Phil on the GWOT 4GW: A Genius Speaks

Dan, thanks for responding…,” by phil, tdaxp, 29 June 2005,

An exceptionally brilliant comment by tdaxp reader Phil appears below. My comments, which add so little to his clean summary, and interspersed

We are in a 4GW war with Islamic fundamentalists.

True. The Global War on Terrorism — or GWOT — is partially a 4th Generation War. It also appears to be a Global Guerrillas War. Add to that Operation Iraqi Freedom I, which was a Network-Centric War.

The GWOT is a full-spectrum war.

This is a state vs. a non-state actor. And this is not only a war that involves violent action, but it’s also a war of ideas.

True. And because a the purpose of 4GW is to erode an enemy’s will to fight, instead of just his ability to fight, the Global War on Terrorism is primarily a war of ideas.

The challenge that we face is in providing an alternative vision to what the jihadists are providing.

True. Dr. Tom Barnett calls this a “future worth creating” or a “happy ending.” The Enemy gives full spectrum happy-endings, from the individual mujahid (“you will go to Paradise, where beautiful virgins are waiting…”) to benighted Muslims (“the corrupt rules and hypocrite mullahs will be overthrown…”) to the grand idealists (“the Caliphate will unite all…”). We also need a full-spectrum response.

As I wrote before, the Neocons and Theocons may be the seeds of one…

Now there’s been a lot of talk on blogs about the inadequacies of American public diplomacy. The reality is that we don’t have time to wait for the politicians and bureaucrats in public diplomacy to get with the program.


Colonel John Boyd divided up action into the OODA loop — Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. You can win if you get inside the enemy’s OODA loop — what people often call “getting into his head.” If you can act while your enemy is orienting, you can move on to the next stage while the enemy needs to go back to observe. You can paralyze the enemy with doubt and confusion.

Politics has an extremely slow OODA loop. It is not fast enough.

So what if another level were created, another level made up of non-state actors within the US, that were designed to fight the ideological war (no violence that’s the state’s monopoly).


In a perfect world, organizations like Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross would be our non-state allies against the enemy. But they other objectives…

These organizations would not be subject to the political and bureaucratic labyrinths, but would pursue the ideological war independently.

MEMRI is an example of such an organization…

They would be entrepreneurial and able to adapt and respond quickly as circumstances changed. Al Qaeda has adapted itself to take advantage of the characteristics of our free society. What if we marshaled the characteristics of the free society to our benefit? The entrepreneurship, decentralization, the “chaos” of civil society.

Brilliant comment. Absolutely brilliant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *