Fabius, if you reference “Masters of War” by Michael Handel (which I am reading), the author makes the point that even 4GW is Trinitarian since you still have the three components – the state, the populace, and the non-state actor. Even if the non-state actor is embedded within the populace, there is a distinction between the general populace, which must be agitated to support the state against the non-state actor.
This is interesting on several levels. It offers a legitimate question, keying off the work of an expert in military history (Handel being one of the top scholars in his generation of Clausewitz’s works; he died in 2001 — correction per Jason in the comments ). It also offers insight as to why the study of 4th generation warfare has progressed so little in the past five or ten years. The question having been debated at length in many forums, I will slight it in favor of the second issue — which seems of immediate and practical significance.
Anyone familar with the 4GW literature and the works of Martin van Creveld can answer Jason’s question. Considering conventional armies as equivalent to eco-terrorists in their relationship to the government and the people, as Handel does in his new last book (or sarcastically comparing the development of “modern” war after Westphalia to the discovery of prose by Moliere’s Tartuffe, as he does in his famous endnote about van Creveld) shows a limited grasp of non-trinitarian conflict and 4GW.
Questions like this will always be with us. The problem with discussion of 4GW is that it only slowly moves beyond endless Q&A on the basics. To use a poor (but hopefully neutral) analogy, it is as if we are attempting to build a star drive. We have a theory, and some evidence that it will work. But progress is slow because every day someone walks in and says that this is impossible according to Einstein’s special theory of relativity. The resulting debate kills half the day, every day.
We might just point these people towards one of the many already written answers, and get on with it. But what is “it?” What are we trying to accomplish? From William Lind to Dan Tdxap, there are a wide range of people working on developing a “solution” to 4GW for America. Alternatively, this might be just an academic debate — like discussing the cultural roots of Alexander the Great’s use of the oblique order of attack. The difference is having a paradigm that sets the current terms of the debate, providing a conceptual framework and agreed-upon definitions. Developing this for the study of 4GW requries a “dispersed or open-source network to generate a coordinated rule set in noisy environments” — borrowing a phrase from a post by John Robb talking about the same problem, from the perspective of our 4GW foes.
My attempt to describe a paradigm is A solution to 4GW — the introduction. It is just a start, a first cut at the problem.
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Post in the series “Solutions to 4GW”:
- A solution to 4GW — the introduction
- How to get the study of 4GW in gear
- Arrows in the Eagle’s claw — solutions to 4GW
- Arrows in the Eagle’s claw — 4GW analysts
- Visionaries point the way to success in the age of 4GW
- 4GW: A solution of the first kind – Robots!
- 4GW: A solution of the second kind
- 4GW: A solution of the third kind