“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
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.