Tuesday, March 2, 2010

FLG Wonders

...what Adam Elkus makes of this comment from Tom Barnett:
Globalization, when it's invoked [in the context of COIN], consists merely of the networking of bad guys--a very limited perspective. It is a sadly ghettoized argument--very inside baseball. And I am dismayed to see it happening in a sub-field that should be more inclusive than the usual war-discussed-within-the-context-of-war with the added dimension of the fight for political control in developing/failed economies (the whole national liberation bit, references to Maoism, etc.). So we're still basically treated to two legs of the stool: security with the addition of politics/culture, but the economics remains a no-go-land that elicits the mention of jobs on occasion (the assumption usually being, public-sector financed with aid), but that's it. The private sector seems completely absent from this discussion, which is why the claim of a global insurgency is easily dismissed as not offering much causality.

My personal opinion is that Barnett is onto something, but that the minds within the COIN debate are largely ignorant of economics. By which I mean they're IR and security peeps, largely trained in those fields, not economics. Not that one has to have a PhD in economics to talk about these things, but most IR and security people say something like, "ugh, math" when the topics of economics comes up. Oddly, the insights of micro and macro 101 would get COIN people a long way down the road and don't require much math beyond basic algebra.

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