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[ISN] Military Matters: Brave new war
By WILLIAM S. LIND
May 11, 2007
WASHINGTON, May. 11 (UPI) -- While the White House and the Pentagon
continue their long vacation in Cloud Cuckoo Land, in the real world the
literature on Fourth Generation war continues to grow. An important
addition is John Robb's new book, "Brave New War: The Next Stage of
Terrorism and the End of Globalization. "
As the title implies, this book dares to question the inevitability of
the globalist future decreed by the internationalist elites, a one-world
superstate where life is reduced to an administered satisfying of
"wants." Robb perceives, rightly, that the "Brave New War" of the Fourth
Generation will put an end to the Brave New World.
Following a useful and well-written introduction to Fourth Generation
war, or 4GW, "Brave New War" offers four observations of strategic
The first is that the "global guerillas" of 4GW will use "systems
disruption" to inflict massive damage on states at little cost to
themselves. Modern states depend on the functioning of numerous overlaid
networks -- fuel pipelines, electric grids, etc. -- which have critical
linkages that are subject to attack. Robb writes:
"To global guerillas, the point of greatest emphasis is the systempunkt.
It is a point in the system ... that will collapse the target system if
it is destroyed. Within an infrastructure system, this collapse takes
the form of disrupted flows that result in financial loss or supply
shortages. Within a market, the result is a destabilization of the
psychology of the marketplace that will introduce severe inefficiencies
"Our problem is that the global guerillas we see in the long tail of
this global insurgency are quickly learning how to detect and attack
Here, I think John Robb's U.S. Air Force background may mislead him to
an extent. Air forces have long believed that the bombing of critical
nodes in an enemy's military, communications or economic systems can win
wars; American air raids on German ball-bearing plants in World War II
are a famous example. In reality, it seldom works because the enemy's
rerouting, redundancy and repair capabilities enable him to work around
the destruction. Robb is right that such destruction can increase costs,
but wartime psychology can absorb higher costs. War trumps peacetime
Robb's second strategic observation I think is wholly correct: 4GW
forces gain enormous strength from operating on an open-source basis.
Anyone can play, a shared vision replaces top-down control, and methods
evolve rapidly through lateral communication.
A great description of the dynamics of OSW, or Open Source Warfare, is a
bazaar. People are trading, haggling, copying and sharing. To an
outsider it can look chaotic. It's so different from the quiet intensity
and strict order of the cathedral-like Pentagon. This dynamic may be why
Arab groups were some of the first guerilla movements to pick up on this
new method and apply it to warfare.
The combination of post-modern Open Source Warfare and pre-modern,
non-state primary loyalties leads to the third observation, that 4GW
turns globalization against itself.
My conclusion is that globalization is quickly layering new skill sets
on ancient mindsets. Warriors, in our current context of global
guerillas, are not merely lazy and monosyllabic primitives. They are
wired, educated and globally mobile. They build complex supply chains,
benefit from global money flows, travel globally, innovate with
technology and attack shrewdly.
Finally, Robb correctly finds the antidote to 4GW not in Soviet-style
state structures such as the Department of Homeland Security, but in
decentralization. What Robb calls "dynamic decentralized resilience"
means that, in concrete terms, security is again to be found close to
home. Local police departments, local sources of energy such as roof-top
solar arrays -- I would add local farms that use sustainable
agricultural practices -- are the key to dealing with system
perturbations. To the extent we depend on large, globalist, centralized
networks we are insecure. Robb foresees that as state structures fail.
Members of the middle class will take matters into their own hands by
forming suburban collectives to share the costs of security -- as they
do now with education -- and shore up delivery of critical services.
These "armored suburbs" will deploy and maintain backup generators and
communications links; they will be patrolled by civilian police
auxiliaries that have received corporate training and boost their own
state-of-the-art emergency response systems.
If this all sounds a bit like what happened as the Roman Empire fell, it
should. The empire in this case is not America or even the West, but the
state system and the force that produced the state, the modern age.
Modernity shot itself in the head in 1914. How much longer ought we
expect the body to live?
(William S. Lind is director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism
for the Free Congress Foundation. The views expressed do not necessarily
reflect those of United Press International.)
© Copyright 2007 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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