Myke Cole, a consultant with CACI who sometimes appears at DNI as well, has some ominous speculations about 5th Generation Warfare in an excellent article the latest issue of The Small Wars Journal. An excerpt:
“Written in 1988, “V” proves chillingly prescient in light of the strategies 4GW actors are enacting as they maneuver to defeat large states that they cannot hope to defeat on conventional grounds. Historian and 4GW guru William Lind notes “Police departments in some large American cities would be quick to note that they are already facing Fourth Generation opponents on the streets.”In another article, Lind points out that “it is happening in some American cities. Police officers are being killed — assassinated, really — not because they get in the way of some bank robber but because they are symbols of the state. A Fourth Generation fighter, usually a gang member, simply walks up to a police cruiser and shoots a cop.
…Moore’s “V” gives a glimpse of a subnational enemy who has realized that his power rises and falls in direct proportion to the cohesion of state authority. In realizing this, he understands that the destruction of the state altogether creates the kind of power vacuum where his sort can thrive. “V for Vendetta” warns that perhaps it is not a change of tactics, but of the scope of the enemy objective that defines the fifth generation war evolving around us. It suggests a generation of enemies dedicated to the ultimate destruction of the state in totality, not just as means for seizing power in Iraq or driving US forces from Afghanistan, but for inaugurating a new world order where the cohesive, central power of the state fails in the face of an enemy it cannot define, cordon off and defeat on its own terms, until its citizenry loses patience and withdraws its collective allegiance. “
Several comments from me:
First, I have just begun Philip Bobbitt’s Shield of Achilles – for those out there who have finished the book, how does Myke’s scenario fit in with the idea of Bobbitt’s Market-state superceding the Nation-state ?
Secondly, I can forsee an exceedingly grim response by States where the ruling elite retains the will to power to contest their destruction.
Confronted with persistently successful 4GW/5GW actors – particularly those on the loose end of the organizational spectrum such as virtual cells or a cell organized around a superempowered individual – a major state power will inevitably go the route of setting up a small off-the books clandestine unit – essentially a death squad without the pyschopoathology – and begin quietly disappearing people based upon probalistic estimates.
You don’t really need very many people to do this either. The yezhovschina purges ( which were not secret and were designed to instill terror rather than suppress it) in 1937
were accompished by about 200 handpicked professional killers who in turn were themselves easily liquidated by Stalin after they had served their purposes, being too few in number to offer effective resistance or mount a coup on their own.
4GW actors are interdependent with the state they are attacking and their effectiveness correlates with the self-restraint of the state actors being concerned with the political calculus. If the State actors are indifferent to political concerns or can achieve mastery over it via secrecy, then the asymmetrical relationship becomes unfavorable to the 4GW actors.
4GW and 5GW threats are dangerous because they threaten to push the State into a great leap backward in moral terms even when the 4GW actors lose the game.