Monday, April 24, 2006

"One final caution -fourth generation war is more than seventy years old and is reaching maturity. While we are only beginning to understand it clearly, history tells us the fifth generation has already begun to evolve."

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

"The State, which since the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) has been the most important and most characteristic of all modern institutions, is dying. Wherever we look, existing states are either combining into larger communities or falling apart; wherever we look, organizations that are not states are taking their place. On the international level, we are moving away from a system of separate, sovereign, states toward less distinct, more hierarchical, and in many ways more complex structures. Inside their borders, it seems that many states will soon no longer be able to protect the political, military, economic, social, and cultural life of their citizens. "

- Martin van Creveld, The Fate of the State

If we wish to understand fourth generation warfare - and many in government, the intelligence community and the media seek to do so - we make a mistake to look first at al Qaida or the hydra-like Iraqi insurgency. These organizations certainly manifest many of the adaptible and decentralized, morally-oriented, characteristics of a 4GW opponent but we are looking at a process of evolution in midstream ( Hammes would say we are late in the process). Instead, we should go to the roots of the 4GW phenomena, an anti-state phenomena. Namely, the early totalitarian movements of the twentieth century, in particular, the Nazi Party and its driving force and articulator, Adolf Hitler.

The totalitarian movements -Communism, Fascism and National Socialism - all share a common utopian objective of remolding society, not merely taking over the state. They sought to shape worldviews and make " new men". They were militant, militarized, political movements - "non-state actors" - that went beyond the borders of the nation-state and sought to erase the distinction between the state and society.

Fascism remained the most primitive and least ambitious; it failed because Mussolini's orientation ultimately adulated the state itself. Literally " statist", the Duce feared to disturb it overmuch with ideological innovations. Fascism left no deeper impression on Italy than it did in Spain, where Franco's Falange resembled little more than a brutish form of Spanish reactionary traditionalism.

Communism as envisioned by Lenin and Trotsky was a truly international and anti-state revolutionary force. Anyone who believes Lenin put much emphasis on the interests of the Russian state need only read the treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Lenin grasped the reins of the state as head of Sovnarkom out of necessity; without a strong Soviet state, the revolution was doomed so Lenin laid the foundations of a Communist dictatorship that Stalin completed. In doing so, Joseph Stalin shifted course dramatically. While remaining a committed builder of utopia through terror inside the Soviet Union - making a "revolution from above" in the words of one eminent historian - in foreign policy, Stalin eschewed world revolution and gravitated to classic great power realpolitik, Russian chauvinism with a Bolshevik face, and the building of empire. Stalin, like Mussolini, was a true statist - only on a scale beyond the Italian dictator's dreams.

Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist German Worker's Party were another matter entirely.

Like his fellow totalitarian rulers, Hitler captured the state and made it his own, the dread Third Reich. But the Fuhrer was not beguiled by it, was never satisfied with his Reich - and looked beyond it, even at the end in his bunker. Hitler's eye was always elsewhere and he was contempuous of the limited resiliency possessed by states:

" For us the idea of the Volk is higher than the idea of the state... it is no accident that religions are more stable than forms of states...In the beginning was the Volk, and only then came the Reich...The state is only an enforced framework" (1)

And so on. It was a great consistency in Hitler's speeches, table-talk and writings.

Hitler subordinated the German state to the Nazi Party whenever possible - giving vast powers to party formations like the SS, SD and his local Nazi plenipotentiaries, the Gauleiters. He permitted state and party authorities to work at cross-purposes, remarking on the positive effects of " friction" and further personalized Nazi rule ( thus degrading the prestige of state officials) by the use of the Fuhrer Order.

Of greater import, was Hitler's radical vision that wrecked so much death and destruction but would have wrought still greater evils had Germany won the war. Hitler, as imprecisely as he framed it, was an apostle of the Racial State and genocide. Foremost, the genocide of the Jews. Later, when they were gone, others.

A sinister compound of mythic racism, anti-semitism, geopolitics and Social Darwinism, Hitler spoke of a transnational "Aryan" superstate that incorporated Scandinavia, the Low Countries, Finland, much of Poland and Belarus (at times, Great Britain) into a new Greater German empire. On occasion, Hitler seemed to speak of a European confederation, at others, annexation. That the Fuhrer aimed at superceding not only the borders but the form of the old Reich is difficult to doubt. Albert Speer's final chapter of Infiltration, his last book, was as chilling as anything one could imagine:

" This eastern territory was to have a colonial character and reach all the way to the Urals, the Volga and Baku on the caspian Sea...the Baltic States would be settled ' with consideration for the Germaification abilities of the Estonians...Ukraine was to be Germanized...the area he [Hitler] said..must lose the character of the Asiatic steppe; it must be Europeanized! "

Where would the settlers come from ?

"The two or three million people we need....Hitler continued in these nocturnal contemplations...we will have them faster than we think. We'll take them from Germany, the Scandinavian countries, the West European countries, and America.'' (2)

And the original inhabitants ?

Speer estimated that Himmler's "peacetime" program of building and construction in the East was predicated upon a continuous level of over 4 million slave laborers for the territory of the Old Reich alone. And in twenty years approximately 14 million of these slaves would have to be " replaced"having expired from maltreatment and exhaustion. Speer estimated a total human cost for the building program alone, approximately 29 million human beings. This does not count Hitler's intent to drive away or absorb " 100 million Slavs ".

Some 4GW theorists have expressed equanimity at the decline of the state that they argue is happening. It could not possibly be worse than what has recently gone before. I am not so certain. What if Hitler and the Nazis represented not the triumph of the total state but the first harbinger of the nation-state's passing ?

Hitler, fortunately, is dead and his genocidal Racial State died with him. Today though,we have Takfiri jihadis today who dream of Caliphates and the destruction of the nation-state, the hated form of the alien, infidel , West that was imposed on the glorious Ummah, splintering its unity and defying the will of Allah. They want it to go - and the infidels and apostates along with it.

4GW movements have apocalyptic dreams. Can we really be sanguine about the decline of the state ?

1. Lukacs, John. The Hitler of History. Page 117.

2. Speer, Albert. Infiltration: how Heinrich Himmler Schemed to Build an SS Industrial Empire.
Pages 294-305.
Mark, I wonder how you would characterize the two other mythic "triplets" of Hitler: Napoleon and Alexander.

I ask, because it would seem that any expansion which destroyed separate states in favor of practical hegemony could be considered anti-statist. (If there is only one state, the term is meaningless in the context of geopolitics.) The distinction between Hitler and, say, Napoleon would be the presence or absence of an encompassing ideology or theory of amalgamation that supersedes our common idea of statehood: in the case of Hitler, Aryan brotherhood (race) would define the boundaries; but Napoleon had no thought of a non-state union -- but only expansion of the state -- and would not be considered a 4GW actor.

Alexander, on the other hand, might be considered 4GW, if some histories are correct, since he may have envisioned a world without states, albeit initiated by the Macedonians.

I'm still partial to Dan's theory of early Christianity as a form of early 4GW -- although, perhaps not so much with respect to actual war, or not using actual war to accomplish its goals.

Excellent post, btw: good call.
Addendum: or not using actual war to accomplish its goals -- er, at first, I mean.

And since I'm on the topic and you mentioned the caliphate...Would you consider Muhammad to have been an earlier 4GWarrior than Hitler? If present-day Islamists want the return of a caliphate in their 4GW scheme, then the initial case of that would also seem to be a 4GW scheme.

Muhamemd was a pre-modern fighter, not a 4th generation one. Muhammed's regime never extended beyond a two-town tyranny, and his eyes were no larger than the target of Islam: the people without a book (the Arabs). The great political achievements of Islam, the Tao (or in Arabic, Sharia) and the universal message directed to all of humanity, were innovations after the Prophet had died.

Read this verse from Catholicgauze, and ask yourself what 4G movement has survived with that belief? Indeed, that's exactly the philosophy that led to death of the Viet Cong.

(For some reason in my head, I am reading this in the voice of Mr. Kobayashi, the personal assistant for Kaiser Soze. I have no reason for why this is, but you must forgive me for this.)


I am not sure why the Bolsheviks would not be a 4th Generation Movement in your mind. 4G movements engage in Phase IV operations, what Colonel Hammes called "Stage 3." This is the consolidation of the state. That the National-Socialists purposefully avoided or aborted Phase IV victory does not in itself make them 4th Generation Warriors. Indeed, their refusal to take this step may have been the cause of their defeat.
Dan, I have a copy of the Qu'ran as well, and I'm not very impressed with Catholicgauze's very select comparison. For instance, the line directly before that cited by CG is this:

Fight for the sake of God those that fight against you, but do not attack them first. God does not love aggressors.

I know that you have (convincingly) argued that the "turn the other cheek" dictum was fundamental to Xtian 4GW, and that this from the Qu'ran is not that dictum -- but then, our modern-day 4GWarriors also do not follow that dictum.

There is also this, from al-Tariq in the Qu'ran:

They [the unbelievers] scheme and scheme: and I, too, scheme and scheme. Therefore bear with the unbelievers, and let them be awhile.

This approaches a turn-cheek philosophy, since the basis of that dictum and this is simply: God will sort it out later, rest assured; you will be rewarded but the wicked will be punished.

It's interesting, also, that you mention Muhammad's theory of an "Arab" unification, under Islam, and Mark has used the Aryan unification to describe Hitler's 4GW.

As for Muhammad being restricted to only two towns, that might not be too surprising, if early 4GW efforts were not conducted by masters of that approach. So the size of the accomplishment does not necessarily define the modus operandi and motive. However, I asked the question in order to explore the issue; I'm not committed to an answer already.

[Actually, CG's translation of the bold text is different than mine, which states: Idolatry is more grievous than bloodshed. But even so, he may be reading it incorrectly, since "oppression," being worse than bloodshed could have practical reasons as well as moral. Anthropologist Marvin Harris thinks that early nomadic, tribal societies could not easily absorb defeated foes, especially when those foes would cost more to maintain, even as slaves, than they would benefit the group were they spared slaughter and absorbed into a state. Thus, the non-killing religions only began to appear when states had grown to a level of organization which would support and benefit from the absorption of foes.]
hey Guys,

Quickly: As I am " stealing time" to quote Scott Adams...

Alexander: I think his example would be *analogous* in view of his Hellenistic-Persian synthesis relative tothe Greek conception of the polis. Van Creveld and Lind would be quick to point out, I believe, that the polis is not a state and therefore Alex. could not be a 4GW force.

Napoleon: I would need to refresh myself here on Bonaparte's plans to be European Emperor and what that entailed. His work with the Code Napoleon, the French notables and merit promotion was state-building

Leninism: I think the bolsheviks, like the nazis, were incipiently 4GW, the evidence for revolutionary intent is clear but the pressures of foreign intervention and civil war prioritized state-building, particularly an effective apparat of terror and monopoly of force. Stalin set the process in stone.

Nazism: Here too I see a compromise with the state but less than in the Soviet case which represents a conversion to pure statism. The Nazis were not HAMAS or al Qaida - they took over a powerul state apparatus of a great power. But Hitler did not limit himself to legality, even toralitarian legality or state power. He favored extralegal "movement" or hybrid potentates like the gauleiters or Higher SS and Police leaders. Himmler, the Reichsfuhrer-SS was dreaded, Reichsminister Wilhelm Frick was not, though in most normal states Frick, not Himmler, would be running the security apparatus.

Hitler did not bring a full-fledged 4GW movement into being but he conceptualized some elements of it and definitely wanted to move beyond the nation-state.

Every plant has a root.
A quick comment myself

nthropologist Marvin Harris thinks that early nomadic, tribal societies could not easily absorb defeated foes, especially when those foes would cost more to maintain, even as slaves, than they would benefit the group were they spared slaughter and absorbed into a state. Thus, the non-killing religions only began to appear when states had grown to a level of organization which would support and benefit from the absorption of foes.

Evolutionary research into "capture bondings" submission to foreign groups has been a viable strategy for quite some time.
It would seem then, that "globalization" is the 4GW killer ap. It undermines any attempt at a self-contained social-political entity whether the nation-state, tribes or the Umma. It breaks down traditional social roles, economic relationships, and religious commitments along with the modern loyalties to parties, unions, the company etc. And allows individuals to create relationships that would never have been possible in traditional societies or in modern statist societies. And that is the most revolutionary component of globalization that not even the nation-state can stifle without repression. The greatest threat to the state is globalization.
The greatest threat to the state is globalization.

i think you're absolutely right about that phil, in a way that is profound. thanks for some interesting thoughts.

makes me wonder how far away we are from a stronger, more centralized, more cohesive world government. one which does not officially recognize individual rights of course. but one which also has completely obliterated the notion of "state".

That's an interesting link, though it deal mostly with the single abduction rather than the sparing of a host of enemies and appears to deal with the individual abductee's reaction to being absorbed into a different soci-econo-political group.

Marvin Harris actually traced the development from cannibalistic societies -- or from societies which used animal sacrifice and human sacrifice of foes to appease the gods -- to the "non-killing" religions that followed with the development of more complex societies. In pre-history, apparently even in Europe, foes were slaughtered and sometimes cannibalized by the victors: this eased pressure on resources (vis-a-vis cannibalism, foes were more valuable as food than as additional tenders of crops and livestock.) If foes weren't cannibalized, they were still slaughtered and sometimes offered as sacrifices in ceremonies to various gods. But when societies had developed the ability to utilize slavery or simple absorption of large groups of foes to increase crop yields and infrastructure development, anti-human-sacrifice or anti-cannibalistic religions developed.



Some of my error in evaluating Alexander or others with a broad definition resolves to the issue of how the powers organized to control societies. Your description of Hitler's political infrastructure is apt; but I do not know that Alexander had arranged non-state or supra-state forces to control societies. (On the other hand, given his establishment of various generals and friends as sub-kings in different societies -- Persia, India, Egypt, etc. -- it does seem quite a bit decentralized.)

I'm not sure I would distinguish the state-system from the polis-system, since they appear to differ in degree more than anything else. Perhaps the polis was less rigid that typical state hierarchies. You seem to be implying that 4GW cannot exist without the existence of a state or state-system as foe...(more in a second on this)

One question, though: Hitler may have had what now appears to be a supra-hierarchy of control or non-state controllers of the Reich, but are you saying by this that a rose by another name will smell different? I.e., the "SS, SD and his local Nazi plenipotentiaries, the Gauleiters" may not have been called policemen, ministers, etc., of government and so differed in name only while assuming the same functions of government agency typically reserved to official functionaries. A similar differentiation might have occurred in earlier examples, whenever the official functionaries had less power than advisors, Bishops, etc.
[Accidentally hit Publish instead of Preview...]

You seem to be implying that 4GW cannot exist without the existence of a state or state-system as foe...

I'm not sure of this. But assuming it is so, I've been considering:

1. My related comments on the development of non-killing religions with the development of complex utilitarian societies.

In one quote you have given, Hitler compares the organizational principles of religion with his own concept of organization (which may have been proto-4GW or actual 4GW) -- not too surprising, that. The non-killing religions had begun to stress moral motivations that opposed earlier motivations related to merely appeasing gods, securing hegemonic control of resources, redistributive feasting (animal sacrifice), etc. I.e., the non-killing religions tended toward a 4GW philosophy and away from 3GW (and earlier) philosophy.

2. "It would seem then, that "globalization" is the 4GW killer ap. It undermines any attempt at a self-contained social-political entity whether the nation-state, tribes or the Umma." -- Phil

Globalization is dependent on absorption of foes into society, almost by definition -- although in modern globalization, the absorption might occur before the war. Early killing religions and philosophies were indeed concerned about the unchanging integrity of self-contained societies, especially since these societies conflated their concept of their own society with the environment around them: control of resources and the power to exploit those resources.

Thus, the development of modern states began long ago and may have corresponded with the development of non-killing religions -- or, the threat to insularity became less of a problem with the advent of greater state organization, and greater state organization led to the development of 4GW tendencies. Thus, if 4GW can only exist when a state is present for its foe...one might say that complex states by their nature contain the seeds of their own destruction. Eh?

YES !!!! Exactly right. The more closed the state and society the greater the threat. The U.S. gets a cold, North Korea catches Ebola.


That is the dream of the transnational progressives.


I never preview anything.

Van Creveld describes the Greek polis and the Roman res publica as having an associational character and not the character of a fixed, legal, entity that epitomizes states and corporations. Pretty sure he's right o the polis, not sure on the res publica.

The Nazi functionaries were a parallel, competing, track of control. That could not touch military personnel but the population was often up for grabs in terms of who exactly had jurisdiction or precedence.

Not every Gauleiter or Reichsleiter were equal because this authority while very real and dangerous was informal and dependent on both the functionary's initiative and Hitler's favor

SS men were liable before SS courts of honor ( which is why canny Nazis like Speer refused Himmler's " gifts" of high SS rank )

In short the powers of the German state officials of the Nazi regime were well-defined but their party counterparts were not - a very arbitrary factor.
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