Zarqawi the Innovationist

Reaping What It Sowed,” by Thomas Friedman, New York Times, 4 May 2005,

As I blogged before, Zarqawi does know better. He is not crazy and he is not insane. He has a specific program for the people Iraq that he wants to implement. He is using classic 4GW (fourth generation war) techniques to do this. The odds are against him, and he knows this. But the odds were against Lennin, Mao, and Pol Pot too. And like these men, he is not stupid. He lives in a danerous country were men with guns are trying to kill him. If he was dumb he would be dead.

Also, Zarqawi is a rationalist. Zarqawi wants to reorder society on rational Islamist lines. He does not like the way “things have always been” and he has a clear, articulated system for the new things should be. That he basis his dream on his view of what Mohammed’s friends in the 7th century did no more makes him a “traditionalist” than Lenin’s belief of primitive communism made that revolutionary a “traditionalist.”

Therefore, Thomas L. Friedman is wrong when he writes

In the modern incarnation of each of these struggles, members of the Sunni-Traditionalist-jihadist minority are losing. And the more that becomes evident, the more violent they will become – because their whole vision is in danger of being repudiated by fellow Arabs and Muslims.


Having lost the argument with their own community, and unable to offer any program, the Sunni-Traditionalist-jihadists seem to have become totally unhinged, with people becoming suicide bombers at the rate of three and four a day.

Now if there is a rationalist-traditionalist debate in Islam…

But these bombings are also signs of the deeper struggle that the U.S. attempt to erect democracy in Iraq has touched off. My friend Raymond Stock, the biographer and translator of Naguib Mahfouz and a longtime resident of Cairo, argues that we are seeing in Baghdad, Cairo and Riyadh the modern incarnation of several deeply rooted and interlocking wars. These are, he said, the war within Islam between Traditionalists and Rationalists, which dates back to Baghdad in the ninth century; the struggle between ardent Sunnis and Shiites, which dates back to succession battles in early Islam; and the confrontation between Islam and the West, which dates back to the Arab conquests of the seventh century and the Crusades.

… then Zarqawi is a fellow traveler to the feminists, Muslim arab nationalists, and allthe other innovationists.

It is dangerous to underestimate our enemies, or to simplify their motives. Friedman’s column does just that.

Our Ally Vietnam

US eyes Indonesia, Vietnam as potential strategic allies in Southeast Asia,” AFP, 1 May 2005,;_ylt=A9FJqYYNYXVClgMB_QCs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA2bW85OXIzBHNlYwNwbA– (from Praktike Liberals Against Terrorism).

Hmmm… If only some blogger gave us early notice that America’s friend Vietnam was becoming a Thailand-class ally

The United States is eyeing Muslim giant Indonesia and erstwhile enemy Vietnam as potential strategic allies in Southeast Asia as it moves to expand a counter-terrorism drive and contain China’s growing influence in the region.

At present, the United States has three close allies in the region — treaty allies the Philippines and Thailand as well as key security partner Singapore.

Strong US-Vietnam relations will be an effective bulwark against any Chinese regional military expansion while Indonesia is crucial in the US “war on terror,” of which predominantly-Muslim Southeast Asia is seen as a key front, analysts say.

If only someone would have predicted this…

[Deputy Secretary of State Robert] Zoellick is expected to discuss prospective security partnerships with the Indonesian and Vietnamese leaders on top of identifying areas for economic cooperation.

The Vietnamese “have been very, very interested in strengthening the overall relationship,” he told reporters in Washington ahead of the visit. “Economics is one of the drivers but there is very strong security interest. This is obviously true for a country like Indonesia too.”

Network Politics, Introduction: Net-Attacks and Counter-Attacks

Note: This is a selection from Network Politics, a tdaxp series.


How a Bookmaker and a Whiz Kid Took On an Extortionist — and Won,” by Scott Berinato, CSO Magazine, May 2005, (from slashdot).

I’ve been diagramming a lot of different network attacks lately, so it’s neat to read a story about an real-life net attack and counterattack.

It started off with four classes of nodes. An Enemy (blue), conscripted attackers (dark grey), a victim node (light grey), and a Protagonist (red). Visually


The Enemy wanted to extort several dozen thousand dollars from the Protagonist. To do this, he put malicious computer code on many innocent computers, making them “zombies.” At will he could have his zombies attack the victim node — the Protagonist’s web server. This was DDOS (distributed denial of service) attack that prevented the Protagonist’s computer from serving the outside world — disconnecting the Protagonist from his potential customers. The Enemy is directly communications his demands to the Protagonist.

Then, the Protagonist escalated. The Protagonist hired a Mercenary (pink). The Mercenary’s first task was to build a network of defenders (middle grey), which stands between the Enemy’s attackers and the Protagonist’s server. While this does not end the attack, it prevents serious harm as the Enemy’s distributed attacks are now met by distributed defense. The Protagonist and the Mercenary have friendly direct communication, while Enemy is still directly threatening the Protagonist. Visually:


The Mercenary then began the counter-attack. He establishes direct friendly communication with the Enemy, lying about his identity. He determines the physical location of the Enemy — Russia. The Mercenary now co-opts his own networks of attackers — the Russian police (yellow).

In the coup de grace, the Protagonist attacks the Enemy through the Russian police. Visually:


The end state? The attacker zombie nodes are liberated, the Enemy is pacified, the Mercenary has links to both a network of attackers and network of defenders, and the Protagonist can conduct his business safely.


Thoughts to ponder:

  • While the story is about a technological attack on a gambling site, the network diagrams could tell many stories. The same diagrams can be used to examine the assassination of an Afghan tribal chief, the take-down of an insurgent network, a Chinese bandit moving into a valley, &c
  • In the story the Mercenary is altruistic. But assuming he is not, is the Protagonist now in more or less danger than during the original attack? How much potential power does the Mercenary have over the Protagonist?
  • In the story, the Enemy’s attacks are horizontal (devastating, but nonviolent and peer-to-peer) while the Mercenary’s counterattack is vertical (violent, resulting in imprisonment by men with guns). Nonetheless, a successful attack by the Enemy would have been devastating. Can horizontal and vertical attacks be equally destructive?
  • Note that the Enemy has lost all power in the final chart, because he is completely disconnected. The power dynamic has completely changed with all the same nodes still in place. Disconnectedness defines danger. Does connectedness define safety? Power?

Update: Welcome Thomas P.M. Barnett readers. I created this post by combining my graduate study in computer science with political science concepts. If you enjoyed this post, see also my History, Political and Military Doctrine and Connectivity sections.

Question about this post? Confidentially email tdaxp.

Update 28 October 2005: A new version of this analysis, looking at Speaker Hastert’s blog attack on oil companies, is now available.

Network Politics, a tdaxp series
Introduction: Net-Attacks and Counter-Attacks
Part 1, 0GW / 4GW: Iraqi Sunnis
Part 2, 0GW / 4GW: Christian Conservatives
Part 3, 1GW / 4GW: George Soros
Part 4, 2GW / 4GW: Social Security
Part 5, 4GW / 4GW: John Kerry

More Persecution of Marijuana

Marijuana Becomes Focus of Drug War: Less Emphasis on Heroin and Cocaine,” by Dan Eggen, Washington Post, 4 May 2005, (from Democratic Underground).

At least they aren’t investigating real crimes of hunting terrorism or anything

The focus of the drug war in the United States has shifted significantly over the past decade from hard drugs to marijuana, which now accounts for nearly half of all drug arrests nationwide, according to an analysis of federal crime statistics released yesterday.

The study of FBI data by a Washington-based think tank, the Sentencing Project, found that the proportion of heroin and cocaine cases plummeted from 55 percent of all drug arrests in 1992 to less than 30 percent 10 years later. During the same period, marijuana arrests rose from 28 percent of the total to 45 percent.

It seems to be that the only legal justification for the federal government criminalizing some drugs would be the Amendment XIII

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

A good argument might be made that a severly physically addictive drug is a de facto form of indentured servitude. But as this is a relatively loose definition, and the framers of this amendment had no problem with tobacco, the standard has to be very high

But marijuana? A non-addictive drug? One that doesn’t “cause” violence like alcohol or addict users like nicotine? Why?

The answer is obvious: police puritans. There are movements actually opposed to physical pleasure. And not just opposed, but willing to use police powers to enforce their physically dreary society.

The Global War on Terror, the fight against infanticide, and civil society are all being sacrificed to make physical pleasure a crime.

Fortunately, our new Attorney General may be retooling the fight

The new statistics come amid signs of a renewed debate in political circles over the efficacy of U.S. drug policies, which have received less attention recently amid historically low crime rates and a focus on terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, for example, has formed a national committee to oversee prosecution of violent drug gangs and has vowed to focus more resources on the fight against methamphetamine manufacturers and other drug traffickers.

But it is not enough. Marijuana, and many other drugs, should be legalized. The current system is absurd.

4GPS3: The Waterfall of Compounding Victories

Time To Pull The Plug on PBS,” by Chris Bowers , MyDD, 3 May 2005,

Remember this?

Key: Blue, rejectionists; Red, reformers; Orange, rejectionists ready to deal; Dark Blue, extreme rejectionists; solid lines, mutual support; arrow lines, mutual opposition

or even this

Key: Blue, rejectionists; Red, reformers; Orange, “weak-kneed” rejectionists; solid lines, mutual support; arrow lines, mutual opposition

They’re example of successful network disintegration attacks. However, they focused exclusively on 4GPS2 — the second or “network contest” stage of fourth generation politics. I’ve yet to blog how a success in the third stage — government control — effects this.

In fourth generation struggles not all areas will be at the same stage at the same time. Some parts of the government may be past 4GPS3 — the ideological movement may control parts of the government — while others are in the early stages of 4GPS2 — the ideological network is still trying to destroy other, rival nets.

A successful fourth generation politician will use a victory in one area to demoralize and destroy the networks of his enemies in another. Such a thing is happening now.

To backup a little, in November 2004 George Bush won reelection. This was a vertical scenario — it happened fast and had a lot of downstream effects. These included asbestos reform, bankruptcy reform, and PBS reform. These horizontal scenarios takes time to play themselves out, and can generate their own vertical scenarios.

One of these vertical consequences was the the news that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s new President was going to attack liberal bias at the PBS network. And in turn, this vertical shock creates its own horizontal waves, including

Cascading Waterfall of Victories
4GPS3 Victories at CPB Lead to 4GPS2 Network Disintegration
  • less state-sponsored liberal propaganda
  • a netroots boycott of PBS
  • liberal network disintegration

Am I just dreaming about liberals falling apart over Bush’s move? Nope.

The way I figure it, however, if liberals can’t have PBS, no one can. Just bag the whole damn thing. Like Republicans really deserve to control public airwaves anyway, when they would rather everything public (at least everything public that works) be sold off to uber-wealthy private interests anyway. Considering the impending changes, I say let it die.

Just as I predicted, liberal radicals turn on “neutrals” and former allies as new enemies.

But it gets better! This horizontal weakening of liberal networks increases the possibility of more favorable vertical shocks: more conservative electoral victories. Which will lead to more horizontal victories, leading to more vertical victories…

Such is one network destroyed, as the other assumes more.

Update: Austin Bay Blog looks at cascades in fourth generation war