Profile: Thomas Barnett
Thomas Barnett was a participant or observer in the following events:
The logo of the New Rule Sets Project, showing the WTC Twin Towers. [Source: US Naval War College]Beginning early in 2000, a unique research partnership takes place between the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island and the Wall Street bond firm Cantor Fitzgerald. The venture is called the New Rule Sets Project and is directed by Thomas Barnett, a senior strategic researcher at the Naval War College. It aims to explore how globalization is altering America’s definitions of national security. In particular, the project leads to three-day-long workshops being held at the Windows on the World Restaurant on the 107th floor of the north World Trade Center tower, where Cantor Fitzgerald has offices. These are in May 2000, October 2000, and June 2001. They bring together “Wall Street heavyweights, senior national security officials, and leading experts from academia and think tanks.” The participants discuss “globalization’s future and the threats that could derail it.” They explore scenarios such as “a terrorist strike on Wall Street, war in the Persian Gulf, and a financial crisis in Asia,” all of which, as Barnett will later point out, “proved amazingly prescient.” [Naval War College, 1/7/2002; Barnett, 2004, pp. 5-6, 46-47 and 197] At the second of these workshops, three mysterious “spies” turn up. They do not participate or interact with anyone, but just observe. Despite having a Top Secret clearance, project director Thomas Barnett is not allowed to know their identities. This particular workshop involves the future of foreign direct investment in Asia, so Barnett later suggests the “spies” are observing it, “because both the Pentagon and the intelligence community had developed a laserlike focus on China as the ‘rising near-peer competitor.’” Due to the Naval War College’s partnership with Cantor Fitzgerald, Barnett visits the World Trade Center two or three dozen times between 1998 and 2001. The last of these visits will be just four days before 9/11, and Barnett is originally scheduled to meet there again two weeks after 9/11. As director of the New Rule Sets Project, he also visits the Pentagon on a regular basis, and will be scheduled to give another briefing there a week after 9/11, in the Navy’s command center facilities: an area of the building that is destroyed when the Pentagon is struck. [Barnett, 2004, pp. 46-47 and 224-225; C-SPAN, 5/30/2004] Barnett will later reflect, “September 11 was crystallizing. We all just went, This is what we were talking about—a peacetime, war-like event that’s so profound it forces us to rethink everything.” [Esquire, 12/2002] Cantor Fitzgerald will suffer the greatest single loss by any company on 9/11, with 658 of its employees dying in the north WTC tower. [Business Week, 9/11/2006] But Barnett’s two “mentors” at the firm that he interacts with—Bud Flanagan and Philip Ginsburg—will both be out of the building at the time, for “accidental reasons,” and therefore survive the attacks. [Bloomberg, 9/13/2001; Barnett, 2004, pp. 199; Institute of International Studies, 3/8/2005] Within weeks of 9/11, Barnett will be installed as the assistant for strategic futures in Donald Rumsfeld’s newly created Office of Force Transformation (see October 29, 2001). [Esquire, 12/2002]
Arthur Cebrowski. [Source: Publicity photo]Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announces the establishment of a new unit within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, called the Office of Force Transformation (OFT). Rumsfeld had called for the establishment of this office “as part of President Bush’s broad mandate to transform the Department of Defense. This transformation process challenges the organizational status quo with a new architecture for American defense in order to ensure an overwhelming and continuing competitive advantage for America’s military for decades to come.” He appoints retired Navy Vice Admiral Arthur Cebrowski—the former president of the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island—as its director. [US Department of Defense, 11/26/2001; New York Times Magazine, 3/10/2002] Also recruited for this new department, as assistant for strategic futures, is Thomas Barnett, a senior strategic researcher at the Naval War College. As the “vision guy,” Barnett’s job is “to generate and deliver a compelling brief that would mobilize the Defense Department toward generating the future fighting force demanded by the post-9/11 strategic environment.” Barnett claims that, over time, senior military officials will come to cite his brief as “a Rosetta stone for the Bush administration’s new national security strategy.” [Barnett, 2004, pp. 5-6] Prior to 9/11, Barnett was the director of a research partnership between the Naval War College and the Wall Street bond firm Cantor Fitzgerald, called the New Rule Sets Project (see May 1, 2000-June 4, 2001). Considering that the OFT is a personal initiative of the defense secretary, it is interesting that Rumsfeld was in the late 1990s one of the founders of the neoconservative think tank, Project for the New American Century (PNAC) (see June 3, 1997). [BBC, 8/25/2005; Washington Post, 6/12/2006; Federal Computer Week, 9/4/2006] In September 2000, PNAC published a strategy document called “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” (see September 2000). Among other things, this laid out the need to establish “four core missions” for US military forces, one of these being to “transform US forces to exploit the ‘revolution in military affairs.’” The OFT appears to be fulfilling this mission. However, the PNAC document had continued, “the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.” [Project for the New American Century, 9/2000, pp. iv and 51 ]
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