Category Archives: UNL / Scope & Methods

Redefining the Gap 7, The Pentagon’s New Map

Note: This is a selection from Redefining the Gap, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

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Thomas P.M. Barnett defines the “non-integrating gap” as those “regions of the world that are largely disconnected from the global economy and the rule set that defines its stability” (T. Barnett 2004:xvii-xviii). Immediately he gives it a geographic description, “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.” Barnett writes that the “Gap” will be “the expeditionary theater for the U.S. military in the 21st century” (T Barnett 2003) of “failed states and feral cities” (T. Barnett 2004:151). The rest of the world, the “Functioning Core,” is in turn split “into the Old Core, anchored by America, Europe, and Japan; and the New Core, whose leading pillars are China, India, Brazil and Russia” (T. Barnett 2005:32).

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This graphic originally contained the following in its caption“Problem areas requiring American attention (outlined) are, in the author’s analysis, called the Gap. Shrinking the Gap is possible only by stopping the ability of terrorist networks to access the Core via the ‘seam states’ that lie along the Gap’s bloody boundaries” (T. Barnett 2003)

Barnett takes the first step towards operationalization an entity that is otherwise just a line drawn on a map (T. Barnett 2004:inside cover). Taking Hobbes as a model, Barnett defines life in the gap as “poor” (low GDP per capita), “nasty” (low levels of political freedom and human rights), “short” (low life expectancy), “brutal” (high levels of war), and “solitary” (few Internet hosts per capita) (T. Barnett 2004:161-165).

Barnett draws from the geopolitical and North-South traditions. Barnett has written this new map is not a “’North-South’ map” (T. Barnett 2004:121) , but the similarity between The Gap and the Global South is striking. The policy implications of this have down criticism to the model (Moxham 2003). “Just as the theories of such geopolitical writers as Sir Halford Mackinder and Nicholas Spykman provided the intellectual underpinnings of US grand strategy during the Cold War,” Barnett’s model is accused of being an intellectual justification of a US grand strategy focusing on the Global South (Owens 2004).

As with Critical Geopolitics, PNM Theory is not just a description of the world but a prescription for the world. It is a model of both existing UN missions and “future hot spots” (Roberts, Secor and Sparke 2003:890). Barnett is “the best known proponent of wide area strategy” and his theory defines “who is ‘good’ and who is not” with the clear implication of widespread preemption (Richards 2005:39-40). PNM Theory, which was was created for the Pentagon in the wake of September 11th (Chaikivsky 2002:163) has already “helped reshape the direction of future military strategy based upon a new map and vision of the world security environment” (Coderre 2003). Barnett’s books (T. Barnett 2004; T. Barnett 2006) and theories are influential inside the Department of Defense (Barone 2005; Ignatius 2005; Mazzetti 2003; Tyson 2005), and senior officers now give presentations incorporating specific PNM concepts (Ignatius 2004).


Redefining the Gap, a tdaxp series:
Redefining the Gap 1. Prologue
Redefining the Gap 2. Summary
Redefining the Gap 3. Introduction to Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 4. First Geopolitical Theories
Redefining the Gap 5. The North and the South
Redefining the Gap 6. Critical Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 7. The Pentagon’s New Map
Redefining the Gap 8. The Research Design
Redefining the Gap 9. Methods and Operationalizations
Redefining the Gap 10. Limitations and Conclusion
Redefining the Gap 11. Results
Redefining the Gap 12. Bibliography
Redefining the Gap 13. Appendix: Computer Code
Redefining the Gap 14. Appendix: National Codes

Redefining the Gap 6, Critical Geopolitics

Note: This is a selection from Redefining the Gap, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

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In the early 1990s, the political tilt of Global South discussions led to the emergence of critical geopolitics (Dodds 1994:275). While some have criticized the theory as appearing too soon for a valid “contexualization” of geography (C. Barnett 1995:417) others view critical geopolitics as necessary for explaining the contemporary world (Tuathail and Luke 1994:381).


Critical geopolitics continues the north-south discussion. This may take the form of almost conventional north-south articles, such as between the United States and Cuba (Slater 1994:233) and the spread of dependency theory in Latin America (Slater 1993:420). Critical geopolitics also focuses on environmentalism and people “on the ground” (Brosius 1999: 282). Indeed, it is near to the ground “where problems and issues are far more personalized and less easily generalized” that critical geopolitics provides the best context (Simon 1996:51).

This domain moves beyond traditional state-centered geopolitics (Tuathail 1998:229), in spite of its global level of analysis. Critical geopolitics holds that power is “non-sovereigntist,” “relational,” and “found at work across all scales of social life” (Sparke 465). This is as true for public policies (Moon & Brown 69) as it is for money (Sidaway and Pryke 2000:189), and as true for the public sector as for the private. Such emphasis on the social world echoes Mahan, and his belief on the importance of technology and the economy on the geopolitical world.

Interestingly, critical geopolitics argues that geopolitics itself is a critical field. That is, geopolitics “dominant mode of narration was declarative (‘this is how the world is’) and imperative (‘this is what we must do’)” (Tuathail 2000:166). Recognition of everything, including computer technology (Froehling 1997:293), as a tool of neither liberation or oppression but struggle emphasizes this ends-centered outlook of critical geopolitics. Geopolitics, in other words, is “political from the very outset” (Tuathail 1998:28).


Redefining the Gap, a tdaxp series:
Redefining the Gap 1. Prologue
Redefining the Gap 2. Summary
Redefining the Gap 3. Introduction to Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 4. First Geopolitical Theories
Redefining the Gap 5. The North and the South
Redefining the Gap 6. Critical Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 7. The Pentagon’s New Map
Redefining the Gap 8. The Research Design
Redefining the Gap 9. Methods and Operationalizations
Redefining the Gap 10. Limitations and Conclusion
Redefining the Gap 11. Results
Redefining the Gap 12. Bibliography
Redefining the Gap 13. Appendix: Computer Code
Redefining the Gap 14. Appendix: National Codes

Redefining the Gap 5, The North and the South

Note: This is a selection from Redefining the Gap, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

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The theory of the Global North and Global South is a new geopolitical perspective. It is a new perspective that divides “the world into two blocs – the industrialized countries of the global North and the poor countries of the South” on the global level of analysis (Goldstein, Huang, and Akan 1997:242). While “Global South” is sometimes used as a synonym for the more familiar “Third World” (Hayes 1975:1261), the end of the Cold War has seen the term “Third World” and the politics behind it fall into disfavor (Pletsch 1981:569).

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The First, Second, and Third Worlds (Wikipedia Contributors 2006c)

As opposed to earlier theories, the Global South perspective saw America, Europe, and Russia as essentially identical, perhaps each a closely related “’conquering subculture” (Tyson and Said 1993: 602). One way the Northern countries are similar is in their demographic decline relative to Southern states (Demeny 2003:15). Conflict was now seen as essentially or largely between the north and south (Wanandi 1983:1276; Wells 1981:69; Young 1987:392). Wealth also distinguishes the generally prosperous north from an economically deprived south (Niva 1999:16).

Many theorists of the Global South theorists argue that security problems come from the Global South to the Global North. All of the September 11th attackers came from the Global South (Mazuri 2002:86) and the Global South is an incubator for religious fundamentalisms (Keddie 1998:700). This may be exacerbated by an income and wealth divide between the north and the south, such as in international debt instruments (Kaufman 1999:219). Some thinkers have suggested that the Global South has delayed if not prevented Francis Fukuyama’s predicted “end of history” (Baker 1995:8).

Discussion of the Global South has traditionally involved political concerns. These have emphasized the behavior of labor, closely examining the flow of high-skilled persons from the south to the north (Ansah 2002:23) and the technology that allows people to work more efficiently Weber and Bussell 2005:77). Capital has also been discussed, including criticism of the north’s “patterns of consumption” (Edwards, Humle, and Wallace 1999:121) and patterns of investment (Ansley 2001:381) in the south. Land and the environment are also issues, like for example in “efforts to curb World Bank lending for projects that threatened peoples and ecosystems” (J. Smith 2001:4). At times this rises to the level of international diplomacy, with organizations like the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and others in actual “north-south negotiations” (Erb 1977:109) and occasionally north-south threats (T. Smith 1977:5).

The divide between the Global North and the Global South has been described as both artificial and inevitable. On the artificial side, the disparity between Northern and Southern countries may be a function of different styles of property rights (Chichlinisky 1994:853) or exploitation of the south by the north (Herod 2000:419) . Further, China’s rise has seen the “Global North” spread into the south while uneducated “Northern” workers may face southern-style conditions (Broad and Cavanagh 1995-1996:29). However, many have argued that the divide is so real that even concepts such as equality must not be “exported” from the north to the south, but developed locally (Eisenstein 1997:155).


Redefining the Gap, a tdaxp series:
Redefining the Gap 1. Prologue
Redefining the Gap 2. Summary
Redefining the Gap 3. Introduction to Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 4. First Geopolitical Theories
Redefining the Gap 5. The North and the South
Redefining the Gap 6. Critical Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 7. The Pentagon’s New Map
Redefining the Gap 8. The Research Design
Redefining the Gap 9. Methods and Operationalizations
Redefining the Gap 10. Limitations and Conclusion
Redefining the Gap 11. Results
Redefining the Gap 12. Bibliography
Redefining the Gap 13. Appendix: Computer Code
Redefining the Gap 14. Appendix: National Codes

Redefining the Gap 4, First Geopolitical Theories

Note: This is a selection from Redefining the Gap, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

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Political Geography (geographie politique) was defined in 1751 (Kristof 1985:1178), but it’s modern study was invented by Friedrich Ratzel in his description of political geography (politische Geographie) in 1897 in terms of space and position (Kiss 1942:634). Rudolf Kjellen invented the term “geopolitics” (Agnew 1995:1; Tuathail 1994:259) shortly thereafter. Kjellen was primarily interested in how geography effects the power relations of states (Osterud 1998:191) – specifically, their land and people (Tunander 2005:548).


Alfred Mahan took a nautical view of geographical power. Essentially dividing the world in a global ocean and the lands it connects, he strongly pushed an ocean-centered view of history (Shulman 1998:407). He argued for a technologically and economically adaptive view of geopolitics (Israel 1978:371; Russell 1956:227) to account for a dynamic world. Mahan’s theories became extremely influential and were publicly praised by President Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and others (Karsten 1971:589; LaFeber 1962:674).

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The “1904” line defines Mackinder’s “Pivot” (Parker 1998:104)

Mackinder reversed Mahan’s view, focusing on lands and in particular one land: the “pivot of history” (Dodds and Sidaway 2004). This area, comprising east-central Europe, central Asia, and Russia, was thought to have a potential resource and population base to dominate the world. The pivot was surrounded like an onion by an inner crescent of the warm-water Eurasian coast and the outer crescent of the rest of the world. A geopolitical model that was contemporary to world politics when it was original presented more than a century ago (Venier 2004:330), key elements of Mackinder’s philosophy were policy throughout much of the world into the 1970s (Mayell 2004:372). Even today, “Eurasianists” inspired by Mackinder are a powerful force inside Russia (G. Smith 1999:483), despite being officially discouraged under Communism (Guins 1964:342).

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Spykman’s “Rimland” in dashed lines (Parker 1998:125)

Spykman synthesized the views of Mahan and Mackinder. The focus was now on the “Rimland,” a renamed version of Mackinder’s “marginal crescent” (Fisher 1971:205). The Rimland hypothesis argued that a natural hegemon would form from the Rimland states (Britain, India, China, etc.). Thus, Spykman’s arguments implied that America had more in common with these states than her hemispheric neighbors to the South (Fox 1948:72). Spkyman’s theories carried an influential following well into the 1980s (Cohen 1991:552), if not beyond.


Redefining the Gap, a tdaxp series:
Redefining the Gap 1. Prologue
Redefining the Gap 2. Summary
Redefining the Gap 3. Introduction to Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 4. First Geopolitical Theories
Redefining the Gap 5. The North and the South
Redefining the Gap 6. Critical Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 7. The Pentagon’s New Map
Redefining the Gap 8. The Research Design
Redefining the Gap 9. Methods and Operationalizations
Redefining the Gap 10. Limitations and Conclusion
Redefining the Gap 11. Results
Redefining the Gap 12. Bibliography
Redefining the Gap 13. Appendix: Computer Code
Redefining the Gap 14. Appendix: National Codes

Redefining the Gap 3, Introduction to Geopolitics

Note: This is a selection from Redefining the Gap, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

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Geopolitics helped make geography a science by focusing on the political (Unstead 1949:47) and human (Dawson 1987:28) dimensions of geography. Halford Mackinder, an influential geopolitician, described his goal as not “to predict a great future for this or that country, but to make a geographical formula into which you could fit any political balance.” (Hall 1955:109). Thus, geography is a “conditioning factor” in many parts of politics (Spkyman 1938:29). The internal (Williams 1927:142) and external (Enterline 1998:804) nature of states and how they go to war (Midlarsky 1995:224) are effected by their geopolitical position. Geopolitical analysis has survived changing constellations of great powers and technologies (Hooson 1962:20). Stable geopolitical concepts have emerged, even as academic debates on the specifics of geopolitics continue (Harkavy 2001:38).


Normative accusations have dogged geopolitics. Charges of imperialism abound (Semmel 1958:554, Kearns 1999:450), as do accusations of ethnocentricism (Gilbert and Parker 1969:229). The critics of geopolitics sometimes associate it with racism , eugenics (Tyner 1999), and even encouraging war (Griswold 1940:2).


Redefining the Gap, a tdaxp series:
Redefining the Gap 1. Prologue
Redefining the Gap 2. Summary
Redefining the Gap 3. Introduction to Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 4. First Geopolitical Theories
Redefining the Gap 5. The North and the South
Redefining the Gap 6. Critical Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 7. The Pentagon’s New Map
Redefining the Gap 8. The Research Design
Redefining the Gap 9. Methods and Operationalizations
Redefining the Gap 10. Limitations and Conclusion
Redefining the Gap 11. Results
Redefining the Gap 12. Bibliography
Redefining the Gap 13. Appendix: Computer Code
Redefining the Gap 14. Appendix: National Codes

Redefining the Gap 2, Summary

Note: This is a selection from Redefining the Gap, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

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“The Pentagon’s New Map” is a proposed grand strategy for the United States. Originally developed for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the wake of September 11th, it is leading to changes in America’s military. It proposes the use of preemption as a normal tool of statecraft, and thus has implications for what wars we fight, what weapon systems we buy, and where we die.


The Pentagon’s New Map (PNM) also includes a geopolitics, a world divided into an “Old Functioning Core,” a “New Functioning Core,” and a “Non-Integrating Gap.” Different strategies are advocated for these different realms, extending to everything from economics to warfare. However, while quantitative support for this geopolitics is hinted at, Barnett never discusses whether or not the measures he uses actually correlated with his categorization. Nor does he compare the validity of his cartographic schema to other systems.

This study will rectify that.

The literature review on this paper is organized like a funnel, or a pyramid. First, a brief introduction to geopolitics in given. Then, the work of the field’s founders – Kjellen, Mahan, Mackinder, Ratzel, and Spkyman – is discussed. A modern school, the study of the Global North and Global South, is next presented. After that, a continuation of that school known as critical geopolitics is addressed. Last, a form of critical geopolitics – the “New Map” theory itself – is described and then tested.

Also including are a research design, a bibliography, and an appendix. Following the literature review a research design is presented, which described the proposes tests, the independent variables, and the dependent variables. The research design repeatedly references an appendix which contains the computer code that shall convert raw data into meaningful numbers. Another appendix will also be attached, listing the final values for all the states surveyed. The bibliography shall contain all works cited in this text.


Redefining the Gap, a tdaxp series:
Redefining the Gap 1. Prologue
Redefining the Gap 2. Summary
Redefining the Gap 3. Introduction to Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 4. First Geopolitical Theories
Redefining the Gap 5. The North and the South
Redefining the Gap 6. Critical Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 7. The Pentagon’s New Map
Redefining the Gap 8. The Research Design
Redefining the Gap 9. Methods and Operationalizations
Redefining the Gap 10. Limitations and Conclusion
Redefining the Gap 11. Results
Redefining the Gap 12. Bibliography
Redefining the Gap 13. Appendix: Computer Code
Redefining the Gap 14. Appendix: National Codes

Redefining the Gap 1, Prologue

Note: This is a selection from Redefining the Gap, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

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Attempts to find empirical proof for Barnett’s Core-Gap hypothesis have increases since I first attempted operationalizing the gap. Coming Anarchy has looked at Euro-Canadian troop deployments and FP‘s failed state index, ZenPundit ponders metrics, Curtis looks at ways to skin the Gap, and Sean Meade, Tom Barnett’s blogger-in-chief, is paying attention.

Now I am prepared to release my own results:

We are at War with Africa and Islam


Actually, that may have been a bit alarmist. This is a little less so:

We are at War for Africa and Islam

Using methods that will be discussed in future posts, I compared Tom Barnett’s Core-Gap dichotomy, and Old-Core-New-Core-Gap trichotomy, with other measures of ares both settled and frontier. Specifically, I looked at every state’s Brutality of Life, Isolation of Life, Nastiness of Life, Poverty of Life, Shortness of Life

The two best divisions were Barnett’s three-way Old Core-New Core-Gap division, and a simplistic definition of the Gap to include only African and Muslim nations. The Old-New-Gap view of the world meshed well with Poverty and Solitude. For everything else, Afro-Islam is a better definition of the “Gap.”

Intrigued? Stay tuned — or comment!


Redefining the Gap, a tdaxp series:
Redefining the Gap 1. Prologue
Redefining the Gap 2. Summary
Redefining the Gap 3. Introduction to Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 4. First Geopolitical Theories
Redefining the Gap 5. The North and the South
Redefining the Gap 6. Critical Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 7. The Pentagon’s New Map
Redefining the Gap 8. The Research Design
Redefining the Gap 9. Methods and Operationalizations
Redefining the Gap 10. Limitations and Conclusion
Redefining the Gap 11. Results
Redefining the Gap 12. Bibliography
Redefining the Gap 13. Appendix: Computer Code
Redefining the Gap 14. Appendix: National Codes

An Epistemology of Their Own: Why Iraqis Should Embrace Critical Theory

The wording of the final in Scopes was as hilarious as the concept was brilliant. Imagine you’ve been hired to teach political science in Iraq, it begins, You’re tickled pink. But what epistemological approaches are essential to teach to understand the real world of Iraqi politics?.

The full question is several paragraphs long, It provided a fun way for students to synthesize the various approaches that been taught in this class. Below is my Scopes & Methods final, which argues that the most appropriate method would be Critical Theory. I tried to work in some humor, as well. Sorry for that.


Adapting to my role as a political science professor in Baghdad (I a student who still has a final to write for Scopes and Methods!), I looked out the window as the Department Chair puts on her chador. “Well,” I began, “I think a Critical Theory approach would be best because…”‘

“Critical Theory?!” roars a large and well armed man behind me. “You would teach our students a godless, Marxist epistemology?!?” I recognized him as a uniformed soldier in the Badr Brigades, the militia of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. A “sciri” and well armed opponent, if I dreamt of tenure — or my life.

“Not at all…” I begin, and just in time too. I realized that while I was recognizing his political affiliation he was lifting his AK-47 to point uncomfortably precisely to my chest. “You see, many people conflate critical theory with Marxism because of the Marxist Critical Theoreticians of the Frankfurter School. But Critical Theory does not have to be Marxist…”

He spits. “The Godless Marxists, they are imperialists and a blight on our lands!”

I feared for my life, yet recognized that I could not let an epistemological blunder go uncorrected. After all, the brave, remaining faculty of the U. Baghdad (“Go Mujahideen!”) political science department had entrusted me.

“My friend – Marx’s well known discussion on India, cited in Avineri, may indeed prove that politically Marxism is imperialist. Yet epistemologically, Marxism refers to a belief in dialectical materialism. That is, the belief that material conditions are in a dialectical relationship with the social world and the world of ideals. It does not imply the absence of God, and the teleological nature of Marxism implies that Paradise is awaiting us.”

But the man was not deterred. (He was one of the badder fellow I met, I pondered.) “Marx was an apostle of that blasphemer Hegel (thus spake Warren), who predicted the apocalypse in the early 19th century! The liar!” Here, again, my training got the better of me. “While Marxism and Hegelianism are both based on the dialectic…”

“Who’s going to die?!?” he shouted. The chair ducked under her desk. Apparently, that was a touchy syllable.
“I said dialectic — as in dialog. A binary opposition of two things creating something newer, and more fit. Thesis, synthesis, antithesis – all that jazz you remember from Galtung.”

“Ah!” said the SCIRI soldier. “In the way that the supernatural beauty of the Holy Koran can interact with the fallen filth of humanity, creating the Holy Sharia — God’s plan for us on earth?”

“Yes,” I answered. “Although that would be Hegelian, not Marxist. You see, while both Hegel and Marx emphasized this dialectic — this collusion of opposites — as the pathway to understanding, Hegel focused on the world of ideas, while Marx focused on the world of things.”

“Ahh….” he responded, and I continued my impromptu lecture. “Further, Hegel’s concept of the End of History references the formulation of what he thought was the perfect non-self-contradictory ideology of freedom. He did not mean the world would literally end.”

I could tell our well armed friend was calming down. He even began polishing his bayonet, instead of making worrying shoving actions with it. The chair emerged from her desk. “So a Muslim Hegelian might say that the synthesis of the Holy Sharia liberates us from what imprisons us, and thus the assembly of it by the Caliph Omar (peace by upon him) would be the end of history — if not the end of this world?”

“Exactly!” I responded. “So, to begin my answer, a Critical Theory…”

At this time the fellows of the Mahdi Army must have been conducting their patrols, because now a second gunman entered the ream. “Critical Theory? Like being critical? What a cruel philosophy!” And before he could pronounce death on all cruel philosophers, words taught to me in Scopes and Methods (which I had not yet received my final grade in, strangely enough) came to my mouth:

“Critical Theory is positivist — and then some. Critical Theory is facts and a direction for those facts. In the same way that a vector is a magnitude and a direction, a Critical Theory are facts and a direction. Marxism as a critical theory would be Marx’s positivist study of capitalism combined with his direction for a worker’s paradise, while…

“… while the wise political planning of our leader, Muqtada al Sadr, is a Critical Theory, because it combines his scientific knowledge of the ills of Iraq with a normative view of how Iraq should be? And its test for truth or falsity would not be merely in a lab or journal article, but in seeing of those theories are implemented in practice?” I saw that the local madrassas had been graduating quick minds.

“Yes,” I answered, silently questioning his appraisal of his leader. “Islam can be a Critical Theory, if you combine a knowledge of what is with a belief in what should be. It is not just the application of science to society, as John Stuart Mill did…”

… and Nagel related!”

“ and Nagel related, but the application of society to science. Critical Theory should aim for liberation…”
“… in the same way that our Jihad will liberate souls from the oppressive social conditions of materialism!”

“Yes,” I said, again with silent qualifications. Their summary of Critical Theory was good enough, so why bother to correct. “And you see, Madam Chairwoman that Critical Theory..”

“CRITICAL THEORY” roared yet another soldier, this one was a drugged, angry look. He appeared to be a escaped People’s Mujahid, part of a crazy anti-Iranian terrorist group known to be lurking in the area. I sighed at yet the prospect of yet another clarification.

“CRITICAL THEORY” the anti-Tehranian agent thundered “IS NOTHING BUT A HOLISTIC VIEW OF THE WORLD. CRITICAL THEORY ACCEPTS THE REAL WORLD, SURE, BUT IT DEMANDS THAT EVERYTHING BE SEEN IN THIS USELESS ‘CONTEXT’ THAT…”

“I think you mean Interpretivism,” I interrupted. “Read Taylor and free yourself of your ignorance.” Having convinced the SCIRI and Mahdi men, I was feeling more confident in my abilities. “It is interpretivism that focuses on holistic understanding. Indeed, intrepretivist studies can take years to conduct, because they force one to understand something from as many sides as possible. As Fay wrote, meanings are not indepndent of each other but rather interrelated. Then, the interpretivist has to form these into a story, and tell that story to the people involved. It is only if they agree with that story that it becomes ‘true.’ Interestingly, the epistemeology of interpretivism appears derived from the psychological theory of constructivism, originally devised by Jena Pia…”

“Ah, I see,” said the latest gunman, interuppted me. “Please continue.”

“No problem, of course.” I graciously respond. I see the Chair becoming impatient for me to continue, so I start once more. “Critical Theory…”

“is a bunch of baloney, I’m afraid, ol’ chap.” I twirl around, and see none other than the very model of a modern major general (HRM British Army). “You see, my dear chum, Karl Popper clearly established that if a theory isn’t falsifiable, it isn’t scientific. I’m quite familiar with the details of Critical Theory, and I know of no empirical test it can be subjected to that would show it is incorrect.”

“Yes….” I answer, until I notice a slight growl. Ah, yes, British formality. “Yes, sir. Yet what you are saying, because Karl Popper defined science as a form of positivism, is that Critical Theory is not positivist. Of course that is true. They are different epistemologies — different ways of knowing. In the same way, Positivism isn’t Critical Theory because positivism has no normative direction for social change. You cannot judge one epistemology in terms of another.”

Trying to wrap up my answer, I addressed the Chairwoman and continued as before “So, ma’am, I believe that Critical Theory…”

From the hallway now, the tiniest, pipsqweek voice. Obviously a small child. Must be a war orphan. “My father taught us that Critical Theory is merely a reaction to positivism that teaches that science — indeed, all knowledge — is organized around paradigms. These paradigms are perspectives or sets of exemplars. It is very hard if not impossible to compare the state of knowledge of one paradigm with..”

“That’s Kuhnian logic, from The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. You’re confused.” I was becoming agitated. “To get back to my point, Critical Theory…”

“Critical Theory is…” and I was not able to continue until another young, armed, man pushed his way to the beginning of our assembly. Unidentifiable rabble, from the look of him. “Here’s a theory I’m critical of. Phenemonology. What’s up with that? Believing that all knowledge has to focus on subjective and intersubjective elements and relations. Apparently, completing discounting the objective world. That’s nonsense! And they know it!”

“While you accurately described Phenomenology, that’s not a Critical Theory. That’s being critical of a theory. I explained the difference already. Now, Critical Theory is the best choice for Iraq because..”

“… because it will liberate women against an oppressive patriarch?,” uninterrupted… could it be… Paul Wolfowitz. Huh? Well, strangely enough there he was. In our office. With the gunmen and a not-yet-seen orphan. The trials of an academic, apparently. “No, that’s feminism. Feminism is a form of critical theory, that’s oriented against a supposed patriarchy. Feminism can first assume that there are innate differences or not between the sexes, and thus advocate different approaches. These approaches can be more or less wise. For instance, a particularly idiotic approach would be to invade a country like Iraq and expect a disproportionately female parliament to enact reforms that fit with the “feminine” construct of Western Civilization. But that’s not my point. My point is that Critical Theory…”

and I stopped. I guess I must have expected someone to interrupt me. But of course, no one did. Just me, the chair, the gunmen, the orphan, and the unhelpful President of the World Bank. “He can’t answer the question. That’s why he’s delaying. You shouldn’t hired someone who hasn’t even comped yet as a professor,” said President Wolfowitz. The chair stared coldly at me.

“Critical Theory…” I began once again… “Critical Theory is the best epistemology to teach in Iraq. I would focus my instruction around Critical Theory?”

“That’s a great idea,” said Wolfowitz dismissively.

“Critical Theory is best for Iraq because of it’s combination of positivism and normative objectives. It’s collection of facts is essentially positivist, so it avoids the nonsense of feminism, the bizarre faith in negation of dialecticism, or the tediousness of interpretivism. If we are to do anything, we need facts. Just as if we are to go somewhere in the car, we need to actually be in the car. But we also need a direction. We need to go somewhere…”

“Of course.” More than a hint of sarcasm in Wolfowitz’s voice.

Because the current situation sucks.” I answered. “That’s a normative statement, and I don’t care. When you met me, Madame Chair, you said you already lost several faculty. What sort of insane, injustice is that? That’s intolerable we need to change How can we academics sit still, while our country is in ruins. We need to do something! We need to educate people! We need to show them. We need to develop a theory that’s also a program of doing. A ‘new map’ of the world that’s also a ‘blueprint for action.’ And when that program wins, only when it wins, then it will be ‘true.'”

“Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.” Wolfowitz. The sarcasm again. Always the sarcasm. I hate that man.
“Here,” I said, turning my face towards the former deputy defense secretary, and trying to put this in terms he could understand. “I once heard a Professor at the Naval War College, who worked in an office with you, describe Pentagon force transformation. When asked whether the force transformation program was proscriptive – showing what should happen — or descriptive — showing what is happening — he answered “yes.” That’s the epistemology of Critical Theory. Truth is only established when the theory works on the ground. When the rubber means the road.”

“Ah…” he said. I could see all understood, as well.

“Critical Theory is best for Iraq,” I strongly spoke. Here was the answer to the Chairwoman’s question, at last. “It avoids the pitfalls of nonsense. It avoids the pitfalls of unconcern. It cares for social justice and a restructruing of society — in Iraq’s case, to a society where the death rate for professors at this University (“Go Mujahideen!”) is less than one a day. We must, as Fay commands us, unite theory and practice. That’s what we need to be concerned about: not theory or practice, but theory and practice. Critical Theory Today! Critical Theory Tomorrow!”

“Critical Theory forever!” the room erupted the exclamation. Even Wolfowitz was smiling.

“Thanks for the explanation” said the Chairwoman. But I just wanted an answer, not an essay. Anyway, get to class. Iraqi Scopes & Methods began five minutes ago.”

Marxism is Useless to Study

No, I don’t quite believe the title. But in Scopes I was a debater, and thus had to argue the position.

Personally, I’m sympathetic to Marxist Stability Theory, and Marxism-Barnettism….

And a quick note that the homework-as-blog meme is spreading. Check out Adam of The Metropolis Timesessay on Francis Fukuyama and State Building.


is worthless from an early positivist perspective, a late positivist perspective, an interpretivist perspective, and a critical theory perspective. Lacking any bases in these, Marxism does not bring anything new to the table, and so can be safely discarded. Last, in a coup de grace, Marxism’s teleology is worthless.

The late positivist approach, summed in Karl Popper‘s writings, demands than theories be falsifiable. He specifically cited Marxism, along with Freudism and Adlerism, as examples of pseudo-sciences because though they are similar to science, they fail in one crucial respect: they aren’t falsifiable. No imaginary series of data could possibly refute Marx’s dialectical materialism, or any of other the faiths which attach themselves to him. Scientifically Marxism is worthless. Scientifically, from an early positivist approach, it is not to be studied.

But suppose we are generous, and accept that scientific theories may have unscientific components. After all, rational choice theory assumes purely economic motives for actions, and that is considered scientific. The Marxists may plead that even if they are not scientific in the Popperian sense, their words are at least as worth while at those of the rational choice theories. A nice story — if it was true. Rational choice theory, while it does not give us a purely scientific perspective, at least gives us a view that works. Rational choice has given us a mathematical notation system, geometrical visualization schemata, and other wonders that let us make real, measurable progress on problems. Compared to this, Marxism offers nothing — just more triple and quibble.

Here the Marxist may retreat farther. “Very well,” says he, “Marxism is not scientific according to Popper’s words, and it doesn’t provide as as much product as Rational Choice. But the interpretivists taught that reality is a social interpretation, and agreement is more important than petty facts.” The retreat of the Marxists must be becoming desperate because it is panicked. To fall back to interpretivism the Marxist must talk of agreement, but Marx’s philosophy is based on material disagreement — that’s what dialectical materialism means! Further, Marx thought that the social world was a product of the material world, as the superstructure is a product of the infrastructure. Yet interpretivism (which is derived from constructivism) teaches than the social world is a product of individuals, as is the material world.

Now the Marxist throws his rhetorical weapon into the bushes and full sprints out of site. Knowing his argument lacks validity — and thus use studying — any other way, he tries one last trick: critical theory. Here the Marxist feels at home, because critical theory is often propounded by Marxists. Perhaps they will provide him aid and comfort. No sooner has we walked through their inn’s door, however, than they stab him in the back. Critical Theory focuses on victory, on combining what should be (the political objective) with what is (factual truth). How can the critical theorists support the Marxist, however, as Marxism has produced not success but failure. By any political measure Marxism has not worked. Economically, socially — even in the comparatively humble task in supplanting realism in international politics — Marxism has not won. To critical theory, which uniquely focuses on the effects of theories, this is a fatal flaw. Wounded, the Marxist crawls out the door.

Now crawling dark in the night, the Marxist gives us, hoping his teleology will come through. Perhaps these are all temporary problems, and Final Communism will eventually win – regardless of their logic. There is no guarantee of this, however. In the same way that energy in a system can rest at a “false vacuum” — an energy state that it is effectively impossible to get lower than, because getting lower requires a gigantic burst of positive energy first, perhaps history will rest in a “false end.” This false end may be a state of minimum contradictions, but with such contradictions that they cannot be resolved into a more harmonic synthesis – that instead, more contradictions would first have to be re-generated. The Marxist finally sees this and, being honest, admits there’s no use studying Marxism.

Operationalizing the Gap

Force Structure Will Change,” by Thomas Barnett and Henry Gaffney, Proceedings, October 2000, pp 30-34, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/published/forcestruc.htm

A Hammer Looking for Nails: The Gap, the Core, and the Final Frontier,” interview with Thomas Barnett, Raeson, 1 November 2004, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/interviews/RaesonInterview.pdf.

Viral in-coring: Seoul to Beijing,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 4 January 2006, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/002774.html.

http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/glossary.htm,” Thomas P.M. Barnett, downloaded 8 April 2006, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/glossary.htm.

In this post I will try to put together an operationalization and some alternate rival hypotheses for Tom Barnett’s PNM Theory.

pentagons_new_map_md

I need to finish a research design for my Scopes & Methods class. The rough draft was on traditional geopolitics, but needed considerably work. I kicked around ways to to save it, yet I had trouble focusing on writing that just doesn’t matter. I learn so much more from blog writing than class writing that I find myself looking forward to typing in new posts, but assignments are drudgery.

Until the obvious hit me: write it as a blog post! It’s not a good blog post — it’s actually the perfect combination that doesn’t work either as a tdaxp post or as something I could hand in — but at least it gets me motivated. So today’s work discusses the Research Question, Independent Variable, Dependent Variables, and Alternate Research Hypotheses required to operationalize the Gap.

I would also like to acknowledge the work of Catholicgauze, Chicago Boys, Coming Anarchy [1, 2, 3] and The Glittering Eye in “mapping the gap.” Those posts were inspirational.


That’s easy enough to say. What’s hard is writing something in a somewhat similar style to everything else here. But I’ll try.

Research Question

“Thomas Barnett’s description of “life in the Gap” accurately predicts whether a country is in the Core or the Gap. That is, as the degree to which a state matches the criteria increases, it is more likely to be categorized as “Gap.” Further, the same is true if you look at a state’s neighbors with the same criteria. Further, the same is true if one divided the world into “Old Core,” “New Core,” and “Gap.” Further, the same is true if you look at a state’s neighbors with that criteria. Further, all of these relationships are more valid than the description’s correlation with G77 membership, “first,” “second” and “third” world membership, or categorization by the United Nations Human Development Index. If this is the case, Barnett’s “new map” is preferable to the popular models of the Global North and the Global South.”

Independent Variable

The independent variable (IV) is comprised of measures of life in the Gap’s poverty, nastiness, shortness, brutality., and solitariness, as described on pages 161-166 of Barnett’s The Pentagon’s New Map

The Gap Quotient

  • “Life in the Gap is poor”
    “Of the 118 countries listed by the world Bank as ‘low-income’ or ‘low-middle income’ (below $2963 per capita annual), 109 are located in the Gap.”
  • “Life in the Gap is nasty”
    “According to Freedom House’s 2003 survey of states around the world, 48 out of a global total of 192 surveyed were rated as ‘not free.’ Of those 48, 45 are located within the Gap.
  • “Life in the Gap is short”
  • “Of the 50 states with the highest life expectancy rates (76 to 83 years), four-fifths lie within the Core. However, if we are to look at 50 states with the lowest expectancy rates (37 to 57 years), all but one (South Africa) lie within the Gap.

  • “Life in the Gap is brutal”
    “No matter what list of “current conflicts” you want to work from (e.g. University of Maryland … ) you’ll come up with a number somewhere short of three doze, with 80 to 90 perfect of them falling squarely inside the Gap.”
  • “Life in the Gap is solitary”
    “A good measure of communications connectivity today is the number of Internet hosts found in a country. No surprise here: the more developed your economy becomes, the more connected your people become.”

Calculation for each portion of the value will be in the form “(x – min(x)) / (max(s) – min(x))” which will produce a 0 to 1 value for each state. After this, the five components (poverty, etc) will be averaged for a final 0 to 1 value. A higher value indicates more poverty, nastiness, shortness, brutality, and solitariness.

Dependent Variables

The Dependent Variables (DVs) will be a numeric score of how well the state actually falls into Barnett’s categories. Both a simple Core-Gap and a more complex model will be used.

DV1: Simple

Two possible values, Core or Gap, will be used. Core will have a value of “1,” while Gap will have a value of “2” Determining where a state falls is as simple as looking at PNM‘s inside back cover and seeing what side of the “Boundary of the Non-Integrating Gap” a state falls in. Alternatively, one can get the map off the web.

DV1 is expected to rise as the IV rises.

DV2: Simple Neighbors

Barnett focuses on geographic proximity in his definition of the Gap

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.

So a test should be run to see if this is a factor. The DV2 for a state will be the average of the DV1s for each of its neighbors.

DV2 is expected to rise as the IV rises.

DV3: Complicated

The more complicated version of this will differentiate the Old Core from the New Core. The Old Core, which is “anchored by America, Europe, and Japan” but “excludes South Korea,” by Old Core would seem to be

  • The United States of America
  • Canada
  • Belgium
  • France
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Germany
  • Denmark
  • Ireland
  • UnitedKingdom
  • Greece
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Austria
  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • Norway
  • Switzerland
  • Iceland
  • other Euro micro states

with all other “Core” states as New Core. In this version, “Old Core” is 1, “New Core” is 2, and “Gap” is 3.

DV3 is expected to rise as the IV rises.

DV 4: Complicated Neighbors

DV4 will be calculated relative to the DV3s in the same way that DV2 are calculated with DV1, for the same reason.

DV4 is expected to rise as the IV rises.

DV 5: Not Pursued

Even less defined than “Old Core” and “New Core” is Barnett’s concept of “Seam States.” His glossary defines them as:

The countries that ring the Gap–such as Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Morocco, Algeria, Greece, Turkey, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Some are already members of the Core, and most others are serious candidates for joining the Core. These states are important with regard to international security, because they provide terrorists geographic access to the Core. The U.S. security strategy regarding these states is simple: get them to increase their security practices as much as possible and to close whatever loopholes exist.

I don’t think that Barnett offers a coherent definition here, so I will let this one pass.

Alternative Rival Hypothesis

A research design should have one of more alternate rival hypothesis. After all, perhaps IV and DV increase together –but an even better correrlation could be found by using something else.

It struck me that I could keep my generally geographic theme by seeking to compare Tom Barnett’s Core and Gap model with the earlier Global South model.

The Global North-Global South certainly is a good alternate rival hypothesis, because it’s one that Barnett sees as similar to but different from his. To Raeson Nyhedsmagasinet:

I studiously avoid the “North-South” concept since I have my ABC’s in South America [Argentina, Brazil, Chile], like Australia and South Africa are in the South. I try to focus on: who’s connecting up?

Yet it’s one he and Hank Gaffney previously used (in describing possible force structure strategies):

This camp sees the main foreign policy task of the next decade being the processing of Russia and China into the great power fold on our terms meaning they learn to play by our rules. Once the North is in order, the South should fall in line, especially since the rogues would not have anyone of consequence to supply them in their nefarious activities.

… [or] …

This camp sees the main foreign policy task of the next decade being the effective management of the economic and technological gaps dividing North and South. You keep the North s economic expansion on track by making sure nothing and no one in the South messes it up. When situations down there get really ugly, you do what you have to, but you avoid serious involvement unless key economic fault lines are involved.

… [or] …

The South needs help now, and if it does not get it, it will bring its pain to us one way or another. Slowing down globalization s march also will give much-needed breathing space to the New Economy s losers in the North (e.g., low-tech labor).

Perhaps Barnett isn’t describing a Core-Gap conflict at all, but just a North-South conflict. If this is the case, the specific lines Barnett draws are more a geostrategic convenience for American interests than lines that match what is happening on the ground.

ARH 1: G77

g77_map_md

Perhaps instead of Gap, the best fit for Barnett’s Hobbesian places are the members of the G77. In this ARH, G77 would be “1” and states not in the G77 would be two.”

ARH 2: The First, Second, and Third World

three_worlds_md

In the Three Worlds model, the First World would be “1,” the Second World would be “2” and the Third World would be “3”

ARH 3: UN Human Development Index

unhdi_md

The UNHDI is the most rigorous of the atlernate rival hypothesis, because it is also based on statistical information. Because like the IV in this experiment is it comprised of objective data of health, it should be strongly correlated with the IV.

This paper proposes that the Research Hypothesis of the validity of Barnett’s “new map” is true, and that all dependent variables proposed are better than any of the alterate research hypotheses. If this is not true — then perhaps we better stick to the “old map”!