It’s Not All About Iran


Global Security Newswire

© National Journal Group Inc.
Thursday, March 13, 2008

“The last thing the Middle East needs now is another war,” a senior Defense Department official recently said when asked about the prospect that President Bush might order airstrikes on Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons facilities.

Were those the famous last words of Adm. William J. “Fox” Fallon — the nation’s top commander, who resigned under pressure this week after the publication of an Esquire profile describing him as “brazenly challenging his commander in chief” by resisting war against Tehran?

Not exactly.

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Making sense out of 4GW

[Significantly revised at 6 pm EDST, on March 12th]

Fabius Maximus, in stark contrast to his nickname “Cunctator” (Delayer), takes the initiative:

When non-T conflicts become struggles for control of large geographic areas (not neighborhoods) AND involve substantial use of force, we call them 4GW’s. In the words of Martin van Creveld (private communication) 4GW is a tactic (or body of tactics) used in non-T conflicts. So is crime. So are private acts of violence by super-empowered individuals (see BNW [Brave New War] and Robb’s other writings for more on this). Although these three things can blur together, they are conceptually distinct concepts. Confusing them by calling them “war” can have bad consequences. This is one of the key contributions of Richards in IWCKI [If We Can Keep It].

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A gap in the line

A large-scale conventional war involving the United States and a “near peer” (read: Russia or China - see Bill Lind’s latest, below, for more) just isn’t going to happen. But a massive pandemic, either natural or released by accident or terrorism, cannot be so glibly ruled out. This season’s flu fiasco shows just how far we are from being able to cope with virus-based diseases, even relatively mild ones.

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On War #254: Dollars and Sense

By William S. Lind

At a recent book party for Winslow Wheeler’s new history of the Military Reform Movement of the 1970s and 1980s, I was asked for my views on the prospects for genuine reform. I replied that “So long as the money flow continues, nothing will change.” Chuck Spinney, a reformer who spent decades as a polyp in the bowels of the Pentagon, agreed.

Events on Wall Street suggest that the day when the money flow stops may be approaching. Despite President Hoover’s assurance that “Prosperity is just around the corner,” the American economy is in free-fall. After decades of frivolity, that economy now amounts to little more than a pyramid of financial pyramids, all requiring a constant inflow of borrowed money. The inflow is endangered by the developing Panic of ‘08, where the junk mortgage crisis and the collapse of the housing market combine to dry up lending. What happens to pyramid schemes when money stops flowing in at the bottom? Maybe a recession; maybe a depression. That’s why pyramid schemes are illegal, unless the government runs them.

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Alternative Definitions of “4GW”

A new generation?

When Bill Lind, Keith Nightengale, John Schmitt, Joseph Sutton, and GI Wilson published the paper that introduced the term “fourth generation warfare,” they were speculating:

Is it not about time for a fourth generation to appear? If so, what might it look like?

They posed two broad alternatives, a technology-driven fourth generation (as was the second) or an ideas-driven (as was the third). While ostensibly neutral between the two, it is clear from the word count that they favored the second option and that something like “terrorism” would play a large role (although they admit that up until then - 1989 - it had been “largely ineffective.”)

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General Calls for Faster Action on Reliable Replacement Warhead

By Elaine M. Grossman
Global Security Newswire

WASHINGTON - A top U.S. general is pressing Congress to accelerate plans for a study he said is crucial to the effort to field a new nuclear warhead (see GSN, Feb. 5).

Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, head of U.S. Strategic Command, told Global Security Newswire that without results from an as-yet incomplete design study of the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW), he would be ill-prepared to advise the incoming president next year on how best to modernize the atomic arsenal.

The assessment is widely seen as a key step toward ultimately building the controversial warhead because it would flesh out details of what it would take to produce the new design.

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Nature of 4GW

Perhaps the primary difference between insurgency and 4GW — although both may use techniques like “terrorism” and guerrilla warfare — lies in their objectives relative to state governments.

An insurgency by definition is a rebellion, either to replace an existing government or, as in the case of the late unpleasantness here in the South, to to establish a new government on part of the territory of the old. Fourth generation warfare involves non-state entities, as does insurgency, but the groups waging it are transnational. They are willing to let someone else occupy the UN seat and pick up trash in the streets while they pursue other objectives. The relationship between al-Qa’ida and the Taliban government of Afghanistan is a case in point as are the relationships between most narcotrafficking groups and street gangs and the governments of the countries they operate in. I address this distinction in excruciating detail in IWCKI.

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Welcome to the new site for DNI

We’ve moved the DNI2 / Defense and the National Interest Blog from over here to the original DNI site. All of the original material from DNI is still available through menu links on the right. Please e-mail me at info at d-n-i dot net if you have trouble finding anything.

The purpose is to simplify maintenance and to collect all our files in one place so that we can easily make back-ups. This is the same configuration that we use for chetrichards dot com, which married the certain2win blog to

You may still notice a few dni2.wordpress URLs while we move over the rest of the documents and images. These should disappear over the next few days.  Also, there may be some broken links for a few days as we complete the migration of files.

Comments are welcome on most everything, but please observe the DNI comment policy.

A Gusher of sanity

William Grimes reviews Robert Bryce’s A Gusher of Lies in today’s New York Times (free registration required).

Here’s a teaser:

In “Gusher of Lies,” Mr. Bryce, a freelance journalist specializing in energy issues, mounts a savage attack on the concept of energy independence and the most popular technologies currently being promoted to achieve it. Ethanol? A scam. Wind power? Sheer fantasy. Solar power? Think again. For the foreseeable future, which is to say the next 30 to 50 years, fossil fuels will reign supreme, as they have for the last century. Deal with it.

Conflict over energy supplies and other scarce resources is often mentioned as igniting warfare in the 21st century. Apparently Bryce doesn’t discount this possibility, but he demolishes the most popular solutions to achieving energy independence. So if we are going to avoid such conflict, we need to quit deluding ourselves that simple solutions are just around the corner.

The Generations of War Model and Domestic Policing

Dr Simon Newman
Senior Lecturer in Law
University of Westminster, UK

[Note: Dr. Newman has been kind enough to share some working notes he made for the London’s Metropolitan Police Department. It’s an excellent example of how that framework can help stimulate insights and creativity, which to me is the real purpose of models — Chet]

1st Generation - a culture of Order, “Line of Battle” and the parade ground, e.g., Napoleonic war. 1st generation entities emphasise order at any cost. WW1 tactics ‘walking into machine guns’ was probably the last gasp of 1st gen culture on the battleground.

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