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Archive for April, 2006

Tuesday, April 25th, 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.

Monday, April 24th, 2006


A new feature.

I have decided to leave ” Recommended Reading” in the future strictly for blog posts that catch my attention but do not require extended deconstruction from me. You are all however free to chime in if you wish and I’ll respond, time permitting.

Commentaries ” will feature non-blog content from journals or media sources to which I append a few observations or remarks. Short and sweet. Why ? To give the blog a little bit more coherence for the reader as well as for myself when I’m planning things out. Now, without further ado…”Commentaries”:

Private Military Companies and the Future of War by Deborah Avant at FPRI

An attempt at an evenhanded overview of the current state of the PMC market and their attendent risks and benefits. Van Creveld is cited, demonstrating the penetration that 4GW theory is making in the ranks of think tank punditry.

Rehabilitating a Rogue: Libya’s WMD Reversal and Lessons for US Policy by Dana Hochman in PARAMETERS

Examines the actual dynamics of the ” Libya Model” of WMD disarmament and the role of international norms, self-interest, threat of force, interest groups and diplomacy in yielding a positive result. To be pushed as a policy option in its own right however requires a greater distilliation of the ” reproducible” aspects that can be sold to policy makers and allies.

The World’s Marked Men by Daniel Byman at Foreign Policy

Hey ! It’s the geopolitical version of playing ” The Dead Pool” !

Workers’ Paradise Is Rebranded as Kremlin Inc. by Andrew E Kramer and Steven Lee Myers in The New York Times

State Capitalism in Russia under Putin. A puzzle piece to a very large and too often unreported story involving Putin’s attempt to bring the oligarchs and local mafiya-political networks under state control – and to the political benefit of Vladimir Putin’s siloviki “clan”.

Soft-kill option best choice for Iran by Thomas P.M. Barnett in Knoxville News Sentinel

Ok, ok – Tom is a blogger too but this is his new incarnation as a newspaper columnist [ Hey Sean – is Tom syndicated ?]. Dr. Barnett is looking for a Nixon to go to Teheran. Or at least a Kissinger. Long-term, Tom is correct on the economic connectivity strategy and his characerization of Iran as a ” failed revolution”. Short term, I think Iran’s internal elite politics are very, very dicey. Who is the Iranian Zhou Enlai ?

Monday, April 24th, 2006


I took most of the weekend off from blogging and feel the better for it. Particularly, today where Mrs. Zenpundit and I enjoyed a leisurely time perusing a bookstore and eating outdoors in the plesant spring weather.

It was also quite productive. I embarked upon a major project and began some essays that will appear as posts later this week. The email flowing in was top notch as well. In short, my batteries have been recharged !

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006


I saw this a while back when I was too pressed for time but it is excellent – so here it is:

Dr. Tom Odom put together a reading list on counterinsurgency entitled ” A Former FAO Bookshelf” at The Small Wars Council. I have to endorse this insightful blend of books political, tactical, cultural and historical -it’s a great start on a syllabus for new college courses on war in a globalized world. Check it out.

Friday, April 21st, 2006


Great stuff today !

Bruce Kesler at Democracy Project – ” Cisco Follows IBM Infamy Of Oppression

Lexington Green at Chicago Boyz – “April 19, 1775

Dr. Thomas Bender at HNN -” No Borders: Beyond the Nation-State” and the Cliopatria Symposium on Transnational Histories of America and Bender’s response.

That’s it !

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