Short Review of "2009: Lost Memories"

2009: Lost Memories is Racist Anti-Japanese Terrorist Propaganda.

2009: Lost Memories

While stylish, it’s also sickening. The protagonist, the hero, becomes a murderer whose objective is starting a war between Japan and the United States. It plays like Arab nationalism — angry, backward-looking, unconcerned about the lives of others, petty.

Josh from One Free Korea has the deteriorating relationship between South Korea and the United States in his Death of an Alliance series. 2009 brings the same message, but as a jump through the gut.

It is a rare movie that makes you want to root for the Empire of Japan. The sickening nationalism of 2009 makes Lost Memories just such a movie.

Quality 1, Beauty

Note: This is a selection from Quality, a tdaxp series.

Photo Courtesy

Dramatically overestimating me, Bill from Dawn’s Early Light asked me to take a look at an interesting Economist article on biased judging in Europe’s version of American Idol.

What makes a good song? Lyrics, melody and rhythm have their place, of course, but for entrants of the Eurovision Song Contest on May 21st, geopolitics may be the decisive factor. Neil Johnson and his colleagues at Oxford University have gathered voting data from 12 years worth of Eurovision Song Contests in order to analyse the links between different countries, and their “compatibility” with each other. These data confirm what many already suspected: that the contest is not always about the quality of the songs. The research, published in arXiv, an online archive more usually devoted to papers about physics, has shown the contest also has a deeper meaning, and reveals how “European” each country is. Despite its Eurosceptic image, for instance, the data suggest that Britain is very much in tune with the rest of Europe. Supposedly Europhile France, by contrast, is actually out of kilter with many of its European cousins.

Hmmm…….. “What makes a good song?” the article asks. “The contest is not always about the quality of the songs,” it continues. Interesting. But anyway…

Dr Johnson and his colleagues picked the Eurovision contest for their analysis because it is largely free of economic and governmental bias, and does not depend on income, on education or (much) on language. This, they argue, makes it a good measure of compatibility between countries, capturing something of the underlying character and mood of a given country at a given time. If all were fair and equal, and judges had similar musical tastes, any given song should receive a similar score from all countries, with terrible songs garnering few points and good songs many. In reality, though, some dreadful dirges get a few ridiculously high scores, while better ditties receive a smattering of surprisingly low ones.

When the article says it “is not always about the quality of the songs,” it begs the question: what is quality? In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig has his protagonist ponder this

It wasn’t until three o’clock in the morning that he wearily confessed to himself that he didn’t have a clue as to what Quality was, picked up his briefcase and headed home.

Later, in more depth

Quality — you know what it is, yet you don’t know what it is. But that’s self-contradictory. But some things are better than others, that is, they have more quality. But when you try to say what the quality is, apart from the things that have it, it all goes poof! There’s nothing to talk about. But if you can’t say what Quality is, how do you know what it is, or how do you know that it even exists? If no one knows what it is, then for all practical purposes it doesn’t exist at all. But for all practical purposes it really does exist. What else are the grades based on? Why else would people pay fortunes for some things and throw others in the trash pile? Obviously some things are better than others — but what’s the “betterness”? — So round and round you go, spinning mental wheels and nowhere finding anyplace to get traction. What the hell is Quality? What is it?

The Economist‘s article on pop idols spirals into philosophical madness!

Bet you weren’t expecting that!

Zen‘s hero is a lecturer of rhetoric in a state university, and he tries something the the British economics newspaper also realized

To reinforce the idea that they already knew what Quality was he developed a routine in which he read four student papers in class and had everyone rank them in estimated order of Quality on a slip of paper. He did the same himself. He collected the slips, tallied them on the blackboard and averaged the rankings for an overall class opinion. Then he would reveal his own rankings, and this would almost always be close to, if not identical with the class average. Where there were differences it was usually because two papers were close in quality.

Compare to the article text:

If all were fair and equal, and judges had similar musical tastes, any given song should receive a similar score from all countries, with terrible songs garnering few points and good songs many

If averaging favorites works for college freshmen in Montana, it should be good enough for the European pop-literati!

One time trying to define quality, Zen‘s hero seems to endorse an American-Idol-like process for deciding what “quality” is

He didn’t know, but he did know that by subtracting Quality from a picture of the world as we know it, he’d revealed a magnitude of importance of this term he hadn’t known was there. The world can function without it, but life would be so dull as to be hardly worth living. In fact it wouldn’t be worth living. The term worth is a Quality term. Life would just be living without any values or purpose at all.

“That’s the look. That sums it. Squareness. When you subtract quality you get squareness. Absence of Quality is the essence of squareness.

But there are crueler judges than hipsters. Other teachers ask him if Quality exists objectively, in items themselves, or subjectively, in the mind of man

“This was brought about in response to Phædrus’ wild meanderings about Quality when the English faculty at Bozeman, informed of their squareness, presented him with a reasonable question: “Does this undefined `quality’ of yours exist in the things we observe?” they asked. “Or is it subjective, existing only in the observer?” It was a simple, normal enough question, and there was no hurry for an answer.

Neither option is valid – the hero is on the horns of a dilemma

Because if Quality exists in the object, then you must explain just why scientific instruments are unable to detect it. You must suggest instruments that will detect it, or live with the explanation that instruments don’t detect it because your whole Quality concept, to put it politely, is a large pile of nonsense.

On the other hand, if Quality is subjective, existing only in the observer, then this Quality that you make so much of is just a fancy name for whatever you like.”

The author demolishes both options in turn

But it turned out to be false. The Quality that he and the students had been seeing in the classroom was completely different from the qualities of color or heat or hardness observed in the laboratory. Those physical properties were all measurable with instruments. His Quality…”excellence,” “worth,” “goodness”…was not a physical property and was not measurable. He had been thrown off by an ambiguity in the term quality. He wondered why that ambiguity should exist, made a mental note to do some digging into the historic roots of the word quality, then put it aside. The horn of the dilemma was still there.

What the classical formalists meant by the objection “Quality is just what you like” was that this subjective, undefined “quality” he was teaching was just romantic surface appeal. Classroom popularity contests could determine whether a composition had immediate appeal, all right, but was this Quality? Was Quality something that you “just see” or might it be something more subtle than that, so that you wouldn’t see it at all immediately, but only after a long period of time?

A dilemma is like a charging bull, and either horn can kill you. If a bull is aggressive, you can turn (and be gored), throw sand in his eyes (try to trick it using a logical fallacy), sing it to sleep (answer that you, unlike the questioner, are not smart enough to know), or go through the horns. The first stage is noting that quality is a larger than an individual

He noted that although normally you associate Quality with objects, feelings of Quality sometimes occur without any object at all. This is what led him at first to think that maybe Quality is all subjective. But subjective pleasure wasn’t what he meant by Quality either. Quality decreases subjectivity. Quality takes you out of yourself, makes you aware of the world around you. Quality is opposed to subjectivity.

Finally, the breakthrough. What is Quality? Answer:

I don’t know how much thought passed before he arrived at this, but eventually he saw that Quality couldn’t be independently related with either the subject or the object but could be found only in the relationship of the two with each other. It is the point at which subject and object meet.

As a Computer Scientist, I loved reading Zen and its sequel, is that they complement network theory so well.

Entity-Relationship networks are an old database concept

Two Entities And Their Relationship

To see how this works, let’s backtrack earlier in the book where Pirsig writes

He remembered [philosopher John Locke]’s statement that no object, scientific or otherwise, is knowable except in terms of its qualities. This irrefutable truth seemed to suggest that the reason scientists cannot detect Quality in objects is because Quality is all they detect. The “object” is an intellectual construct deduced from the qualities. This answer, if valid, certainly smashed the first horn of the dilemma, and for a while excited him greatly.

In Computer Science terms, you would say that an unconnected object is meaningless. To put it slightly differently, an object without a semantic network has no knowable purpose.

An object, existing meaninglessly
Its potential is unknown because its qualities are unknown

Now let’s build a diagram that shows meaning — a semantic network. First, we will show a semantic network showing an entity and a list of things it likes. Remember that according to Locke, it is through these qualities that it is knowable.

An object, existing meaningfully
Its semantic network lets us know the entity

Now, a second semantic networking showing a second entity and a list of things it has

Another object, existing meaningfully
A different semantic network shows us different information

If we tie these together, we get something special. It can be called a semantic internet, or a world of discourse or even a database.

Two connected semantic networks
Now we have a world

To tie this all back together…

Helena Paparizou won the Eurovision 2005 song contest. Judging from the song recording and her official photo

The Bashful Helena, on the floor

we can “instantiate” (fill in) our semantic network with

  • Entity 1 as Eurovision Judge
  • Entity 2 as a Miss Paparizou’s winning song, “My Number One”
  • Attribute 1 as “energetic singing”
  • Attribute 2 as “slutty singer”

We get

Quality is the overlap between two semantic networks

The more relations between two entities, the more quality the relationship has. A song cannot have “quality” by itself, just as a listener cannot have “quality.” The song and the listener make the quality together.

Technically, our semantic network is just a more complex version of our original E-R diagram

Quality is the Relation between two Entities

but by breaking down the relation into semantic relationships, we see so much more.

Also note that your semantic network determines the quality you will experience. This is another way of saying that your relations define you. As Pirsig wrote

In a sense, he said, it’s the student’s choice of Quality that defines him. People differ about Quality, not because Quality is different, but because people are different in terms of experience. He speculated that if two people had identical a priori analogues they would see Quality identically every time. There was no way to test this, however, so it had to remain just speculation.

Quality makes life worth living. Quality makes life. What a dry meaningless horror the world would be if we were alone!

The Jesuit-educated Ortega y Gasset said the same thing

I am myself and my circumstance

as did the early 17th century English Catholic philosopher John Donne

No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine own were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

So why do some nations seem to vote in groups in Eurovision? Because they have quality (very meaningful — thick semantic network) relationships. Quality between nations, quality between nations and songs, quality everywhere!

But does this mirror my earlier modeling of Europe? That’s a post for a different time…

Update: Slashdot picks up the story.


Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” by Robert Pirsig, 1 April 1984,

Musical chairs,” Economist, 19 May 2005, (from By Dawn’s Early Light).

Quality, a tdaxp series, has five parts:
The First Part, Beauty
The Second Part, Friction
The Third Part, Seas
The Fourth Part, Inlets, Lakes, and Streams
The Fifth Part, The Magic Cloud

John R. Boyd’s "Patterns of Conflict" Brief

While discussing my attempt to understand PISRR in 4GW, Chet Richards of Defense and the National Interest suggested that I focus on some slides on late United States Air Force Colonel John Boyd’s epic brief, “Patterns of Conflict.” I took about four to read it and left astounded. What Thomas P.M. Barnett’s brief is to globalization, Boyd’s is to war.

I used the reconstructed Powerpoint


though a facsimile of the slides is also available


Over the next few weeks I will try to post on topics in Patterns of Conflict, to help me better understand this work.

I also took the the following unsolvable cryptogram of notes. Cryptic, neh?

warning: waterfall of victories creates failure, slide 40
warning: top-down attacks, pg 49
pro-waterfall: pg 65
agitprop/we-can-do-it 68
daily-kos-extremism pg 69
fake orders in politics 71
need for delegation 73
long political training during peace — then what about insurgencies?: 75
Schwerpunkt — Future Worth Creating? or Heart of the Beast?
fractals: 80s
quickly, Blitz 4GW not possible? 88
alien atmosphere, hence syphilis?: 91
need for popular early causes, agitprop, also SC ’00 decision?: 92
Reharmonize population BEFORE victory? Too much “capital” needed?: 96
Was SA guerrilla unsuccessful? How does that effect analysis: 98
similarity between 4GW/NCW: 102
saving delay: 106
need to help Sunnis: 108
my Dean experience: 109
Clinton/DNC as moral counter-guerrilla?/ different from GWs? 111
Kerry v Kos: 116
Overload/strategic despair 118
Human rights / moral conflict 119
similarities / differences to global guerrillas: 121
Parts of moral isolation / Aaron’s nightmare /evolutionary: 123
Kerry v Kos (again) 124
horizontal rule sets 125
FAA = FUD? what about MUM? 126
of DA, in ooda, GPASC 128
SDDOS == PISRR in different order?, Centralize/Decentralize 129
… but what about adversary’s successful? super-enemies? 130
“paths of least resistance” — in Senate, Reid is resisting or attempt to create new channel? 133
how does “moral fiber” relate in corrupt world of politics? 134
“Categories of Ruin” 136
“mop up or absorption” – marginalization or absorption in politics? 137
“penetrate [Pisrr] his being” / Full Spectrum 138
“end conflict” make sense in politics? non-ideological times? 140
PNM Grand Strategy 141
“internal harmony” – Larry’s electron comments 142
is “generous terms” in politics possible? 143
“some unifying vision” A Future Worth Creating / higher level than Schwepunkt 144
conspiracy/”theocracy” theories 149
strengthen channel and filibuster 150
“baited retreats” in politics 152
“senior commanders” is plural — lack of one authority possible/advisable? who are political anti-tankmen? 153
projected mental image/”theocracy” — both form AND temp 156
equilv of Barbarossa mistakes in politics? 171
encourage conspiracy theories 176
implies many technoguerillas? 177
“unsolvable cryptogram” – warns of popularizing strategy (Bush vagueness in GWOT?) 179

Download either the new powerpoint or original pdf, and learn a lot!

Model Law for Anti-Insurgency in Iraq (Ethics of PMW/4GW Fusion Takedown)

This (DoS) sounds like Richard Thieme’s suggestion…,” by Stuart Berman, tdaxp, 18 May 2005,

To my post on the hybrid nature of family (“pre modern”) ideological (“4GW”) networks in Iraq, and my suggestion that the most influential single males in a family network be indefinitely held or humiliated to break the insurgency, Stuart Berman writes

So what are the ethical considerations with DoS [Isolation attacks on individual family members]. How do you target the ‘right’ people if you are in essence destroying their reputations?

I’m not sure about ethics, but Stuart’s comment made me think of the importance of doing this legally. Failing to have a legal structure leads to moral isolation of Coalition and Iraqi forces, which would be a significant insurgent victory. But how would a law that enables the destruction of reputations of potentially innocent single males, just because someone in their family is a known insurgent.

It might look something like this

A Person is Guilty of Conspiracy to Insurgency If

  • The person does not have dependent children, and
  • the person is a male at least 16 years old, and
  • the person is of the same House as an active insurgent, and
  • the person should have known of the active insurgent’s activities

Every clause is important. In order,

  • The first clause enables the targeted denial of service attack, distinguishing this from a broader anti-family attack. Anti-family attacks work well in traditional insurgency (Pre-Modern War), but backfire in either 4GW or PMW/4GW hybrids. The law is silent on whether biological children not dependent on the accused should count — that is open to interpretation.
  • The second clause further narrows the scope. Especially in traditional societies, women and children do not possess independent agency. A crime of a woman or a child is presumed to be caused by her male guardian.
  • The third clause is a flexible way of applying the law to kin relations, either of the same house, tribe, or clan, as appropriate. “House” should correspond to how the accused sees themselves in a kinship network. Additionally, by making “House” a criteria of the law it allows flexible interpretation, as appropriate.
  • The fourth clause likewise is open to interpretation. During a very active insurgency, there may be an absolute presumption that the accused should have known — similar to how some American states have an absolute presumption that a child born to a married woman is the rightful child of her husband, regardless of biological evidence. For a very low level Ulster-style situation, “should have known” can be interested much more strictly.

The persons targeted for denial-of-service attack do not have to be found guilty of anything more than this, though that is a post for another time…

Types of Isolation (Aye, Eye, and I in PISRR).

Boyd on al-Qaeda’s Grand Strategy,” by John Robb, Global Guerrillas, 8 May 2005, (from Safranski on GG).

PISRR is a 4th-Generation War 5-step. Standing for Penetrate, Isolate, Subvert, Reorient, and Reharominze, PISRR provides a map of victory in flat-ideological-networked struggle. Would-be Mao Tse Tung John Robb describes John Boyd‘s three-way breakdown of Isolation

Grand strategy, according to Boyd, is a quest to isolate your enemy’s (a nation-state or a global terrorist network) thinking processes from connections to the external/reference environment. This process of isolation is essentially the imposition of insanity on a group. To wit: any organism that operates without reference to external stimuli (the real world), falls into a destructive cycle of false internal dialogues. These corrupt internal dialogues eventually cause dissolution and defeat.

The dynamic of Boyd’s grand strategy is to isolate your enemy across three essential vectors (physical, mental, and moral), while at the same time improving your connectivity across those same vectors. Here’s more detail:

  • Physical isolation is accomplished by severing communications both to the outside world (ie. allies) and internal audiences (ie. between branches of command and between the command organization and its supporters).
  • Mental isolation is done through the introduction of ambiguous information, novel situations, and by operating at a tempo an enemy cannot keep up with. A lack of solid information impedes decision making.
  • Moral isolation is achieved when an enemy improves its well being at the expense of others (allies) or violates rules of behavior they profess to uphold (standards of conduct). Moral rules are a very important reference point in times of uncertainty. When these are violated, it is very hard to recover.

How do these Isolations Isolation work in political networks? Thoughts?

PISRR and the Three Stages, Try 1

I’ve been trying to define the relationship between PISRR (Penetrate-Isolate-Subvert-Reorient-Reharmonize) and the Three Stages of Fourth Generation Struggle. Making it more difficult is that while the Three Stages are a path to power, PISRR can either be a path to power or a method of fighting insurgency. That is, an established government can run through the steps of PISRR to “fold up” an insurgency.

So in this post I only look at the Stages/PISRR from the perspective of a growing insurgency. First, I created a chart to see how PISRR correlated to the Stages


Penetration is clearly a net-building S1 activity, while Reharmonization is achievable only by an establishment and so is S3. Likewise, Subversion is a net-on-net attack and is S2. I then assumed that either individuals or nets can Isolate others (either by selected terrorism or Distributed Denial of Service attacks) while Reorienting a society is done either with an effective network (like the Viet Cong dismembering children vaccinated by Americans) or a government — so Reorientation is S2/S3 and Isolation is S1/S2.

Another way to look at Stages/PISRR from the perspective of an insurgency is


The further down the chart, the closer to the goal — victory. All lines are two directional except the lines extending from “Initiate Struggle” and the lines that enter “Victory.”


Defending 4GW Against Echevarria

The Problem with Fourth-Generation War ,” by Antulio J. Echevarria II, Strategic Studies Institute, February 2005,

A bit ago I asked for criticisms of 4GW. Chet Richards from DNI kindly gave me a link to an article by Lieutenant Colonel Antulio Echevarria, who has published many papers on war. Greatly respecting Echevarria’s experience and service, I criticize his work as follows

In The Problem with Fourth-Generation War, Echevarria’s makes three main points

  1. War does not change in “Generations”
  2. Even if it did, the next Generation would not be “4GW”
  3. Even if it was, some past wars were also “total wars”
  4. 4GW is just another name for Insurgency

I believe that Echevarria is wrong on all three counts

First, His Claim That War Does Not Evolve In Generations

In context:

Unfortunately, this construct is misleading on several counts. First, the theory’s sequencing of the so-called generations of war is both artificial and indefensible. Portraying changes in warfare in terms of “generations” implies that each one evolved directly from its predecessor, and, as per the natural progression of generations, eventually displaced it. However, the generational model is a poor way to depict changes in warfare. Simple displacement rarely takes place, significant developments often occur in parallel. Firepower, for example, played as much a role in World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts as did maneuver, perhaps more.

4GW theorists agree with Echevarria. That is one reason for 4GW suspicion of a “revolution in military affairs.” As Hammes writes in The Sling and The Stone, warfare evolves messily in stages driven by practical considerations on the ground.

Likewise, Echevarria’s criticism of the “generational” model is unfair. I am alive and working, though my father and grandfather are still alive. I have yet fully “displaced them.” But I am younger than they are and I am “the future” in a way they are not.

Second, His Charge That The Next Generation Would Not Be ‘4GW’

Second, even if it were valid to portray major changes in the conduct of war as an evolutionary progression from 1GW to 3GW, the next logical step in that progression would not be the sort of super-insurgency that 4GW theorists try to depict. Instead, 4GW would be closer to the vision of Net-centric warfare—small, high-tech forces networked together in a knowledge-based system of systems that enables them to act rapidly and decisively—currently propounded by some theorists. To their credit, the proponents of 4GW criticize Net-centric warfare for being too dependent on high-technology, and for being too inflexible to accommodate a thinking opponent. Yet, and quite ironically, this is the very direction in which the logic of their particular theory of military evolution would lead them, if they were true to it. The logic they use to explain key developments in the conduct of war, thus, actually undermines their case.

Let’s check them off, using a notable 4GW attack as an example

  • small – 19 men. check.
  • high-tech – attack coordinated using global telecommunication infrastructure. check.
  • networked – both technologically (see above), ideologically, and socially. check.
  • act rapidly – attacks were completed before conventional forces could respond. check.
  • and decisively – WTC destroyed. Pentagon damaged. Thousands killed. check.

Third, His Charge That Some Past Wars Were Also Total Wars

In other words, [4GW Proponents] establish a false comparison by which they wish us to conclude that most of the wars of the modern age, which they claim were characterized by firepower or maneuver, were narrowly focused on military power and, unlike the super-insurgencies of the information age, rarely involved the integration of political, economic, and social power. Yet, even a cursory review of the Napoleonic, and the First and Second World Wars reveals that this is not true. Political, social, and economic capabilities were, in many cases, employed to the maximum extent possible. Some historians, in fact, go so far as to maintain that the First and Second World Wars were, in effect, examples of “total” war precisely because of the extent to which the major combatants mobilized the elements of their national power.

Echevarria is attacking the wind. 4GW does not mean that there were no “total wars” in the past. In deed, this definition of “total war” would seem to exclude 4GW — thus making Echevarria’s point meaningless!

The major break between 4GW and past wars is that 4GW seeks to end the enemy’s will to fight, while previous generations of war focused on removing his ability to fight. The examples of “total war” that Echevarria cites fall into this latter category.

Fourth, His Change That 4GW Is Just Insurgent-Warfare

In fact, insurgency as a way of waging war actually dates back to classical antiquity, and thus predates the so-called second and third generations (firepower and maneuver) as described by 4GW theorists. Insurgents, guerrillas, and resistance fighters figured large in most of the wars fought during this period. Mao was certainly not the first, nor even the most important, theorist to articulate the virtues of insurgency, or Peoples’ war, as it was sometimes called. Clausewitz, for one, called it a “reality (Erscheinung) of the nineteenth century,” and provided some valuable insights into its nature. Insurgency did, after all, help the American colonies win independence from the British crown, and it nearly thwarted the ultimate Prusso-German victory over France in the War of 1870-71.

Finally, there is no reason to reinvent the wheel with regard to insurgency as an effective form of war. A great deal of very good work has already been done, especially lately, on that topic, to include the effects that globalization and information technologies have had, are having, and are likely to have, on such movements. We do not need another label, as well as an incoherent supporting logic, to obscure what many have already made clear.

Echevarria’s mistake is understandable. I made the same mistake discussing the Great Sioux War. The classical insurgencies were not Fourth Generation Wars. They were Pre-Modern Wars. These are struggles based more on family structure than ideological networks. Echevarria’s demonstration that pre-modern war preceded all generations of modern war is thus meaningless.

I hope I have understood Echevarria’s arguments. What other criticisms of 4GW exist?

Fourth Generation War Is Not Pre-Modern War

Trolling the Blogosphere,” by William Rice, Dawn’s Early Light, 8 May 2005,

Bill at DEL read my “Full Spectrum Struggle” post and added

Dan over at tdaxp discusses network-centric warfare (NCW) and 4th Generation Warfare (4GW) here. My question to Dan is while he believes the US does poorly with 4GW in Vietnam, Somalia and Lebanon, what about Afghanistan and Iraq?

The short answer: we lucked out.

The medium answer: It’s too soon to know for sure, but it does look like we are winning. In both Afghanistan and Iraq we shifted the fight from a fourth-generation struggle to a pre-modern struggle. We win pre-modern struggles. Always.

The long answer:

As I blogged before, Fourth Generation movements use violent ideological net-struggle. They are flat peer-to-peer networks that are resilient against decapitation attacks. A 4GWnet looks like


The reason that CIA Director George Tenet told President George Bush that al Qaeda would survive bin Laden’s assassination is because it is true: in 4GW the movement is much more than the sum of its parts. Fourth-Generation Wars often last decades, beyond the fighting life of almost all of its members.

We have never won a fourth generation war. We lose them every time. This is why we need to focus on that sort of warfare a lot more than we are.

But guess what? There is something that is so similar to 4GW that even I confused the two. It is Pre-Modern War, and it looks like this:


When I described PMW’s peaceful cousin, Pre-Modern Politics (PMP), I wrote

PMP is sometimes not included because it is barely politics as we recognize it. Unlike modern politics it is not organized for a belief, ideology, party, or even candidate — there is no “point” to a PMP network other than the PMP network itself. PMP networks are familial networks, The only way to directly increase a familial network is to increase the number of children, though “permanent” alliances can be forged with other nets through marriages.

In both Afghanistan and Iraq we forced the enemy to move from 4GW to PMW tactics. We forced the enemy to lose.

In Afghanistan, this was easy. By 2001 most of the “Taliban” were just warriors and their kind. Afghanistan was well into transition to PMP anyway. America’ adept use at tribal politics — allying with Uzbek and Tajik forces while appointing a charismatic Pashtun as leader — cemented the shift.

Iraq is harder. Abu Zarqawi understands what he is doing. By trying to create a civil war he is attempting to use PMW for his own ends. But Zarqawi misunderstands American strengths — while the U.S. hosts a powerful Left that is willing to betray state allies for its own ends, the U.S. is made to fight Pre-Modern struggles.

We are better at PMW then Zarqawi. When we disbanded the Iraqi Army, when we stopped payments to Ba’ath loyalist tribes, when we de-Ba’athed the countries, we instinctively prepared for a Pre-Modern War on our terms.

From Tippecanoe to Wounded Knee America was baptized in Pre-Modern War. The same tactics which hurt us so much in 4GW — Abu Gharibs and Mai Lais — work wonders in PMW. In 4GW massacres and humiliations weakens political will and helps the insurgents. Such deeds strengthen 4GW nets. In PMW humiliating elders (network supernodes) and killing women and children (exposing the network’s administrators as incompetent in protecting their own) helps. Such acts destroy PMW nets from the inside.

Today, in many ways, we are re-fighting the Indian Wars. My home state saw a bitter multi-angled contest between the Ojibwe (who were ethnically cleansed by the Sioux), white settlers (also ethnically cleansed by the Sioux), the Dakota Sioux (who, after ethnically cleansing the white settlers, reached an amicable peace by turning against their Lakota Sioux brothers), and the Lakota Sioux (exiled to hellish reservations by the U.S. Cavalry).

But we are also fighting Fourth Generation Wars against violent Islamism. The tactics which help us win the New Indian Wars against thugs help us lose the Ideological Net-Wars against the bin Ladens.

And at the same time, we may soon be fighting Fourth Generation Politics against peaceful Islamism.

We live in a complicated world.

Full Spectrum Politics (Generations of Pre-Modern and Modern Politics)

Technology Solutions for a Full Spectrum Force: Agile Development,” by Tom Stautz, Armaments for Full Spectrum Warfare Conference & Exhibition, 25 June 2003,

Colonel Stauz’s presentation for the Armaments for FSW define full spectrum dominance as

The ability of US forces, operating unilaterally or in combination with multinational and inter-agency partners, to defeat any adversary and control any situation across the full range of military operations.

This can be reworked to define political full spectrum dominance as

The ability of forces, operating alone or with others, to defeat any collection of adversaries and define any issue across the full range of political operations

“Spectrum” is a reference to the color spectrum. Think of the different generations of politics like a color line, with earlier phases running into later ones

Five “colors” are shown here

  • Pre-Modern Politics (PMP)
  • First Generation of Modern Politics (1GP)
  • Second Generation of Modern Politics (2GP)
  • Third Generation of Modern Politics (3GP)
  • Fourth Generation of Modern Politics (4GP)

Pre-Modern Politics


PMP is sometimes not included because it is barely politics as we recognize it. Unlike modern politics it is not organized for a belief, ideology, party, or even candidate — there is no “point” to a PMP network other than the PMP network itself. PMP networks are familial networks, The only way to directly increase a familial network is to increase the number of children, though “permanent” alliances can be forged with other nets through marriages.

PMP networks are very steep, and appear to be timeless.

First Generation of Modern Politics


1GP is sometimes called the “mass line” or the “spoils system.” 1GP nets often triumphed over PMP nets because 1GP nets scale quickly. The head of the net takes resources (“spoils”) from the government to give to his subordinates, who in turn have their own spoiled subordinates, and so on.

1GP networks, sensing that the “vanquished” PMP nets may be biding their time, often attempt to destroy PGPS. This reached its most extreme form in Pol Pot’s Cambodia, where an immediate and explicit program of family disintegration was instituted. China and the Catholic Church used offspring restrictions to achieve the same goals less violently.

1GP networks are slightly less steep than PMP nets. While 1GP governments are ancient (Exodus clearly describes a ruling 1GP net built by Moses), 1GP nets with “political program” were introduced to the United State by Andrew Jackson.

Second Generation of Modern Politics


2GP is media based. Dramatically cutting the costs associated with a spoils system, 2GP nets use relatively inexpensive voters to talk to the people directly. In 2GP, the people are convinced they will get something out of the politician directly, instead of having to go through a corrupt intermediary.

2GP is both more and less steep than 1GP. It is less steep because the people are on the same level as each other, and there are fewer intermediaries between the politician and the people. But the politician is still as vital as ever. Think of 1GP as a mountain gradually descending into a valley, and 2GP of a mountain, a sheer cliff face, and the valley below.

Franklin Roosevelt’s “fireside chats” showed the power of 2GP in America.

Third Generation of Modern Politics

Because it’s based on maneuver, the chart is a bit confusing. Hold on


2GP required new technologies (media) to cut costs. 3GP uses no new technology. 2GP won because 2GP nets scale bigger, cheaper than 1GP networks. 3GP nets are much smaller. 3GP is a bridge between organization-based earlier earlier generations of politics and the ideological-networked Fourth Generation.

Small 3GP networks can beat big 2GP nets because 3GP organizations are fast. They “get inside the enemy’s decision loop,” paralyzing the opponent and making the enemy’s mistake compound on mistake. However, self-synchronization is vital in Third Generation Politics. Maneuver without coordination is “flip-flopping,” as Senator Kerry discovered to his memory.

The greatest practitioner of 3GP in American history is President Clinton.

Fourth Generation of Modern Politics


Exhaustively covered before. Much of tdaxp :: Doctrine is now dedicated to the concept.

Are any organizations now geared to politic Full Spectrum — to “outshine” in every “color”? What happens to successful FSP movements when they vanquish their enemies? Those are posts for other times…

Economic, Political, and Legal Reforms After 1989

I think you need to break down the chart…,” by Chirol, tdaxp, 6 May 2005,

Chirol made some helpful points on my first and second post-Fall of Communism charts, including

I think you need to break the chart down into the three phases Barnett lists for integration:

Political Change
Economic Change
Legal Change

And as he notes, they can come in different orders all based on which is best for the country at the time

Using my old categories of democracy, authoritarian growth, and stagnation a la North Korea, here we go again:


The diagram identifies the three main types of reforms — economic, political, and legal — as well as the three type of “end states” — communist stagnation, authoritarian growth, and liberal democracy. As before, the timeline begins in 1989 with the fall of world Communism

To start off, a state first decides whether to abandon Communist economics. Every nation but Cuba and North Korea abandon economic Communism. Both Cuba and the DPRK enter communist stagnation, and attempt to find other ways to aquire capital

For a post-Communist economy, the next decision is whether to reform politically. Russia, Serbia, and Poland both chose yes to this, and soon had open elections. Vietnam and Laos declines, keeping the one-party “Communist” state, while China violently demured. States that kept the one-party dictatorship entered the authoritarian growth stage, which continues to this day.

The last stage is whether to have substantive legal reform — the question of if a rule a law is established. Poland and Czechia chose yes, Russia and Serbia chose no. States that don’t quickly face organized attempts to remove the government. These can be convention armed warfare, seperatist movements, Islamic insurgencies, etc. If there is a war, the only known resolution is that the post-Communist regime must lose, and reenter the political reform stage (possibly under international occupation). Without an armed resistance, liberal networks will form which will overthrow the government in a “color revolution.”

I think the most controversial aspect of this chart would be it does not allow for legal reforms to come before political reforms. While some might argue that Chinese legal progress amounts to “importing rule-sets they could now create internally,” this is questionable. The important aspect of legal reform isn’t just better commercial laws — it is the rule of law. China has established a successful regime based on corruption and bribery horizontal control through side payments.

My chart is historical, not speculative. Every path has been completed by at least one state, while states not yet at an end-state can be seen to be on the path. Personally, I believe China will become a liberal democracy. But it’s closest analogue — Wilhelmine Germany — aborted its growth to launch a World War. Hopefully we will be more lucky this time.

The chart is available in Adobe Acrobat, JPEG, and 1.9 beta formats.