Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Thomas Barnett's Bold Plan for War (& Peace)

This TED talk is not a topic (how to improve the US Military) I would normally be interested in even less so one that I would want to promote. But Thomas Barnett is worth listening to.

There are two ways to correct a problem. One way is to undo what was done and institute your plan; the other way is to embrace the problematic approach and propose a way to move forward. The latter approach is embodied in this spirited talk by Thomas Barnett. A Washington insider, Barnett mocks but embraces many of the failed strategies of the Bush administration while proposing a way to make them work.

Not too long after we invaded Iraq, I remember reading a piece in The New Yorker about the plan for post-war Iraq. The State Department had developed a comprehensive plan for winning the peace after the initial invasion. The article detailed how Bush, Rumsfeld, and Cheney decided to ignore the State Department Plan and go with the plan the Defense Department had drawn up. That plan failed and led to most of what happened after Bush's famed, "Mission Accomplished" speech. I was so angry after I read this article. But Barnett proposes a bold initiative to keep moving forward with a military-dominated "winning the war" plan while also making them responsible for "winning the peace". He proposes a grand re-structuring of Washington Institutions. The plan is so bold that it might just work.

The talk is highlighted by a powerpoint presentation full of cheesy animations and sound effects that while funny; support Barnett's message. It succeeds despite breaking all the rules. The talk is definitely worth watching.

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