Friday, December 14, 2007

The Department of Everything Else

(TED talk by Thomas Barnett.) Especially the two minutes after 13:30

He wants to split the military in half:
- a Leviathan force (Hobbesian, like we have right now, to shoot and bomb)
- a System Administrator force (Eventually a civilian force run by the army, well-equipped, trained, and acculturated to transparently process "politically bankrupt states" like the IMF does for the financially strapped.)

He discusses how the USA Constitution provides for a Department of Armed Forces, "Armies" and a Deparment of Everything Else, "Navies". I found this distinction interesting and googled it up. The Constitution just says bluntly that we should form a "Navy". We don't look at the Navy as very different from the Army, nowadays, and maybe the Coast Guard is different. But the Federalist papers have an interesting discussions of it. All the discussions of the navy are about economics!

See the purpose of the Navy as described by John Jay in this link, and Alexander Hamilton in this link.

Jay and Hamilton argue for a national "fleet" to protect the USA's trade routes and to regulate our commerce. It's about keeping other nations happy with us. Jay's and Hamilton's essays do seem to support Barnett's conclusions that this fleet should be more diverse, acculturated, and civilian.

Barnett seems to have a point.


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StevenBhardwaj said...
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Miguel said...

Steve - I don't know if you're still interested in this topic, but Michael Oren's book "Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776-Present" covers a lot of terrain about the debates regarding the formation of the U.S. Navy. The basic perspective is that the heavy harassment of Articles-of-Confederation-era shipping by sovereign pirate states (e.g., North African Berber and Arab kingdoms) was one of the underlying motivations of the Constitution in the first place, with particular emphasis on the ability of the central government to form a strong Army (and more importantly) and Navy. Pretty fascinating stuff, though the book becomes weaker as it approaches more contemporary topics.


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