COUNTERING 4GW: STATE RESILIENCE, NOT STATE BUILDING, IS KEY
“The Failure of Global Guerrillaism: Democracies Withstand Economic Pain” by Dan of tdaxp
“Cascading System Failure” and ” State Failure 101” by John Robb
“Network Theory with an Emphasis on al Qaeda” and “ Emergence” by Dr. Von
“The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation” by William Lind, Keith Nightengale, John F. Schmitt , Joseph W. Sutton ,Gary I. Wilson
“Thomas P.M. Barnett: Deleted Scenes” and ” The Virtuous Circle on Security: The Slippery Slope to Resiliency” by Dr. Barnett
The Sling and The Stone: On War in The 21st Century by Thomas X. Hammes
State-Building:Governance and world order in the 21st Century by Francis Fukuyama
The hydra-like insurgency in Iraq has drawn attention to the political conundrum faced by state authorities when facing unconventional opponents. Whether they come in the form of traditional guerillas, transnational terrorist networks and even looser “ leaderless resistance” movements that attract superempowered individuals, State actors often face the damned if you do, damned if you don’t cycle of reaction and retaliation. Drifting into a seemingly permanent loss of initiative, the state allows the non-state actors to ” write the script” in the political and moral dimensions of the conflict, creating strategic losses even out of tactical and operational victories.
This has led some military theorists of the 4GW school to make particularly gloomy forecasts in regard to not only Iraq, but toward all “state-building” interventions and even the long-term stability of the states of the Core. 4GW and “Open-Source ” warfare of Global Guerillaism are inarguably very effective and these methods of warfare, when a State reacts conventionally and with political ineptitude, place the very legitimacy of the state itself is in jeopardy.
It would be a grave mistake however to conclude that these forms of warfare represent a magic anti-state bullet. They do not. 4GW forces can lose wars and have. Much of the current track record of 4GW success rests primarily upon the recurring failure of their state opponents to deliberately maximize their existing advantages and secondarily to develop and employ countervailing tactics. In other words, these represent failures of strategic vision on the part of statesmen and commanders who get caught up in the small-picture dynamics of the scenario rather than directing their attention to shaping the scenario itself. Some quotations to keep in mind here:
” Super-empowered individuals may rule vertical scenarios, but nation-states still rule horizontal scenarios. “
Thomas P.M. Barnett
” …we must learn to function as a practical network”
” History has shown our fourth-generation opponents know how to fight us. Fortunately, it has also shown us how a democracy can defeat such an enemy. The British experience in Malaya, Kenya, Aden and Borneo all show that an integrated, coordinated, interagency approach can win the war of ideas rather than just winning in the field”
Thomas X. Hammes
Too often statesmen fail to mobilize the overarching panoply of resources at the state’s disposal in diplomacy, intelligence, law, economics and politics to work in sync with military operations to close off all possible options for 4GW opponents. Or they crumble in the face of relatively minor damage, effectively abdicating their position. The reason for either scenario amounts to insufficient State Resiliency, a crucial element for surviving and prevailing during the stress imposed by wartime. Resilience may not guarantee victory in the war but it certainly improves the chances and imposes far higher costs on the opponent.
State Resilience, as the term implies is a state having the quality of adapting and continuing to function despite severe trauma or losses. When under attack, Non-resilient States lash out stupidly, retreat or collapse. Resilient States adjust and hit back from an unexpected direction. The term indicates a fusion of political will with executive competence and material means.
Nation-states are at root simply very large, very complex, networks with the capacity to determine the rule-sets that govern the behavior of all the smaller, internal, subnetworks they contain or the external networks with which they come in to contact. The greater the legitimacy of the state, the less frequently it need employ physical force to assure compliance. with legitimacy, the state’s rule-sets exude enough moral authority and secure the nonzero sum outcomes that win voluntary obedience. Legitimacy in turn is secured when the governed implicitly recognize in their leadership a reflection of the deepest of their societal values.
A state whose leaders exemplify a nation’s creed and demonstrate courage or intelligence can find men who will march for them to the Gates of Hell. A great empire, governed by hypocrites and thieves, will dissolve into mist as we discovered in 1991. No legitimacy, no resilience. No resilience, no state.
Legitimacy is often conferred by democratic elections, though not always. The Weimar Republic had one of Europe’s most liberal and democratic constitutions in the interwar period but a majority of Germans decisively rejected liberal and democratic values. Thus, Weimar crumbled in the face of organized mob violence, implied threats and elite betrayal. Imperial Japan was oligarchic and authoritarian and grew moreso during the course of WWII but had Americans landed on Honshu as they did at Normandy then oppressed Japanese civilians would have marched off to their collective doom, shouting ” Banzai!”. Japan was as resilient in defeat as most nations only are in moments of victory because the Japanese imagined their Emperor as the living embodiment of Japan.
Against secure State Resiliency, a 4GW movement can make no headway, unless perhaps it would be to represent themselves as more truly ” authentic” agents of society than the state itself. This is in fact the card that Osama bin Laden and radical Salafis and Deobandis seek to play in the Arab-Muslim world. It is a claim that has traction because so many regimes in that region of the world are unrepresentative, incompetent and deeply corrupt -in fact the degraded nature of these governments fostered the emergence of the terror networks dedicated to their destruction. Where the rulers are both self-confidently ruthless and are reflecting some degree of popular values of their own, usually nationalism, then the appeal of Islamism is muted.
Broadband connectivity style State-building is a positive endeavor, a useful prophylactic in weak States before trouble begins and a vital support where resilient states are effectively combatting 4GW attackers. Resiliency however is critical to state survival – it is the foundation that will support the range of State-building programs and will be reinforced by them. Nurturing resiliency should be the pivotal aspect of any System Administration intervention.
Without resiliency, State-building is nothing more than the creation of an empty suit.