4 Jan. Real Clear Politics Op-Ed - World War IV As Fourth-Generation Warfare by Tony Corn.

Four years after the September 11 events, while many of the initial assumptions of the global war on terrorism (GWOT) have undergone an agonizing reappraisal, a new Washington consensus about the nature of the challenge facing the West and the moderate Muslim world has yet to emerge. Can the notoriously dysfunctional interagency process ever be fixed by organizational tinkering alone, without the elaboration of a common conceptual ground? However lively it may be at times, the Beltway’s ongoing “Operation Infinite Conversation” is no substitute for strategizing.

Does it make sense to keep framing the issue in terms of “terrorism” when the enemy itself, taking a leaf from the book of the most advanced American strategists, talks about “fourth-generation warfare?” At the working level, federal agency officers from DOD, DOS, DHS, AID and the intelligence community come to the GWOT with heterogeneous concepts, doctrines, lenses, frames of reference, metrics, etc. and talk past one another — when they don’t end up working at cross purposes.

Contrary to what is often argued, the main problem lies not so much in the difference of organizational culture between law enforcement and national security agencies as in the disconnect between the two lead foreign affairs agencies — the Pentagon and the State Department. In a nutshell: While there is no shortage of area expertise and cultural intelligence among U.S. diplomats, the State Department as an institution appears unable to make the transition from a bureaucratic to a strategic way of thinking.1 Similarly, there is no shortage of strategic brainpower and literacy among members of the U.S. military, but the Pentagon as an institution appears equally unable to shift from a network-centric warfare to a culture-centric warfare paradigm.2 The following twelve propositions constitute a provisional attempt to provide a common conceptual basis for more effective interagency coordination...