Circle the Wagons

This quote, from Thomas PM Barnett, caught my eye:

This is all about frontier integration. Globalization is like America’s rapid and aggressive push Westward across the 19th century: a lot of the same bad actors and a lot of the same tools applied. So don’t be surprised when the Pinkertons show up, or when the covered wagons are attacked, or when the Injuns head to the Badlands for sanctuary. Thus, the goals of our frontline players are fairly straightforward: create the baseline security to allow the connectivity to grow. Focus on social trust and institutions as much as possible, but co-opt existing structures whenever and wherever you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect and it sure as hell doesn’t have to measure up to America’s mature standards. This is a frontier setting within globalization-treat it as such.

It’s an odd passage, probably because it says something about our collective inability grasp what “frontier integration” actually entails. We’re not talking about the Homestead Acts or the California Gold Rush here – I’m thinking more along the lines of the Trail of Tears. So what does frontier integration in the context of globalization mean? More colonial misadventures? More Iraq-like fiascoes? More US troops sent abroad, indefinitely deployed in countries whose names we can’t even pronounce? Will historians euphemistically refer to Barnett’s era of global integration as a way to explain why we’re invading Klendathu centuries into the future? These people understand that clinical terms like “frontier integration” actually mean something, right? Something messy and bloody and frequently disastrous?


Leave a comment

Filed under Foreign Policy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s