Tag Archives: core

The Definition of the Functioning Core and the Non-Integrating Gap

In the Esquire article, “The Pentagon’s New Map,” Thomas Barnett defined the Core and the Gap this way:

So how do we distinguish between who is really making it in globalization’s Core and who remains trapped in the Gap? And how permanent is this dividing line?

Understanding that the line between the Core and Gap is constantly shifting, let me suggest that the direction of change is more critical than the degree. So, yes, Beijing is still ruled by a “Communist party” whose ideological formula is 30 percent Marxist-Leninist and 70 percent Sopranos, but China just signed on to the World Trade Organization, and over the long run, that is far more important in securing the country’s permanent Core status. Why? Because it forces China to harmonize its internal rule set with that of globalization—banking, tariffs, copyright protection, environmental standards. Of course, working to adjust your internal rule sets to globalization’s evolving rule set offers no guarantee of success. As Argentina and Brazil have recently found out, following the rules (in Argentina’s case, sort of following) does not mean you are panicproof, or bubbleproof, or even recessionproof. Trying to adapt to globalization does not mean bad things will never happen to you. Nor does it mean all your poor will immediately morph into stable middle class. It just means your standard of living gets better over time.

In sum, it is always possible to fall off this bandwagon called globalization. And when you do, bloodshed will follow. If you are lucky, so will American troops.

In the glossary to Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating, Thomas Barnett defined “Functioning Core” as:

Functioning Core Those parts of the world that are actively integrating their national economies into a global economy and that adhere to globalization’s emerging security rule set. The Functioning Core at present consists of North America, Europe both “old” and “new,” Russia, Japan and South Korea, China (although the interior far less so), India (in a pockmarked sense), Australia and New Zealand, South Africa, and the ABCs of South America (Argentina, Brazil, and Chile). That is roughly four billion out of a global population of more than six billion. The Functioning Core can be subdivided into the Old Core, anchored by America, Europe, and Japan; and the New Core, whose leading pillars are China, India, Brazil, and Russia.

and “Non-Integrating Gap” as:

Non-Integrating Gap Regions of the world that are largely disconnected from the global economy and the rule sets that define its stability. Today, the Non-Integrating Gap is made up of the Caribbean Rim, Andean South America, virtually all of Africa, portions of the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East, and most of Southeast Asia. These regions constitute globalization’s “ozone hole,” where connectivity remains thin or absent in far too many cases. Of course, each region contains some countries that are very Core-like in their attributes (just as there are Gap-like pockets throughout the Core defined primarily by poverty), but these are like mansions in an otherwise seedy neighborhood, and as such are trapped by these larger Gap-defining circumstances.

Contrast against:

My initial definition of the Core has been and always will be: these are not places where America should expect to war. You can counter, “But we should expect to go to war with everybody all the time! That’s the only prudent thing to do.” But I disagree. A strategy of defending against all possibilities is not a strategy, but a ceding of all initiatives to your enemies. Plus, successful grand strategy is about maximizing your friends and minimizing your enemies. It’s not about a fair fight, but a completely unfair routing of your opponents. You just need to be clear about who those are and who your friends are and who you can live with and work with from among the undecideds.

If “Core” / “Gap” is merely some self-selected conflict space, where we refuse to be maneuvered into conflict, then we can shrink it by merely avoiding conflict when it presents itself. By this definition India has no Gap except Kashmir, because the Indian government just ignores insurgencies elsewhere.

If the likelihood of military conflict is a function of economic connectedness, global rulesets, etc, then likelihood of being a theater of armed conflict is a good description of the Core/Gap divide.

Georgia and Ukraine are connecting. They are new democracies. They are both in the WTO. They have been talks with the European Union and NATO, and hopefully more will come of this in the future. Paying attention to the direction of connectivity, Georgia and Ukraine are on their way “up” to the core.

Russia is disconnecting. It is a new dictatorship. Russia is not even close to being in the WTO. It has suspended its cooperation with NATO. Paying attention to the degree on connectivity, Russia is on its way “down” to the gap.

Join the Core, Support Firefox!

My friend Aaron hasn’t only been my best friend since middle school, didn’t only host an early version of this blog for years, and wasn’t just my main source for circumventing the Great Firewall of China.. he also found this awesome map that compared support for Firefox with the Tom Barnett’s Core/Gap model:

In a deeper analysis, it’s further concluded:

I admit that when I wrote the post on Monday about the correlation between the pentagon’s new map and the firefox pledge download map I thought that once the per capita data was analyzed it would sharply change the outcome. The reality is, it doesn’t. Core countries are far and away dominant on the list. In the bottom half of the list (84 of the 167 countries with populations over 500,000) only 4 countries are in the core: India, China, Mongolia and South Africa. (of course as a % of Function Core, or even the worlds’ population, this is a lot of people!).

Eastern Europe is clearly an emerging open source powerhouse. Of the top 20 countries as a percentage pf population who pledged the top 3 are Eastern Europe and a total of 8 make the list. Only 4 of the countries are “non-integrated gap” countries all of which are transitioning (or arguably have transitioned, into “New Core” countries. Indeed, there is an argument that open source software allows new core countries to integrate into the core more rapidly by not only making some of the key tools that facilitate this transition more readily and cheaply, available but also by enabling the population to participate in their development thus building world class skills without the requisite FDI or multinational corporate investment.

The more grim news is at the bottom of the list. Perhaps unsurprisingly, but still another sad reminder, virtually every country on the bottom 20 is African (Bangladesh and Myanmar are the exceptions). In short, the countries most in need of this software, software that is freely available, still are least likely to have the capacity and infrastructure to download it.

Other notable placements were Venezuela (62) and Iran (77), much lower down the list than I initially suspected they would be.

Also interesting, and perhaps a possible challenge for Barnett (and the world) is that the 3 Core countries with fewest number of pledges were (in order from fewest to most) China (123), India (116) and South Africa (89)

Firefox 3 is out. It’s the fastest and most usable yet. Download Firefox 3 Now.

America’s Non-Integrating Gap

Chirol of Coming Anarchy has done great work on domestic application of the work of Thomas P.M. Barnett (“Pentagon’s New Map (PNM) Theory”). In three now-famous posts

Barnett himself (commenting on an excellent article in Reason) note that caboose breaking, “voting more populist candidates into office in democracies (e.g., India’s Congress Party) to political unrest and violent protest in authoritarian states,” “is basically when politicians/leaders realize and fear/anticipate/respond to unrest from disconnected populations.”

An early American attempt at caboose-breaking the country’s Gap was the Great Society, succeeding in driving up Gap unemployment and fatherlessness to record highs. Another attempt, affirmative action, was nearly a textbook case of how to teach racial resentment and divisiveness.

Now that another wave of agitprop is subsiding – a failed lynching in North Carolina and a “high-techone on the air. – one might except a second wave of this. Obvious possibilities might include zero-sum transfers of wealth, property, and position (a Jackson / Sharpton plan). However, considering that the most popular black candidate yet produced in America is the descendant of slave-owners but not American slaves, the political possibility of that seems unlikely. Another, different, take woudl be attempt to overload America’s gap with feedback in the hope of forcing a deeper change. Yet inciting riots is dangerous, and not the risk.

That takes us to the most obvious form of Gap-shrinking that can be expected in the near-future in America: nothing. Those who power makes them important feel outrage must less than those who are powerless, and thus little can be gained from Imus or Mangum agitprop. Life will continue, with those in America’s core living good lives, and those in America’s gap not.

Core India and Gap Pakistan

India’s role in rebuilding Afghanistan: In spite of hurdles imposed by Pakistan, India has played a meaningful role in Afghanistan,” The Acorn, http://opinion.paifamily.com/index.php?p=1247, 14 February 2005.

Regarding the CIA’s soothsayers: The CIA’s predictions for India and Pakistan cannot simultaneously come true,” The Acorn, http://opinion.paifamily.com/index.php?p=1248, 15 February 2005.

In spite of hurdles imposed by Pakistan, India has played a meaningful role in Afghanistan

The Acorn has two posts contrasting India and Pakistan. India is a responsible player spreading connectedness, despite Pakistan’s efforts

New Delhi currently spends around $100 million on various projects and $70 million on the reconstruction of a 213-kilometer road from Zaranj to Delaram in Afghanistan. This ‘new silk route’ road is the result of a project between India, Iran and Afghanistan to develop trade with Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. The route will utilise the Chabahar port in Iran to send goods to Afghanistan and to Central Asian countries. New Delhi has gifted three Airbus aircraft along with crew to support Arian Afghan Airlines, and more than 270 Indian buses currently ply in Kabul, Kandahar and Herat. In 2002, 18 Afghan judges and lawyers were trained at the Indian Law Institute in New Delhi. An IT specialist has been deputed to the Afghan government. In the foreign minister’s office in Kabul, a local area network with Internet access via an Indian company has been set up while Afghan bureaucrats are being trained in the use of computers.

Three Reserve Bank of India officials were deputed to the Central Bank of Afghanistan in July 2002. A team of 30 Indian doctors treats thousands of patients every week while $4 million has been allotted for the rehabilitation of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health. New Delhi will gift 300 vehicles to the Afghan National Army once Pakistan allows their transit. Pakistan allows Afghan exports to India via Wahga, but not vice versa. Thus, every day, a large numbers of trucks cross Wahga carrying dry fruit and carpets but return empty. No country is spending in Afghanistan as much as India, except for the United States, which spends $900 million annually. So far, India’s efforts in Afghanistan have the backing of the United States and Russia. Indian analysts say India’s interests are two-fold: it does not want the Taliban to resurface; and it wants the new Afghan security structure to be free of anti-India elements

Pakistan, meanwhile…

But, contrary to the Bush administration’s belief, the possibility of an implosion in Pakistan is very much real as long as its army retains control. There any so many rifts and divides in Pakistan that a fundamentally hamfisted dictatorship cannot heal or reconcile. Pakistan needs national reconciliation and the steady, irreversible return of the army to its barracks.

Until that happens, Pakistan will remain the borderline about-to-fail state that we have become used to. Unfortunately, foreign policy in America and New Delhi is doing nothing to veer away from this unhappy path. If the current equations continue, India can, without doubt, continue to register healthy economic growth, but Pakistan will remain a Damocles’ sword hanging over its head.

Consider that the Army is the only respected and stable institution in Pakistan, this is not good news.


Pakistan is an imaginary state. It’s east is an extension of India while the west is made out of pieces of Balucistan and Pashtunistan. Pakistan is a nuclear state with a rogue intelligence service. Dealing with Islamabad’s failures is a great problem of our times.

Fortress Core

(This was originally intended as a comment on Zen Pundit, but blogspot’s simplistic sign-in hassles got the better of me. It should still appear on that great site. But in any case, here is a discussion on whether it is possible to create a “Fortress” mentality, as opposed to spreading liberty in the Gap).

Fortress America may not be a viable option, but Fortress Core is. Dr. Barnett identifies four important flows as

People from the Gap to the Core
Energry from the Gap to the New Core
Investment from the Old Core to the New Core
Security from the Core to the Gap

Imagine a world where we decide to fireall off the Core from the Gap, to ride out Islamism. Seam states with small or no Muslim minorities (say, Thailand) join the Core, while Muslim seam states join their brothers in the Gap. While some of these flows would be reduced, the resulting world would still be a Future Worth Living (at least for the Core)

There would be less people, but Japan has proven that a capital-heavy labor-light economy is possible. Growth would be slower in the Core, but the average wage would be higher (at least in the short term). Energy and Security would still flow, much as it does now. We get dictators’ oil, we topple a stupid regime once in a while, life goes on. Investment flows in the Core unimpeeded.

I fear that it would not be too hard for European leadership to expel Muslim immigrants, if it decides to do so. Immigration is unpopular with the people, and European states have grown accustomed to a top-down decision making style. The choice is European leaders’ to make.

It is not that this world is “impossible.” It is that it is undesirable. It is better to take big deficits now, and more terror attacks now, and a lower average wage now, in exchange for higher growth, a safer world, and a better future long term. I do not know how the American public would decide the issue if it was clearly presented to them. I hope they would support ending world poverty and a better world tomorrow. They have not always been so wise.