The Pentagon's New Map

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The Pentagon's New Map is a book on international relations, grand strategy and world development by Thomas P.M. Barnett.[1] It developed from a 2003 article he wrote in Esquire magazine, as well as his seminars and research at the Naval War College. Barnett has been described as a strategist who 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.[2] The Washington Post described Barnett's book as a bestseller.[2]

Barnett's chief premise is that conflict, in the modern world, is most likely between "Gap" nations not part of what he calls the "connected core". This is not a traditional have-and-have-not model; the core is most defined in access to information. Nevertheless, the Gap nations are described in Hobbesian terms, as place where life is "nasty, brutish and short."

Barnett's view is quite different than Samuel Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order,[3] in that Barnett assumes that aggressive action can forestall major conflict. A review of Barnett's book suggests it builds on Francis Fukuyama's model in The End of History and the Last Man. [4]

Military and peace operations

He also discusses a military strategy model based on connectedness. A fully connected nation can produce a high-technology military force that can "takedown" any plausible less connected force, but is not necessarily best for building peace by connecting the disconnected state to the core. Calling such forces "juggernaut", he assumes they are the militaries of single advanced nations, or at least high-technology alliances such as NATO.

Once Juggernaut has taken down resistance, he calls what has often been called peace operations or nation-building as the "system administrator" function. System administrator forces are inherently multinational, and, as far as possible, should draw from the culture of the disconnected state. Barnett sees the system administrator function as particularly appropriate for regional organizations, like the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The regional organization may also have a peace enforcement armed force, experienced in the language and culture, such as the ECOWAS Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG). In general, he sees regional organizations as more adaptable than the United Nations

System administrator services, however, do not need to wait for a war; they are the fundamental mechanism of avoiding war.

Barnett urges developed nations to take on a far more ambitious role of policing so-called Gap nations, and advocates an agenda of bringing the military "back into society".[2] He said the military "became very detached during the Cold War, like a separate caste ... they became very divorced after Vietnam, [saying] all we're going to do is kill people -- not this nation-building stuff."[2]


  1. Barnett, Thomas P.M. (2005). The Pentagon's New Map: The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century. Berkley Trade. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Ann Scott Tyson. A Brain Pentagon Wants to Pick: Despite Controversy, Strategist Is Tapped as Valuable Resource, Washington Post, October 19, 2005.
  3. Huntington, Samuel P. (1996). The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Simon & Schuster. 
  4. Mackubin Owens (May 2004), "Editorial: Review of The Pentagon’s New Map", Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs, Ashland University