It is hard for most Americans to fathom why the U.S. military should be involved in either Afghanistan or northwest Pakistan for anything other than the targeting of terrorist networks. And since drones can do most of that dirty work, few feel it is vital to engage in the long and difficult task of nation-building in that part of the world. These are distant, backward places whose sheer disconnectedness relegates them to the dustbin of globalization, and nothing more.
If only that were true.
But as globetrotting journalist Robert D. Kaplan makes eminently clear in his new book, "Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power," if a center of gravity is likely to emerge from globalization's evolution this century, it is not in the oft-cited Asia-Pacific region, but rather in the greater Indian Ocean rim that it will be found. For it is here that globalization's networks are expanding with stunning rapidity, largely to accommodate the growing needs of substantial middle-class populations emerging in India and China. And it is here that we should focus our strategic attention in preparation for the 21st century's decisive geopolitical transition.