Thomas Barnett and the Taliban

I’m a bit of a TPMB fanboy, as I have previously alluded to. I love the way that he thinks about how the world works. Sometimes I think that he is a little too US-centric in his views, but that’s OK. It’s good to disagree.

With this post, however, I wholeheartedly agree. It beings with the story of the Taliban’s “first public executions by stoning since their fall from power nine years ago.”

What’s great about this piece, however, is the way TPMB processes it. “The only way to prevent an outcome we cannot abide … is to convince them otherwise, and that means creating permanent connectivity between Afghanistan and the outside world that keeps the spotlight on such activity and penalizes for it in a way that makes it cost prohibitive to pursue.”

Connectivity is a key part of TPMB’s thesis on how the world operates. It borrows strongly from Thomas Friedman’s ideas in Lexus and the Olive Tree. The more that a nation, or group of nations, buys into other nations, the more accountable it must be for its actions, the more scrutiny it is under from other global actors.

TPMB’s assertion that those who will never buy in to the idea that social justice and equality are good things should be hunted down and killed for “their sheer evolutionary backwardness” brings to mind something that David Kilcullen discusses in The Accidental Guerrilla. That is that many ‘Taliban’ fighters could be co-opted; they don’t necessarily live the core values of ‘Taliban’ leaders. However, there is a relatively small (three or four thousand, according to Kilcullen) hardcore of fighters who must be killed or captured.

TPMB’s solution, then, is relatively simple. It’s one of the reasons that I like his ideas so much. Very big-picutre. Very gestalt. Connect Afghanistan to the rest of the world, economically, technologically (as much as is possible without scaring them off), socially (ditto) and see a more stable (not stable) country for us to leave and watch develop (not descend).

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