Friday, April 3, 2015

C is for Core and Gap

Boscobel's famous native son gets full credit for today's phrase - Core and Gap. Where is Boscobel and who is the native son? Why am I writing about it?

Boscobel is an itty bitty little town on the Wisconsin River. Firmly in the heart of flyover country like most of the rest of the state. Pretty much due west of Madison, let's just call it southwest Wisconsin and leave it at that.

Thomas P.M. Barnett is the native son responsible for "Core and Gap". He offers up a pretty cool success story, maybe even the classic "country kid makes good" and goes to Washington, D.C., which is what he did.

Why am I writing about Core and Gap? For once I haven't digressed by this point in my harangue. Straight to it.

"the Functioning Core and the non-Functioning Gap" is a theory and a map (see the link to the left) developed by Mr. Barnett describing the state of the globe. It might be a view of the "have" and the "have nots", with some interesting exceptions. The civilized part of the planet that basically works, lives under the rule of law, and interestingly experiences more suicide than murder is the "functioning Core". The part of the planet filled with terrorists and sadness and moral decay (at least defined by western morals), not to mention anarchy, chaos, and evil (again from a western cultural reference) is known as the "non-functioning Gap".

River and Ranch and New Grass Growing are two books in a series revolving around the lives of Cale Thomas and Lane Nygard, two Special Operations Forces operatives, charged with unique special duties. In R&R they are on the cusp of retirement. In New Grass Growing, they are retired. In their careers though, they roamed the planet providing plenty of kinetics via their trigger pulling. In the course of researching these books I stumbled upon the Core and Gap. Fascinating. I'm incorporating this concept into the tactics, strategies and events in the lives of my two SOF MCs.

Personally, as a college educated, white collar US citizen I find this view of the planet to be fascinating and quite compelling. He pulled it together in the years shortly after 9/11 and I'm sure it's been revised in the years since. For me, it remains the first thing I trot out when in the company of those wanting to discuss global politics as they intersect with culture and lifestyle. From my civilian perspective I've found the "Core and Gap" to be the best method of explaining global politics, and maybe even civilization.

Buy his first book or go to the library and check it out. It is a dense read requiring thought and concentration, but the outcome it 100% worth it. At least for me it is.

The fact this dude is from Wisconsin is icing on the cake :)


  1. This sounds likes something my husband would like to read. I've never heard of it called this but it is exactly what we were talking about the other day. Husband talked of it with a professor at his university, and NPR did a story on it recently. Thank you for sharing. I'm going to go look up Barrnett's book. Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @

    1. Whoa! Didn't realize he'd written so many books! Thought it was just one named the Core and Gap...

    2. The first book rolls out the Core and Gap. The more recent work I see as evolutions of his earlier premise. He also has a TED talk on this Core and Gap. Interesting stuff. I also like how the initial Core and Gap theory has held up over the decade or so since he rolled it out.