Sunday, July 31, 2005

" All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what
have the Romans ever done for us?"

- John Cleese, The Life of Brian

"Deos fortioribus adesse "
- Tacitus

Link Preface:

"History of Empire Part I." by Chirol of Coming Anarchy

" History of Empire Part II" Ibid

"Response to Chirol on 2nd Generation Empires Part I" by Dan of tdaxp

"Empire" by The Jewish Blog

"Empires!!!" by Dr. Daniel Nexon of The Duck of Minerva

Chirol at Coming Anarchy has set off an a very interesting discussion with his series on 2nd Generation Empires and a full post is required for a critique ( you hit gold as a blogger when you write something and your comment section is not enough for your readers). I'm going to touch on some points here and I ecourage you to click the above links for the thoughtful responses Chirol's post has already accrued.

1. Empires as a positive phenomenon:

I tend to agree with Chirol and Nexon here. The reflexive attitude floating in the culture is to presume " imperialism" is a bad thing having been used as a perjorative for most of the previous century but you have to ask - relative to what ? What preceded the empire before it subjugated the " other". Often times what preceded empire was less than admirable.

For every straightforwardly avaricious and retrogressive colonial regime like the one in French Indochina you have numerous others stamping out headhunting, the suttee, slavery and other aspects of barbarism while building modernity and connectivity. Like most forms of governance, the historical moral record is mixed for empire but regimes that are not capable of non-zero sum outcomes are not likely to be sustained for any length of time. You also need to compare that record with what would have prevailed in the empire's absence. A medieval Jew was far better off living under the Caliphate of Cordova or in Muslim Granada than in the petty duchies of backward Germany at the time. Or under Ferdinand and Isabella's monarchy that came after the Moors.

The Belgians were among the worst of the lot of the European colonizers exceeding in cruelty even the Germans in Southwest Africa - and this is saying a lot. Yet prior to the arrival of the Belgians the Congo basin was dominated by Afro-Arab slavers from Zanzibar and cannibal chiefdoms of the interior that built fortified towns lavishly decorated with human skulls. A culture that is on a moral par with the Aztecs but without the astronomy and fancy architecture frankly deserves to lose.

Empires that disprove the rule by being phenomenal paragons of physical destruction and looting rather than economic order - Tamerlane's, Attila's, The Third Reich, the Soviet Union - were all exceptionally short-lived. Ah, but Alexander's empire too was short-lived ? Yes, but he ushered in the Hellenistic Age and his successors all founded dynastic states.

2. What is " Empire"? Are there generations of Empire ?

Classical empires on the Roman model built by conquest and annexation define the common understanding of the term. J.A Hobson and Lenin by critiquing modern European capitalist states and their economic relations with their colonial possessions redefined imperialism for the Left to include. eventually, normal transactional market relations as a form of coercive
" imperialism". A politically self-serving and economically illiterate argument but one with remarkable longevity. For some writers today, an " empire" is simply a large and powerful polity engaged in policies the author vehemently opposes.

Chirol has defined his 2GE as:

"Simply put, a second generation empire is one that increases its “network coverage” by means other than military force. They include economic, political, legal and cultural forces. The power to increase or decrease network coverage is also not completely one-sided as both partners tend to have the ability to create, adjust or sever ties, though as usual, the stronger states tend to set the rules and have considerable advantages over smaller ones."

In other words, a 2GE is a dynamic civilizational network system greater than the sum of its parts. A 2GE could have a hegemonic dominant power or a set of powers where some are more equal than others but the " empire" is the overarching system itself and not a particular state. Dan of tdaxp asked if a state could be 2GE and 1GE simultaneously ? It would seem that logically a 2GE could have a 1GE or several cohabitating within it fairly harmoniously since the 2GE is primarily an economic and soft power associational grouping.

Is there any logical tie between Chirol's 1GE and 2GE concepts that merit referring to the latter as an " empire". The fundamental quality the two entities share in my view is that they are both strong centripetal geopolitical forces - they both attract or pull outside political entities into their system, albeit by different means. Calling the 2GE an " empire" per se is a bit of a typological romanticization and is, politically speaking, unhelpful assuming that you support the establishment and growth of such entities because the term invites hostile ideological attention and opposition.

But substantively, the networking phenomena described by Chirol as "2GE" exists as a subset of globalization. The transnational characteristics of 2GE groupings like the EU and NAFTA are challenging traditional conceptions of the scope of national sovereignty under international law and shifting decision-making power over economic policy from national leaders to market forces and to international rule-set making institutions. It's a discernable process and one that is apt to accelerate so long as globalization is allowed to continue progress to deeper and deeper levels of connectivity.

I've been over at the comment section of the excellent IR blog Duck of Minerva, engaging Daniel Nexon on two of his posts " War Posters and the Fascism Analogy " ( inspired by Coming Anarchy's series) and "John Ikenberry's Pissed". Daniel is also going to engage Chirol over 2GE.

I see Dan of tdaxp has some thoughts to share.....


Totally unrelated but check out Penraker.

The Atlantic Monthly has a cover story ( subscription required) entitled " In a Ruined Country: How Yasir Arafat Destroyed Palestine "that describes an all too common paradigm for Gap states - personalized rule of a " Big Man", multiplying networks of corruption, lack of transparency, democracy and rule of law and the threat of anarchic violence as a countervailing force to official misrule.

I seldom write on Israeli-Palestinian conflicts because the problem is presently insoluble. There can be no peace without a Palestinian state and there can be no Palestinian state until Palestinians accept that such a state at peace with Israel is an end in itself and not a mere waystation en route to Israel's discorporation. The almost sixty-year old fantasy of driving the Jews into the sea when all facts point to a power calculus that would make that impossible indicates that Palestinian nationalism is actually secondary or tertiary to anti-Zionism, anti-semitism, pan-Arabism, Islamism and material factional interests.

The PA does not possess a monopoly over the use of force required to deliver upon any agreement with the Israeli government and neither the gangsters who run the PA nor HAMAS nor pro-settler Israeli hawks see in any interest in seeing the PA become stronger and effectively accountable. It is a shame because a genuine peace would bring enormous economic benefits to Israelis and Arabs alike as capital and labor markets were allowed to normalize and joint regional development projects would become possible.

Arafat, who may have looted upwards of a billion dollars from his people is gone but in his place are would-be mini-Arafats, the East bloc trained, hard-eyed chieftains of Fatah and the religious extremists of HAMAS and Islamic Jihad. Peace requires moderates and ME politics has little room for them.
Friday, July 29, 2005

There will some more posting later today. Much later actually because I will soon be out on the lake cruising in a friend's boat drinking cocktails, enjoying the 80 degree blue sky weather and the bikini-clad scenery. Rough life I realize, but it can't all be PNM, obscure historical analogies and fourth generation warfare theory:

Chirol at Coming Anarchy has begin an very intriguing series on the nature of Second Generation Empire (2GE) - it is only at the preface stage but there's more to come.

Sam at The Useless Tree and PLS at Whirledview lodge strong disagreements with the Gitmo policy, though for different reasons.

Bruce Kesler savages Hussein Jane Fonda

Shoshanna at Dreams into Lightning points to an article by Samir Hassan at Friends of Democracy that undercuts the theological justification for jihad used by the Islamist terrorists.

Peter Lavelle's weekly round-up of Russia experts discuss The Great Game.

Hoo-HA !
Thursday, July 28, 2005

I have to hand it to Dr. Barnett and Critt Jarvis - they can pick'em. In this case I mean the featured contributor in the NRSP Newslettter, Art Hutchinson. This guy is a true heavy-weight in the horizontal thought department and as a result I am running his article in full here, interspersed with my commentary in regular text:

"Google: Shrinking the Gap with Connectivity

by Art Hutchinson

On June 30th, the front page of the Wall Street Journal carried the headline: "For Soaring Google, Next Act Won't Be as Easy as the First", noting that the "official ambition" of the juggernaut Internet search company is, "to search all of the world's information". Period. Not just the text. Not just the freely available digital stuff or that to be found in clean, safe, orderly parts of the world. All information. Period.

Ambitious? The term is scarcely strong enough. "Megalomaniacal/visionary" might be more appropriate. Yet just today, the company is reporting a 4X surge in quarterly profit on a doubling of revenue. Google is no dot.com flash in the pan. Just the opposite, in fact. The Wall Street Journal characterizes "Google's mission [as] a long-term one", quoting CEO, Eric Schmidt as saying: "It will take… 300 years to organize all of the world's information."

Well, it won't take 300 years to organize the most important information to which instant access will have far-ranging economic, political, legal, societal, intellectual and paradigmatic effects. Diminishing returns means that a disproportionate amount of effort will go into simply satisfying the criteria to make such a claim realistic but for matters of practical " powershifting" in the Toffler sense, will come in our lifetimes. The 300 years bit is there to dampen the potential opposition that a lot of vested interests and ordinary people might have to this concept once they think it through.

"Here’s our goal, the CEO says, in effect. It will take ten generations. Are you with us? That kind of talk gets most CEOs a one way trip to the asylum. Three hundred years ago, George Washington’s mother wasn’t even born yet. Yet investors are absolutely on board. The price of a Google share is up more than 60% this year… and it’s only July.

The plan is reminiscent of Isaac Asimov's Foundation but if you think about it, the expeditions of Columbus, the Mayflower, Lewis and Clark - all represented grand longitudinal vision of this kind.

Lest this begin to sound like a stock analyst’s report, here’s the big thought for readers of this newsletter: substitute "the Core", or "free market, Western, capitalistic rule sets" for Google and the headline reads just as well. "For Soaring Core, Next Act Won’t Be as Easy as the First". Indeed. We’d all prefer thirty years to fill the Gap. Realistically, it may take three hundred. As Tom likes to say though, the end point is a worthy one; we’re at an inflection point in history; turning back isn’t an option. Google’s stock price soars. So does demand for immigration to the Old Core. Legal or not, this is the place to be. The man on the street instinctively knows that both trains are going somewhere good. Surely there’s enough momentum to hook a few more cars on the back.

There certainly is. However we should not fall into the trap of deterministic thinking simply because the trends within the massive geoeconomic shift called Globalization are headed in the direction of things sunny and bright. Connectivity is a two way street. So is disconnectivity. Both are choices affecting more than one party and both affect the parameters of possible interactions and the speed of transaction. Corruption and state failure can "disconnect up" from the Gap just as the Core can export security and connectivity to the Gap

The great Victorian classical Liberals of the 19th century celebrated Globalization I. Progress seemed to be unlimited and the possibilities of science unending yet this "golden age" died on the anvil of protectionism and under the hammer of world war. Globalization needs tending, which means a strategy, Rule-sets, a Leviathan enforcer and System administration to keep things humming.

"But here’s the kicker: both trains are going to the same place. My kids can’t remember when searching for information meant a trip to the library and hours in front of the card catalog. I can’t remember the time when visiting Berlin or Tokyo was inconceivable.

The referential social shift is going to be much, much, larger, assuming the premises of Google's CEO are even close to correct. This 5G " shaping the Logosphere" effort is going to dovetail with advances in neural networks, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, the implanting of information technology devices into the human brain and things unforseeable at this time. There will be a multiplier effect operating.

"Making the dark corners of the Internet, and the larger information universe transparent and easily searchable, (i.e., Google’s challenge) is analogous to what’s involved in closing the Gap and enabling the four flows—the movement of people, money, energy and security. Even as they differ—the virtual and the physical; Google and the Core—there is much in each to inform the other. On the issue security alone, the struggle between order and chaos is richly interwoven between the two. How does one fight a smart, unseen, adaptable enemy force, (e.g., of hackers, virus writers and spammers) conjoined only by a rootless nihilism?

In my technology-oriented scenario-based consulting to Fortune 100 firms, it’s been obvious for nearly a decade that firewalls, (physical or virtual) simply aren’t enough. Nor are the efforts of any one organization. The only lasting solution is to promulgate rule sets in which it’s both possible and attractive for the bad hackers to get real jobs—to join the ‘core’ within the Core—even as we shrink their refuge. The same is true of the brainwashed ‘hackers’ bent on destroying our real-space networks, (e.g., subways)."

The leadership of nihilistic revolutions are usually visionaries who feel frustrated and alienated by a society that does not seem to let them rise but possess great energy and will to power. Robespierre was a bourgeois lawyer, Lenin was a minor nobleman and lawyer, Mao the son of a well to do landowner as was Castro, Khomeini was a cleric in a dynastic Iran, bin Laden a younger son of Saudi billionaire. All of these individuals won popular support because their societies lacked sufficient social mobility. Making room for people to rise is a safety-valve.

"In both cases too, pitched battles over control of critical assets (e.g., energy and people in the real world; movies, music, books and other works in the virtual one), will increase in intensity as the stakes become apparent to power-hungry holdouts. Their numbers are dwindling, but I still occasionally encounter the ‘throwback’ CEO whose capricious, dictatorial, management style and lust for personal perks have crushed dissent, creativity and morale among employees. More often than not, such organizations—insulated from competition for one reason or another—are unable to respond when those barriers suddenly come down. (e.g., regulatory boundary drops, new innovation springs up, etc.)

The leaders of such fiefdoms know that the game will eventually be up, but they don’t care. In such corporate cultures, it’s hard to escape the echoes, however faint, of Kim Jong-il and Saddam Hussein. Everything appears orderly inside—as long as the pace and vibrancy of a thriving world outside are not held up for comparison. One of Google’s current challenges is convincing content companies (e.g., television producers and networks) to allow Google to search their content. The pitch: you’ll be better off if more people can see what you have to offer. If they find it, the argument goes, they will buy, and everyone will be better off. eBay is the proof in the pudding. Millions of garages and basements were completely ‘off-line’ until it came along. Now they are, in a sense, transparent: open for commerce. Easy search and the flow of information equals tremendous value released—just as it does for people, money, energy and security"

And power. Greater egalitarianism in access to once closely guarded and specialized knowledge erodes barriers to entry, increases transparency, levels the playing field, spurs greater horizontal thinking and puts greater emphasis on performance rather than formal credentials.

Just ask Dan Rather.

"Content companies, (i.e., studios, publishing houses, record labels) sitting on digital assets are understandably wary. Theirs are not dusty basements, but going commercial concerns, threatened in the short term by too much openness. Opening up to the new means giving up something tangible—risking the stability of old business model, even if it’s not thriving as much as it used to. The Silicon Valley lessons of transparency and fluidity are starting to be understood at a gut level outside the technology industry, but it’s still hard for many to make that cognitive leap. Microsoft offered a decent but not exceptional operating system independent of IBM’s PC and it took off—90% market share. Apple bound its operating system to a single platform and got 10% share. Oops. The open-source software movement, exemplified by Linux, has become the ultimate borderless, fluid creation, achieving respectability and major market share at the expense of traditional closed-shop software development efforts in just a few years. Oops.

Virginia Postrel postulated in her first book that emergent politics may come down to conflict not between Right and Left but to Dynamists vs. Stabilitarians.

"There are also analogies and crossovers between the virtual and physical worlds in the battles over rule sets. For example, what is the meaning of copyright? How is it to be expressed and enforced in a transparent, ubiquitously networked world (at least the Old Core)? My clients in the publishing and media industries have been wrestling with this one for over a decade. The answers are only beginning to dawn. Digital rights management technology offers a partial answer, but it’s hardly the only one. Similarly, in the larger "meatspace" world, what do terms like ‘citizenship’ mean (national, corporate or otherwise) as Core rule sets expand and the movement of people, money and ideas become more fluid? Writer Neal Stephenson may have been on to something with his vision of voluntarily affiliation under the authority of non-geographic ‘tribes’. Millions of freelance contractors may be on to something too, but that’s a story for another day."

Voluntary and virtual affiliations can be benign neutral or negative. When the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa sentencing Salman Rushdie, a citizen of Britain, to death for writing The Satanic Verses he was appealing to a transnational, voluntary affiliation of Muslims to carry out the sentence. It was a challenge not just to Britain's sovereignty under international law but the legitimacy of the nation-state as a sovereign and to international law itself. It was a strident rejection of the global Westphalian Rule-Set in favor of a univeralist claim to dominion of an Islamist Sharia. Few in the West grasped the nature of the fatwa's challenge at the time and still fewer viewed it as a forerunner of more challenges to come.

Beyond the visionary analogies, the corporate and the geopolitical worlds come together directly on many of these challenges right now. Google's recent compromises on its service in China (i.e., blocking searches for words like 'democracy' and 'freedom') highlight the problem of penetrability. Copyright holders seeking business in China have the opposite problem: excess fluidity. In both cases, the highest hurdles are legal, political and cultural. In other words: rule sets. Across the Gap, of course, the potential problems are even worse. If Google didn't know that before, it knows that now.

Both Google and the Old Core agree on a worldview that says greater openness and transparency begets emergent order: big, beautiful and thriving. That order is bounded by basic rule sets, but its outcomes are unpredictable—out of anyone's direct control. Too many that looks messy and disturbing, but it works. Human potential is allowed to flourish. Value is created. That’s at odds with a kind of Gap logic that operates on both a national and a corporate level, (think of the ‘throwback’ CEO). It says that order (small, parochial, balkanized) can only exist with opaqueness. Close the doors. Seal the borders. Lock up the content. Protect the franchise. That's fine as a stalling action. It is the sad, selfish, even fiduciary responsibility of many. But it's against the tide of history.

I'm taking the long view. Despite its recent challenges, I'm betting on Google, transparency and the Core. I remain an optimist, even if I don’t get to see it. Even if it takes 300 years. George Washington’s mother would have smiled.

Outstanding piece.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005

In the extensive and interesting 5GW dialogue Dan raised the perceptive quality called "fingerspitzengefuhl" or " fingertip feeling" for the detection of patterns that strike us as undefinably not quite right. Essentially this would be an intuitive form of cognition and (IMHO) an evolutionary legacy that allowed our distant ancestors to avoid being eaten by large mammals with sharp teeth long enough at least to get about the business of procreation.

As it stands there is evidence for a physiological basis for " fingerspitzengefuhl".

Drs. Fernette and Brock Eide of the always supremely informative Neurolearning Blog
very conveniently posted this week on what sounds to be related or identical brain activity to " fingertip feeling" in the parietal lobe region:

"Decision Making Under Uncertainty"

"Understanding thinking: The Feeling of Knowing"

Intuitive thinking may be a form of very fast processing triggered by, at least in some instances, anamolies that while subtle, provoke heightened brain activity because there is a sudden discrepancy in the "flow" or pattern that your brain had been expecting.

Tentatively, it would appear that this phenomena may not be just a fixed, finite, neurological reflex but also a cognitive skill-set that can be honed to a higher level of efficiency. SEAL and DELTA force training or certain high levels of martial arts proficiency may increase the
" fingerspitzengefuhl" sensitivity.

Hmmmm...Obi Wan may have been right after all !

Out of happenstance I came across three links that give some historical background to different strands of Islamist thought for the general reader:

" Kharijite Islam" at GlobalSecurity.org, "What's Worse than Violent Jihadists?" on Mahdism by Timothy Furnish at HNN and finally from an article originally in the ME Quarterly, " Fundamentalist Islam: The Drive for Power" by Martin Kramer ( though Kramer leaves out Muhammed Abduh's contribution, he does cover al-Afghani).
Tuesday, July 26, 2005

In my mispent youth as a naive undergrad I by chance had an old and wizened professor of history who was a Chinese specialist. He had starting teaching Chinese-related courses way back in the 1950's and spoke Mandarin, Han, Japanese and some dialects of interest only to professional linguists. When China opened up to the world he was among the first batch of American academics to go there while China was still deeply under the influence of Maoist Communism. He liked to go off on tangents on the differences between Wade-Giles and Pin-Yin transliteration, the influence of the Whampoa Academy on the Kuomintang, the Chinese view of American noses and sometimes even played the guitar in class.

In his view, an entire career could be profitably spent studying a single dynasty, so he explained that he would instead use our very limited time to give us a good, basic, understanding of Chinese philosophy. The history of China we could go look up ourselves later. And he did ! It was an excellent and systematic introduction to Eastern philosophy and the great ideas of Sinocentric cultures. Of all the courses I took as an undergraduate that one was in the top three and it definitely steered me in the direction of exploring Zen.

So, to my pleasure today, a reader Sam C. informed me that he has started The Useless Tree, a blog looking at world events and history but centered on Chinese philosophy. A post of Sam's that caught my eye was " Mao as a failed Legalist ". The Legalist ( sometimes called "Realist") school followed the philosophy of Prince Han Fei-Tzu, perhaps best understood by westerners as the Machiavelli of the East whose ideas were implemented in an anti-Confucian, proto-totalitarian fashion by the short-lived Qin dynasty that unified China. An excerpt:

" But however much Mao may have revered the first Qin emperor, who was a staunch Legalist, the Communist leader ultimately failed to appreciate one of the finer points of Han Fei Tzu's writing:

In his chapter on "Precautions within the Palace," Han warns that the ruler must be careful not to "afflict the people." His worry here is not humanitarian (Legalists really don't feel your pain), but political:

'If too much compulsory labor is demanded of the people, they feel afflicted, and this will give rise to local power groups...Hence it is said, if labor services are few, the people will be content; if the people are content, there will be no opportunity for men to exercise undue authority on the lower levels and power groups will disappear.'

This is a fair description of what happened in the People's Republic during the disaster of the Great Leap Forward (ca. 1958-1961).

Mao Zedong may have imposed Marxism-Leninism on China and scorned Khrushchev and his successors for criticizing the " Elder brother" Stalin, but Mao always remained first an egocentric revolutionary whose ideological dogmatism correlated directly with how a policy affected his personal power and iconic status. Chinese philosophical precepts and Marxist orthodoxy were not graven in stone.

At least where Mao himself was concerned. Everyone else had to tow the line.

Dr. Barnett on " SysAdmin ain't your Daddy's Military-and that's Ok"

"The SysAdmin force is waking up to non-lethals in a big way. This is a "new development" and a "revolution in thinking" and a host of other superlatives that indicate that most journalists' sense of history is frighteningly thin.

...So Zinni was the bureaucratic push within the Marine Corps to start the Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate down in Quantico, Virginia. I'm familiar with that effort, which later morphed into the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, because I, along with Gen. Paul Van Riper and John Nelson, were part of a group of consultants that the Directorate used in the late 1990s to engage in strategic planning, under the guidance of a charismatic former Marine-turned-analyst called Butch Foley. "

Jodi of The Asia Pages on " The Death of Korea's Last Prince" on the end of Korea's Chosun dynasty with the death of the childless heir, Prince Yi Gu:

"It seems to me that while such marriages are often formed out of love, at the end of the day it is duty that defines the relationship. Duty to produce a male heir. Duty to live a role that is perhaps more restricting than is healthy and duty to please everyone but yourself. It seems like a very selfless role, if you ask me and I for one would never want such a job."

Callimachus of Done With Mirrors on " The Nazi Slur":

"But there is something about the Germans' stagger into darkness in the 1930s that thoughtful Americans can take as a warning. It's particularly worth our while to study and learn that dreadful wrong turn, and how it happened. And maybe, by keeping the "Nazi" insult alive as the worst one in our cultural vocabulary, the partisan loudmouths are doing us a small favor."

Rob at BusinessPundit on " Opportunity Science". The cognitive phenomena herehas far wider applicability than just entrepreneurship:

"If we look at what differentiates successful entrepreneurs from the unsuccessful ones, the most important craft is opportunity recognition. This is a process that we have learned how to systematize and teach to entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs who have the most success are those who are able to find a real niche in the market that offers enough of a margin to meet their needs and aspirations. Successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of "failing on paper." They carefully assess their idea to make certain that it has an adequate market and enough profit margin before they ever launch their venture"

That's it.
Monday, July 25, 2005

Jeremiah of Organic Warfare ( great strategy blog, check it out !) and Steve made some observations and asked some excellent questions. Dan of tdaxp helpfully answered some in the comments section of the previous post but I thought I'd add to the discussion as well. My comments will be in regular text.

Jeremiah wrote:

"It's worth mentioning that 5GW is not limited to governments at all, or even to transnational groups. So-called "lone wolf actions" have become part of the lexicon of white supremacist groups, and I suspect that the concept will be spreading. No network to analyze, no cell structure to surveill and roll up."

Agreed. " Leaderless resistance" was a concept of Louis Beam, a brilliant, eccentric and dangerous guru of the extreme racist right underground and this modality of terrorism in the actions of Timothy McVeigh were responsible for the second worst terror attack in American history. Lone Wolves like the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski ( who actually served time with McVeigh and Ramzi Youzef) and the DC Sniper John Muhammed were far less destructive but that was due primarily to lack of imagination and overriding personal obsessions. They did however succeed in spreading a climate of fear and diverting considerable law enforcement and media attention from other matters.

"* More highly connected networks create group loyalty transcending national boundaries

* Greater empowerment of the individual through information and technology allows one person or a small group to do immense damage: the depths have not yet begun to be plumbed

* Highly concentrated information, energy and economic hubs allow small attacks to produce faliure cascades, often capitalizing on stored "work" in the form of fuel or otherwise to produce catastrophically greater damage "

Again I am in full agreement here with Jeremiah. My first post on 5GW touched on superempowerment while my series on Dr. Barnett's PNM deleted scenes discussed the effects of System Perturbations and vulnerabilities to such attacks.

Steve wrote:

"Is Network-Centric Warfare considered as refinement (or optional add-on) to 3GW, or is it a complete alternative to 3GW4GW5GW?"

Network-centric Warfare is the theory of Admiral Arthur Cebrowski, the former head of the Pentagon's Office of Defense Transformation, an adviser to Donald Rumsfeld, a mentor to Dr. Barnett and an organizational genius. To use a religious analogy, Network-centric Warfare is an alternative to 4GW theory in the same sense that Protestantism is an alternative and rival to Catholism. Both schools of strategic thought are influenced by the ideas of John Boyd and see networks as a central variable to understanding and dominating warfare. Right now the two sides are as chummy in the halls of the Defense Department as the Protestants and Catholics once were in Germany during the Thirty Year's War. Perhaps a Westphalia is coming ?

Cebrowski on Network-centric Warfare

A 4GW reading list

"Also the "Global Guerillas" idea: Is that a refinement (or optional add-on to 4GW), or is a something complete alternative to 3GW/4GW/5GW/NCW?"

Good question. I very much like John Robb's " Global Guerillas" and " Open-source warfare" concepts. I believe he is in the process of putting his ideas in a book format which I look forward to reading since he strikes me as having both great field experience and considerable conceptual ability as a theorist. I won't categorize him though until I'm familiar with the entire range of his ideas but I will say he seems very sympathetic to 4GW theory.

"Would there be at least 2 directions in 5GW: One more tech-focused, and the other more information/people focused? Or would that be the distinction between 5GW and 5GP?"

I would say that's an excellent description of the 4GW vs. NCW no-hold's barred, barroom policy brawl going on right now moreso than 5GW.

"How would a Nation-State defend against 5GW?"

First and foremost by awareness. A large part of 5GW may not be directed at states so much as within states to hijack the levers of power, though 5GW attacks on states to bring them down will no doubt occur. Antonio Gramsci, the Marxist radical theorist conceived of a " Long March through the institutions" to capture Western states for socialism but his concept of the Left was a massive entity compared to a 5GW group. Or even a 4GW group for that matter.

"How would a non-State defend against 5GW?"

We really haven't gotten to defense yet :o)

"Wouldn't 5GW be perpetual war alternating between "hot" 5GW and "cold" 5GW periods?"


An arc of conflict of which "war " is but a part - and probably a small part - is a better way of loooking at 5GW. Machiavelli, Han Fei-Tzu and Sun Tzu for visionaries.

"The "cold war" 5GW might look like paranoia to those who are not focused on detecting/fighting it. I suppose that is one way somebody would fight 5GW: Portray those detecting it, as paranoids/crazy/eccentric to marginalize them among those on there own side"

We have met James Jesus Angleton and he is us. Another bias is seeing conspiracies out of mere and genuine coincidences.

"Are democratic governments inherently poorly organized to fight 5GW? What structures (gov and non-gov) should a democratic nation-state develop to fight/detect 5GW?"

I think open societies are actually better poised than authoritarian or totalitarian ones to survive 5GW attacks because decision-making is decentralized, information flows are wide open and the degree of transparency is far higher ( if not actually transparent).

Nicolae Ceausescu was undone by elements within his own Stalinist security apparatus that kept him in the dark, manipulated and betrayed him. By his own orders and actions Ceaucescu's information feedback loop had come to resemble a funhouse mirror so that he did not even seem to realize that he had become the most hated figure in Romania until a fenzied mob was shouting for his blood. He died running frantically around a room screaming as Army recruits vied to be the first to blow his head off at close range. Three days earlier Ceaucsescu had the life of every Romanian in his hand - or so he thought.

Preface :

Recently, Dan of tdaxp posted a remarkable essay recently entitled " Dreaming 5th Generation War ".

Additional, 5GW related links:

Fifth Generation Warfare ? ( Lind)

Fifth Generation Warfare ( anonymous Army CI )

Unto the Fifth Generation of War (Zenpundit)

Go Deep( OODA and the Rainbow of Generational warfare) (tdaxp)

5th Generation War in the OODA Loop (Zenpundit)

5GW ( Coming Anarchy - Younghusband)

Emerging Netwar/Secretwar Tactic: Shareholder activism (tdaxp)

SecretWarriors Walk Without Rhythm, Won't Attract the Worm (tdaxp)

5GW ( Phatic Communion)


Fifth Generation warfare may not quite be here yet but the concept is certainly fodder for speculative analysis. Dan's "Dreaming " post was among his best and his previous OODA/5GW post attracted the attention of at least one field expert, " Open Source warfare" guru and military analyst John Robb. Possibly another expert as as well by email. That my friends, is the power of horizontal thinking, methodically applied !

Dan has articulated several concepts in his 5GW posts that have genuine resonance. Here is one:

"If traditional war centered on an enemy's physical strength, and 4GW on his moral strength, the 5th Generation of War would focus on his intellectual strength."

Consider the evolutionary shift toward managing information flows in real-time as critical variables in terms of economic growth, communication systems and network-centric warfare and you have to consider that Dan may have had an insight of fundamental importance. Not only would it seem to be in synch with conditions emerging for a globalized information economy future but also consistent with principles of warfare from the past:

"Always mystify, mislead and surprise the enemy"
- General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson

" Finding a position where you can reach an opponent, realizing when the opponent has not yet determined what to do, you strike directly, as fast as possible, without moving your body or fixing your attention"
- Miyamoto Musashi

"All warfare is based on deception."

"Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting"
- Sun Tzu

A second major point of Dan's 5GW concept involes the primacy of secrecy as a tool of war:

" In 5GW, secrecy is vital for success. While this has always been true on some levels, secrecy has never been vital on the grand-strategic level before 5GW. In 5GW the enemy's knowledge of your existence all but ends your plans.

...being secret is more important than being completely "right" in 5GW."

What is secrecy ? Secrecy is a comparative advantage in information. The U.S. government loves secrets. It has a detailed hierarchy of secrecy and a set of security clearance rules, $ 50,000 FBI-DIA background checks and bureaucratic obfuscation that drives Dr. Steven Aftergood and practicing diplomatic historians up the wall. Ironically, most of these millions of documents aren't actually secret just as most "covert-operations" and " undercover" CIA and DIA personnel aren't secret either. These are examples of restricted classes of information, not secrets.

5GW secrets are secret even from the government striving to implement a 5GW policy and tactical moves will be done so under plausible reasons congruent with existing factional interests and well-known public goals. The 5GW network does not come to power by a political revolution from below but by moving up through legitimate channels to implement an invisible evolution from above. Their " Future worth creating" appears by to come into being by chance, not design.

I do have an important caveat in pondering Dan's excellent 5GW work. What he and other commenters have or may have discerned about 5GW is less than what 5GW will comprise when it is fully realized and a generational shift in warfare has taken place. We have to hold out the possibility that "attacking the enemy's intellectual strength" and secrecy as proposed by Dan and my "longitudinal vision-short execution" and "shaping the battlespace" may end up be less significant than aspects of 5GW that have yet to materialize. Societal shifts by 2050 or 2080 are likely to be sizable - perhaps more extreme than the changes that occurred from 1860 to 1945 - and these shifts will produce new advantages and conditions that may favor defense over offense.

Comments as always are welcome.
Sunday, July 24, 2005

Some genuine thought-provokers:

" Dreaming 5th Generation War " by Dan of tdaxp:

Dan accomplishes some quality reification of the 5GW concept here before moving on to illustrate an example. This one has earened a detailed response from me but it is not a good idea to launch in to it without first letting readers familiarize themselves with Dan's magnum opus. I should be following up soon however.

"Measuring the Depth of Ideas" by Lubos Motl:

This is a fantastic, horizontally conceived piece with potentially wide application across fields.

Unfortunately, Lubos has cast many of his examples in a vertical subfield expertise format - and since Motl is a String theorist that leaves those of us without a strong grasp of the nuances of modern physics in the dark at times. Understandable since The Reference Frame is a String Theory heavy blog but the core idea of the argument is really a general one as explained in Motl's summary:

"Deep ideas are those that are unique among conceivable similar statements at comparable levels of complexity and that are able to cover a large set of particular examples (models, phenomena, metaphenomena) and explain a large number of patterns using a small number of independent assumptions and parameters, especially if the deep ideas are inevitable. Whether or not a given idea is unique among ideas that a priori look analogous, may often require hours or years of calculations. These calculations are crucial because we must choose our deep ideas not only according to the impression they make in the first 3 minutes, but also according to their ability to offer us true insights in the long term. "

" Knowledge and Information Part I." by Matt at Conjectures and Refutations:

A multi-part epistemological investigation on the implications and interpretation of Karl Popper's ideas and information theory ( Part II, Part III and Part IV) this thread may be of particular interest to readers like Von, Dan, Critt, Younghusband and Jacob H and anyone else of the computer-math-physics tribe.

Ah, my brain spins just from posting.... :o)
Saturday, July 23, 2005

An interview, the vicar of American realism accepts that the spirit of the Europeans is broken:

"Their problem is that European countries' constituencies now won't make any sacrifice for anything, either domestically or abroad, and the leaders know what the consequences of a defeat in Iraq will be. They have been helping us, within the limits of what they can do without any domestic penalty. They're no longer trying to thwart us. But it's not a heroic face. "
Friday, July 22, 2005

My philosophically-inclined comrade and unwilling constituent of Representative Tom Tancredo(R-Col) jb at riting on the wall offered an in-depth analysis of my brief commentary on the mechanics of the credibility of nuclear deterrence. I will make remarks in regular text in response:

" the core critique (and there is a secondary critique below as well) here is that deterrence is, at root, a byproduct of rational actor theory. which is to say that all actors within a system will under all circumstances make rational decisions to maximize identified self-interests. these interests can be existential (which is the essential logic of mutually assured destruction) or they can fall to other categories: symbolic, tactical, strategic, etc. under normal circumstances, making a clear and credible existential threat to a defined action would deter such an action (in this case a nuclear strike on us soil) from taking place. all this is well and good under traditional understandings of rational actor theory, but i have to throw several wrenches in the works at this point."

In real-world nuclear deterrence logic as it played out in the era of brinksmanship through MAD, rational actor theory was not actually subscribed to by either superpower.

The Russians basically had one plan for all nuclear scenarios which was to launch everything they had in a strike that would be, they hoped, massive enough to wipe out much of the American capacity for a devastating retaliatory strike. MAD was the accepted doctrine of the Arms Control priesthood in the State Department and in academia but not of the Red Army general staff. The Reagan administration unofficially abandoned MAD as well when the
" decapitation" strategy was implemented circa 1982-83 to ensure that our first priority in a nuclear war would be the destruction of the Soviet political, security and military leadership and their command and control systems rather than the Soviet population.

" to start, there is an assumption under rational actor theory that actors have some degree of parity (if not equality) on the world stage. traditionally, this would imply that all defined actors are states, and that states on some level maximize expected outcomes. the problem with this situation, of course, is that non-state actors do not necessarily view maximal outcomes in the same way that state actors do. for instance, it is entirely unclear whether a non-state, transnational fundamentalist islamic organization with a millennial world view would view the elimination of mecca - per tancredo - as a deal-breaking outcome. while the vast majority of muslims may see things this way, millennial cults hold a certain expectation of apocalyptic circumstance and see this outcome as, if not inevitable, far from inconceivable. which is to say that such groups would make a perfectly rational calculation that such a threat is, in their world view, mitigated by other outcomes, notably the symbolic destruction of the perceived hegemon."

It is not that maximization of interests are categorically prevented so much that potential minimum costs of insisting on maximum gains are raised to politically unacceptable levels for the stronger party.

Asymmetry and not symmetry is the historical rule in nuclear deterrence. Soviet parity was not achieved until the early 1970's and all other nuclear powers chose to remain in wildly asymmetrical positions vis-avis the superpowers. The anxiety felt over North Korean, Iranian or non-state actor possession of crude and unwieldy fission bombs itself makes the point of the potent psychological value of asymmetric deterrence.

A status of equality or rough parity in nuclear capability is not required for deterrence purposes - a point aptly captured by Charles DeGaulle, who when asked how many nuclear weapons France would need to deter the Russians, candidly answered " Six". The British and French never built more than a modest number of warheads compared to the U.S.-Soviet combined total of almost 50,000 but the Soviet disarmament negotiators were always anxious that these small stockpiles be considered despite the Soviet arsenal hovering in the global overkill zone.

As for Bin Laden specifically, he seems to understand the concept of nuclear deterrence very well.

"but perhaps one can argue that the threat is not being made to such groups but rather, implicitly, to the wider muslim world. in this case, the threat reads something more like this to cynical ears: “if you do not stop islamist terror from delivering a nuclear weapons to united states soil, you will pay a commensurate price.” or at least that’s the idea behind it. the problem here is that, wisdom of crowds be damned, the message if perceived accurately is: “succumb to draconian security measures to prevent terrorism or you face an existential threat.” this message, received by fully rational actors, is not likely to win friends or support amongst the global ‘umma. in fact, i would guess that it wins just as many die-hard enemies who by their die-hard nature are not rational actors in the first place as it does allies. i’d be open to a counterargument here, but that’s my take."

Point taken and it is a good one. There are political costs to this stance. No argument.

Survival in a nuclear scenario is not a time for winning popularity contests, it is a time for concentrating minds like a hangman's noose. The Arab-Muslim world bears some responsibility for the cultural and financial cultivation of loose cannons that stand next to their state actors and the continued survival of their networks. Complicit parties range from wealthy members of Gulf royal families, leading business enterprises, certain Arab intelligence services as well as elements of ISI and the Pasdaran, leading figures in the Sunni religious establishment in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to the " Arab street".

If an al Qaida nuclear weapon detonates in Kansas city or Manhattan, the supporters of terrorism bear the same responsibility that a lookout or getaway driver has when a bank robbery results in a murder. They bring what comes afterward on their own heads and can be allowed absolutely no illusions that a chance exists of executing a " free" or a " no return address" nuclear shot at an American city without suffering tenfold retaliation.

Again the whole point here is to set up a dynamic where everyone chooses to walk away from the brink of a nuclear holocaust.

Open links to an obscure ( at least to me) and usually subscriber-only British journal called Ethnopolitics were emailed to me today which the more academically and theoretically inclined Zenpundit readers may find interesting. The issue touches upon ethnic conflict, international law, great power intervention and morality. The journal is routed through the Taylor & Francis database system which means that to pursue the thread, from article to article, you will have to open umpteen links to get to the full text preview of each article.

Nevertheless, to save you time, here is the introduction to the issue. Here is the table of contents.

I have not read anything much beyond beyond the intro yet though the guy with the article invoking the designated hitter rule in baseball to explain why humanitarian intervention is bad certainly gets brownie points for creativity.

A couple of important posts on the GWOT yesterday and today gave me some food for thought along with the new from Europe. Dave at the Glittering Eye raisedthe point that many people assert that Islamist terrorism is a leftover problem from the the Cold War and at The Daily Demarche, Dr. Demarche went at length about the national security problem posed by al Qaida recruitment of second and third generation European muslims coupled with the bureaucratic idiocy and political correctness of our own VISA policies.

Al Qaida's days of a tightly knit, hierarchically organized, paramilitary army appear to be over unless they can gain the unqualified support of a strong state sponsor that can provide the facilities and security to allow bin Laden and Zawahiri to rebuild those capabilities. Instead al Qaida has shifted into being a network of networks in its campaign against the West and the United States. There is a certain parallel here in terms of tactics with the days of Lenin's rule over the Bolshevik regime in Russia.

Lenin, once the Reds had gained the upper hand in the Russian civil war made an attempt to spread revolution by direct military action by invading the newly created state of Poland in 1920, which under Marshal Pilsudski had taken advantage of Russia's weakness to intervene and annex land in Ukraine. This plan had been supported by Stalin and other radicals but opposed by Red military professionals like Tukhachevskii; Stalin carried the day with Lenin and the Sovnarkom and the offensive was launched. The Bolshevk invasion of Poland ( the USSR had yet to be created), while it succeeded in driving Polish forces out of Ukrainian territory, proved to be a near total military disaster for the Bolsheviks. Stalin was humiliated and Lenin abandoned military conquest as a policy and reverted to the tactics to which the Bolsheviks were most familiar to spread world revolution, secrecy, subversion and conspiracy.

As detailed by the late Soviet/Russian military historian General Dimitrii Volkogonov, Lenin was to squander enormous sums through the Comintern to set up open and underground Communist party cells and spy networks in Europe, North America and Asia. Some of these early Comintern-GRU-CHEKA-NKVD projects produced future revolutionary Communist leaders ( Ho Chi Minh) or penetrated the highest reaches of Western governments.

Al Qaida is becoming more of an " Islamintern", an inciter and far-off high command of Islamist revolutionary activities. While other Islamist groups continue to beat the drum to attract general movement sympathizers, al Qaida is looking for agents who have outwardly assimilated in to western society - the children of immigrants or Western converts. Right now in light of terrorism, Western intelligence agents are focused on the likeliest suspects in their midst the way European police and A. Mitchell Palmer's Justice department once concentrated on labor movement radicals and Eastern European emigre communities.

But in order to get ahead of the curve, what Counterintelligence and Counterterrorism specialists really ought to be scanning for today is the Islamist equivalent to Alger Hiss.
Thursday, July 21, 2005

Pirates, the terrorists of the ancient world, are in the news a lot these days it seems. Curzon at Coming Anarchy, among other blogs today, covered this issue in " Avast" and "More on Piracy". It is the information in the last post provided by Curzon that I find important ( as well as highly irritating).

"Malaysia 'will never allow' foreign military forces to help patrol the Malacca strait, which is vulnerable to pirate attacks, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said. 'Malaysia firmly believes in the principle of a country's independence, however small,' Abdullah said in a speech to the ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO) general assembly. 'Based on that principle, Malaysia stands firm in the belief that the responsibility of ensuring the security of the waters of the Malacca strait is ours,' he told some 2,500 party leaders at the annual talks. 'We will never allow foreign military to conduct patrols in those waters,' he said. 'Their presence, without our approval, would be a breach that we would regard as disrespectful of our country's independence.' "

The reaction of the Malaysian Prime Minister, to put it in international law theory terms, amounts to an enunciation of a Doctrine of Sovereign Irresponsibility. As artfully nationalistic developing-world bluster, the statement fits in neatly with the spirit of the post-Westphalian Age but it has all the legal standing of a bin Laden fatwa.

Sovereign powers are respected as sovereigns under International Law precisely because they exercise authority over and accept juridical responsibility for a defined and internationally recognized territory. With the perks of sovereignty come responsibilities - namely maintaining law and order. A sovereign who fails to do so on a continual basis calls their international legitimacy into legal question. By claiming sovereignty but failing to maintain free passage in the Malacca straits ( an international sea lane) the P.M. is trying to have his cake and eat it too.

Secondly, Maylasia's sovereignty over the straits is, in any event, limited here by their adhering to the Law of the Sea Treaty which recognizes the rights of foreign ships - including armed ones - to pass through. Furthermore, these ships may defend themselves against piracy both under customary international law and under the Law of the Sea Convention's " Force Majeure" clause in Article 39. . Legally, the Malaysians do not have a leg to stand on and if we were to dig deeply into the piracy issue - a part of the big business of Transnational Organized Crime - we might be surprised to discover to whom these pirate gangs have financial connections. Internationally as well as locally.

The Malaysian Prime Minister may be doing little more than playing to the injured pride of his countrymen but the time is long overdue to stop excusing developing nations from their duties as sovereigns while granting them all of the diplomatic benefits.

I have to say to the bloggers who are my regular reads ( you know who you are), friends and a few here and there who are not as friendly, that if I wished I could post nothing original of my own and simply react to what all of you are writing about. Your blogs are that interesting sometimes.

In fact, this may be one of those days....
Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Several good pieces out there:

Dave at the Glittering Eye had an excellent post up the other day "In for the long haul: what needs to happen in the War on Terror". Analytical and thorough, Dave's post nicely complements the ideas presented by...

Jeff at Caerdroia, who has a post entitled " The Enemy's Strategic Problem", gently reminding us that it's not a bed of roses plotting out of a Wazirstan fuhrerbunker either.

Younghusband at Coming Anarchy was kind enough to give my 5GW discussion with Dan a plug and one of his readers, Curtis Gale Weeks of Phatic Communion brought a fascinating link to my attention. A transliteration of the geopolitical section of" Unrestricted Warfare" by PLA Colonels Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui. The other sections can be found here - Part I., PartII. and Part III. I can see myself posting an analysis on these in the future. As for the other gentlemen at Coming Anarchy, Chirol is talking SysAdmin and Curzon marvels at transnational progressive legal hubris and asininity.

And I agree with the ubiquitous praktike.

Collounsbury is now stateside.

I see from Dan that a huge blogospheric storm is brewing over Congressman Tancredo's comments. I'm sort of wondering where these folks were from 1949 -1991 when we had 250+ million Soviet citizens targeted for nuclear annihilation who had a lot less responsibility for what the Politburo did than what wealthy Saudi and Gulf state Arabs by the thousands have for Bin Laden's actions. This was American policy for so long that the prospect of global holocaust was considered a normal state of affairs for decades. I'm sorry, Hugh Hewett is simply ignorant here.

Tancredo's hamhanded, off-the-cuff, bluster looks positively milquetoast next to U.S. nuclear doctrine under Jimmy Carter. The purpose of making terrifying, credible, deterrence threats is to NOT have to actually use nuclear weapons. If a nuclear bomb goes off inside the United States tomorrow, I can just about guarantee that we will use nuclear weapons in retaliation against probably more than one terrorist-supporting country. If we are bombed it will because our enemies disbelieved that we would retaliate, not because we are clear that we will.

Dan of tdaxp has picked up the 5GW ball where I left it yesterday and run downfield to the end zone. Dan took some of my speculations from yesterday and employed a Boydian analysis of putting them into the Observe -Orient-Decide-Act (OODA) decision cycle of the great military theorist John Boyd. Aside from Dan's usual, sterling graphics he has brought out some exciting points about 5GW possibilities that I had missed. Some excerpts:

"War is going deeper into enemy minds. Every generation of warfare aims for deeper in the enemy's OODA loop

...The 4th Generation of War redshifts deeper into the OODA loop. It slides into the "Observation" realm. If traditional war centered on an enemy's physical strength, and 4GW on his moral strength, the 5th Generation of War would focus on his intellectual strength. A 5th Generation War might be fought with one side not knowing who it is fighting. Or even, a brilliantly executed 5GW might involve one side being completely ignorant that there ever was a war. It's like the old question of what was the perfect robbery: we will never know, because in a perfect robbery the bank would not know that it was robbed. "

Excellent thinking ! My Commentary:

*I had vaguely mentioned a move toward " shaping the battlespace" by which I meant preemptively seizing control of the power to determine Rule-sets, altering the physical settings and systems and preemptively influencing longitudinal cultural and political trends. Dan has correctly aligned this in the OODA cycle as affecting the enemy's ability to " Observe" and illustrated the relationship with other generations of warfare.

* Dan's post seems to have the advantage of organizing the concepts in harmony with the ideas of Sun-Tzu and John Boyd.

* It occurs to me after reading Dan's post the that a very powerful shift of longitudinal perspective takes place. 4GW is executed over a very long time frame, sometimes decades. 5GW is conceived in terms of strategic vision over an even longer time frame, sometimes before an opponent realizes that they will be an opponent but the execution time may be very short in comparison to 4GW. The operative question is probably whether the attacker or the defender has initiated 5GW - once you are already attacked you have missed your opportunity to shape the battlespace.

Great work Dan !
Sunday, July 17, 2005

" ...each new generation required developments across the spectrum of society. Technological change alone has never been sifficient to produce a major change in how man wages war. It requires a complete societal change- political, economic social and technological - to create the conditions necessary for major changes in war "

- Colonel Thomas X. Hammes, The Sling and the Stone.

William Lind, one of the fathers of 4GW theory has welcomed yet cautioned against attempts to ascertain with too much precision any outlines of a 5th Generation Warfare that might be evolving within the dynamic of 4GW conflicts we see in Iraq, Afghanistan and in transnational terrorism. Yet according to theorists and practitioners of 4GW like Colonel Hammes, that form of warfare, although just now coming in to its own has already been present for some seventy years ! Undoubtedly then 5GW is also here with us, waiting for the next Mao or Rommel to fit the disparate puzzle pieces into a coherent pattern.

4GW advocates disdain an overemphasis on particular technological breakthrough, criticizing in particular the Network-centric Warfare theory developed by Admiral Arthur Cebrowski . Or at least the celebration of high-tech warfare capabilities by some of Cebrowski's followers in the Pentagon ( for a critique of both schools shaping of current policy, see " The Pentagon's Internal war Over what Iraq Means" by Dr. Barnett ). Therefore, I will generally accept some major premises of 4GW theory as articulated by Hammes in speculating about the parameters of 5GW, specifically:

1. Generational changes in warfare requires complete societal change.

2. Practitioners of warfare drove the evolution of warfare by seeking solutions to practical problems

3. Each succeeding generation reaches deeper in to enemy territory to defeat him.

The first question we should ask are what changes are driving society, nationally and globally ? Very briefly at the planetary level we have Globalization - an acceleration of the rate and degree of complexity of all forms of exchange ( in PNM theory Barnett's " Four Flows"); Post-Westphalianization - the rise of International, Transnational, Subnational and Non-state Actor challengers to the sovereign primacy of the Nation-State; and finally, State-Failure or severe State dysfunction where the ability of a State to constrain and police anarchic, nihilistic and disconnective forces is overwhelmed by post-Westphalian challengers, economic collapse and natural disasters.

Additionally, in the scientific and economic realm, the drivers of future societal changes in the next twenty to fifty years would most likely come from the following fields - Artificial Intelligence, Genomics, Alternative Fuels, Quantum Computing, Human Brain Research, Complexity and Chaos Theory, Nanotechnology and String Theory. it is impossible to assume the implications of any one of these fields over such a long timeline, much less all these fields in combination but what is a safe assumption is that the magnitude of changes that are coming will be very significant and result in substantial economic, social and political transformations.

In sum the global trends I have listed have in my view some fairly direct logical implications for warfare, already visible even today:

Superempowerment: The range of effect for each individual soldier ( or terrorist) will be vastly increased even as the economic costs are driven down by market forces and proliferation of dual-use technology to the civilian consumer.

Fluidity: Globalization makes possible virtual armies that are networks of networks that are both resilient and adaptable in a Darwinian sense.

Multidimensional Battlespace: War occurs in the context of everything else - physical space, cyberspace, the logosphere, financial, legal and societal networks - shaping the battlespace itself to the disadvantage of actual and potential opponents will become crucial aspects of strategy and not merely moving more effectively within it.

Autonomous Surrogates: Active regular military forces are seconded by a variety of substitutes to carry some aspect of the warfighting load - PMC's, NGO's, Paramilitary and Subnational networks, International Peacekeeping missions and increasingly, robotic agents.

Todays Predator drones and other prototype UAV are going to evolve and inevitably merge with Ai technology so that we will have, shades of science fiction, autonomous war machines that will have basic programing but also the capacity to learn, make independent decisions, cooperate with one another and adapt to changing circumstances on the battlefield.

These however are simply aspects of the emerging warfare and not the strategic purpose behind such a shift that make one generation of warfare different from its predecessor. The rise of 5GW will represent the solution to defeating 4GW forces in the field and here we come to a very troubling moral possibility.

4GW forces like al Qaida erase the distinction between Combatant and non-combatant and target an enemy's will to resist, often moving submerged witin society itself as a clandestine network structure. Such forces have proven exceptionally difficult to defeat for traditional militaries and as Colonel Hammes pointed out in The Sling and the Stone, 4GW strategy has allowed inferior forces to defeat even the superpowers.

A strong possibility exists that given successive generations of warfare tend to drive " deeper" into enemy territory, that 5GW will mean systemic liquidation of enemy networks and their sympathizers, essentially a total war on a society or subsection of a society. There is no where " deeper" for 5GW to go but here. At the high tech end 5GW would be precisely targeted to winnow out " the bad guys" in a souped-up version of Operation Phoenix but at the low-tech end we could see campaigns that would be indiscriminate, democidally-oriented death squad campaigns that shred 4GW networks by the same actuarially merciless logic that led the Allies to firebomb German and Japanese cities in WWII.

This is a terrible prospect but there is evidence that 5GW tactics of this kind have defeated 4GW Communist revolution in Guatemala and El Salvador, stymied FARC and ELN in Colombia, beat back Islamists in Algeria and the Kurdish PKK in Turkey. Contravening data would include the Hutu militia genocide in Rwanda designed to eviscerate the ethnic supporters of the Tutsi rebels but instead led to the rebels toppling the Hutu regime and spreading disorder to neighboring states.

My efforts here to outline 5GW are purely speculative. A second potential form of 5GW might be Thomas P.M. Barnett's " System Administration" based Global Transaction Strategy to export security and connectivity to the Gap, short-circuiting the political appeal of 4GW movements before they grow out of all control. Or we may see both forms used in tandem and even likelier, some new dynamic currently impossible for us to forsee at all.

What is certain is that 4GW movements like the Iraqi insurgency and al Qaida will drive the evolution of warfare to 5GW as nation-states struggle to find solutions to the strategic problem presented by 4GW enemies and the societal disintegration they bring in their wake.
Saturday, July 16, 2005

Dan of tdaxp has a very-well reasoned post " Every Man a Panzer, Every Woman a Soldat" that comprises the third part of his 4GW and Christianity series ( here is Part I. and Part II) where he integrates PNM concepts of Leviathan and System Administration and gender roles in warfare. The graphics quality is also exceptionally high. Strongly recommended.

Marc Schulman of the American Future has set off an interesting and lively discussion in his comments section with his post "Thank You Tom Friedman". Marc has been a blogging house of fire of late so check out his more recent postings as well.

Callimachus of Done with Mirrors is now contributing to a new group blog, Donklephant, freshly added to the blogroll. Check it out.

On the issue of General Zhu, Jeff of Caerdroia weighs in with " Taiwan" and also links to Qando. Simon at Simon World has not analyzed the story but directs his readers to Jing at Those Who Dare.

Dave at the Glittering Eye defends Juan Cole from blogospheric " dogpiling". I'm going to second Dave on this issue. I've had my differences with Juan Cole over the years and I think Cole's passionate loathing of the Bush administration frequently affects his analysis - especially when connected to neoconservatism- but Dave's points about Cole are valid ones.

Moreover, in my email contacts with Professor Cole I have always found him to be a gentleman as well as an astute scholar about Mideastern culture and Islam. I can honestly say that I have learned a number of things from reading his blog and H-Net posts that I would not have known otherwise. Our debates on H-Diplo were always productive, civil and very interesting intellectual exchanges. If bloggers don't like what Cole is writing then they should attack his arguments and not go after him on a personal level.
Friday, July 15, 2005

A while back, Nadezhda of Chez Nadezhda and LAT asked me an excellent question regarding China and Taiwan that I have procrastinated on answering. Partly to give the matter some thought and partly because real-world obligations were pressing as they always do. Nadezhda's question in response to an earlier post of mine was as follows:

"I'd be interested in your thoughts on where you see Taiwan's spending should be boosted, and what implications that would have for US strategy and crisis management."

Unfortunately, this issue was pressed to the fore in grim fashion the other day by General Zhu Chenghu, a politically connected strategist and fast-rising star in the People's Liberation Army best known for his previous threat in 1996, uttered as a mere Colonel, to nuke Los Angeles. General Zhu was utilized by the senior Chinese leadership to enact a Khrushchev -like performance of rattling nuclear sabers at the United States over its support for Taiwan:

“If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition on to the target zone on China's territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons...If the Americans are determined to interfere [then] we will be determined to respond...We . . . will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xian. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds . . . of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese "

Dave at The Glittering Eye offered an important observation on the article in FT.com:

"The original Financial Times article is here and includes this:

'Gen Zhu was speaking at a function for foreign journalists organised, in part, by the Chinese government. He added that China's definition of its territory included warships and aircraft.'

Or, in other words, he's warning of a nuclear first-strike by China for targeting Chinese military assets wherever they are and whatever they're engaged in. Not for striking. And not as a response to a use of nuclear weaponry by the United States.

This is extremely troubling on a number of grounds. This threshold is extremely low. Targeting goes on all the time. Do you remember the U. S. plane forced down by the Chinese in 2001? If the United States followed the rubric being suggested by General Zhu, we would already have completely destroyed China with nuclear weapons (and, yes, that is within our capabilities)."

Do we have a Chinese Curtis LeMay on our hands or is China attempting say something else ?

We have a triangular relationship going on here that is potentially dangerous because each party has incompatible strategic objectives expressed in maximalist and minimalist possibilities.

CHINA: Has the maximalist objective of eventually coercing Taiwan into reunification with the Mainland on Beijing's terms. There is flexibility in the timetable and even on the terms but this outcome is considered absolutely non-negotiable by Beijing.

China's minimalist objective, also non-negotiable, is that Taiwan must refrain from formally declaring independence.

TAIWAN: Has the maximalist objective of forcing China to accept Taiwan as an independent, equal, sovereign, state. Again, no hard and fast timetable here and the door is open at least a crack toward reunification on favorable terms, but Taipei's eye is on independence.

Taiwan's minimalist objective is preserving their de facto independence from China's control. This is non-negotiable and it constantly prods Taiwanese leaders to demonstrate their freedom by periodically sticking their finger in Beijing's eye.

THE UNITED STATES: Has the maximalist objective of preserving the status quo on Taiwan as based on the original Shanghai communique cobbled together Henry Kissinger and Zhou Enlai - barring the two other partises making some kind of peaceful reuinon on terms generally favoring Taiwan.

The minimalist objective of the U.S. is to prevent the outbreak of war between China and Taiwan.

The only non-negotiable aspect of the American position- if you can call it that- is that an unprovoked attack by China on Taiwan is unacceptable and the U.S. has statutory defense obligations. What we would consider " unprovoked" or the precise nature of those " obligations" are is up for grabs.

The problem here for American policy makers is that they are holding the weakest cards of the three by their own strategic choice to play nursemaid to two irreconciliable powers. If the guarantee to Taiwan was an unambiguous nuclear umbrella - as it is with Japan, South Korea or NATO - the situation might have remained stable. But American ambiguity on this crucial point is encouraging the gamblers in both Beijing and Taipei to play both ends against the middle to our disadvantage.

To reprise my comments at the Glittering Eye today, the Chinese government has been signalling, for at least a decade, that their bright red line for war is a formal declaration of independence by Taiwan and that they will absolutely go to war regardless of the costs.
Having stoked the fires of nationalism to make-up for the decline of Marxism in public esteem in order to legitimize their rule, the CCP leadership sees such a declaration by Taiwan as:

a) A threat to China's territorial integrity and a likely inspiration for Tibet and Xinjiang to follow suit.

b) Something that could spur massive urban unrest and bring down the Communist Party if they fail to be perceived by the populace as taking strong action to prevent it or to punish Taipei.

That China would commit this kind of national suicide in any other context is belied by their blustery but ultimately ineffectual reaction to our bombing of their embassy in Belgrade ( which contrary to official reports I believe to have been fully intentional on our part and well-deserved for hostile Chinese SIGINT assistance to Serbia during the air war). I find China going nuclear over the Spratley's or a downed plane to be a specious scenario.

On the other hand, regarding Taiwan, the leaders of the CCP are much more serious and this should be taken into account by American policymakers. Whether Beijing would escalate to the extent threatened by General Zhu is debatable but what is not debatable is that the Chinese are desperate to indicate to the United States and Taipei that independence is regarded by China as a critical national defense interest.

To return to the original question posed by Nadezhda, to pursue their strategic objectives, Taiwan needs a defense establishment capable of deterring an amphibious invasion and formidible enough in its retaliatory powers to make a massive missile and air attack a high-cost affair for Beijing without even considering American intervention. This would require across the board investments in ballistic missiles, submarines, warplanes and if they can get away with it - nuclear weapons ( note: this would not be in America's interest - I'm simply explaining what capabilities Taiwan requires) Defensive tech like Aegis is nice but somewhat pointless given the sheer magnitude of what China can throw at Taiwan - the only significant variable here in Chinese calculations are what costs Taiwan can impose on China in return.

The Bush administration for its part needs to reevaluate our strategic objectives in regard to China and Taiwan. Far too much decision-making power has been voluntarily ceded to circumstances that can be created by others - thus encouraging China and Taiwan to be less responsible than if both parties were reacting only bilaterally to each other's moves. We need a clarification of our defense relationship with the Taiwanese so that neither China nor Taiwan miscalculates.

Zenpundit - a NEWSMAGAZINE and JOURNAL of scholarly opinion.

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