Nonkinetic "War" is called "Politics"

Despite his own theory’s internal incoherency and agenda-driven nature, John Robb nonetheless hosted a great discussion on 5GW, or “SecretWar.” In the comments, RyanLuke asked

If 5GW is getting others to do what you want them to do of their own free will (though maybe that is not the best definition?), where is the “war” part?

Purpleslog, a blogfriend who writes at his own site as well as Dreaming 5GW

It is limiting to equate war with just kinetic power and fighting.

War is conflict and competition between global actors to survive, hold, flourish and grow. This can be zero-sum or non-zero sum.

John Robb chimed in

Purpleslog, that’s called politics.

and I agreed with John

5GW is the use of meaningful violence to change one’s free will. That is, the victim believes he reached the decision through his normal processes, but in reality you are selectively killing, destroying, etc, in a way to bring about that decision.

I agree with John Robb that non-kinetic “war” is called politics. Politics and war are qualitatively different from each other. They should not be confused.

I made a mistake similar to Purpleslog’s eighteen months ago. Peaceful politics can be similar to violent war, and there may be a 5GP (5th Generation Politics) that complements 5GW (5th Generation War).

But war and peace are nonetheless distinct activities. They should not be confused.

6 thoughts on “Nonkinetic "War" is called "Politics"”

  1. Not confused, but not separated either, particularly when one so clearly influences the shape that the other takes (either way.)

    Beyond that consideration is this: that the qualitative difference between politics and war may account for part of the qualitative shift in 5GW from 4GW. Blurring the lines between them, when using them, confuses both the 'kinetic thinker' and the 'non-kinetic thinker'. Attempts by fourth-generation warfare combatants to do this are much more limited than what we may expect from the fifth generation.

  2. Then, are psyops (psychological operations) to be considered a political activity (not a war activity) carried out by military operatives? And, does this distinction also apply to military propaganda? This distinction may only be useful in an abstract way and not useful in the application.

  3. Curtis & RevG,

    I agree with both of you that war, and politics, takes place in the context of everything else. However, I don't agree that the difference between them matters only in the abstract. Simulations show that heroism may evolve different from communitarianism [1] [2], which argues that humans should be expected to behave in different ways in war and in peace.

    As every generation of war is less kinetic than the one that preceeds it, I agree that 5GW is more peaceful (and less “warlike”) than 4GW, that 4GW is more peaceful (and less “warlike”) than 3GW, etc… Nonetheless, a political party that engages in even a very few selected organization is a militia — a terrorist group — and is engaged in war, not just politics.


  4. I think 5GW will include a shift to more non-kinetic activities in proportion to kinetic ones.

    Much of what is considered war is actual non-kinetic (intel gathering, logistics, alliance building).

    I think in 5GW between global actors, classical war and non-war activities will blur as actors want to avoid the kinetic-power or 2gw/3gw/4gw actors, and realize that in many cases, their aims can be achieved more economically.

    I see this as 5GW effector as applied grand strategist X Socio-political entrepreneur, longer war timelines (but perhaps many shorter/smaller/quicker tactical operations). The actor who recognize a broader definition of war (less boundries) will have advantages over those who do not.

    I have been meaning to post on this an dnot just dribble it out on other people's sites in the comments! I have gotten a little distracted and my posting has been light.

  5. Purpleslog, I agree with you, and I think the transition you see coming with 5GW has come with every higher generation.

    And I think that higher may be a better word than new, because all have always been with us. As I mentioned to Sean earlier [1], this sounds like the setup for a 5GW operation, for example [2]

    “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I'm assigning you. You're going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don't call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.”


  6. Perhaps not logarithmic – certainly each fully realized generation should have a magnitude (x10 at least) ability over the previous generation in the way effectiveness (ability wielded per resources consumed to produce the ability).

    A generation emerges after to avoid the power/strengths and to defeat the status quo of whatever the currently generally used GW is.

  7. Purpleslog,

    I was thinking log-base-20, but the neat thing about operationalizing “G” in this way means the issue becomes testable. If it really is log-base-20, we should expect Vietnam to be around 4.0, the blitzkrieg about 3.0, etc.

    Hmmm… a science of war….

    Perhaps one might say a generation is “evoked,” instead of “emerges,” if we take it that each generation is equally natural, but exist or not depending on the environment.

  8. I've never really like the timeframes that have been attatched to the generational model. It always seemed a needless complication. I've always kind of seen it as a ladder like Maslow's, but as you move higher your ratio of physical conflict to non-physical conflict decreases.

    Fifth Rung Conflict just doesn't have the same zing and besides nobody would know what you were talking about.

    By the way Dan, why didn't you cross-post this to D5GW?

  9. “I've always kind of seen it as a ladder like Maslow's, but as you move higher your ratio of physical conflict to non-physical conflict decreases.”

    Yes, I agree completely.

    Which does beg the questions: at what point is the G high enough that it actually becomes politics? Or does the bar change, as societies more used to peace call more of what was once “politics” “war”? For instance, in the movie Gangs of New York, would contemporaries call those actions politics? What we could them war?

    “By the way Dan, why didn't you cross-post this to D5GW?”

    I was waiting for an original contribution


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