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Moral Degeneration in the Crucible of War


The recent post on Is 4GW Dead? stirred a great deal of interest, so I would like to extend the discussion on a point that that is critical not only for those who have responsibility for conducting military campaigns, but for statecraft and policy as well.

One of more important tenets of 4GW was the importance of “the moral level of war”, drawn from Colonel John Boyd’s thinking on the strategic impact of a combatant’s behavior, immoral  or exemplary, on all observers – belligerents, civilian noncombatants, neutral third parties, the media, the combatant’s own soldiers and citizens back home. Here is Boyd:

Morally our adversaries isolate themselves when they visibly improve their well being to the detriment of others (allies, the uncommitted), by violating codes of conduct or behavior patterns that they profess to uphold or others expect them to uphold.

· Morally we interact with others by avoiding mismatches between what we say we are what we are and the world we have to deal with, as well as by abiding by those other cultural codes or standards we are expected to uphold.

In a Reader’s Digest version of Boyd,  heroic, noble and magnanimous  behavior is admirable and attractive while hypocrisy, cruelty and cowardice are repulsive and antagonizing characteristics. While the former won’t guarantee your victory and the latter, unfortunately, won’t ensure your defeat, they will be a significant factor in ameliorating or generating friction.  The impression given by an army impacts the will of the enemy to fight, the morale and discipline of the soldiers, the restiveness of the civilians, the loyalty of allies and the goodwill of neighbors.

Boyd developed his thinking about the moral level of war in Patterns of Conflict  all the way up to grand strategy and above. The rub about the moral level  is that war is a crucible that puts every “cultural code” or “standard” to the test, as well as the character of the men fighting it and their leaders upon whom great responsibility rests.  Even with the best of intentions in policy and careful generalship in the field, the horrors of war can erode moral fiber and military discipline in an army, in a company or in the heart of one man. Nor does every army begin with good intentions and effective discipline – some fighting forces are scarcely to be regarded as “armies” at all while others embrace the darkness as a matter of policy.

In terms of warfare, let us define “moral degeneration” as a degraded state of moral decline where a belligerent has effectively abandoned the operational and tactical restraints on conduct mandated by the Laws of War (i.e. war crimes are SOP) and in some instances, the vestiges of civilization.

A textbook example of this kind of moral degeneration came to light a few weeks ago when a jihadi lunatic in Syria, a rebel commander Khalid al-Hamad, who goes by the name of “Abu Sakkar”, cut out the heart of a (presumably) dead government soldier and ate it on video. Charles Cameron expounded at length upon this minor atrocity here. I am not, to say the least, a fan of radical, revolutionary, transnational Sunni Islamism but I cannot honestly say that its proponents like Abul Mawdudi , Sayid Qutb, Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden and their ilk ever openly advocated cannibalism. It is much more likely that Mr. al-Hamad’s behavior is explained by the ferocity of the civil war in Syria eroding customary norms of the combatants than  it is by Islamist ideology.

Moral degeneration in war seems to spring from two directions:

a) As a calculated act of Policy, from the top down, enforced by the leadership by military discipline and bureaucratic control.

b) As a spontaneous reaction by soldiers or fighters, appearing from the bottom up, without orders and frequently, in spite of them, possibly due to a breakdown in the chain of command, an erosion of discipline or sheer mutiny for the age-old purpose of reprisal, pillage and rapine.

The first category often occur with war as a convenient cover rather than a cause of grave crimes against humanity that leaders and  ideologues had long wished to carry out. The Armenian Genocide, as John Keegan wrote, belongs properly to the history of Ottoman imperial policy than it did WWI; in truth, the Genocide was the greatest and worst in a long succession of vicious pogroms that the Ottomans had launched against their Armenian Christian subjects during the reign of Abdul Hamid and the Young Turks. The Holocaust (which had some inspiration in Hitler’s mind, from the fate of the Armenians) was more closely tied to the evolution of  Nazi war policy but once Operation Barbarossa opened up the vast spaces of Soviet Eurasia, “the East” in Nazi parlance, the war itself increasingly took a backseat to expediting Hitler and Himmler’s ghastly and murderous racial priorities. This is a pattern of a priori planning, an escalating ideological radicalization of society that tends to be present with most of the large scale democides and genocides. It is the organizational powers of  coercion utilized by the state, or a mobilized faction of , it that makes the enormous scale of death possible, not the war.

What is different and also dangerous about moral degeneration from the bottom-up, is that it is cultural evolution driven by the psychological effects of extreme violence at work and, unlike an act of policy, more likely to be diffused widely across society as a permanent change for the worse. Too many German soldiers in WWI, former peasants and artisans and boys from middle-class families, returned from the Western Front morally coarsened and addicted to the adrenalin rush of combat and became in succession Freikorps paramilitaries, Communist streetfighters, Nazi Stormtroopers and SS men. The World War also gave Russia the men of the Cheka, the Red terror and the first Gulags on the Bolshevik Left and brutal and mad warlords on the White Right.

In more recent two decades, the break-up of Yugoslavia unleashed atavistic passions of ethnic hatred and atrocity, while organized society in Western African states and central Africa broke down entirely in transnational regional civil wars with unrestrained massacres and mass rape. As a result, there is little that is political but much that is primeval, at this juncture, to explain Joseph Kony’s motivations; he resembles nothing so much as a 21st century Kurtz. Mexico too is degenerating from the escalating violence of cartel insurgency and narco-cultas – there is not much tactical or strategic value in pagan death cults or human sacrifice but it is spreading:

…Our impression is that what is now taking place in Mexico has for some time gone way beyond secular and criminal (economic) activities as defined by traditional organized crime studies.3 In fact, the intensity of change may indeed be increasing. Not only have de facto politicalelements come to the fore-i.e., when a cartel takes over an entire city or town, they have no choice but to take over political functions formerly administered by the local government- but social (narcocultura) and religious/spiritual (narcocultos) characteristics are now making themselves more pronounced. What we are likely witnessing is Mexican society starting to not only unravel but to go to war with itself. The bonds and relationships that hold that society together are fraying, unraveling, and, in some instances, the polarity is reversing itself with trust being replaced by mistrust and suspicion. Traditional Mexican values and competing criminal value systems are engaged in a brutal contest over the ?hearts, minds, and souls‘ of its citizens in a street-by-street, block-by-block, and city-by-city war over the future social and political organization of Mexico. Environmental modification is taking place in some urban centers and rural outposts as deviant norms replace traditional ones and the younger generation fully accepts a criminal value system as their baseline of behavior because they have known no other. The continuing incidents of ever increasing barbarism-some would call this a manifestation of evil even if secularly motivated-and the growing popularity of a death cult are but two examples of this clash of values. Additionally, the early rise of what appears to be cartel holy warriors may now also be taking place. While extreme barbarism, death cults, and possibly now holy warriors found in the Mexican cartel wars are still somewhat the exception rather than the rule, each of these trends is extremely alarming, and will be touched upon in turn.

The crucible of war either tempers a people or it breaks them.

19 Responses to “Moral Degeneration in the Crucible of War”

  1. Ski Says:

    The degradation at the moral level of war is not simply outward focused either. It has no boundaries in fact. We see this today in the US military with the rising rates of sexual assault, suicide, and substance abuse. Boyd noticed these effects occurring during the Vietnam War and also noticed that it would cause the organization to “come unglued at the seams.”
    The internal friction at the moral level of war is something the US military has never truly understood.

  2. Marshall Says:

    My own observations of war have led me to believe that atrocity is always policy. Lack of discipline — stemming most often from leadership that attempts to enforce discipline with ever escalaring punitive and humiliating measures — tends toward desertion or dereliction of duty (including drug/alcohol abuse). Where hopped up troops (e.g. genocidaires in Rwanda) commit monstrous crimes, the erasure of self and the mistiness of memory are planned, enabled, and enforced. This is not to say that troops do not sometimes lose strict discipline and go beyond what their leaders ask of them in the moment. But troops do not normally cross boundaries that have not already been crossed.
    How and why leaders lose or choose to disregard a moral compass (or adopt a horrible one) is a morass of context and what seemed to them to be “right/necessary” in order to ensure existential survival. In general, war needs dehumanization. Leaders can convince their troops to disregard and disrespect their enemies by showing vicious contempt for those enemies — and for their own fighters. The latter should not go unremarked when we contemplate what pushes otherwise ordinary folk to unleash a terrifying beast. Humiliation drives violent energies through the human psyche which need an outlet. Astute and nasty leaders can channel this energy toward enemies at the cost of the souls of their own soldiers.
    Bleak thoughts this morning after too much “news” and the braying of commentary whose demand for escalating violence seems inversely proportional to their distance from battle.

  3. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    This reminds me of discussion of “0GW,” especially also in conjunction with Nietzsche’s discussions about prehistory and morality.  Once upon a time was not the fantastical “once upon a time” from fairy tales, but was unremittingly violent.  Suffering, Nietzsche said, was a spectacle; he called it festive and connected it to festivals:  A festival was an occasion for inflicting suffering for the amusement of the person inflicting it and those witnessing it.  While Nietzsche overtly and conscientiously made the point that he was not advocating for a return to that violence, he also called it life-affirming.  Those living at the time had a higher tolerance for pain than we softer moderns have.  The spectacle of violence was, in a way, a celebration of life, a reaffirmation of life.  The contrast between what was witnessed in that spectacle and its reverse — life — intensified the feeling for life.


    I mention that last, because your example of Germans returning from WWI could be tied to a similar phenomenon.  A spectacle of mass violence and death, especially when it might appear to be meaningless, could leave large numbers of spectators to that violence needing to reaffirm life.   It is either that or suicide.  This effort to reaffirm life might take different forms.  One form might be more spectacle, albeit a spectacle one is in a position to control himself.  The difference between then (prehistory) and now would probably be the greater incidence of nihilism and nihilistic tendencies now.  Of course, pagan death cults, Nazi mythologies, Islamist fanaticism, and even general racist ideologies might now fill a role that the old superstitions filled in prehistory — but these modern equivalents have far more competition in the world than existed then, including strong secularism, capitalism, etc.  My general thought is that the increased competition between superstitions and their opposite often has a net result in increased nihilism.   In fact, the extreme advocacy of today’s various mythologies/superstitions vs the encroaching nihilism might be a process running parallel with the life vs death spectacles.


    A note:  the heart-eating rebel in Syria was certainly creating a spectacle.   A great many such atrocities are presented as spectacles, whether for one’s nearby comrades or for a larger viewing audience or both.     

  4. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    *I meant, a higher tolerance for witnessing pain, or witnessing suffering.  But this includes witnessing one’s own suffering.

  5. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    *Lol sorry, another addendum, which maybe could have gone unsaid:  Today’s spectacles of violence are not only for one’s comrades and/or the wider viewing audience, but also for the one perpetrating it.  This addition is merely a reiteration of what I’d described already, but I think it’s necessary to mention it since the typical view of 4GW is that such spectacles are created only for a viewing audience separate from the perpetrator:  “on all observers – belligerents, civilian noncombatants, neutral third parties, the media, the combatant’s own soldiers and citizens back home.”   Especially for considering the bottom-up development, we must not overlook how perpetrators are spectators to their own actions.

  6. slapout9 Says:

     Boyd also talked about using moral warfare to attack the enemies ethics!!!!! It is and should be used as a weapon just as much as any other. But the USA for some reason is very bad at doing this while our enemies are often very good at it.

  7. david ronfeldt Says:

    so here’s a question (now two) that i had this morning for the earlier 4GW post, but that by now should maybe go here instead:
    is what snowden et al. are up to tantamount to conducting a 4GW attack — à la the earlier post?  does it include the Boydian moral level — à la this post? 

    i can see a case for yes to both questions.

  8. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    For me, the question about Snowden and Manning revolves around the idea of using shame performatively, which I have previously connected to the strategy called 4GW, but I’m not 100% sure that their largely 1-off efforts should be characterized under the heading 4GW.


    Plus, when asking about the moral aspects of what they’ve done, it’s always important to ask, WWYD?  Of course, this question comes up even in 4GW, but not quite in the same way I think.  Then again, some fellow theorists have previously posited that one strategy of fighting against a 5GW effort would be to bring it out into the open, where it would be degenerated into 4GW….I’m not sure that their target can be characterized as a 5GW enemy—although some conspiracy theorists no doubt do—nor as a 4GW, 3GW, 2GW, or 0GW enemy.  What is the government, including NSA, to these two, Snowden and Manning?

  9. zen Says:

    hi Gents,
    Agreed. The indiscipline, toxic leadership, tolerance then enablement then inflating of Afghan corruption, the sex scandals and various abuses of power are a moral effect of a military worn down by war for too long. The later stages of “Vietnamization” were likewise particularly bad re: drug usage, low morale, racial tension and “fragging” – the old postwar  Army was to some degree broken by Vietnam (as was the Eastern Establishment elite by their failures and their children’s rebellion). Is the Army broken by Iraq and Afghanistan?
    Marshall – as I said on twitter – great observational comment! Speaking historically, there’s a lot to support that, take one example, the Rape of Nanking. While on average Japanese soldiers always seemed to be unpredictable in whether that would treat captives with humanity, torture them or simply kill them for sport, for Nanking the Kempetai emptied the prisons of Japan and Korea of the worst offenders and put them in uniform along with the most aggressive battalions of the Imperial Army and Kempetai and unleashed them with specific instructions on systematically wrecking havoc. That said, I think there is evidence when you reach the period of societal disintegration of polycentric conflicts like the Russian, Chinese, Lebanese, West African, Afghan civil wars ( or earlier times like the French Vendee, the Spanish guerrilla war against Napoleon),that remarkably bad things can happen on a localist or freebooting basis
    Curtis – strongly agree with you that these fantastic ideologies with nihilistic drives serve some of the same purposes as pre-modern myths of the Bronze Age. The Homeric epics are blood-spattered moral narratives. Modern extremist ideologies of a reifying kind seem to evoke similar fascination in true believers.
    Slap – very good point. we ought to be much better at this and doing it should be a no-brainer but instead we do it mostly to ourselves.
    David – great questions!
    My short answer – everyone else feel free to join in  – is that if Mr. Snowden is not an independent actor but a spy for China (as seems possible and more likely each day) then it is not “4GW”. If he was independent and attempting to be a “superempowered individual” by virtue of leveraging his secret knowledge in a damaging IO attack, then that fits within the realm of 4GW thinking.
    In either case, proxy or non-state actor, this was definitely an attack at the moral level and it has resonance because the activities of the NSA contradict explicit parts of the Constitution and the more general American moral narrative. It’s very Boydian regardless of the nature of the authorship, agree with you. 

  10. slapout9 Says:

    The whole plot of Snowden Affair seems to be very close to the book/movie/true story of “The Falcon and The Snowman” which involved young naive contractors(TRW Spy Satellites) who could “see everything” and sold out to the old Soviet Union when they could not convince their supervisors that the CIA was doing “bad stuff” even if it was protecting American interest.

    This who thing is starting to stink!

  11. slapout9 Says:

    Some backround on “The Falcon and The Snowman”


  12. Mr. X Says:


    I think if Snowden was a truly active agent, why not just hop a connecting flight from Hong Kong to Beijing, or better yet, a ferry ride? The ChiComs could’ve trumpeted him on CCTV if they liked in the old Soviet Philby defector fashion. If he’s faking it then I’ve certainly been fooled, which is not something I would say is impossible, but a possibility I would tend to discount. My gut says he decided to stick his own monkey wrench in the gears on his own. To date I see no hard evidence that he has been drugged, black bagged or otherwise compelled to enter Chinese service simply due to his choice of location, which I believe he picked because he needed a place where the extradition situation is ambiguous but one that is neither Russia nor so off the grid that a simple drone strike would do.

    One might say too had he gone to Beijing he would’ve simply been nearly unanimously damned as a traitor. His revelations certainly would’ve lacked the same impact on trust in the U.S. government now seen across the political spectrum, with the ‘tin foil hat wearers’ saying, ‘See we where right. It’s not paranoia if they are really listening to you’.

    It’s been interesting, to say the least, to see which elements have damned Snowden as a traitor — the list is mostly unsurprising and has largely consisted of the same people eager for U.S. intervention in Syria and generally hyperdeferential to the NSA regardless of prior whistleblowing (i.e. Binney, Bamford or numerous reports combined with rumors dating back to Echelon in the 1980s). Contrast that with the reluctant Right embracing him — even for a time, until perhaps he was persuaded off the air, Rush Limbaugh. Mark Levin, who yelled at his Ron Paul supporting callers, has come out strongly for Snowden. So has Michael Savage who was always pro-natuonal security state as long as he was persuaded it was directed against the Muslims — this week he’s been nearly indistinguishable from Alex Jones.

  13. Mr. X Says:

    I should also add that the die hards still defending the NSA unconditionally on the Right (see @LibertyLynx for a textbook example) and insisting that NSA data couldn’t possibly have wound up in the hands of an Administration they claim to despise — are clinging to one last bastion of denial. They don’t deny that NSA collected the metadeta, which theoretically could include every Congressmen with a Verizon number’s calls to various gay or straight escort services and other bits of <i>kompromat</i>. But they insist that the data is never linked to an individual without a warrant, and that no actual calls are listened to warrantlessly.

    This a very thin fig leaf indeed and it would seem one more precision strike leak would shatter this last line of defense and force the token, military industrial complex loving Establishment Rightists to admit the truth that NSA (or at least corrupt individuals inside) spy warrantlessly. And that this data may have been used for nefarious domestic political purposes — see Justice Roberts’ blood shot dazed look post Obamacare ruling, or the Petreus case, or numerous others.

    Or they can simply double down on the denial and furiously attack the next leaker even if unlike Snowden he does not flee into the geographic orbit of Eurasia or Eastasia. My guess is when the smoking gun linking NSA data to the White House comes out — and I believe it will come out this summer —  the desperate neocons will insist the whole thing is a Russian or Chinese fabrication. Perhaps if the leaker stays anonymous they will even doubt the existence of the ‘billions and billions’ of calls served/tapped American leaker, and insist he’s a creation of SVR or their Chinese counterparts. After all, every question about the drills or private contractors surrounding the Boston bombing, or the shooting death of Tamerlane Tsarnaev’s associate in Florida, have been met with more accusations that it was a Russian false flag to turn Americans toward’s Putin’s goals. And yet we still have mainline conservative Congressmen accusing the Obama Administration of ignoring warnings from the Russians, a fact that irritates the anti-Russia lobby in this country to no end.

  14. Mr. X Says:

    On the topic of breakdown in morality and rationalization of atrocity both during and preceding intra-nation conflict — see this exchange:


    While the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence might be a bit on the fringe of the gun control movement, Kurt Hoffman has documented how it’s ‘treason’ this and ‘treason’ that rhetoric has been picked up by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization many have fairly characterized as a kind of ideological think tank spewing talking points for the upper echelons of DHS:


    Compare that then to Carolinas-based gun blogger Bob Owen’s musings about how easy it would be for patriots if forced into disarmament or attacked to turn out the lights to American cities — a blog post I’m sure the SPLC will be citing in the unlikely event someone ever does decide to attack a transformer and cause a blackout for whatever reason. Or Matthew Bracken’s “What I Saw at the Coup” about how an Administration very obviously intended to be a fictionalized version of the present one decides to eliminate its political enemies only to receive an unstoppable 4GW response. 

    When does an Administration cross the line into a regime? It would seem to me that if these revelations are expanded upon that would only up the stakes more. Certain individuals might think — well hell the feds already know everything I’ve ever posted or said on the phone for many years, why not just take it up a notch? In this sense the NSA leaks fill me with foreboding for the future of this nation. Particularly if nothing is done to address it at the federal level, not even after the 2014 midterms deliver a stern rebuke to the President. And if they don’t, many people across this country I fear will simply insist that confirms that the ballot box is rigged via the electronic voting machine fraud, the soapbox is fading fast with the ammo box looming.

    It is precisely in understanding how mutual loathing develops in a body politic that we can prevent it from turning to bloodshed. The good news this week I see is that many people on both the libertarian Right and the Left are realizing they aren’t as far apart on certain fundamental principles as they thought, that they can share the same country. It seems to me the creepy and authoritarian Corporatist ‘consensus’ or what Zen called the Creepy State that is the greatest provocateur at the present moment.

  15. Grurray Says:

    Another great discussion.
    About Snowden- I suspect he headed to Hong Kong because that was the quickest and easiest way to hide money for use later.
    It was already revealed by Greenwald that one of his supposed motivations was his disillusionment with a CIA operation in Switzerland targeting a banker. He was obviously aware of our infiltration of their banking system and how it’s no longer safe to hide money there. Hong Kong banks are still out of our enforcement sphere and major banks will open accounts for US citizens usually with no questions asked. There have been rumours lately that they are loosening their citizenship requirements where in some cases they don’t even require residency. 

  16. Mr. X Says:

    Grurray, my personal theory is that Snowden cleverly developed a ‘legend’ about his trips to Hong Kong. Not only with his gf, but also maybe he made it a point to surf Simon Black’s or other websites advocating for buying gold and putting it in safe deposit boxes in HK or Singapore. That would create a quasi plausible reason for going there.

  17. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    A return to the topic at hand, and back to the question of whether Snowden’s activities could be considered 4GW:


    One of the reasons that moral jujitsu in 4GW may be effective is that it introduces nihilism or the threat of nihilism.    I would relate this effect to another psychological phenomenon:   the utter faith in explanation for events that is founded upon interpretation of cause and effect.  One normally justifies or defines the “morally good” with its long-term efficacy, and this efficacy is determined by weighing effects with the “first conditions” of moral behavior that helped lead to those effects.  When others in a field of contention are able to operate successfully — unpunished — in a way that contravenes our understanding of morality and its presumed superiority, and are able to do this for an extended period, this disjunction introduces questions about one’s own moral behavior and moral code.  A type of multiculturalism might be born, in which one’s own moral code is not justified any more than any other successful (moral) strategy; or, a more extreme nihilism might occur as all moral codes are judged to be worthless excuses for behavior, valueless.


    I had mentioned something like this above when I said that, generally, I think that an increased competition between superstitions and also between superstitions and secularism & capitalism — say, between ideologies — may result in a net increase in nihilism.  An example that often comes to my mind would be China.  Americans have a fascination with China because, although we see the restrictive nature of its government and some negative consequences like extreme pollution and the backing of other dictatorial regimes, we still must admit that 1.4 billion people can’t be all wrong.   China has existed far longer than America, it’s reached the #2 metric on many charts, etc.  China’s advancement and relative stability (at least, apparent stability) introduces questions about our own system of government and society.  Similarly, although we can mock middle-eastern societies for backwardness and so forth, there they are still chugging away line the little engines who could.  33% of the world population may be Christian, but 23% are Muslim.  That’s a lot of people able to live their lives in relative peace, having families, growing old together, and so forth, of either religion.  They are alternative, competing models of success.


    In a 4GW strategy, the moral jujitsu seems to be used for one of two primary end goals.   Either the target is forced to leave the field of combat in retreat or it is ultimately destroyed (or forced to capitulate) when enough members of one’s own society join the fight against that target.  In the first case, withdrawal, the target’s morale is shattered; his view of his own moral superiority is shattered by effects which suggest that his opponent has a winning strategy he can’t defeat.  (Cause and effect re: morality.)   In the second case, the target stays in the field of combat — perhaps he can’t leave, if that is his home also — and he is destroyed  or surrenders as the general population migrates over to his opponent who appears morally superior (effective.)


    In the public arena, spectators aid and abet this process insofar as they are amplifiers of the moral jujitsu — really, as the two sides in any 4GW confrontation look toward the public for moral support.  The 4GW fighter is always soliciting aid while at the same time trying to destroy his opponent’s ability to do so.     (Moral support may lead to an expansion or contraction of material support.  Take a look at what’s happening in Syria, for example.)


    I’d mentioned my doubt about characterizing Snowden’s efforts as 4GW; this is why.   When I asked about how Snowden and Manning view the government, this is why.   Were they trying to force the government to withdraw from the field of battle?  Were they trying to force the government to surrender — or trying to destroy it utterly?  While similarities might exist between their behaviors and a 4GW force’s behavior, and similarities of goals, I don’t think they were trying either.  Yes, they want to solicit moral support from the populace — and worldwide condemnation of the actions of the U.S. military or the NSA would help — but their attempts seem more aimed to the purpose of improving governance by the resident government.  (And the U.S. government cannot be forced to withdraw entirely from the field of combat, because it is here to stay.)


    If, however, they have alliances with one political faction or another (or a foreign government), one might be able to say that they are trying to help their ally usurp control from the ruling faction.   In this case, “the enemy” isn’t the government generally but only a smaller set of individuals if their ally is a domestic political faction.  If they were working for a foreign government, they might well be trying to bring down the U.S., which would include bringing down the U.S. government generally.  I doubt that this was their goal.  Perhaps however they have become pawns in a greater game, even unsuspecting pawns of a 5GW campaign.   

  18. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    *Addendum that I forgot to include in the above.


    We see the whole “gaining supporters” method generally in America.  It is how our system of government works, how our political system works, how our economy works via advertising and capitalism, etc.  I’ve previously stated how America has become inured to 4GW, it is so ingrained; I’ve even alluded to the possibility that America has an innate 5GW way of operating.  And I’ve made the assertion that this intrinsic 4GW-ish behavior also may be a weakness, insofar as “moral outrage” and so forth are ingrained, we can be more easily led down a bad path.  (I.e., the “sound bite culture,” in which messaging becomes even more important than hard, on-the-ground realities.)


    However, saying the immediately above and then asking whether Snowden and Manning are conducting 4GW would lead to asking whether any whistleblower or politician or advertising exec or journalist is conducting 4GW when they introduce information or narratives that are meant to shame an opponent.  This might be problematic.  These things are very important to consider in the general American milieu, because they shape how our society is and goes about its business.  But look at what I said in the last comment:  American society is largely about competing ideologies.  This is the great “experimentation” so often touted in American society.  Being inured to it can be a strength, too.  

  19. Nietzsche’s Four Questions of Conscience | Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    […] these from a question a commenter recently left on the blog Zenpundit under a post called “Moral Degeneration in the Crucible of War.”  Mark Safranski, the blog owner, has a penchant for looking at the darker side of history.  […]

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