Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Strategic Ellipse

The Global Capitalist Empire

One of the ways I see it, up to now, human beings haven't had to work too hard to consciously design their societies. However, the past two hundred years have witnessed something of an anomaly in human societal adaptation.

The combination of cheap and easily convertible energy, with the rapid expansion of a narrow spectrum of social systems that aggressively maximize resource consumption, has paralleled a rapid population expansion of the human species, with a mass take over and extinction of a vast number of ecological niches.

These types of expanding social systems represent what ecologists call the low succession r-selected species, which flourish opportunistically in disturbed, low
succession, minimally speciated environments, until they falter and their poplations die back as the resources become exhausted. A typical example of such a species is the lemming. Their populations rise and fall in typical bell shaped curve on a graph, very similar to that of Hubbert curve for peak oil.

In nature what occurs next is a transformation to a greater variety of k-selected species, with lower offspring production and a greater efficiency of resource consumption which is geared to a sustainable rate.

Human beings have proven capable of creating societies that can mimic either r-selected or k-selected species. Personally, I'm looking at what a k-selected society would entail now. We have a variety of rhizome-like, cooperative organic based startups scattered around the U.S. They are kind of like seed stock for a possible collapse, as I see it.

Those R-Selected Species Just Keep On Keepin' On

One can find many reasons advanced by various scholars to back up the U.S. promotion of democracy in the world. In his book The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty First Century, Thomas Barnett offers a map of the globe that identifies two macro geographic regions as a "functioning Core" and a "non -integrating Gap." Barnett is a bright, horizontal thinking strategic planner who's worked for the Pentagon and other government bureaucracies, and it would appear from his book that he likes to imagine he's in one of those computer games where humanity is represented in blocks that contain gross numbers. His Core consists of the richest and most developed countries and regions - North America's two big ones (not Mexico), Europe's Union members (of course Great Britain), Japan, South Korea (not including North Korea, naturally), and Australia. To that he's given gratis acceptance to what he calls "emerging economies" of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Russia, China and India. Together they comprise roughly two thirds of the globes population. The "non-integrating Gap" consists of the rest. Another group of geopolitical strategists might call them the peripheries, another, the underdeveloped nations. Pick your favorite name, I guess.

Look at the map and you'll undoubtedly be riveted by the oval line circumscribing the so-called "geostrategic ellipse." Within that you will find, with the exception of Israel, no primary members of Barnett's "functioning core," although Russia's recent revival from an inevitable collapse (caused, as Barnett sees it, by it's Gap-characteristic infection, initial infection occurring around 1918) puts it in a unique position of being one of the emerging Core members with it's own rich resources in fossil fuels. Geostrategically that's a potentially sticky one for U.S. global imperial ambitions if Russia gets off track in some unmanageable way, but that's an ongoing foreign policy management problem. Those ambitions include what Barnett would call a plan for "connecting" the "disconnected Gap" to the core, for the primary purpose of achieving a more secure world, as defined by those in the "functioning Core," of course. In lieu of that, he sees the primary mission of the US and its military, of course, is to extend connectivity between the Core and Gap as far as possible.

In terms of the policies of the U.S. over the past sixty or so years, the past twenty five years of polyarchic democracy building strategies coincides nicely with Barnett's prospects for connecting the disconnected Gap, now that the military has been folded back into the batter. So for Barnett, we've gone from a period of covert clumsy CIA intervention, imposing strong man clients in key resource rich nations, to more sophisticated polyarchic elites in charge, with the necessary camouflage of democracy, since they can be elected, to the extra important stablizing factor of a redesigned Cold War Era military industrial complex situated on some 740 bases in key geostrategic locations, with the helpful support of in the neighborhood of 50 specialized intelligence agencies.

Barnett's Ten Commandments

Any savvy neoliberal globalist will recognize the sensible logic in Barnett's list of the "Ten Commandments of Globalization" suggested in his book:

  • 1. Look for resources, and ye shall find.
  • 2. No stability, no markets.
  • 3. No growth, no stability. (interesting oxymoron)
  • 4. No resources, no growth.
  • 5. No infrastructure, no growth.
  • 6. No money, no infrastructure.
  • 7. No rules, no money.
  • 8. No security, no rules.
  • 9. No Leviathan (US superpower), no security.
  • 10. No will, no Leviathan.
In regards to the Leviathan feature, Barnett proposes that the US begin to shape its military role by resculpting its major resource in the Global Imperial project by bifurcating it into a "Leviathan Force" and a "System Adminstrator" force, something obviously missing in the first stages of Iraq, and now look at the mess!

Our intellectual elites are nothing if not persistant in coming up with these master plans. Maybe one of these days they'll get the right formula for their witches brew.

Watch Thomas Barnett in an interview with Harry Kreisler in Conversations with History:


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