Archive for the 'Thomas Barnett' Category



Is Obama Proposing Leviathan and Sysadmin?

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 11 months ago

After publication of Civilian National Security Force, a number of interesting reactions occurred in reader e-mail, links and trackbacks. One such reaction bears a little more discussion. New Wars asks the question whether Obama proposes something like Thomas P.M. Barnett’s bifurcation of Leviathan and Sysadmin responsibilities.

The video below serves as an introduction to Barnett’s philosophy of Department of War and Department of “Everything else.” As a warning to readers, the video contains profanity.

To begin with, Barnett’s proposal shows an ignorance of the counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq. His notion that the Leviathan deploys, goes home, and then is recalled if insurgents begin killing the Sysadmin forces is ridiculous. The Marines were engaged in constant contact with the population of Anbar for three years or more in order to win the campaign. His statement that “if you shoot at us the Marines will come and kill you” is mere dreaming. The Marines will be at Camps Lejeune and Pendleton under Barnett’s model.

Further, if the Marines (or Special Operations Forces which he also places in the category of Leviathan) are located in proximity of the Sysadmin forces in order to provide protection, then there is no point to the bifurcation of responsibilities. Nothing is saved and no efficiency is gained. One also wonders why, if both the Leviathan and Sysadmin forces are deployed to support a counterinsurgency and/or peacekeeping effort, the Leviathan would be sitting on a FOB and the Sysadmin would be contacting the population.

Barnett clearly isn’t thinking about the highly successful Marine operations in Anbar with his recommendations. And if most of the U.S. Army joins in order to engage in operations other than war (as Barnett claims), this should probably change. Eventually, U.S. forces will suffer from the same fate as the Australian infantry. Finally, Barnett’s graph of decreasing expenditure for kinetic capabilities and increasing expenditure for peacekeeping and rebuilding is laughable. No General, despite Barnett’s claims, has told him that they can get by with a much lower budget (at least not one worth anything).

We have noted many programs that need funding, including lighter body armor that has the same area coverage, F-22s (prior to the F-35 joint strike fighter), increasing the size of both the Army and Marines, rebuilding the sad state of naval ship building in America, and on the list goes. A vision into the future of a diminished military budget was put before us with the Russian invasion of Georgia with their dilapidated equipment. Many more casualties were suffered than was necessary (4:1 kill ratio).

Barnett makes a good show, but struts a bit too much given the lack of substance in his model. This must suffice as a short critique in lieu of a longer one (which we might offer in the future). As for Obama, if he is advocating Barnett’s position, then he is advocating a fairytale in never land. The philosphy is self-defeating. Without a constantly refurbished, experienced and increasingly lethal military, what Barnett calls the Sysadmin forces would be killed within hours of deployment to a location. It is precisely the huge budget, the lethality of the forces, and capability at force projection that gives the U.S. the edge that he wants to exploit and put to work doing other things.

If Obama means simply to cut the budget of the military, then this will have the same effect, and we most certaintly oppose this. But it stands to reason that Obama doesn’t see the same function for the military as even Barnett. Whether the current organizational structure or the one Barnett envisions, the existing paradigm for defeating the transnational insurgency we now face is to fight them in a battle space other than the U.S. Obama’s philosopy appears to be diametrically opposed to this paradigm.


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