Saturday, May 27, 2006
Best Globalization Pundits Agree
"The Book Is Flatulent: A Brief Review of Thomas L. Friedman's "The World Is Flat" Op-Ed," by Thomas Barnett, The Newsletter from Thomas P.M. Barnett, 20 June 2005, http://www.newrulesets.com/journals/barnett_20jun2005.pdf.
"Friedman’s excellent capture on why Iraq still matters--and still must be won," by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 26 May 2006, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/003299.html.
After Tom Barnett's scortched earth review of Tom Friedman's The World is Flat, I was defensive. I had enjoyed the book, and expected Barnett (whose work is obviously influenced by Friedman's) to pen a positive review. Reading World was a wonderful vacation, and Tom Friedman and Tom Barnett are the two authors I advice my international relations students to read.
In particular, to this section:
Friedman is stupefying in his efforts to interpret everything in terms of flatness (Southwest lets you print your boarding tickets online? "Yet another brilliant example that the world is getting flat!"; You can eat sushi in a small Midwestern town? "OMYGOD the world is sooooo flat!") that by the end of the book you have no idea what the terms means anymore. Flatness is a euphemism for everything from "cool" to "new" to "high-tech" to "competitive" to "innovative" to "globalization" to "flat" (no, wait a minute, that last one doesn't work . . . or does it?) am not kidding you, as you read this book you're so trained, almost in a Pavlovian sort of way, to see the word "flat" that when you go more than a paragraph or two without seeing it, you start to get anxious.
I responded by giving a detailed description, with charts, of what Tom Friedman means by flat. I found Barclay's Bank using the term the same way.
Happily, things have changed. From a recent Barnett blog post:
Friedman remains one of our best analysts on the Middle East. It’s been so long since he was known for just that, thanks to “Lexus and the Olive Tree,” that you tend to forget that that is where he cut his teeth.
The killer line here: “Every major transformation since Napoleon in this part of the world has been the function of an external jolt,” Mr. Ibrahim said.”
That, in a nutshell, is why Bush’s Big Bang strategy was so visionary and so bold--and so dead-on.
Put Friedman’s op-ed on Iraq together with Ignatius’ (above) on Iran and you basically have why I still support the Big Bang strategy and favor the soft-kill option of connectivity with Iran. Taken together, you might it call it a blueprint for action in the GWOT (except I’d add strategic alliance with China and building an East Asian NATO on Kim Jong Il’s empty throne; then it’s on to Africa!).
These are seriously good signs: serious consensus emerging among the nation’s top opinion leaders (a strategy of connectivity and System Perturbations) and among the nation’s top military generals (the Long War and the “first war of globalization”).
This makes me extremely happy.
Maybe even... thrilled.
Now that your two idols are together again maybe you can rest easily :)
Posted by: Catholicgauze | Saturday, May 27, 2006
Well, it definitely does make me happy to see Barnett support Friedman -- besides helping openness (flatness, connectivity -- whatever), which is under attack these days from know-nothings, it frees him up to criticize our common enemy, the realists.
I'd also like to see Tom talk more about resilience, but this is a good start :-)
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Saturday, May 27, 2006
" The OODA Loop is Flat..."
Posted by: mark safranski | Sunday, May 28, 2006
You might like a post I have up on the resilience subject titled:
"Chinese Market, Japanese Company, American Methods"
Posted by: Shawn in Tokyo | Sunday, May 28, 2006
Thanks for the summary! I also looked at the Toyota process, in a post on 5GW that Mentioned John Boyd.
Has anyone described the OODA loop as flat? Questions like that will be answered in "Variations of the OODA Loop," part of tdaxp SummerBlog '06 
(end self promotion. ;-) )
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Monday, May 29, 2006