Tag Archives: gap

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.

Democracy and America’s Non-Integrating Gap, or, I’m glad I don’t live in Cleveland!

An interesting article, “City of Cleveland sues lenders over foreclosures.

Cleveland, a city currently with about half its 1930 population, is a good example of America’s non-integrating gap: those ares within the United States generally unequipped for life in a free-market democracy.

A Failed State?

Cleveland is both helped and hurt by being within the United States. The subprime mess, which Cleveland is suing over, is an example of this. For those who haven’t paid attention to the embarrasing fiasco, the excess capital in much of the world led to very low interest rates on “variable rate” mortgage, allowing many people who would have been unable to afford a home at the time a chance to move into it. Without the safety of the American property and adjudication systems, money would have never felt safe enough to wash into Cleveland: hence, many new Cleveland home-owners.

However, Cleveland’s dying for a reason, and my guess is that one of the many factors in the city’s death-spiral is low general intelligence. One consequence of low intelligence is reduced ability to calculate risk, shortened time preferences, and plain foolish decision making. So instead of using the historic opportunity of cheap capital, many Clevelanders promptly blew their windfall on houses they could not possibly afford. And thus Cleveland, which if it was a country would never have been trusted with so much cash in the first place, is now saddled with debt.

So now a most-likely incompetent government of a most-likely incompetent city is suing the source of the greatest generosity to hit it in some time.

A recent post by Curzon over at Coming Anarchy includes this quote from Robert Kaplan:

Hitler and Mussolini each came to power through democracy. Democracies do not always make societies more civil-but they do always mercilessly expose the health of the societies in which they operate… The lesson to draw is not that dictatorship is good and democracy bad but that democracy emerges successfully only as a capstone to other social and economic achievements.

Indeed, and it’s quite likely that Cleveland is not at a level of “social and economic achievements” that would allow it to function as a democracy, but still has an elected city government anyway.

Too bad for the people of Cleveland.

Uppity Muslim Woman Killed (Someone is surprised)

Robert Paterson thinks all is lost — we’re on the brink checkmated. (Zen has a more balanced summary.)

The cause of this suspicious death of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who suffered bomb blasts and bullets. There’s now a riot, possibly martial law, blah blah blah.

My question: Why is anyone surprised this happens in a Muslims country?

Broadly, most of the world “works.” Aside from troublesome campesinos near the Andes and racist Pacific Islanders, if you are not in the continuous geographical Gap that stretches from the Cape of Good Hope to frontier of Russia, things are going pretty good for you. The chances of you becoming the victim of a suicide bomber, a mass rape, or good ol’ fashioned genocide are remarkably small. Regularly there’s really bad news from the Gap, such as a camapign of rape fully understandable by our chimpanzee ancestors or today’s assassination of a talkative woman, but really, it doesn’t effect our lives.


So, what next?

The Gap is actually composed of two distinct regions, an Islamic Gap in the later stages of civilizational collapse and an African Gap that never progressed far enough to collapse in the first place. We do not know how to pull off large-scale social engineering, but we do know that most of our attempts to do so have failed. So firewalling ourselves off from the Islamic Gap, doing what needs to be done while strictly limiting human migration from the Islamic Gap to the globalized core, is the best policy. Likewise, we should move away from what Muslim allies we have, as seen in American and Chinese movements away from Pakistan and toward India.

The African Gap, by contrast, needs large-scale engagement. A complete lack of inftrascuture means major opportunities — both for profit and for power — for those able to impose such an infrastructure.

Soft Power

Lexington Green, of Chicago Boyz, kindly linked to a book review on of Kurlantzick’s “soft power” book by in the open thread.

My thoughts (the quoted section is from the original article):

The “flat world” of globalization, so stridently advocated by Clinton and the current presidency of George W Bush, simply did not create the improved quality of life it promised for many Third World countries.”

How long has the “developing world” been “developing”? How long as the Third World waited as the global Third Estate preparing to take over?

The reason that life in the Afro-Islamic Gap sucks is that the Afro-Islamic Gap is culturally bankrupt. Europe’s experiments with totalitarian fascism were stupidly imported by the Muslim world after World War II, whle sub-saharan Africa’s colonial development was canceled because it cost Europeans too much money.


The continued horror of life in the gap is not because of the Washington Consensus, or Bill Clinton, or even the Iraq War: the continued horror of life in the gap is a reflection of life during most of human history: nasty, brutish, solitary, and short. The Gap, that prison of billions of persons, is the true whore of the world: capable of taknig cash, incapable of love.

After America crushed the final attempts of Europe to give a damn about life in the Gap, Gap elites have profited by taking cahs from this or that foreign power in exchange for some fleeting commodity. During the Cold War, the customers were Washington and Moscow and the good was whether or not to put the meaningless word “People’s ” before the meaningless word “Republic” in their country’s name. Now the situation has chnaged to selling raw physical materials: coal, tin, etc. Not an improvement.

China has moved into the US’s and USSR’s roles of paying with few questions asked. That’s a sign of Chinese power (compared to Deng’s first international act, say, which was to purchase feed-grade wheat to feed starving Chinese), but also a sign of China’s weakness (playing for nickles and dimes). America’s larger goal is to end history on her terms.

The United States is arrogantly accustomed to peace, having driven her early neighbors (Britain, France, Spain) from her neighbors and long ago establishing military hegemony over Canada and Mexico. Now the US extends the reach of capitalist peace under American protection from western Europe and Japan (end of World War II) to self-sustaining capitalist peace for all of Europe and all of the Pacific Rime (now). The material benefits to nearly everyone are obvious. America’s profit is that she manages to stop the rise and fall of states, unlike Britain in the 19th century, France in the 18th, Turkey in the 17th, Spain in the 16th, or the Empire in the 15th. No more wars or rumors of wars, for the first time since the Pax Romana.

Now that’s soft power.

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.

Redefining the Gap 1, Prologue

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


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

Shrinking the Gap with Allies (Capitalism and Democracy)

The Wave Theory of Core and Gap,” by David, The Glittering Eye, 28 March 2006, http://theglitteringeye.com/?p=1870 (from ZenPundit).

When the Chinese were our friends…,” by Tom Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 4 April 2006, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/003131.html.

In Pictures: French Protests,” BBC News, 4 April 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/4876616.stm.

In the Second World War, China was our ally:


In this global war on terrorism, she is again.

Shrinking the gap — lifting countries up from “third world” conditions to modern ones — is the grand strategy of the United States. This plan includes regime changes to take down bad actors, and may eventually include political union to reward good ones. Another part is the reverse domino theory, where one state is globalized, and that state in turns helps others globalize.

Today I was lucky to hear an American diplomat stationed in Africa talk about China’s investments in that continent. China is wisely transforming some of her wealth to connect with other states, building up infrastructure spreading globalization. China is a natural ally in shrinking the gap, not just because of her economic wisdom but also for her people’s ideologies. When the Chinese people are asked whether they support capitalism, they respond “yes!” even more than Americans — and much more than the French:


Yet France has a role to play, and in at least one way is more important than China. Yes, even though French has huge protests


And Communist babes


They don’t have protest babes…


crushed by Communist Tanks


France is a natural ally in shrinking the gap, not for her economic foolishness, but for her people’s freedoms.

What does this mean? France and China are allies, but in different ways. France is an ally because she is democratic, and if we are successful all people can, like the French, protest for any reason they want without being gunned down by “People’s Liberation Army” soldiers. China is an ally because she is capitalist, and if we are successful all people can, like the Chinese, lift themselves out of poverty.

What does this mean? We support both France and China — but in different ways. We will stand by France when her democratic traditions are attacked by Muslim ghettoists, while working to minimize her harmful effects on globalization (such as her attempts to prop-up Middle East dictators). And we will stand by China in building connectivity, while maintaining a military that minimizes her harmful effects on globalization (by assuring the world a democracy like Taiwan can never be invaded by a dictatorship).

Gap and Seam China in Pictures

Underneath the Chinese ‘Miracle’ – Photographs,” India-Defence, downloaded 26 June 2005, http://srirangan.net/india-defence/node/310.

Tom Barnett often talks about the “Gap” and the “Seam,” those regions that are either poor and unconnected or trying to climb out of the mud. SriRangan was kind enough to post an album documenting life in Seam and Gap China

“The wealth gap in Urban China.”
“An elderly man taking care of his shoes made out of grass.”
Life on the farm is hard for small children
“This 11 years old girl carries contruction bricks in order to pay for school. She carries 16 bricks each time and the bricks weight 40 kilograms. A mere 34 cents are paid for a 200 meter trip.”

But some offer hope…

“People looking for jobs at a job fair in Shanghai.”

View the entire set