I'm about a third of the way through Barnett's BFA, and probably should withhold comments. Several reasons:
1. I'm not a book critic.
2. I'm not that smart.
3. It's early.
But. Yes, the magnificent "but." Pages 99-104, inclusive. Persia.
See, I get his argument on China. I do, and prefer it. A long hard slog to Peking would not be in the medium term interest of Merka, myself, or Eason Jordan (he'd need a longer website name). The Han have been all over the map. They've done Dynasty and Dallas, experimenting from Marx/Mao to Macy's/Mayo, with a side of fries.
At the end of the day, China is looking to buy in to globalization and the sweet, sweet nectar of capitalism. So, I'm cool with that.
Then there's war with CHICOMS. That white paper they threw out there, back in the late nineties? The one about asymmetric warfare? If I read it right, it was more about defeating a technologically and materially superior foe in a straight force on force, state on state, mano a mano conflict.
You can always tell what "side" someone is on when they talk about Persia. The "faster please" crowd focuses on the Persian Mullahs state sponsor of terror, from Hamas, to Hizbullah to playing host to the al-Qaida CEO's son, since the fall of the Taliban. The "grand bargain" crowd talks about Persia in terms of it's nuclear ambition.
Me, I'm in the seam. I don't like Persia because of the way they mean to wage war.
Look, there's a lot to like about the Persians. Absent the Mullahs, they're pretty decent. They do not like the Mullahs. Got it. But 90 thousand plus pasdaran and their stick wielding palestinian acolytes should be able to keep that in check.
The regime is weak. But, when is that different? All collectivists regimes are eventually revealed as weak, run by small men with dying dreams (Castro? Kim? Call your office). That's the nature of things. The Persian Mullah's understand their weakness and their youth bubble. I don't see the adopting the CHICOM 4-2-1 approach (as Barnett explains, the one kid supports two parents and four grandparents. No time for war). Look at the Iran-Iraq War. The simply took that youth bubble and rolled them towards Iraqi lines as human mine detectors.
The Persian bomb is a hedge, not just for regional ambitions, but also internal repression. Thinking they'll be bought off by Mercedes Benz (Germany is Persia's commercial partner. Like the French shopping Peugot's and nuclear reactors to Saddam) is patently wrong. Persia is a rational, but rational within their rule set.
Here are the flags of the Pasdaran and Hizbullah. I'm a visual learner.
They probably use the same Madison Avenue advertising firm.
Persia's Mullahs, the surviving bazzari, the internal "NGOs" are heavily invested in the regimes survival. Allow them the bomb, and they'll valve off the steam of internal dissent in a manner that would bring a tear to the eye of Vincente Fox. Only, the Core will be the one getting scalded.
The way I see it, the Mullah's retreat under the umbrella, and continue their destabilizing the Middle East. Shopping the Shia of Iraq to them, in some sort of soft partition (that sees the Merkins moving up north into the welcoming arms of Kurdistan) just feeds the beast. The Mullah's then employ their non-state, totally deniable, "like, dude, never heard of them" actors increase the Mullah's interest from a regional to supra regional (yeah. Europe) arena.
Full disclosure, I'm not "down" with the Sunni's. The way they treat the Shia reminds me of Jim Crow Merka. But despising Sunni supremacists doesn't mean throwing in with Shia supremacists (no matter how ecumenical on the terror front).
My point is, just like we instinctively won't accept the Wahabbi rule set into the core, we ought not accept the Mullah rule set either. Especially in exchange for something a transitory as a "stable Iraq." Not on the Mullah's term.
So war? No, not necessarily. But if not war in the short term, then, please, a hell of alot more of "everything else." The Mullah's need exit stage right.
Their way of war countenances Idiot and Vehicle Born IED's, attack on civilian populations as a way of shaping the Informational Environment (link to .pdf). Their way of war sees a state actor claiming Core protections, while engaging in Gap behavior. Murderers. Plain and simple.
You do not want to bring Persia into the Core, dragging their decidedly Gap rule set with them. We already have a U.N. We don't need the Mullah's in.
No sir, says this Br'er Rabbit.