4GW, High Noon, And How Even I Get It Now.

Bryce Lane1

If there was ever a time for philosophers and free thinkers to return to public life now is it. The people who have tried to make a small science of conflict have failed. It’s a time, as the Mossad used to say, “for the meshugenehs2 to be heard”.

In 4GW “enemy” has many shades of meaning. “Enemy” can mean guerrillas actually shooting at you, sure. Yet there are even more important and dangerous meanings to this word. A connected opinion leader who just lost a loved one and now wants to see all of your kind dead everywhere is far more a liability than an addled teenager with a rifle. A corporation or religious group may use state resources ruthlessly, knowing that they will not be paying the bill. These “enemies” cannot all be handled in the same way.

Even the word “enemy” is a thing to consider carefully. 4GW is not paranoia, but it requires that we understand and work at organizational levels, to rearrange and manipulate relationships and organizations beyond ineffective “psyops” like mobile loudspeakers and throwing candy to children—free of entertaining yet empty political gestures.

Here are three auspicious strategies. It's a paraphrase of Boyd3, but I find 1-2-3 a bit easier to remember in my own case.

  1. Channel, reward and energize the committed. Give them something to win, materially and socially, by their active support.

  2. Attract and employ the uncommitted. Give them some hope of a tolerable normalcy yet also give them something to lose by opposition.

  3. Isolate, stigmatize and criminalize committed opposition. Give them something to fear from the first two groups before you have anything significant to fear from them.

At the bedrock it is most important to remember that no matter what the official rules or structure, all organizations are composed of human relationships. Lone individuals can cause disorder, but nothing intentional and permanent comes without the connections to make and keep it so. Caesar may have marched on Rome. Yet without enough of Rome to help, he might have been run right back out.

4GW is “network warfare”, but the networks are of humans. It’s not about swarms, game theory or how many laptops you can connect over a satellite. It’s about the quality, quantity and capabilities of useful assets you can bring to your cause for whatever reason.

On a tactical level:

  1. Know them—Take time, make contacts, draw maps. In any organization few people support it for the stated goals. Know what the insiders want, not just ideologically but personally if necessary. “Idealists, realists, opportunists, and radicals”? Create issues, rewards, and obstacles for each subgroup that arrange or divide them in ways most favorable to your tactical goals at any particular time without sacrificing your strategy. Without this map, you don't have an OODA loop at all. You don't know what you're looking at. You haven't any reference points for orientation. You will make the wrong decisions consistently and any corrections you make afterwards will bad. Not only this but doubt from previous fiascoes will make you uncertain, conflicted and slow. If you are here, quit, leave, apologize and do your fieldwork better next time.

  2. Watch how intelligent crime outfits control entire societies. These guys find cooperative insiders. Once they are in, the idealists can be channeled, realists employed, opportunists recruited and opposing “true believers” dealt with locally. Never underestimate the ability of people to participate and advance within corrupt structures without the idea occurring to them. Most of the world is run this way (even here, yes?). Tilting this in a favorable direction is a lot less expensive than sending in the cruise missiles.

  3. Do not openly conflict with anyone who isn't set up for a visible fall. It unites or creates opposition where it was not before. If you do wish to create a conflict, start it from a direction not easily attributable to yourself. The real power in such a situation belongs to the party who makes the deal necessary to both sides; Be that party! The British during their apex were masters of this. The fewer “High Noon” scenes you create for yourself the better.

  4. Dump the notion that war is just about “hitting targets”. If some party is an immediate danger then do what you must. However, choose carefully. It is often better to have live possible assets—even unknowing, marginal, or paid-off—than dead martyrs. Attack the relationships and the individuals become ineffective.

  5. The hands you lose sight of strike you the hardest. The idea of even a fully committed superpower cowing the world into fawning submission is silly. However, all over you can hear familiar music, see goods and ideas that come from here as well as local adaptations returning. Doing business will get you back-channels, small cooperations, allies and assets when you need them. The United States and Europe have cultural capital far beyond our military means. In fact if there is a chance of lasting victory in 4GW, it is here.

  6. Watch your back. The greatest dangers in 4GW can come from people in your own camp who see opportunities to hijack your organizational resources toward their own ends. Not only big issues like profiteering and grand intrigues, but petty “kingdom creation” and “why not this too” issues. This is destructive, since it creates more inside friction while simultaneously reducing your ability to fight outside. The seeds of paralysis and defeat in 4GW are here. Helping an enemy to do this to himself is good; permitting it in your own camp is poison.

We need to get outside our views that all issues need to be resolved with techno-annihilation of “evil”. If we destroy connections moral, social, business or otherwise, then we only “isolate, stigmatize and criminalize” ourselves. There are other relationships than “love or fear”; sometimes just “helpful” is good enough.

If you consider the resources that are more effective on an organizational level than “killin' people and breakin' things,” you can see that 4GW isn't so “asymmetrical”. Save the “shock and awe” for when we really need it. 2GW and 3GW are not gone, just waiting for someone to polarize the world enough to bring them back. I hope it’s not us.

Sun Tzu wrote that “The battle is best decided before armies take to the field”. This may be politically unlikely at the moment, but we must build the networks to do it effectively or we will continue to wrap an OODA loop around our own necks, tightening with every bad move.

1 Mr. Lane, a self-confessed meshugeneh, is a former AAU champion powerlifter who is now a personal trainer and martial artist.

2 Literally, a crazy person. In normal usage, would suggest some endearment or familiarity, as with a dotty aunt.

3 DNI Editor’s note: see for example, “Patterns of Conflict”, 140-141, and “Strategic Game,” 54-57.