Sun Tzu and Fighting al-Qaeda (Networks in Opposition)

Section VI: Weak Points and Strong,” by Sun Tzu, The Art of War, circa 6th Century BC,

Think of networks-in-opposition — societies of humans that are born against something and that have survived in opposition for years, if not decades. Examples of these include al-Qaeda, Columbian drug cartels, illicit smut producers, and the “insurgent” blogs. What do they have in common?


  • Fast decision loops
  • Super-empowered individuals
  • Highly motivated partisans
  • Adaption for corruption (side payments, unauthorized communications, &c)


Opposition networks are good at fast decisions, individual empowerment, motivation, and corruption. This means opposition networks want to fight in the decision-time / empowered-individual / motivation / corruption-flexibility battlespace. To labor the matter, decision-time / empowered-individual / motivation / corruption-flexibility battlespace are the strong points of networks-in-opposition.

Now, the ancient strategist Sun Tzu had some words on attacking an enemy’s strong points:


Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards.

So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.


So would not a wiser way to win the Global War on Terrorism — or to squash networks-in-opposition generally, be to “run away” from the mountain range made of up their quick decision loops, etc? Is not it foolish to try to make our decisions loops faster, to try to empower our soldiers more, because these are areas where they have the advantage anyway? Would not the best approach be to “hasten downwards” into the opposition network’s weaknesses?

State Department Subversion (what a piSrr!)

Exporting democracy: not a job for State,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 16 July 2005,

Remember PISRR: Penetrate-Isolation-Subvert-Reorient-Reharmonize: the five steps to victory? The Joe Wilson shenanigans were an Isolation attack on the President, trying to separate him from American people. Here’s word on another part of the anti-Bush Doctrine effort: Subversion by the State Department

Review of Larry Diamond’s book on the CPA in Iraq (Squandered Victory and David Phillips’ bitch-session on how all that brilliant postwar planning at State was ignored by the Pentagon (Inside the Postwar Reconstruction Fiasco.

How good was the State postwar planning effort?

Many critics of the Bush administration’s handling of Iraq (including Diamond) have cited this project as an enormous opportunity lost, because of turf battles between the State Department and the Pentagon. By this account, Foggy Bottom had planned for a post-Saddam Iraq, anticipating many of the awful things that could go wrong. There is only one problem with this version of events: for the most part, it’s not true. The Future of Iraq Project was not a serious post-Saddam planning exercise for a department readying itself for war. According to the Iraqi writer Kanan Makiya, who was perhaps the most influential voice within the democratic principles working group, it was mostly busywork for Iraqi exiles whom State wanted to guide and control. For exiles like Makiya-and some neoconservatives in Washington like me, who would have welcomed serious postwar planning in any quarter-it was clear that the Near Eastern bureau at State, which oversaw the project, did not want to engage in any planning that might make the path to war easier.

This is why the new office of stability and reconstruction ops in State will never work. State will always (and should always) want to avoid war, because it’s the Department of Peace. Meanwhile, the Defense Department will always (and should always) want to avoid the peacekeeping that must inevitably follow war. What’s needed is a third department between the two, one that focused not on war in the Gap or peace in the growing Core but on getting weak states from the Gap to the Core.

4G Tactics: How to Fight a Blog

Comments,” by PoliPundit, PoliPundit, 14 June 2005, (from MyDD through tdaxp).

Fatwah,” by Chris Byrne, The AnarchAngel, 15 July 2005, (from Resistance is Futile through Riding Sun).

“Swarm” it with annoying comments (4GPS2: Network Contestment)


So why don’t most other conservative blogs allow comments? Because liberals are jerks. If a conservative blog allows comments, it is immediately overrun by juvenile, illiterate, liberal hecklers who ruin the comments section. We here at have been fighting this ever since I turned on comments, and only ceaseless vigilance has allowed us to keep the comments section open. If a larger conservative/libertarian blog, like InstaPundit, were to start a Comments section, then the blogger would have to spend every waking moment policing liberal trolls.


“Denial of Service” it by killing the blogger (4GWS1: Node Takedown)


A Fatwah has been issued against me by a known terror group. Corresponding groups have responded indicating that I will be eliminated shortly.

They have my name, address, telephone numbers, and the names and addresses of my friends and loved ones.

The FBI has been unable to tell me of any actionable threat, however they believe that the threat is real. They have warned me to take the standard anti-terrorist precautions, suitable for Bogota or South Africa not Phoenix.


The difference between politics and war: in politics you don’t get dead.

tdaxp’s Question: So how do we fight a pro-al-Qaeda blogger? With 4G Politics? With 4G War? Something else…?

4G Tactics: Cyber-Crime or Cyber-Terrorism

Dan’s earlier post on how to fight a blog highlights some efforts by those for whom persuasion and peaceful political processes are not enough.
These are the same kinds of tactics we have seen on college campuses over the past couple of decades where it has become common practice for leftists to shout down speakers they disagree with, disrupt events, steal or vandalize campus newspapers, etc., all in an effort to stifle debate and the free exchange of ideas. As Dan has shown how some of these tactics have migrated to the internet. A perfect example of this is the recent “hack attack” perpetrated against the website of Protest Warrior, a pro-liberty and anti-leftist organization. Here is their account of the attack:
In January 2005, Jeremy Hammond and the hacker group collectively known as the “Internet Liberation Front” gained illegal access to the ProtestWarrior server. Thousands of customer credit card numbers were then stolen for the purpose of making millions of dollars in donations to various leftwing organizations. In early February, ProtestWarrior discovered the illegal breach and the identity of the criminals responsible.

Using the hacker recruiting ground, Jeremy Hammond put together and led a team of politically motivated “hacktivists” to probe the ProtestWarrior server for months until an exploit was found. When an obscure vulnerability was discovered in the PW server’s newsletter subscription code, they managed to upload malicious files that gave them the ability to execute commands on the server.

Upon discovering the hack, we immediately began collecting information on the breach and managed to penetrate Jeremy’s inner circle. We then collected evidence that more than 5,000 credit card numbers had been stolen by Jeremy and the “Internet Liberation Front” and that they were planning on doing the following:

*charge hundreds of dollars per stolen credit card number as donations to various left-wing organizations by using an automated donation submission script

*send the entire ProtestWarrior HQ database (complete with usernames, passwords, and operation details) to left-wing groups hostile to ProtestWarrior (including the entire contents of our mail server)

*upload all credit card numbers and other sensitive customer information to hundreds of anarchist and left-wing sites (specifically Indymedia) as a downloadable zip file

*anonymously send press releases and material to thousands of media contacts to boast of the malicious hack and the millions of dollars defrauded, and to publish any and all sensitive information regarding the ProtestWarrior organization

*erase the entire PW server

*launch simultaneous attacks on other conservative sites

Upon discovering their plans, we contacted the FBI and the Secret Service, who immediately launched an investigation. We were able to provide them with a tremendous amount of evidence regarding the breach, the criminals responsible, and their plans to commit massive credit card fraud. We also reported the incident to all credit card companies involved to make sure that ProtestWarrior’s customers were protected. With our help, the FBI was able to thwart Jeremy and his army of “hacktivists”.

After contacting the FBI, we immediately hired a security consultant and removed all sensitive information from the server. We eventually moved the server to a new box, where we blocked off the system and data files from the web server and changed the online store software to a super-secure system that stores zero sensitive customer information. In addition, we hired an internet security firm to run a series of vigorous vulnerability tests on our server, which our server all passed.

The reason we haven’t made this announcement earlier is that our customers were already protected and we didn’t want to jeopardize the ongoing FBI investigation of Jeremy and his “hacktivist” army.

The reason we’re posting this now is that Jeremy, in a desperate move, is publicly appealing to the internet community regarding his pending FBI investigation. Using his site, he is trying to solicit donations for his defense fund and generate public sympathy while spreading libelous disinformation regarding ProtestWarrior and the events leading up to the FBI investigation.

Posted by Phil