Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004
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****The Pentagon's New Map

War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century

by Thomas P. M. Barnett

Reviewed August 24, 2004.
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 2004.  435 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004, #7, Current Issues

Here is an important book about the America’s role in the world in the twenty-first century.  Though it is called The Pentagon’s New Map, it’s not clear that everyone in the Pentagon has embraced this vision for the future.  Thomas Barnett makes the case that they should.

The author begins by saying that America needed a new strategy and vision after the Cold War ended.  “The United States had spent so much energy during those years trying to prevent the horror of global war that it forgot the dream of global peace.”

He goes on to share his vision of global peace.

It began with looking at a map of where American military involvement has happened in the years since the Cold War ended.  He found that overwhelmingly it happened in countries that were not interconnected with the rest of the world, where globalization hasn’t happened.  He calls that section of the world the “Non-Integrating Gap,” while the more stable nations are the “Functioning Core.”

The Pentagon has gotten into the habit of worrying about Russia reviving or China building strength and attacking, but Thomas Barnett makes the case that that’s not going to happen, because their economies are too interconnected with ours.  China won’t be able to build better lives for its people if they attack us.

He sees September 11th as the expression of a reactionary group trying to break down connectivity.  Osama bin Laden wants Arab nations to break all connection with the rest of the world.  If we let him achieve that, lives will be worse for millions of people, and we will continue to face dangers from that part of the world.  This author sees the war in Iraq as an opportunity to bring connectivity to the whole Middle East, so he sees it as vitally important that we also shift our priorities toward waging the peace.

I can’t boil down all of Thomas Barnett’s more than 400 pages into a few paragraphs and really do it justice.  I do think this is an important book.  It talks about policies our military and our leaders should pursue.  He talks about the great things America has done in the world and why it’s in our own best interests not to abandon the nations of the Gap to their fate.

This book made me proud to be an American and made me feel better about the “War on Terror.”  It also made me look at the world in a whole new way.  It will be interesting to see if America’s leaders buy into this vision.

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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