Making a Science of the Generations of War

A few days back I used Curtis’ Dreaming 5th Generation War blog to call for the scientific analysis of the so-called “generations” of war:

We need to safeguard 5GW Theory against these twin evils of academic theosophy and marketing buzzwordspeak. This can be accomplished by defining “generation,” or even better its symbol “G,” as a scale. It seems to be that “G” measures the kinetic intensity of conflict, which every new G being approximately 20 times less intense than the one below it.

This holds up under a first analysis. Pre-Modern Warfare (the Zeroth Generation of Modern Warfare, “0GW,” about 0Gs) is unremittingly genocidal. If the AD 1900s had the same fatality-from-war rate as the 6000s BC, we should have seen something like two billion war deaths. We might say that form the dawn of man to the dawn of agriculture war meant from measuring around 0.1 Gs on the kinetic intensity scale to .9 Gs.

Or think of it another way: 0G Warfare focuses on ending an enemy’s ability to fight by killing their men. By the time we get to 4G Warfare almost none of the battle is in the field, but in the mind’s of men who will live regardless. This 5GW we talk of seems to be even more mental and less physical, seeking to leave the men, material, and even will of the enemy essentially unchanged. If kinetic intensity is seen as morally bad, then every new G is a moral improvement. 5GW may truly be “moral war,” compared to everything that has come before.

In response…

Iraq is al Qaeda’s Vietnam

Last Gasps in Iraq,” by Ralph Peters, USA Today, 2 November 2006, http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2006/11/post_6.html (from The Corner).

I don’t agree with all of Peters’ analysis, but he sure gets this part right:

And contrary to the prophets of doom, the United States wouldn’t be weakened by our withdrawal, should it come to that. Iraq was never our Vietnam. It’s al-Qaeda’s Vietnam. They’re the ones who can’t leave and who can’t win.

Islamist terrorists have chosen Iraq as their battleground and, even after our departure, it will continue to consume them. We’ll still be the greatest power on earth, indispensable to other regional states — such as the Persian Gulf states and Saudi Arabia — that are terrified of Iran’s growing might. If the Arab world and Iran embark on an orgy of bloodshed, the harsh truth is that we may be the beneficiaries.

In spite of the Bush administrations’ incompetence in Iraq — in spite of their attempted appeasement of terrorists and subversion of democracy in order to play games with Iran — the Iraq War continues to be one of the Bush Administrations’ best moves. Not only did we remove Saddam Hussein — that Milosevic of Arabia — from power, we chose the battlefield where al Qaeda would confront us. We chose to fight them in a country where they could not win, where a majority of the population is implacably hostile to al Qaeda, where Iraqi people power would mechanically crush the Qaedists, the Baathists, and all of their allies.

We will not obtain Bush’s maximal objectives for Iraq. It will ally in this Global War against Terrorism. And it will bring military defeat to Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and all the other terrorist dogs. And all we have to do is leave.