Thomas P. M. Barnett, author of The Pentagon's New Map and other future-oriented books, says the "global stability industry" is a new and positive phenomenon resulting from globalization.
Mentioning Blackwater in a syndicated column for the Scripps Howard news service, Barnett cites what he considers two bright spots: the launch of a new global stability magazine called Serviam, and the new US Army field manual on stability operations.
"Globalization sweeps this planet with a speed that stuns its most advanced member states and swamps its weakest. As these penetrating networks reformat traditional societies, a certain amount of social instability inevitably ensues among the least resilient. That's inherent to any frontier-integrating age, and we're experiencing one on an unprecedented global scale right now," Barnett writes.
"America is hardly in charge of this process, as most of globalization is now fueled by rising Asia. But as the world's sole military superpower, we naturally feel responsibility even when we're strategically tied-down elsewhere - e.g., Iraq and Afghanistan. Where gaps in coverage inevitably emerge, look for the global stability industry to step in. The cynical option is to 'let 'em burn.'" But an optimist, he argues, would look toward private providers of "sovereignty services" to those troubled lands.
"It definitely beats the alternative, on display right now in starving Haiti, where relief food supplies from the international community often sit on harbor docks - undistributed - while poor locals survive by eating cakes of mud," he says.
Hence the need for a magazine like Serviam: "Those industry non-stories must be told as well."
The second positive example Barnett encountered was at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he received a briefing on "a new Army field manual on stability operations. Why this matters: Army field manuals are the authoritative how-to guides for future operations. The newest versions clearly reflect the build-up of operational experience in this long war against radical extremism.
When the Army's capstone field manual was revised earlier this year, it declared that stability operations should now be given the same priority as the kinetics - conventional combat operations. That was an unprecedented shift in response to the failures we experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan. . . .
"What the new field manual on stability ops does . . . is pick up that operational thread at the end of conflict and extend it through a long-term, stable peace. In short, it's what comes next.
America's defense community continues to adapt itself in this long war, with all roads leading to a far more developed capacity to conduct stability operations. As we proceed down this pathway, America can use all the bright minds and intelligent voices - both inside and outside of government - which it can muster.