View Full Version : The Need for Counter-4GW

09-06-2006, 10:32 AM
Mitchell Langbert at Democracy Project posts - The Need for Counter-4GW (http://www.democracy-project.com/archives/002776.html).

In 2003, William S. Lind argued that the US invasion of Iraq would face debilitating trouble from insurgency and terrorism, also known as fourth generation warfare, or 4GW. Col. Thomas Hammes also ably discusses this concept in his book The Sling and the Stone. Lind's view of second generation warfare is that it involves use of artillery followed by occupation of troops, or "putting steel on target." Third generation warfare follows the German Blitzkrieg in focusing on the situation and on surprise. Fourth generation war, though, involves fighting non-state opponents. It involves a conflict of belief systems or cultures. In it, "invasion by immigration can be at least as dangerous as invasion by a state army." "At its core lies a universal crisis of legitimacy of the state, and that crisis means many countries will evolve Fourth Generation War on their soil."

Lind and Hammes are implicitly suggesting that just as generations one and two of warfare reflected industrialization, the telegraph and railroad, while the third generation reflected the advent of the automobile, truck and radio, the fourth generation is associated with the mass media and information technology. War becomes increasingly a matter of propaganda, mass information and attitudes rather than mere organized violence or, as Clausewitz defined it (On War, chapter 1) "an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfil our will."...

If Lind, Hammes and other advocates of 4GW are right, it seems to me that the response will not come from the state, which is bound by special interest groups. Rather, it needs to come from private individuals who respond to the terrorists' 4GW with counter-4GW. This would involve standing up to the media and our leaders who are motivated by personal interest in responding to special interest group pressure rather than the national welfare.

The chief source of informaton is of course the media. A second is academia. If insurgents and terrorists have used information to their advantage, then those who wish to respond need to work on exposing the rot in these institutions...

It has become increasingly urgent for citizens to educate themselves about military strategy through books because the mainstream media, including some of my favorite sources like the Economist have not provided the public with a coherent framework for thinking about current events. Yet, Lind and Hammes provide one that is readily available.