Category Archives: Central Asia

Reaction to “The Long Type of Time”

Lexington Green has closed the Afghanistan in 2050 roundtable, and given these reactions to my contribution, “The Long Type of Time

Dan tdaxp applied the XGW framework, and made what I found to be the most compelling statement in the RT, which I will paraphrase. Dan noted four timescales: short, medium, long and very long. The first is the realm of military action, the second of political action, the third of economic change, the fourth of cultural transformation. The 40 year time scale of the RT is beyond the scope of military or political action, but too short for cultural transformation. So, the answer to where Afghanistan will be in 40 years lies in the realm of economic development. This sphere is relatively resilient and resistant to the happenstances of human agency. Which means that the very great likelihood, assuming current trends continue, is that Afghanistan will be an economic satellite of China. That seems to me to be exactly right.

Thanks Lex!

Afghanistan in 2050: The Long Type of Time

The American victory in Afghanistan would be short lived, owing to the efforts of the progressives. The stable, secure, and democratic Afghanistan inaugurated by President Obama was soon undermined by activists to his left. The Karzai government was unable to acquire the weapon systems that it needed to defend itself, and was soon swept away in all but name. To this day, the Afghanistan War is a lesson of the hollowness of military victory when the enemy has already infiltrated the nation’s capital.
The Story of the United States, 1776-2026, Beck Academic Books.

American imperialism ran aground in Afghanistan, like it ran aground in Vietnam two generations before. Attempts by the globo-capitalists in the Obama Administration to subjugate the Afghan people quickly backfired, as popular movements swept across the countryside. Of course, given Afghanistan’s unique history, many of these movements garbed themselves in the robe of the religion that is native to the region. The enormous might of the military-industrial complex was once again unable to overcome the will of the people– both American and Afghani — for peace.
The American People: Triumphs and Tragedies, the Yearly Kos Press.

The Shanghai Economic Friendship Association was first formed as the Shanghai Five in 1996, as a way for China build friendships with our neighbors. The group was renamed the Shanghai Cooperation Organization after Uzbekistan joined, though Uzbekistan would not be the last new member! Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan also soon wished to join, and the Shanghai Economic Friendship Association was born. The SEFA is now an “economic, monetary, and political union,” in which all members work together to harmonize their economics while avoiding conflict or misunderstandings. Peace-keepers from SEFA have proven critical for the prevention of conflict in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and other countries.
Asia: A Political Geography, Peking University Press.

“…we stayed a long, long time
to see you
to meet you
to see you
at last.”
– Sufjan Stevens, In the Devil’s Territory

There are several types of time. There is a short time, where events will begin after some action. In a short time, a man might buy a lottery ticket, and discovery that he is now rich. There is a medium time, where events will begin after a series of actions. A might cut up our credit cards, as a solution to his lottery addiction that will last a medium-amount of time, until he changes his mind and applies for new cards. There is a long time, in which a man’s medium time patterns keep repeating until something fundamentally changes. And there is a long, long time, after which it feels like the world has ended.

It is human nature to want all good things to being in a short time, and for bad things not till happen until a long, long time. In general, a more intelligent man will think more about what is good for a long time than a medium time, and a less intelligent man will think about what is good for a short time than a medium time.

The four types of time are relevant to understanding security. A battle can be won in a short time. Military solutions are short time solutions. Elections can be won in a medium time. Political solutions are medium time solutions. Wealth is built over a long time. Economic processes are long time processes. And the terrain changes of a long, long time. (There is human terrain and physical terrain, the former being more important than the latter.)

The four types of time can be understood through the xGW framework. In the xGW framework, violence is understood through one of six gradients. A 0GW conflict is a genocide, a war of people against people. A 1GW conflict is the the creation of a trained and armed class of fights. A 2GW conflict introduces capital as a substitute of labor, whether in the form of arrows or cannons. In a 3GW conflict the goal is no longer to destroy the enemy, but merely to disrupt his operations through formless fast transients. 4GW narrowly targets violence so that for most of the struggle the conflict is a political campaign aimed at splintering the opposition. 5GW focuses death even more closely, perhaps only on one individual, and may never be noticed at all.

The six gradients of conflict map onto the four types of time. 1GW, 2GW, and 3GW, falling within the traditional understanding of war, are clearly tactics made for winning in the short time. 4GW, falling within the traditional understanding of politics, is obviously a tactic meant for winning in the medium time. 5GW, as a method for silently creating social realities to force an enemy into doing as you wish, is naturally an economics-based approach. The gradients of war then circle around, as 0GW, a brute-force method of changing the human terrain, is a way of speeding of a change that normally would take a long-long time into a short-term solution.

This roundtable asks what Afghanistan will be like in 2050, forty years after these posts are written. Forty years is the difference between 1945 (when Emperor Hirohito of Japan surrendered to the Allies) and 1985 (three years before Emperor Hirohito would stop going to the Yasukuni Shrine, where some Japanese war-criminals are interred). Forty years is the difference between 1959 (two years after Deng Xiaoping was named being named General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party ) and 1989 (when Deng Xiaoping ordered the crack-down against pro-democracy protestors in Tiananmen Square). Forty years is the difference between 1944, Menachem Begin’s declaration of revolt against Britain, and 1984, the year after Begin left office as the Prime Minister of Israel.

In other words, forty years is no long, long time at all.

Neither is forty years a short time, though. A problem that lasts forty years is too long to be solved by the military. And neither is it a medium time. A problem that lasts forty years is too long to be solved even by the politicians.

Forty years is definitely a long type of time. Forty years is ruled not by armies or politics or geography, but by economics. Therefore, in order to understand Afghanistan in 2050, we can dispose of wars and politics. Battles will be won and lost, deals will be made and broken. Unless there is unusually brilliant or unusually atrocious individuals in power, the results of these things even out over time. Likewise, we cannot expect any meaningful change to the terrain in only 40 years. The Hindu Kush and Pamir Mountains will still be there, and the people will still be Muslim.

The physical and human terrain of Afghanistan mean that the largest industries in Afghanistan will be natural resource extraction. This will be true for a long time, whether the optimistic projections of specific surveys come true or not. The physical and human terrain of Afghanistan’s neighbors mean that the largest market for Afghanistan’s extractive industries in China. This will also be true for a long time. Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan are too small, Iran is an extractive supporter itself, and India is separated from Pakistan by inhospitable terrain — the Hindu Kush mountains and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

We will wait a long time to see Afghanistan in 2050. Fortunately, we already know the important outline of Afghanistan in 2050: in will be a natural resource exporting satellite of China. To the extent that U.S. strategy accounts for this fact, there will be less mayhem. To the extent it does not, there will be more. But absent unusually good or unusually atrocious leadership, this outcome is inevitable.

The Long Type of Time is part of the Afghanistan 2050 Roundtable. Be sure to also read The Exit Strategy Fantasy and Looking Back from 2050.

Roundtable: Afghanistan 2050

An upcoming blog roundtable will feature retrospective posts, and subsequent reactions, to Afghanistan in 2050. The distance between 2050 and now is 40 years, and as Lexington Green writes

40 years is the period from Fort Sumter to the Death of Victoria, from the Death of Victoria to Pearl Harbor, from Pearl Harbor to the inauguration of Ronald Reagan. It is a big chunk of history. It is enough time to gain perspective.

This exercise in informed and educated imagination is meant to help us gain intellectual distance from the drumbeat of day to day events, to understand the current situation in Afghanistan more clearly, to think-through the potential outcomes, and to consider the stakes which are in play in the longer run of history for America, for its military, for the region, and for the rest of the world.

I am excited to be a part of this upcoming roundtable, along with Mark Safranski, Shane Deichman, and others. I hope my own upcoming post, The Long Type of Time, will be considered a worthwhile contribution.

Review of “The Rebllion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the Cold War” by James Mann

Recently I finished The Rebllion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the Cold War by James Mann.

The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan is a history of Ronald Reagan’s diplomacy with Mikhail Gorbachev. As such, it is largely confined to Reagan’s second term, those incidents from late in Reagan’s first term — as well as some in the first Bush Administration, are mentioned. The book is not a chronological narrative, but rather four of them. The four sections of The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan focus on Reagan’s relationship with former President Richard Nixon, Regan’s relationship with author Suzanne Massie, the context of Reagan’s “tear down this wall” speech, and Reagan’s summits with Gorbachev.

Reagan and Nixon were contemporaries, though Reagan’s early life as a politician meant that he started behind Nixon’s position. Nonetheless, both men were deeply affected by early battles against American Communists. While Nixon worked on the House Unamerican Affairs Committee, Reagan was President of the Screen Actors Guild, and faced much more open Communist agitation and troublemaking. Both ultimately made peace with Communist governments in ways that were unexpected to the world, but consistent with long-held beliefs. Nixon was concerned about Soviet imperialism and the role of the Soviet Union as a large Eurasian land-power, and so was willing to support non-Soviet (but still totalitarian) forces on the rim of Eurasia, such as Maoist China. Reagan was hostile to totalitarianism, but not concerned about the mere presence of a large landpower that spanned Europe and Asia. Thus, Nixon would have been unlikely to make peace with the Soviet Union to the extent that Reagan did (and, together with Henry Kissinger, was highly critical of Reagan’s moves at the time). Likewise, Reagan’s concern with average human beings and hostility toward

totalitarianism would have made him more sympathetic to Breshnev’s Soviet Union than Mao’s China in the early 1970s.

Suzanne Massie wrote Land of the Firebird: The Beauty of Old Russia. She is also an active writer and speaker — indeed, she has a website. She served as an unofficial intermediary between Reagan and the Soviet leadership. James Mann does not mention if there were other such intermediaries. Massie’s main contribution was to personalize and humanize the situation of average Russians for President Reagan. Many of Regan’s senior aids were concerned of the extent to which Massie may have been influenced by the KGB. Eventually, they succeeded in limiting her access to the President.

The most important words of the famous line, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!,” where the first two. The United States had consistently criticized the Berlin Wall,

and regularly called for its demolition. However, the social context of Reagan’s 1987 speech was a rise in German nationalism. At the time of the speech, the United States had used its role as one of Four / Quadruple powers to assert sovereignty of Berlin, and prevent West Berlin’s mayor from visiting the east. At the same time, Soviet and American introduction of intermediate nuclear weapons in Europe lead to efforts by East Germany to work with West Germany to get rid of both sets of weapons. The German people and the East German government (though not the West German government) feared that the Soviet Union and NATO would be willing to wage a nuclear war if it could be limited to Germany.

Many American analysts felt that Soviet introduction of intermediate nuclear weapons was a mistake. When America introduced intermediate weapons as a response, these were much more tactically useful than soviet weapons. While any Soviet invasion of Europe that resorted to nuclear force would require missiles that would be launched from Soviet territory anyway, NATO intermediate weapons could be launched from Europe and hit the Soviet Union. Such weapons afforded America the possibility of maintaining territorial neutrality during a nuclear exchange between Western Europe and the Soviet Union, which would destroy both forces while leaving the United States the undisputed hegemon. In the Administration Reagan was relatively alone in viewing this outcome as unacceptable, and his diplomacy with Mikhail Gorbachev proceeded in spite of governmental hostility.

Mann argues that Reagan did not win the Cold War, but that he was not merely a lucky President, either. Rather, Reagan allowed Gorbachev to lose the Cold War in ways that other administrations would have been unable to. Reagan was the first President since Franklin Roosevelt who was not hostile to Soviet imperialism. Gorbachev was able to convince the Soviet power establishment not that the Union was economical disastrous (Which they knew before electing him), or that Moscow was on its way to being a third-rate power (which the Soviets realized organically as comparisons even war-torn Vietnam was somehow less “war torn” than Russia), but that the Party had a once-in-a-generation opportunity to turn things around without facing an American attack.

Unfortunately for Gorbachev, the only person who seemed to see the situation clearly was… Suzanne Massie. Massie emphasized to nearly everyone that there was no Soviet people, no Soviet society, and no Soviet sense of us-versus-them. There were only Russians, Ukrainians, Belarussians, Kazakhs, and others, all hostile to the foreign Internationalist occupation of their countries. On Christmas Day, 1991, Gorbachev resigned. The Soviet Union would not see 1992.

After reading The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan, the President reminded me of Mao Zedong. Like Mao, Reagan was able to brilliantly read his people, more comfortable in the poetics of politics than the details of policy, and deeply suspicious of formal structures. Also like Mao, Reagan disliked the formalities of the Presidency. Unlike Mao, of course, Reagan was not paranoid, and was not afflicted with totalitarian powers.

I have read every book James Mann has written. The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan reads as something of a prequel to Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet. However, Mann has also written two excellent books on American policy toward China: About Face and The China Fantasy. However, little reference is made to China, even in areas (geopolitics, the events of 1989) where it would would make sense of the narrative.

I enjoyed The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan. It gave me a three-dimensional view of President Reagan and Gorbachev, who existed more as shadows in my historical imagination. Highly recommended.

When European leaders say “global warming,” they mean “Russia”

This post came from a chat with Brendan of I Hate Linux. It confirms the cap-and-trade bill pushed by President Obama.

We are doing it for Europe

When Europe says “global warming,” they mean “Russia.”

The transposition works almost every time.

X is a threat to civilization; X is a threat to humanity; X is a threat to small nations; X must be combated by all developed nations.

Obama’s cap-and-trade is basically a way for us to assure europe that they won’t be at a compettive disadvantage if they throttle-down on Gazprom deliveries.

Boris Yeltsin was the Deng Xiaoping of Russia

Russia has lost her “Deng Xiaoping.” She lost her chance at a “Jiang Zemin.” Instead, she got Putin.

No Jiang Zemin for Russia
No Jiang Zemin for Russia

Boris Yeltsin was China’s Deng Xiaoping. Like Deng, he introduced dramatic free-market reforms that opened up investment with the west. Yeltsin, like Deng, initailly worked but eventually eclipsed the party-line communists of a previous era (Liu Shaoqi and Mikheil Gorbechev). Yeltsin, like Deng, cleverly managed political reforms, at some times leaning towards democracy (to put pressure on unpopular political opponents) and at other times leaning towards authoritarianism (to prevent radicals from changing course).

Unfortunately for Russia, Yeltsin proved as physically frail as Deng was physically dynamic. Yeltsin’s alcoholism (an inherited condition) and a back injury (an environmental one) compounded each other, and led to a shift in political power a generation early. In China, Deng realized that change was a generational affair, and so an entire generation of successors was bypassed (such as Hu Yaobang) until a new one that had politically matured under the reform period was ready to assume power (such as Jiang Zemin). In Russia, by contrast, Yeltsin was too physically weak to hold on, and Russia got Putin instead.

It has been clear for years that Putin is dismantling Yeltsin’s diplomatic legacy. The Moscow Times has a good piece on how Putin is dismantling Yeltsin’s economic legacy, too:

Russia’s nationalistic energy policy after 2003 has stalled the development of major new energy investments (apart from the Sakhalin projects, which date back to the Boris Yeltsin era). Gazprom and Rosneft have financed themselves with foreign debt rather than with equity capital, accounting for almost one-fifth of Russia’s corporate foreign debt of $490 billion. Gazprom’s aggressive pricing and delivery disruptions have scared away customers, reducing the demand for its gas.

Huge public funds are being diverted to state corporations, which either hoard the money or siphon it off. In their new book “Putin and Gazprom,” Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov have offered a staggering and credible account of how Putin and his friends pilfered assets of $80 billion from Gazprom during his second term as president. Investors have taken notice, slashing Gazprom’s market capitalization from $350 billion last spring to $70 billion at its nadir. Although Russia is the 46th-richest country in the world in per capita terms, it is ranked 147 out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s corruption perception index for 2008. Only Equatorial Guinea is both richer and more corrupt than Russia.

Under Putin, transparency has systematically been reduced, and we no longer dare to trust the government’s public statements on its currency reserves. Officially, they have declined by $163 billion, or 28 percent, from $598 billion in early August to $435 billion in early December. But when Vneshekonombank was given $50 billion of state reserves to help Russian oligarchs with refinancing, nothing was deducted from the official reserves as it should have been. In an article on Gazeta.ru on Oct. 24, Alexei Mikhailov plausibly claimed that another $100 billion or $110 billion of “other reserves” had been transferred to the banking system and were nothing but rubles. To my knowledge, no official denial has been issued. If that were correct, the reserves have fallen by more than half to less than $300 billion, but the government sheds no light on this.

Russia’s largest corporations have turned out to be much more leveraged than anybody had thought. The government has made clear that it will refinance their foreign loans to secure “strategic” ownership. So far, $13 billion has been paid, out of which United Company RusAl has received $4.5 billion and Altima $2 billion, but such private pledges are huge. Vneshekonombank has $37 billion left to spend, but it has already asked for $30 billion more from the government, and more is likely. Thus, Russia can swiftly lose more than $100 billion of reserves.

Instead, Vladimir Putin
Instead, Vladimir Putin

Putin has persistently denied that anything is wrong with the country’s economic policy, while everything but its fiscal policy has been wrong. Domestic and foreign businesspeople realize that he does not talk about reality, which undermines confidence in the Russian market. Without free public debate, rational policy decisions are unlikely.

Incredibly, the government is repeating its mistake from 1998 to maintain a pegged exchange rate in the face of falling commodity prices. Until this summer, this policy provoked speculative capital inflows that boosted the money supply excessively and propelled inflation to 15 percent. Now, the pegged exchange rate, which is probably overvalued by up to 25 percent, promotes speculative capital outflows, quickly reducing the currency reserves. Devaluations in very small steps only convince the market that a major depreciation is inevitable. The coming combination of loose fiscal policy, negative real interest rates, current and capital account deficits and an overvalued ruble is unsustainable. The incentives for capital flight are overwhelming.

The global economic crisis is testing Putin’s system. He has undermined the ground under the house Yeltsin built, transforming the country into a house of cards ready to tumble. He has wasted the oil wealth rather than investing it in infrastructure, health care, education and law enforcement reform. Russia needs fundamental change; above all, it needs to uproot — or at the very least contain — the country’s pervasive corruption, which has gotten markedly worse under Putin. Nothing would serve the country better than the retirement of the failed prime minister, but that is evidently not in the cards.

When Boris Yeltsin gave way to Vladimir Putin, Russia lost her chance to continue opening up to the world. Instead, she faded into the gap of the global economy, and is once again a country that produces nothing war, death, and vodka.

Russia is an Oriental Potentate

Russia threatens military response to US missile defence deal – Times Online
Russia threatened to retaliate by military means after a deal with the Czech Republic brought the US missile defence system in Europe a step closer.

The threat followed quickly on from the announcement that Condoleezza Rice signed a formal agreement with the Czech Republic to host the radar for the controversial project.

The Russian Federation is a Central Asian state, part of the Eastern Seam / New Core expanse that begins where the Near East becomes the Middle East, and extends to the China Seas. It’s somewhat unfortunate for everyone that Russia borders Europe — imagine how much more complicated the world would be if China shared a border with the European Union!

Still, the best approach is to ignore Russia when she starts making demands of Europeans, and get her to orient herself to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, an organization of energy-exporting dictatorships (and the authoritarian-capitalist state they supply) that fits Russia’s political temperament well.

A New Middle East, Part I: Our Vanquished Enemies

The Big Bang spreads . . . the rough way,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 7 October 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/002427.html (from tdaxp).

President’s Radio Address,” by George Bush, White House Radio, 19 August 2006, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/08/20060819.html.

As George Bush assumed power in January 2001, the Middle East was in a dire state. The al-Qaeda backed Taliban government ruled Afghanistan, while the noxious rule of the Arab Nationalist-Secularist governments (some in uneasy league with America, others opposed) ruled Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria. If al Qaeda was a rapist, doing damage quickly and violently, the Nationalist-Secularists were parents with Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. While al Qaeda was more mindlessly violent, the National-Secularists had been disastrous for their states, rolling back the traditional governments and traditional societies that once existed in those lands. The National-Secularists, from the Ba’ath, to Fatah, to the rest, were politically and intellectually bankrupt.


Red = National-Secularist, Green = Shia, Yellow = Tribal, Black = al Qaeda, Blue = Globalist

Since then the situation has changed for the better. In three states the National-Secularists have been driven out: by the US military in Iraq, by the people in Palestine, and by a combination of internal factions and external pressure in Lebanon. And Afghanistan, of course, was liberated in Operational Enduring Freedom.


Red = National-Secularist, Green = Shia, Yellow = Tribal, Blue-Geen = Contested between Iran and Globalist, Blue = Globalist, Purple = Muslim Brothers

That these places are unstable is not proof that Bush’s plan is failing, but that it is working. As the President recently said

It is no coincidence that two nations that are building free societies in the heart of the Middle East, Lebanon and Iraq, are also the scenes of the most violent terrorist activity.

The same is true, of course, when Palestine, where the Muslim Brother’s local branch, Hamas, is squeezed between a justly hostile Israeli and unjustly hostile National-Secularist dead-enders.

If we are to judge the Global War on Terrorism by the standards of Thomas Barnett:

In the end, what will have to change for all this violence in the Middle East to stop is not our withdrawal, but political reform in the region. Keeping this fight suppressed, or having it exported to our shores like it was on 9/11 is certainly a safer route for the local authoritarian regimes. Then again, I think 9/11 put us past caring about those regimes’ stability like we used to.

Bush basically runs a race with Osama: who can destabilize the region’s regimes first? Both sides want change, but only one wants to replace the current autocracies with a religious dictatorship. What Bush wants solves the problem. What Osama wants merely extends it.

Then we are clearly winning this Long War. We destabilized Afghanistan, throwing al Qaeda out of their only State. We destabilized National-Secularist Iraq, and now contend with Iran (not al Qaeda) in seeing which of us has the most influence in that State. We destabilize National-Secularist Lebanon, and now content with Iran (not al Qaeda) in seeing which of us has the most influence in that State.

In this New Middle East we are building, we will have to be careful. We will have to deal wisely with the new regional indigenous hegemon, Iran. But we will not have to fear al Qaeda or the National-Secularists. They will be killed. That is why we can leave Iraq now.


A New Middle East, a tdaxp series
A New Middle East 1: Our Vanquished Enemies
A New Middle East 2: Iran
A New Middle East 3: Israel
A New Middle East 4: Islam is the Answer

Fourth Generation War Is Not Pre-Modern War

Trolling the Blogosphere,” by William Rice, Dawn’s Early Light, 8 May 2005, http://dawnsearlylight.blogs.com/del/2005/05/trolling_the_bl.html.

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

medium_diagram_4gp.jpg

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:

medium_diagram_pmp_sm.jpg

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.