Sunday, November 12, 2006


Interest in 4gw concepts continues, understandably, since the jihadists have mastered these concepts to greater and lesser degrees (depending on the group) and it seems that we should master them as well. Therefore I think a look at the limitations of 4gw concepts is in order.

At the end of the recent war between Israel and Hizbollah, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad remarked on his intention to create a Hizbollah like group on the southern border between Syria and Israel, on the grounds that Hizbollah had shown much greater success than Syrian troops had ever shown against the IDF.

What Assad was glimpsing was the efficacy of 4gw in battle, albeit in a hybridized form specific to southern Lebanon and the particular politics of Hizbollah. The ability to blend with the population, recast a military battle as a moral one, fight with little or no battlefield communications and manage expectations so that merely surviving amounted to winning were a few of the advantages that Hizbollah enjoyed in that war.

Another key advantage, a subtle one and one that is shared with all Islamic terror groups, is that surrounding populations are able to quietly support them at no nominal cost. What that means is that individuals can and do claim no responsibility for the actions of this or that faction, deplorable as those actions surely are, and reject the argument that appeasement, apologetics and passive support of various kinds amount to culpable participation. Because the groups are not officially responsible for the population, the population does not have to claim responsibility for them. It's a scheme that challenges the protection racket foundation of every social order we know of, going back as far as you like.

I say 'nominal cost' because obviously the living conditions in a place like Gaza surely amount to a cost that would not otherwise be born. Having your village wiped out by the Israeli air force is also a stiff cost. The benefits of culpable deniability in these cases are limited to gaining sympathy after the fact. The benefits on the ground in western countries are far less limited, and I'm sure all of you can name the organizations that reap those benefits.

Another downside to 4gw is that there are moral consequences to society. If the fighting class is not responsible to protect people and territory in the traditional sense, and the people have no duty to claim allegiance to the fighting class, then forthrightness is simply lost as a social value. Since the viability of 4gw fighting groups is based on their being unofficial and under the radar (and therefore hard to target by a traditional military, which is the whole point), the more important they are to the group they're fighting for, the more perverted morally and intellectually that group must become.

The 4gw warrior is an anti-hero. He provokes and then exploits the misery of his people and is willing to corrupt them for the cause. A hero doesn't do these things.

For these reasons it's obvious that no prominent western counter-jihad groups can adopt 4gw concepts wholesale without substantial risk to the culture itself.

These same risks would necessarily attend the creation of a Syrian backed freelance fighting group on the Golan. However, since conditions in Syria are completely different from those in Lebanon, the risks to Assad as a copycat are far higher. His regime already lacks even marginal legitimacy. Leaving aside the logistical weaknesses of the idea, any effort to disclaim the activities of this fighting group, say volleys of rockets into Israel, would undermine it further.

So what do we have? 4gw threatens the bonds of loyalty and faith that ideally exist between a population and its fighting class, ultimately leading the society itself to become morally corrupt and unhealthy. We've seen this among Palestinians in a most acute form, as well as in other places.

At the same time, adopting some 4gw ideas both appears to be necessary as a counter to jihad and appears to be inevitable as a response to the failure of western governments to mount a sufficient response. In other words people are picking it up, risks and all, and we're left with the question of how to manage those risks.


Blogger Chief Dervish said...

I would also like to add that 4GW tactics and mindset are generally the means utilized by Non-State Actors, and in a very real sense contribute to the deterioration of that nation-state. Without monopoly of force, the modern nation-state ceases to exist (although it could be argued that a modern nation-state does not exist anywhere in the Middle East save Iran, Saudi Arabia, and possibly Israel).
So a wholesale adaptation to 4GW tactics would actually make us as much enemies of our own states as we are of Islam (like Hezbollah toward Israel).

3:16 AM  
Anonymous TalkinKamel said...

Hamas is a terrorist group, and the Palestinians aren't a real state at all---nor do I ever see them becoming one.

They're a band of welfare grifters, living on foreign handouts, unable to support, defend, or rule themselves. They can induldge in 4GW tactics (or whatever you want to call them) because they don't have to actually work at the job of nation-building (or anything else). If they did, they'd have to push their guerilla games to the back burner in favor of survival.

I honestly don't see such tactics working in a real nation-state, such as the USA, which actually has to run itself and can't expect the UN, the Israelis, the EU or American taxpayers take care of it while figuring out who to blow up next.

7:08 AM  
Anonymous TalkinKamel said...

And Chief Dervish is right; without monopoly of force, the state becomes balkanized, with various groups fighting each other (as Hamas, Hizbollah and the other Palestinian gangs do), unable to join together either to run the nation-state, or unite against a common foe.

One way of discouraging 4GW tactics in other countries would be to cut off the over-generous flow of foreign aid and "charity".

7:13 AM  
Blogger Abu Nopal said...

Chief Dervish, I agree with you completely. Yet if the state fails to adequately respond, as appears to be the case in parts of Europe, what are the people supposed to do?

7:38 AM  
Blogger Abu Nopal said...

The question, TK, is what can we take away that is constructive, and how do we manage the risks associated with spontaneous popular action (910 itself) that is already taking place under a 4gw influence.

8:21 AM  
Anonymous TalkinKamel said...

I'm honestly not sure what the people should do---defend themselves if they must, of course, but, as chief dervish points out, once the state cedes monopoly of force, it's finished. Everything devolves into a Gaza-like maelstrom of warring factions, with various strong men gathering their own forces around them. We'd become enemies of our own state.

I think the people should support the state, even if they have to kick out many of their current leaders in order to do so.

8:38 AM  
Anonymous TalkinKamel said...

Abu Nopal, as I've already pointed out, I honestly don't believe there is much constructive in 4GW tactics that a nation-state, such as the United States can use. I also question how "spontaneous" much of the action going on in places such as Gaza really is; a lot of it seems to be about as "spontaneous" as the gang wars going on in L.A.---which is to say, not very. (Those are well-organized battles, with truces, battles, war leaders, etc.)

I would like to point out that when the Middle-Eastern state wants to act, it does act, as in the notorious Black September incident, when---not the Israelis, not the Americans, but the king of Jordan---declared open war on the Palestinians, and started slaughtering them. Arafat might have bought the farm right then and there, if we stupid, over-compassionate Americans hadn't bailed him out.

In short, I think what is called 4GW tactics occur when there is no real central authority, no nation-state (or, as in Lebanon, the state is either unwilling, or unable, to kick out the GW4's), and when surrounding states are willing to support hellholes like as Gaza, and funnel money into them. As the King of Jordan demonstrated, once the state really makes up its mind to go after the 4GW's, it can and will.

My advice to is stop supporting places like Gaza with foreign aid and propaganda, and go after those who do. And for the US to adopt 4GW tactics would be, as chief dervish points out, to become the enemy of itself.

11:53 AM  
Anonymous TalkinKamel said...

Rather than Gaza, why not take a look at our own American history: The real Minute Men, the Federalist Papers, the founding fathers? They managed to resist the British Empire, and were able to forge a new society, not just a Gaza.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Thunder Pig said...

I think there is a misunderstanding here. We are not proposing to commit acts of violence. We are merely using the method of open source warfare fought in the Battlespace of Information.
For example, the MSM employs Info Warfare against us every day by refusing to report the good work being done in Iraq, and over emphasizes the killings and the setbacks of one of the most successful military operations in history.
One of the things we are trying to do is to counter-attack them, not allowing then unfettered control of information dissemination.
Sure, we have the internet, and the blogs, but the people who read blogs are relatively few in number.
We need to tell the tale to those who don't read the blogs.
Instead of strapping a bomb belt on our chest and killing people, we need to print off 20 copies of an essay, then handing them out.
Hopefully the printout will have a few URLs on them so someone might do further research. Maybe we hand out a DVD with a few video reports on them, also with some websites listed for further information.
Maybe some of those people will join us. Maybe more of them will vote differently in the next election, or vote for the first time in a long time. It will take time to change the direction of our civilization.
Once changed and with a full head of steam, nothing can stop us. It will likely take years. To not attempt it is suicide. We become the ultimate suicide bombers, taking our civilization with us.
This is war. We need to start acting accordingly.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Abu Nopal said...

open source and 4gw are very different things. I'll probably do another post on it.

2:07 PM  

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