Barnett expounds on globalization, grand strategy

In the past two days, Thomas Barnett’s blog has featured a description of his family’s Halloween festivities, a rant on the uses of en-dashes and em-dashes and a musing on the racial ties between Asians and Native Americans. For his Gaddis Smith Lecture on Monday afternoon, Barnett returned to more familiar territory — globalization and grand strategy.

Barnett’s lecture, “A Future Worth Creating: An American Grand Strategy for the New Millennium,” drew from his three books to touch on themes of globalization before an audience of 20 in Luce Hall. The talk was sweeping, encompassing the rise of China and the spread of globalization to some of the world’s least-developed nations.

“The spread of globalization is inevitable,” Barnett said, “and will generate conflicts.”

Barnett is senior managing director at Enterra Solutions, a Yardley, Penn.,–based security consulting firm. Previously, he worked as a senior researcher for the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I., and worked for the Secretary of Defense’s Office of Force Transformation.

The central focus of Barnett’s lecture was the rapid globalization of lesser-developed countries, and how those shifts affect the grand strategy of the United States. To illustrate his point, Barnett described China as undergoing America’s “development timeline” from the end of the 18th century to the present — the difference being that China is now doing it all at once.

As China gains power, he said, the United States needs to follow the example set by the United Kingdom when America emerged as a global player. The United States, Barnett said, needs to be cognizant of the strategic implications of China’s rise while continuing to cooperate with them in the global sphere. But leaning on China too heavily on issues such as the military regime in Myanmar and the genocide in Darfur, Barnett said, is unwise.

“I call this ‘wanting to go all the way on the first date,’ ” Barnett said.

This dynamic will play out repeatedly, he said, as less-globalized regions modernize.

Barnett’s work was well known by his small audience Monday afternoon. He kicked off his two-hour lecture by introducing his three books: “The Pentagon’s New Map,” “Blueprint for Action” and “Great Powers,” set for publication in February. For the remainder of his time, he laid out the arguments of all three, focusing on themes of globalization such as China’s development, the spread of Islam, differences between the American and European colonial models, and the economic benefits of peacetime.

Attendees of the event were mostly familiar with Barnett’s work and said they were excited to hear him speak. Ruta Nimkar GRD ’10 said she appreciated Barnett’s practicality and interdisciplinary take on global strategic affairs.

“It’s not just one thing,” she said. “He uses a crossover approach.”

Other students described Barnett as “pragmatic,” “straightforward” and “logical.” Students said they liked his emphasis on the development of China and Africa, issues which Meredith Kravitz GRD ’10 said deserved more attention than they generally received.

Barnett’s visit to Yale came as part of the Gaddis Smith Lecture Series, which brings prominent thinkers to campus at the request of students. (The lecture series is named for Gaddis Smith ’54 GRD ’61, a former News chairman and emeritus history professor who is working on an epic history of the University.)

In Barnett’s case, international relations graduate student David Ashcraft GRD ’10 — who introduced Barnett — asked to invite Barnett to campus. Reading one of Barnett’s books, Ashcraft said he found Barnett’s strategic analysis particularly salient.

Barnett’s upcoming book, “Great Powers,” addresses the reordering of world dominance in the past eight years and America’s coming opportunity to reinstate itself as a global leader.

Comments

  • Bob Bucceri

    Dr. Barnett has a unique ability to take the complex issues of globalization and help his audience make sense out of them. His explanation of where we are in international relations, how we got there, and how we go forward is both frightening and exhilarating.