Articles written by Thomas P.M. Barnett

Trans-Atlantic Ties Still Key to Renewing U.S. Global Leadership

By Thomas P.M. Barnett
, on , Briefing

For a while now, I’ve described the 2030 future as the C-I-A world: run by China, India and America. Europe is aging and seem less willing to protect their interests abroad, while India and China are becoming budding superpowers. But recently, I’ve found myself thinking that renewing ties with Europe may be the best way to assure the right kind of U.S. global leadership as we move toward that 2030 horizon. more

Skipping Out on the Bill: Obama's Cost-Free Drone Wars

By Thomas P.M. Barnett
, on , Feature

President Barack Obama abandoned his predecessor’s penchant for targeting states to counter nonstate actors, instead “symmetricizing” the highly asymmetrical and absurdly expensive Bush Doctrine through an aggressive campaign of targeted assassinations via drones and special operations. It amounts to the same whack-a-mole tactics, just without the follow-on responsibilities or costs. more

The New Rules: Globalization's Future Depends on Stable U.S.-China-India Order

By Thomas P.M. Barnett
, on , Column

How can a supposedly declining America protect globalization while managing the rise of China and India? History says that three is a crowd when it comes to system stability. The problem with such “realism” is that it cannot imagine a world structure that precludes one or more of these superpowers from somehow trying to “win.” And yet, find that acceptable power-sharing formula we must. more

The New Rules: In Globalized World, Time Is on America's Side

By Thomas P.M. Barnett
, on , Column

Despite a popular tendency to characterize globalization as an elite-based conspiracy, globalization's spread reflects a bottom-up demand function, not a top-down supply imposition. People simply crave connectivity as well as the freedom of choice it unleashes. This simple truth is worth remembering when we contemplate America’s global role in the decades ahead. Why? Time is most definitely on our side. more

The New Rules: Globalization in a Post-Hegemonic World

By Thomas P.M. Barnett
, on , Column

For a brief moment, while China held up the global economy during the recent financial crisis, many argued that we were on the verge of a Chinese century. But that popular vision waned surprisingly quickly, and now the conventional wisdom centers on China’s great weaknesses. Amazingly, where we spoke of a U.S.-China “G-2” just a few years ago, now there is a sense that no one is in charge. more

The New Rules: Hubris Drives Mistrust in U.S.-China Relations

By Thomas P.M. Barnett
, on , Column

Writing in Foreign Affairs this month, Henry Kissinger opined that, when it comes to the future of Sino-American relations, “conflict is a choice, not a necessity.” Those are serious words from one of history’s all-time realists, but more important than his analysis is the fact that he even felt the need to issue that public statement regarding these two codependent superpowers.
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The New Rules: Obama's Missile Defense Fantasy a Pentagon Dream Come True

By Thomas P.M. Barnett
, on , Column

Given this administration’s plans for missile defense schemes in Europe and Asia, President Barack Obama’s recent open-mike admission that he will have more freedom in his national security decision-making once he wins re-election is not a comforting thought. Having promised “a world without nuclear weapons,” Obama seems intent on incentivizing both Russia and China to field some more. more

The New Rules: In Tough Times, America's 'Dirty Harry' Streak Re-Emerges

By Thomas P.M. Barnett
, on , Column

As if to culminate a quarter-century trend of U.S. military interventions that have all devolved into manhunts, America now skips the intervention and gets straight to hunting down and killing bad guys. If that sounds like a resurrection of the “Dirty Harry” mindset, it has a lot to do with our tough economic times: We have a long history of adopting an illiberal attitude when income growth lags. more

The New Rules: Make China the Face of the World Bank

By Thomas P.M. Barnett
, on , Column

When Robert Zoellick recently announced that he won’t seek a second term as president of the World Bank, numerous emerging-market countries issued statements decrying America’s 66-year lock on the position. Insiders are predicting that an American will still win the spot. That's too bad, because there are a host of good reasons why Washington should presently burden Beijing with the job. more

The New Rules: In Gaming the Future, Don't Bet Against the Millennial Generation

By Thomas P.M. Barnett
, on , Column

Many professional strategists accuse today’s political leaders of lacking “strategic imagination,” and that assessment often gets harsher still when the subject of future generations comes up. But although we have a tendency to discount the talents of the onrushing Millennial generation, its cohort of leaders might be better-prepared to handle the world’s skyrocketing complexity. more

The New Rules: Assad's Ouster Best Chance to Stave off Israel-Iran Conflict

By Thomas P.M. Barnett
, on , Column

The debate over whether the U.S. should allow itself to be drawn into a conflict between Israel and Iran if Israel attacks Iran's nuclear program has taken place parallel to the debate over whether to pursue an R2P intervention in Syria. It bears noting, however, that forcing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s departure may be the best policy for the U.S. to avoid being sucked into an Israeli-Iranian war. more

The New Rules: A Positive Narrative for U.S. Foreign Policy

By Thomas P.M. Barnett
, on , Column

Where is the positive vision for U.S. foreign policy in this election? President Barack Obama and “presumptive” GOP nominee Mitt Romney now duel over who is more anti-declinist when it comes to America’s power trajectory, with both pushing the notion that “the worst” is now behind us. But what’s the animating vision, besides rebounding? What course are we setting, besides up? more

The New Rules: U.S. Needs Chinese Partners in Asian Century

By Thomas P.M. Barnett
, on , Column

The national rebuilding project now facing America has us toggling between bouts of renewed self-confidence and crippling self-doubt. But the same thread runs through both cycles of this national bipolar disorder: the assumption that we must bear this burden alone. That assumption is our greatest weakness right now. Frankly, Americans should know their own history better and trust in themselves more. more

The New Rules: The Coming War With Iran

By Thomas P.M. Barnett
, on , Column

While the debate over whether Israel will strike Iran ebbs and flows on an almost weekly basis, a collision-course trajectory is undeniably emerging. To put it succinctly, Iran won't back down, while Israel won't back off, and America will back up Israel and Saudi Arabia when the shooting finally starts. This coming war will ultimately target regime change in Tehran, because that is the only plausible solution. more

The New Rules: Slouching Toward Great-Power War

By Thomas P.M. Barnett
, on , Column

Arguably the greatest strategic gift offered by America to the world has been our consistent willingness to maintain a high entry barrier to the “market” that is great-power war. However, a case can be made that the greatest threat to this component of global stability is now a U.S. national security establishment intent on pressing the boundaries of this heretofore sacrosanct responsibility. more

The New Rules: China Faces a 'Teddy Roosevelt Moment'

By Thomas P.M. Barnett
, on , Column

The American political discourse is rife with fear-threat reactions regarding rising China, with one recurring theme being the superiority of Beijing's “state capitalism” model of economic development.  But China is now reaching the same boiling point that America did in the late-19th century: It can either pursue a progressive agenda or suffer continued attempts at revolution from below. more

The New Rules: Extended Life Expectancy Globalization's Next Political Battleground

By Thomas P.M. Barnett
, on , Column

Human life expectancy at birth, which doubled over the course of the 20th century, now seems destined to experience a similarly bold leap across the 21st century. When it does, it will shift human thinking about population control from its present focus on the outset of life to the increasingly delayed final curtain. But the technological advances are likely to come faster than our political systems can handle. more

The New Rules: China Must 'Pay Globalization Forward' in Africa

By Thomas P.M. Barnett
, on , Column

Throughout globalization's historical expansion from Europe to North America to Asia, the last region "in" has become the integrator of note for the next region "up." Europe was the primary investor, customer and integrator for the U.S. economy in its rise, and America subsequently "paid it forward" with East Asia. Recently, it has been Asia's turn, primarily through China, to pay it forward once again with Africa. more

The New Rules: Welcome to Obama's Cold War With China

By Thomas P.M. Barnett
, on , Column

Late last week the Obama administration began unveiling its supremely focused rationale behind future defense cuts with the release of a strategic statement that suggests there is only one path we can take if we are to maintain our global leadership. If this declaration doesn’t warm the heart of every pre- or post-Sept. 11 neocon and believer in the primacy of U.S. military power, then nothing will. more

The New Rules: A Foreign Policy Wish List for 2012

By Thomas P.M. Barnett
, on , Column

Last year was a tough one in terms of global economics, humanitarian disasters and political leadership among the world's great powers. But it was also the year of the Arab Spring and hints of similar developments in Myanmar, Russia and Ethiopia. So while the year's "fundamentals" weren't so good, it left us with plenty to be grateful for. Keeping all that in mind, here is my foreign policy wish list for 2012. more