Global security guru Thomas P.M. Barnett is in the unique position of being embraced by Pentagon officials and top U.S. military commanders as a visionary strategist -- even as he openly blames the defense establishment for botching post-invasion operations in Iraq.There are some very good senior officers out there with very open minds, we just don't hear from them too often. They tend to keep quite and work within the system as much as possible. Good folks, unsung and unreplaceable.
"No one ever said, 'cut it out' or 'shut up,' or ever put a squeeze on me," Barnett said in an interview. (In a typical Web log, or blog, entry yesterday, he wrote: "Iraq is doing just fine given [a] poorly planned occupation (F to the neocons, C+ to the officers doing their best in a crappy situation on the ground.")You don't have to agree with everything he says - no one should. But you better come armed if you are going to argue with this guy. He asks hard questions because they are hard. Heck, they may not even have a right answer.
Barnett spoke fresh from a tete-a-tete last week with the U.S. four-star general who oversees the Middle East, Gen. John Abizaid, and Abizaid's personal think tank. Col. Mant Hawkins, director of the think tank, called Barnett's ideas "significantly visionary."Do a google search or check out his blog for the details. Good reading.
Barnett, an expert on Russia and the Warsaw Pact who holds a Harvard doctorate in political science, was a professor of strategy at the Naval War College and adviser to the Pentagon's Office of Force Transformation when he devised a PowerPoint briefing that catapulted him to prominence after Sept. 11, 2001.
Barnett says his biggest detractors -- one called him "insane" -- tend to be Army officers averse to the peacekeeping role, as well as Navy, Air Force and Army officials who see his thesis as undermining their justifications for fighter jets, warships and expensive ground combat systems. His advocacy of a U.S. security partnership with China, in particular, galls some officers who see that nation as a major threat.TACAIR mafia LOVES this guy.
"You get people who want to sell $15 billion aircraft carriers, and his vision is not so compelling," said Shane Deichman, chief of the capabilities department for the U.S. military's Joint Forces Command, in Norfolk, Va., which has incorporated Barnett's ideas in future planning.
"It's kind of a joke," Barnett says. "How many Sea Wolf submarines did it take to recapture Fallujah? Not enough."Bubblehead, call your office.
Perhaps most valued is Barnett's ability to stimulate debate in a military still defined by its war-fighting, Deichman said. "He's a catalyst."Hey, I like that. Next time the boss says, "Damblit Phibian, you are a pain in the ass!!" I can say, "No sir - I am a catalyst."