When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

11 January 2009

Barnett's principles of grand strategy in an age of globalization

Posted at Thomas P.M. Barnett's blog, a preview of the arguments on offer in his next book (due in February):
  1. To be plausible, grand-strategic vision must combine a clear-eyed view of today's reality with a broad capture of the dominant trends shaping the long-term environment, meaning no sharp detours--much less U-turns--in history's advance.
  1. Grand strategy does not seek to change human nature (which got us to this point quite nicely) but to placate it, thereby ensuring the portability of its strategic concepts (the dos and don'ts) among minds from different backgrounds, cultures, and ages.
  1. Grand-strategic thinking always keeps the U.S. government's role in proper perspective, because globalization comes with rules but not a ruler.
  1. Grand-strategic analysis starts with security, which is always 100 percent of your problem until it's reasonably achieved, because then it's at most 10 percent of your ultimate solution.
  1. Grand strategy is not clairvoyance; it does not seek to predict future events but rather to contextualize them in a confident, opportunistic worldview.
  1. Because we live in a time of pervasive and persistent revolutions, the grand strategist is neither surprised nor dismayed when the awesome force of globalization's tectonic shifts elicits vociferous or even violent friction from locals.
  1. Grand strategy purposefully aspires to be proactive, not merely protecting itself from failure but also exploiting avenues of success as they are revealed.
  1. So grand strategists do not entertain, much less succumb to, single-point-failure doomsaying, because systematic thinking about the future means you're not "for" or "against" issues like peak oil or global warming or resource scarcity but instead accept the implied dynamics of the change that has been triggered and factor them in accordingly.
  1. The grand strategist is therefore interested more in direction than in degree of change, recognizing that politics lags dramatically behind economics and that security lags dramatically behind connectivity.
  1. Grand strategy isn't about keeping it a "fair fight"; the grand strategist desires as many allies as possible and as few enemies as possible, and so he's interested in everything and anything that brings adherents to his cause while sapping his enemy's numbers.

From GREAT POWERS, to be published by G. P. Putnam's on February 5, 2009.

Tom's Grand Strategy beliefs from Great Powers (Thomas P.M. Barnett blog)

Got my copy on pre-order.

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