FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Neither Shall the Sword

by WILLIAM S. LIND

Chet Richards is the spider of the d-n-i.net web site, which is the best source for material on Fourth Generation war. He is also the only person authorized to give Col. John Boyd’s famous “Patterns of Conflict” briefing. Given that background, it is not surprising that he has produced a useful and important discussion of Fourth Generation strategy, in the form of a short book titled Neither Shall the Sword. If Washington were interested in strategy, which it is not (its only genuine interest is in court politics), it would give this small volume large attention.

The book begins by asking whether Third Generation maneuver warfare is passé. As the Urvater of maneuver warfare theory in this country, I must agree with Richards that it is. As glorious as the Blitzkrieg was, it now belongs to history; wars between state armed forces, while they may now and then still occur, will be jousting contests more than real wars. The institutional culture of Third Generation armed services, with its outward focus, decentralization, initiative and self-discipline, remains vital to any fighting organization. But unless they are relieving an inside-out Islamic siege of Brussels, Panzer divisions will no longer be streaming through the Ardennes.

Rightly, Richards recognizes that the challenge of the present and the foreseeable future is Fourth Generation war. America’s most pressing need is for a grand strategy suitable to a Fourth Generation world. In Neither Shall the Sword, Richards examines and compares the suggestions of five strategists: myself, in my cover story “Strategic Defense Initiative” in the November 22, 2004 issue of The American Conservative; Martin van Creveld and his book The Transformation of War; Tom Hammes, The Sling and the Stone; Michael Scheuer, Imperial Hubris; and Thomas Barnett in The Pentagon’s New Map and Blueprint for Action.

Richards groups these five positions in two major camps, containment and rollback, terms which go back to the early days of the Cold War. Van Creveld and I represent containment, which I can accept; Barnett represents rollback (on steroids); and Hammes and Scheuer are somewhere in the middle. Richards’s comparison and analysis of all these positions is thorough and insightful. For those who suspect I may be tooting my own horn here, let me note that he does not end up where I do.

Beyond this comparison, Richards makes additional valuable points. One is that the Bush administration has fundamentally miscast the nature of the conflict we now face. He argues that war is terrorism, so a “war on terrorism” is a war on war. We are not in a war on “terrorism” or engaged in a “struggle against violent extremism.”

Instead, we are faced with an evolutionary development in armed conflict, a “fourth generation” of warfare that is different from and much more serious than “terrorism”to see the difference between 4GW and “terrorism,” run this simple thought experiment: suppose bin Laden and al-Qaida were able to enforce their program on the Middle East, but they succeeded without the deliberate killing of one more American civilian. The entire Middle East turns hostile, Israel is destroyed, and gas goes up to $15 per gallon when it is available. Bin Laden’s 4GW campaign succeeds, but without terrorism. Do you feel better?

This applies to situations like Iraq and Afghanistan:

It’s not a war followed by a blown peace. That is conventional war thinking, even if the war is waged and quickly won by 3GW. Instead, it will be an occupation against some degree of resistance, followed by the real, fourth generation war.

Much of Neither Shall the Sword is devoted to considering what kinds of armed forces the U.S. would require for 4GW, which varies depending on the grand strategy we adopt. He recognizes that the current Department of Defense, and the bulk of our forces, are untransformable.

Practitioners of real transformation agree that in such circumstances it is better not to transform but to start overThe sooner these fossils are put to rest, the sooner new enterprises can rise to create innovative business models for satisfying customer desires.

Here is where Richards and I part company. DOD is, as he recognizes, Gosplan. But his alternative, at least for a rollback force, includes privatizing the fighting function. The problem with this is that as the state privatizes security functions, for foreign wars or here at home, it strikes at its own reason for being and thus accelerates its crisis of legitimacy, which lies at the heart of 4GW. Once security is privatized, why have a state at all?

Conveniently, private armies have a long history of overthrowing states. There is good reason why the rising state of the 17th century abolished private armies and forcefully asserted a monopoly on violence.

Even here, Neither Shall the Sword promotes creative thinking on the most important military question of our time: how can states come to grips with Fourth Generation war?

Copies are available from the Center for Defense Information in Washington, D.C. (www.cdi.org). You might want to send one to your Senator or Congressman. If you enclose a check for at least $1000, they might even pay some attention to it.

WILLIAM S. LIND, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.

 

 

WILLIAM S. LIND, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.

Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
Eoin Higgins
Please Clap: the Jeb Bush Campaign Pre-Mortem
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Invisible Epidemic: Radiation and Rising Rates of Thyroid Cancer
Andre Vltchek
Europe is Built on Corpses and Plunder
Jack Smith
Obama Readies to Fight in Libya, Again
Robert Fantina
As Goes Iowa, So Goes the Nation?
Dean Baker
Market Turmoil, the Fed and the Presidential Election
John Grant
Israel Moves to Check Its Artists
John Wight
Who Was Cecil Rhodes?
David Macaray
Will There Ever Be Anyone Better Than Bernie Sanders?
Christopher Brauchli
Suffer Little Children: From Brazil to Flint
JP Sottile
Did Fox News Help the GOP Establishment Get Its Groove Back?
Binoy Kampmark
Legalizing Cruelties: the Australian High Court and Indefinite Offshore Detention
John Feffer
Wrestling With Iran
Rob Prince – Ibrahim Kazerooni
Syria Again
Louisa Willcox
Park Service Finally Stands Up for Grizzlies and Us
Farzana Versey
Of Beyoncé, Trudeau and Culture Predators
Pete Dolack
Fanaticism and Fantasy Drive Purported TPP ‘Benefits’
Murray Dobbin
Canada and the TPP
Steve Horn
Army of Lobbyists Push LNG Exports, Methane Hydrates, Coal in Senate Energy Bill
Colin Todhunter
“Lies, Lies and More Lies” – GMOs, Poisoned Agriculture and Toxic Rants
Franklin Lamb
ISIS Erasing Our Cultural Heritage in Syria
David Mihalyfy
#realacademicbios Deserve Real Reform
Graham Peebles
Unjust and Dysfunctional: Asylum in the UK
Yves Engler
On Unions and Class Struggle
Alfredo Lopez
The ‘Bern’ and the Internet
Missy Comley Beattie
Super Propaganda
Ed Rampell
Great Caesar’s Ghost!: A Specter Haunts Hollywood in the Coen’s Anti-Anti-Commie Goofball Comedy
Cesar Chelala
The Public Health Impact of Domestic Violence
Ron Jacobs
Cold Weather Comforts of a Certain Sort
Charles Komanoff
On the Passing of the Jefferson Airplane
Charles R. Larson
Can One Survive the Holocaust?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail