4GW at work in a community near you

Part IX of a series about America’s new Long War

By Fabius Maximus

October 19, 2007

Part V of this series provoked many emails requesting more symptoms showing the decline of the State (DOTS) in America. I wish all the questions I received were so easy to answer. This essay will give some general background and a specific example.

The ur-text for DOTS is Martin van Creveld’s The Rise and Decline of the State. [DNI Editor's note:  See also van Creveld's "The Fate of the State"] He gives vast evidence of DOTS in America, such as the shifting of core functions like primary education and security from public to private entities – either for profit companies or non-government organizations (NGO’s).

The privatization of education is a major media story, especially efforts by the government to resist the rise of home teaching and for-profit schools. The privatization of security has occurred more quietly and is perhaps more significant. Private security detectives/guards outnumber police in America by approximately 1.1 million to 800 thousand, and their numbers are growing faster. The total number of private guards does not even include in-house guards, such as for companies and schools – nor mercs, such as those Blackwater brought in to guard the mansions of New Orleans following Katrina.

These are just the first symptoms of America’s DOTS. The State’s loss of power means not just diminished functions but an overall loss of authority. For example, generations of lies have eroded the credibility of America’s government – and its replacement by NGO’s as reliable sources of information and analysis. We see this today as Americans seek to learn about events in the Iraq War.

Even pro-war groups seek alternative sources of information to official reports and the establishment media. Hence the development of a cottage-industry of privately supported bloggers reporting from Iraq, such as Michael Yon and Bill Roggio.

Citizens have good reason to seek non-official information sources. Government manipulation of its citizens by lies has deep roots in US history. To cite just two examples, remember President Eisenhower denying our U-2 flights over the Soviet Union and President Johnson’s misuse of the Tonkin Gulf Incident. In both cases their lies were directed at the American people, as our enemies already knew the truth.

Private companies have played an active foreign policy role in our past, such as US food companies using the Marines to insure access to cheap fruit, and the apocryphal Hearst telegram “You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war." Today we see similar efforts but on a larger scale and with greater sophistication.

Pre-war maneuvers

Today sophisticated NGO’s work to incite and support wars, making the peace activists of the 1960’s look like Cub Scouts (a comparison only of their resources and skill; Cub Scouts are much better dressed and behaved than those protestors).

From December 2006 to March 2007, Heritage Foundation scholars conducted a computer simulation and gaming exercise that examined the likely economic and policy consequences of a major oil disruption in the Persian Gulf. The exercise utilized a realistic scenario, state-of-the-art macroeconomic modeling, and a knowledgeable team of subject matter experts from government, business, academia, and research institutes from around Washington, D.C.

This project was a proof-of-principle investigation that combined computer modeling and gaming to capture how U.S. decisions during a crisis might affect how global energy markets and the U.S. economy adjust to sudden and significant disruptions of oil supplies. In this scenario, the United States responded to a crisis precipitated by an attempted Iranian blockade of the Strait of Hormuz.

… The Heritage Foundation economics team, supported by analysts at Global Insight {a major economic consulting firm}, then modeled the blockade's likely economic effects on world oil prices and the U.S. economy.

… The results of the game also suggest that an official response to an actual crisis based on an Iran blockade of the strait might be effective. The experts who played the roles of the U.S. government officials opted for a focused but restrained use of military power oriented toward objectives that directly addressed vital national interests and that were clear, relevant, and obtainable. This use of force demonstrated the U.S. determination to uphold freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz. The American response did much to calm global markets and reassure American consumers.

… In this exercise, the combination of a determined but limited military response and minimal government intervention ameliorated the economic consequences of the crisis.

If Iran Provokes an Energy Crisis: Modeling the Problem in a War Game”,
study by the Heritage Foundation (July 25, 2007)

A few questions before we start the war

The key to a great story is not who, what, or when, but Why?

Eliot Carver, media magnate in the movie Tomorrow Never Dies

It does not require the skill of Otto von Bismarck to see that this study examines one possible response by Iran to a US attack, such as we might stage to deter their interventions in Iraq or destroy their nuclear facilities. By now your Congressman and Senator may have received copies of the study, or even a personal briefing on the results of this impressively well-funded project.

Before they enlist your children in the next phase of our new Long War, let’s look at this study more closely. Why did the Heritage Foundation choose this particular scenario to study at such expense? Is this sound work or just another escalation in the propaganda barrage raining down on an increasingly dumbed-down American public?

  • Did Iran respond aggressively, with smart and ingenious tactics? Or did they act predictably so as to maximize our strengths and their weaknesses? That is, was the Red Team led by someone like retired Marine Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper? He was a former Director of the USMC Command and Staff College and commander of the Red Team (Iraqi) in the Millennium Challenge war game – which he won, until the rules were changed to guarantee an American victory.

  • The Global Insight macroeconomic model is one of the best, but this scenario is far beyond its capabilities. Current macroeconomic models cannot accurately forecast consequences of events with large political and psychological components – like wars. Modeling sudden discontinuous events, especially if exceeding one standard deviation from past averages, also lie beyond today’s state of the art in econometric modeling.

  • Using a US model to forecast changes in the key input to a highly globalized economy – like oil – is a serious, probably fatal, methodological error. The US is no longer a self-sufficient island with respect to oil or most other things.

  • Results of these exercises typically depend on their assumptions. Hence the need to run them with a range of assumptions. In other words, the results depend on the objectivity of the operator. Perhaps the Heritage Foundation could have partnered with someone on the other side of the political spectrum, or taken other steps to ensure the study’s accuracy.

These flaws suggest that the study’s results are moonshine. Too bad for us, as the study will likely be regarded as reliable by many elite US decision-makers, making it another plank on the bridge to a US war with Iran.

4GW waged via your local newspaper and TV station

Words are the new weapons; satellites are the new artillery. Caesar had his legions, Napoleon had his armies. I have my divisions: TV, newspapers, and magazines.

Eliot Carver, media magnate in the movie Tomorrow Never Dies

This is the essence of 4GW, as governments and their non-state allies maneuver to gain the moral high ground. Elites manipulate information to intimidate opponents and produce a suitable public attitude towards our new long war – if not enthusiasm, at least complaisant passivity.

Unfortunately for us, it has become increasingly obvious that our elites are either unwilling, or uninterested, or unable to manage America’s affairs to promote the general welfare. This should be fine, as it is our job – collectively – a burden to be delegated only at the cost of our freedom. There are historical precedents beyond counting, beyond tears, to this sad truth.

Those who fail history are doomed to repeat it.

Billboard at Middleton High School, in the movie Kim Possible


Are the things reported here good or bad? Please consult a priest or philosopher for answers to such questions. This author only discusses what was, what is, and what might be.

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Who was Fabius Maximus?

Fabius Maximus was the Roman leader who saved Rome from Hannibal by recognizing its weakness and therefore the need to conserve its strength. He turned from the easy path of macho “boldness” to the long, difficult task of rebuilding Rome’s power and greatness. His life holds profound lessons for 21st Century America.

Qualifications of the Author?

Read the past articles by Fabius Maximus. A work of intellectual analysis stands on its own logic, supported by the author’s track record.