This is the introduction to a miniseries I’m about to begin.
A few years ago, I was doing some simple mapping of where we sent US military forces since the end of the Cold War. We sent soldiers into conflicts almost 150 times, seemingly around the planet, but when you actually plot it out, you realize it’s clustered, rather significantly, in a series of regions.
When I drew a line around those regions on the globe, I realized there were certain things about those regions that were similar, and in a burst of bold data-free research I realized there was a pattern: when you look at the area where we’ve committed our forces, you’re seeing the parts of the world that are least connected to the global economy. And I realized the shape I was staring at I’d seen in many, many forms: biodiversity loss, poor soil quality, where the most fundamentalist versions of religions are, where there’re no fiber optic cable, where there are no doctors.
So I just tried to describe it plainly, calling the connected parts of the world the Functioning Core of Globalization (or the Core)… and the other areas the Non-Integrating Gap (or the Gap)
(Barnett also notes a few exeptions — Israel and Singapore are developed socities surrounded by Gap countries, and North Korea is one glaring exception in the Core.)
I like the concept of Core v.s. Gap. I just don’t like how the border is classified. What makes countries like Turkey and Thailand part of the Gap but places such as Lesotho and Tibet in the Core? Equally, it seems ludicrious to include Chengdu, China (an industrial hole) in the Core and Ankara, Turkey (a developed quasi-European city) in the Gap. And it goes beyond that — how can you tell when the borders of the Gap shrink or expand?