up, gold in hand, and sign a formal, written contract for X-amount of security for X-amount of money, with details fully worked out in the fine print. Short of that, Mr. Barnett's proposition is of no more force than any other implicit u201Csocial contractsu201D to which he may refer.

Further, even if leaders of another state make a written agreement with US leaders involving money and security, neither Barnett nor anyone else can show that such an agreement bespeaks actual u201Cconsentu201D or demonstrated preference of the citizenry of the two states. All we know is that specific members of one ruling class agreed on something with specific members of another ruling class. This is hardly an u201Ceconomicu201D transaction or the workings of a real market, by any stretch of the imagination.

As things stand, US u201Coffersu201D of protection come, to one degree or another, with an implied threat. It seems doubtful this should really be termed the innocent u201Cu2018export' of U.S. security u2018services' to regional u2018markets'…u201D (p. 198).

Historian Thomas McCormick seems more realistic when he observes, that u201C[t]he twin functions of the hegemon as global banker and global policeman lead it to overinvest in multinational adventures abroad and in military production at home. It becomes easier and more profitable to live off one's overseas dividends and rents (to become a rentier economy) and off state-subsidized military contracts (to become a warfare economy) than to sustain high investment levels in the civilian industrial sector…. Hegemony necessarily rests on both military and economic power, and the dilemma facing a maturing hegemon is that it cannot sustain both.u201D [21]

US leaders chose to do things this way; it is not obvious that their decisions reasonably impose an obligation or exchange on any states or peoples anywhere.

Barnett's neo-mercantilism approaches Karl Polanyi's view, that markets are unnatural and have to be imposed by states. This view led Polanyi to oppose markets; it leads Barnett to espouse force. Unify the world through bombing, etc., and markets will follow.

Barnett therefore reduces global economic activity to a set of slogans: u201CLook for resourcesu201D; u201CNo stability, no marketsu201D; u201CNo growth, no stabilityu201D; u201CNo resources, no growthu201D; u201CNo infrastructure, no resourcesu201D; u201CNo money, no infrastructureu201D; u201CNo rules, no moneyu201D; u201CNo security, no rulesu201D; u201CNo Leviathan, no securityu201D; u201CNo will, no Leviathanu201D (pp. 198–204).

But these notions are of little use precisely to the extent that they fail conceptually to distinguish state coercion from market exchange. It is one thing to say that rules – and broadly speaking, law – are preconditions of trade; it is quite another to say that only states can provide rules and law. It is even less believable to be told that only a benevolent hegemonic power can provide the rules — and a single version, at that – needed for the entire world.

Barnett's view seems to be, u201CNo empire, no trade.u201D Yet trade has a way of breaking out in unpredictable directions and the chief business of states, for hundreds of years, has been to suppress, restrain, or take revenue from traders. [22] The notion that the state is the indispensable friend of trade needs some revising. Of course if trade must, for some reason, only flow in certain approved channels, the person holding such a view will want a hegemonic ordering of the world, whatever the price.

And, speaking of trade flowing in approved channels, Barnett complains along the way, that wicked, wealthy Muslims u201Chold somewhere in the range of one-fifth of a trillion dollars in personal savings,u201D noting that u201C[i]nternational financial firms are trying to figure out a way to unleash all that potential investment power….u201D How dare these guys keep their own money! They are clearly guilty of anti-Keynesian u201Choarding.u201D More international regulation will be necessary.

Even worse, informal Islamic banking is u201Cexploited by terrorist groups because they leave no paper trail.u201D Barnett's fear seems to be that, somewhere, something may be going unregulated. A new u201Crule setu201D is needed! (pp. 218–219). We may chalk it up to the war on liberty and privacy, here and abroad, demanded by all those whose chief article of faith is u201Ctransparency.u201D [23]

In the same vein, Barnett decries the specter of the u201Ccrony capitalism rifeu201D in Asia (p. 228). There is no crony capitalism in the Core, of course, and the Chinese are slowly coming around to our high standards. Actually, there is plenty of corporatism in the Core, plenty of interpenetration of businesses and states, but since it is not especially kinship-based, and has no taint of Confucianism, it escapes the charge of crony capitalism.

Western corporatism, properly understood, is nothing but the loveliest liberal pluralism. There is no room in Barnett's world for any system of trade other than a neoliberal institutionalism (embedded corporatism) u201Cthat emphasises an elaborate machinery of inter-governmental cooperation.u201D Implicitly ruled out is any notion of u201Cunilateral free trade… from belowu201D or u201Cliberalism from belowu201D as championed, for example, by the classical liberal economist Wilhelm Rpke. [24] This is rather unfortunate, since the latter vision does not require — or justify — wars for commerce.

But, by now, only the nave can really believe that u201Cglobalizationu201D — as seen by its US promoters — is actually about trade. What is being globalized is the bureaucratic state, US division. This seems to have rather little to do with the old-school free traders' goals of increased prosperity by way of voluntary exchange.


To eliminate crony capitalism, oppression, etc., Barnett proposes to inflict the proper u201Crule setsu201D on the world. He seems to prefer this rather lithe notion to u201Claw,u201D although u201Clawu201D is already seen to be endlessly malleable in the saved and justified nations. u201CThe fewer the rules you have, the more war you have,u201D he writes (p. 23).

This does not seem the least bit self-evident. It is not hard to imagine having too many u201Crules,u201D and without further consideration of the content of the rules, we are getting nowhere.

Barnett brags of our (American) u201Cfreedom of action within minimal rule setsu201D p. (296). He has apparently never seen a complete set of the US Federal Code, much less all the supplementary administrative u201Clawu201D rulings and regulations. Elsewhere he writes: u201CUntil there are equal rules, we are not all equalu201D (p. 54, his italics). But again, the content of these u201Cequalu201D may have some bearing on whether or not we have any freedom.

u201CReal freedom exists within defined rule sets,u201D says Barnett (p. 124), but alas for the long-run certainty of the law, [25] u201Cthe discussion of security rule sets is a never-ending process, just as it is inside our country, where the Supreme Court is constantly revising definitions of our most basic legal principlesu201D (p. 178). His notion of law resembles that of the apologist American Journal of International Law, where US bombing of Stockholm, should it occur, would be said to have generated a new customary u201Cruleu201D of international u201Claw.u201D

If the courts, among others, constantly u201Creviseu201D our u201Crule setsu201D for us, then the laws are not very stable, are they? So why obey the ever-shifting laws? Because they are right. Why are they right? Because they're the law…. and so on in a never-ending circular argument.

Barnett shows an incurable, perhaps deliberate, and certainly fatuous navet about easily ascertainable facts about US law, actually existing American democracy, and the like. Thus u201Cour police are permitted to use deadly force within our society: much of the time they do it preemptively. Frankly, that's the ideal. We want the bad guys stopped — if necessary, dead in their tracks — before they can do someone great harm. That is an amazingly difficult responsibility we impart to our police, and our confidence in doing so is driven primarily by our faith in the legal system….u201D (p. 171).

Our u201Cfaith in the legal systemu201D is not up to the job Barnett gives it, especially since he has told us, a few pages on, that the u201Clawu201D is being made up from day to day.

Taking his domestic police model into the wider world, Barnett writes: u201CCIA operatives steering their own unmanned aerial vehicles now have the okay to conduct assassinations of terrorist targets upon sighting…. That is a new rule setu201D (p. 268, my italics). On the contrary, it is at best something that state apparatchiks might get away with.

Of his Leviathan force, he writes: u201CLike the SWAT team within any metropolitan police force, it will enter and exit crime scenes as dictated by circumstancesu201D (p. 323, my italics). Post-moderns like to tell us about the ambiguity of language, and I can't help asking whether, when the Leviathans u201Center and exit crime scenes,u201D these will be scenes of their own crimes, or will the crimes be someone else's?

(u201CDamn, Sarge. We leveled the wrong house! Can't youse guys read street numbers?u201D)

Barnett's working model for US foreign policy is a drug bust gone more wrong than usual, and the u201Cusualu201D is not a terribly high standard.

So the u201Clawu201D changes to meet the needs of policy, the SWAT teams, at home and abroad, enforce the u201Claw,u201D and u201Cyounger officers… will run this world in a decadeu201D anyway: not a very inspiring future, all in all, especially in the context of Barnet’s comments on might making right and, supposedly, right making might (pp. 310, 315).

At this point, there being no stable notion of law, we might fall back, I suppose, on a vague notion of justice, on some minimal kind of morality. But we are denied even this, since the Official Morality on offer, much like Jacobin, Bolshevik and National-Socialist morality, looks to be largely instrumental to the success of an historical project. Where it is not a tool, it is merely decorative. With no law and no morality, we are swept toward the flinty New England rocks of US u201Cidealism,u201D to be dashed to ideological bits.

Barnett sings hymns of praise to the US Government and the radiant new world it can create (pp. 287–288). The US cared about Iraq's future, bless our hearts. Like any welfare-warfare state ideologue, Barnett plays the u201Csufferingu201D card well; whether he plays it sincerely or tactically, we cannot know.

America is caring, Barnett writes, u201Cbecause we are a nation built on universal ideals of freedom and equality, not limited to definitions of ethnic identity or u2018sacred land'u201D (p. 301) — the latter point entailing, of course, the usual exception for our Heroic Ally in the Middle East. For some reason, the US needs to create greater disconnectedness in Palestine… (p. 293).


Having exhausted law as a believable basis for Barnett's u201Crule sets,u201D we find ourselves back in the territory of u201Cthe greatest force for goodu201D etc., that is, we find ourselves dealing with US u201Cidealism.u201D As Barnett writes, in an outburst of US egotism: we have u201Creligious freedom, political expression, the right to own propertyu201D (my personal favorite) and we u201Chave long debated whether our good fortune imparts to us special obligation to share this dream with others….u201D (p. 295). The US only seeks to extend u201Cour rulesu201D because they work so well and because we are so wonderful; u201Cit is our liberty road show.u201D He adds: u201CWhat is sacred about America is not our land, but our union, and our union can and should be extended — first through collective security, then economic connectivity, and finally political community.u201D To do less is to shut the poor Disconnected everywhere out of the Radiant Future; it is to adopt an u201Cexclusionary ideologyu201D (pp. 296–297, his italics) – and of course every good American knows that discrimination is always and everywhere wrong.

The goodness of the future and the evil of the past recall how Emerson's u201Cmingling of the immediate and the prospective murders time and kidnaps ideals, originally nursed in the manifold culture, into the imperium of the self.u201D [26] But even if the future is ahead, and ineffably Good, why is bringing it into being our (that is, Americans') burden? One answer might be u201Cliberal guilt,u201D as explained by James Burnham:

u201CThe guilt of the liberal causes him to feel obligated to try to do something about any and every social problem; to cure every social evil…. the liberal must try to cure the evil even if he has no knowledge of the suitable medicine or, for that matter, of the nature of the disease; he must do something about the social problem even when there is no objective reason to believe that what he does can solve the problem — when, in fact, it may well aggravate the problem instead of solving it. u2018We cannot stand idly by while the world rushes to destruction… or women and children are starving… or able men walk the streets without jobs… or the air becomes polluted… or Negroes can't vote in Zenith… or immigrants live in rat-infested slums… or youngsters don't get a decent education…' or whatever. The harassed liberal is relentlessly driven by his Eumenidean guilt.u201D [27]

Burnham adds: u201CWithin the universe of liberalism there is no point at which the spirit can come to rest; nowhere and no moment for the soul to say: in His Will is our peace.u201D [28]

Whether Barnett himself feels liberal guilt is perhaps beside the point; he is more than ready to use it as part of his case. And now we are back on the familiar ground of American political theology, with its Protestant and post-Protestant varieties well tangled together in a great mental thicket. There is, for example, Barnett's rather Emersonian claim, that by getting wholly rid of the Gap, we u201Cmake the self all-inclusiveu201D (pp. 297–298). Richard M. Weaver wrote of Emerson: u201CWhen we meet in actual life a person whose conduct seems to say, u2018What I am doing is the right thing because I am the one who is doing it,' we set it down as arrant egotism. But what are we to say when we encounter the same idea shored up by philosophical speculation and claiming some authority from mystical intuition?u201D [29]

And what, indeed, are we to think when the mere identity of those doing something is proposed as proof of its rightfulness, and this is made the basis of an entire foreign policy? We find ourselves face to face with that Protestant zany, Samuel D. Baldwin, whose book, Armageddon, or the Overthrow of Romanism and Monarchy; the Existence of the United States Foretold in the Bible, Its Future Greatness; Invasion by Allied Europe; Annihilation of Monarchy; Expansion into the Millennial Republic, and Its Dominion Over the Whole World (Cincinnati: Applegate & Company, 1854), already tells the story in its title.

In addition, a more or less secularized utopian republicanism has long added to the heady brew on which Barnett and other crusaders can draw. Thus John Adams, u201Cconservativeu201D as he is said to have been, wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1813: u201COur pure, virtuous, public-spirited, federative republic will last forever, govern the globe, and introduce the perfection of man.u201D [30]

One begins to wonder if Barnett, actually believes in these longstanding American utopian phantasms, which arise (mainly) from a specific kind of Anglo-American Protestantism. But perhaps religious u201Cdenominationu201D doesn't matter too much, when the object of one's worship turns out to be the world's most successful state apparatus.

Barnett's theses serve to deepen the conviction that US foreign policy — in its more doctrinal moments — involves the projection of American religious manias and deep historical traumas onto the world. As historian William Appleman Williams observes, Puritans u201Cexternalized Evil, thus making it an object to be overpowered rather than an internal, human weakness to be contained until transformed…. This propensity to place Evil outside their system not only distorted the Puritans' own doctrine, it inclined them toward a solution which involved the extension of their system over others.u201D [31]

The historian Ernest Tuveson writes: u201CIf history is theodicy, if redemption is historical as well as individual, if evil is to be finally and decisively bound through great conflicts, God must operate through cohesive bodies of men; there must be children of light and children of darkness geographically, and the City of God and the City of the World should be susceptible of being designated on maps.u201D [32] Barnett wishes to provide such a map, although I would not trust him any further than I would a dyslexic Church Father who sought to distinguish the City of Dog from the City of Nam.

Barnett has somehow exempted Americans, and especially the overgrown state that so kindly watches over their every activity, from any possibility of sin, original or otherwise. Original sin is gone from the Core — mostly – because all the sin has been shoveled into the Gap, or at least into the concept of the Gap. Like the mainstream, u201Cliberalu201D Protestant clergy who just couldn't get enough of World War I, [33] Barnett is keen on bringing about the Kingdom of God on Earth, no matter the costs.

Such a program of salvation-within-the-world, which refuses the modest goal of improving things as we go, calls to mind modern political Gnosticism, as studied by Eric Voegelin, with its u201Ctotalu201D projects in which all must participate and for the achievement of which no expenditure of force and treasure can be too great. [34] Such cosmic, ideological commitments undercut Barnett’s posture of cold-blooded, mathematical rationalism, if he believes in them; if he does not, he begins to seem very cynical indeed.


Barnett also rediscovers, implicitly, a doctrine favored by any great empire, namely: u201Cthe claim that it alone possesses authority, imperium, over the peoples of the world.u201D Along with this claim comes u201Cthe pretension to universality and uniqueness.u201D History itself has willed the empire, and therefore u201Cit owns, or ought to own, the present; and being established eternally the future belongs to it.u201D Finally, u201Cthere are no legitimate alternatives to oppose its claim.u201D [35]

Gnostic or otherwise, Barnett's rhetorical strategy has traces of malign genius. He redefines geopolitical space, so that all those places Americans thought were u201Coutsideu201D and u201Cforeignu201D become u201Cinsideu201D and u201Cinternal.u201D Thus all our forward bases and excessive, unthinking firepower will point inward, into failed places with bad actors, individual subjects who somehow got u201Cinsideu201D our big new global townhouse, like rats or roaches in the carport.

Describing a political dualism of the ancient world, Hugh Nibley writes: u201CHighly characteristic of the hierocentric doctrine is an utter abhorrence of all that lies outside the system. The world inevitably falls into two parts, the heavenly kingdom and the outer darkness, a world of monsters and abortions. Whoever is not of the frithr [peace] is a nithung [villain], without rights and without humanity. All who do not willingly submit to Alexander or Constantine are, according to Dio Chysostom and Eusebius, mad beasts to be hunted down and exterminated. For the Romans, all the world is either ager pacatus or ager hosticus, says Varrou201D [36] – pacified space or hostile space.

What Barnett has done, and done rather well, is to create the mirage of a single, horrific threat to the civilized world: the Gap. He does so by throwing an array of differing societies, states (u201Cfailedu201D or not), cultures, and even religions, into a residual category that gives things a false appearance of unity. Our prospective enemies are united, apparently, by their very disunity, disorganization, failure, u201Closerhood,u201D attachment to the past, and so on. Hurricanes and fire ants, too, come from the Gap, but Barnett has not mentioned them.

But there exists a much more economical explanation for what little u201Cunityu201D does exist across the so-called Gap. That explanation very simply is that, for various reasons, the United States messes with these places. That these peoples do not take to being messed with is, for some, proof of their evil. It seems only human.

As sociologist Ian Roxborough noted in 2002, u201Crather than an u2018ideological' or u2018religious' reaction to globalization, or a deep clash of cultures, what we may be witnessing is a nationalist response to American assertiveness in the world…. And these nationalist rages are likely to be responses to quite specific actions on the part of United States.u201D [37]

It may well be that a continued campaign against these societies, whether under the Bush Doctrine or the Barnett Doctrine, will create more of the very unity said to exist already. The cost/benefit analysis of that future will be interesting to contemplate. The real costs may be quite tragic, especially if policymakers and public are alike bemused by the map bestowed upon us by a terrible simplifier.


[1] Hugh Nibley, u201CThe Arrow, the Hunter, and the State,u201D Western Political Quarterly, 2, 3 (September 1949), p. 338.

[2] Quentin Anderson, Making Americans: An Essay on Individualism and Money (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1992), p. 9.

[3] See Karen Kwiatkowski, u201CNew Map, Same Bad Destinations: A Review of The Pentagon's New Mapu201D (June 7, 2004).

[4] Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time (New York: Macmillan, 1966), pp. 1207 ff.

[5] Youssef Cohen, Brian R. Brown, and A. F. K. Organski, u201CThe Paradoxical Nature of State Making: The Violent Creation of Order,u201D American Political Science Review, 75, 4 (December 1981), pp. 904, 907–909.

[6] See, for example, Christopher Layne, u201CKant or Cant: The Myth of the Democratic Peace,u201D International Security, 19, 2 (Autumn 1994), pp. 5–49; Ido Oren, u201CThe Subjectivity of Democratic Peace,u201D International Security, 20, 2 (1995), pp. 147–184; Joanne Gowa, u201CDemocratic States and International Disputes,u201D International Organization, 49, 3 (Summer 1995), pp. 51–522, and Gerard Radnitzky, u201CIs Democracy More Peaceful than Other Forms of Government?u201D, in Hans-Hermann Hoppe, ed., The Myth of National Defense (Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2003), pp. 145–212.

[7] Michael Mann, The Dark-Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004), Ch. 1, pp. 5, 7. The book is due out in November. And see Ch. 5). See also Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Democracy: The God that Failed (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2001) and Gordon Graham, The Case Against the Democratic State (Charlottesville, VA: Imprint Academic, 2002).

[8] On the supra-national coordination of corporatist economies, as a substitute for genuine free trade, the gold standard, etc., see John Gerard Ruggie, u201CInternational Regimes, Transactions, and Change: Embedded Liberalism in the Postwar Economic Order,u201D International Organization, 36, 2 (Spring 1982), pp. 379–415.

[9] On Operation Northwoods, see James Bamford, Body of Secrets (New York: Anchor Books, 2002), pp. 82–91.

[10] Nibley, u201CArrow, Hunter, and State,u201D p. 343.

[11] Charles Sumner, u201CAre We a Nation?u201D, in C. Edwards Lester, Life and Public Services of Charles Sumner (New York: United States Publishing Co., 1874), pp. 58–613.

[12] See Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari, Nomadology: The War Machine (New York: Semiotext(e), 1986), a suggestive work, which unfortunately adds much postmodern confusion to the subject. Hugh Nibley was a pioneer in this field: see u201CThe Arrow, the Hunter, and the State,u201D pp. 328–344, u201CThe Hierocentric State,u201D Western Political Quarterly, 4, 2 (1951), pp. 226–253, and u201CTenting, Toll, and Taxing,u201D Western Political Quarterly, 19, 4 (1966), pp. 599–630.

[13] Ernst Nolte, Three Faces of Fascism: Action Franaise, Italian Fascism, National Socialism (New York: Mentor Books, 1969), pp. 516–517.

[14] Frank van Dun, u201CPhilosophical Statism and the Illusions of Citizenship: Reflections on the Neutral State,u201D in Boudewijn Bouckaert, ed., Hayek Revisited (Cheltenham, UK: Locke Institute, 2000), p. 94.

[15] Anthony de Jasay, u201CThe Cart before the Horse,u201D in Contending with Hayek: On Liberalism, Spontaneous Order and the Post-Communist Societies in Transition, Christoph Frei and Robert Nef, eds. (New York: Peter Lang, 1994), pp. 55–56.

[16] David Gross, u201CTemporality and the Modern State,u201D Theory and Society, 14 (1985), pp. 62–63.

[17] Gross, p. 64.

[18] Ibid., p. 66 (my emphasis). Individual identification with the State-Self seems to be the key to the sundry Emersonian selves discussed by Barnett.

[19] Ibid., pp. 69–71.

[20] On u201Cdemonstratedu201D as opposed to u201Crevealed preference,u201D see Murray N. Rothbard, u201CPraxeology, Value Judgments, and Public Policy,u201D in The Logic of Action, I (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 1997), pp. 87–89, u201CToward a Reconstruction of Utility and Welfare Economics,u201D ibid., pp. 211–254.

[21] Thomas J. McCormick, u201CWorld Systems,u201D Journal of American History, 77, 1 (June 1990), pp. 129–130.

[22] De Jasay, u201CCart before the Horse,u201D p. 62.

[23] On Arab migrant workers' remittances to their home countries and the informal (banking) mechanisms involved, see Kiren Aziz Chaudry, u201CThe Price of Wealth: Business and State in Labor Remittance and Oil Economies,u201D International Organization, 43, 1 (Winter 1989), pp. 10–145. Chaudry's main complaint seems to be that, in some instances, Arab states cannot sufficiently tax this money and thus the state remains unformed and u201Coutside society,u201D thereby depriving people of modern u201Ccitizenshipu201D — that rather unfortunate bargain made by our ancestors.

[24] See Razeen Sally, u201CThe International Political Economy of Wilhelm Rpke: Liberalism u2018From Below,'u201D Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 26, 2 (1997), pp. 321–348, quotations at pp. 324, 330; and Classical Liberalism and International Economic Order (London: Routledge, 1998).

[25] For this concept, see Bruno Leoni, Freedom and the Law (Los Angeles: Nash Publishing, 1972 [1961]).

[26] Quentin Anderson, The Imperial Self: An Essay in American Literary and Cultural History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1971), p. 225.

[27] James Burnham, Suicide of the West (New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1964), p. 195.

[28] Burnham, Suicide of the West, p. 204.

[29] Richard M. Weaver, u201Cu2018Work with the Word': Southern Literature and Thought,u201D in The Southern Essays of Richard M. Weaver, George M. Curtis III and James J. Thompson, Jr., eds. (Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 1987), p. 52.

[30] Quoted in Merle Curti, u201CUncle Sam as a Missionary,u201D Journal of Higher Education, 11, 9 (December 1940), p. 472.

[31] William Appleman Williams, The Contours of American History (Cleveland: World Publishing Co., 1961), p. 96.

[32] Ernest Tuveson, Redeemer Nation: The Idea of America's Millennial Role (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), p. 141 (my italics).

[33] See Richard M. Gamble, The War for Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War, and the Rise of the Messianic Nation (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2003).

[34] Eric Voegelin, u201CWorld-Empire and the Unity of Mankind,u201D International Affairs, 38, 2 (April 1962), pp. 170–188, and The New Science of Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987 [1952]).

[35] Leo Paul de Alvarez, u201CImperialism: The Threat to Existence,u201D Intercollegiate Review, 2, 5 (April 1966), pp. 312–313.

[36] Hugh Nibley, u201CThe Hierocentric State,u201D p. 244. Nibley notes that Mongols and Muslims have also held the same dualistic view (p. 245).

[37] Ian Roxborough, u201CThe Hart-Rudman Commission and the Homeland Defense,u201D September 2002, pp. 3, 23 (my italics).

September 28, 2004