I want to start a thread that will discuss, in both detail and in theory, of the widespread implications of what some describe as Fourth-Generation
Warfare (4GW). Basically, this is the state of warfare today, where a powerful nation-state such as the U.S. with extensive national security
capabilities and the ability to produce military force faces off against smaller, decentralized groups whose base is not a means of production, but
one's ideology. Its David vs. Goliath, the physical vs. the transcendental. And what is most alarming? These groups are not only dictating our daily
lives - they are winning.
Before I continue, I want to say that I do not to subscribe to the 4GW ideal in the sense that its "new." Anyone with a brain knows that
insurgenices and terrorism are as old as human history itself. 4GW is eseentially a misnomer. That being said, what is different is that the
technology availiable to these private groups and individuals is far more significant than ever in human history. They now have to power to influence
and shape world politics and the destiny of an entire country, and they can do it so much more easily. We are now at the mercy of these groups, in a
It would take forever to define and explain 4GW, so I'll let God (a.k.a. Wikipedia) do it instead. Knowing a bit on asymmetric, guerrilla, and
unconventional war would help a lot as well.
With that out of the way, I want to start off giving my theory as to why and how we've gotten to where we are right now. The classic PC game Call of
Duty 4 implied that this entire trend was born on April 26, 1986, when the Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred. This was the turning point in Soviet
history, where the USSR could either choose to go to war in an attempt to preserve the state or continue on its present course. It stayed the course
and in 1991, the USSR died off. This is where my theory begins. Despite the astronomical collapse and significant downsizing, the former USSR left
behind an immense arsenal of armaments. One long-lasting legacy of the New World Order and the 1990s was the demobilization from command economies to
privitization, free markets, and globalization. All this, combined with the huge quantity of armaments, put all sorts of military force on the market,
whether it was the Ak-47 or the mercenary, and perhaps the nuclear warhead. Suddenly, everything was for sale, as long as you could pay the price.
This is where the empowerment of terrorists and sub-national groups started to reach a fever pitch. During the Cold War, terrorism was considered a
nuisance rather than a significant threat. This was a time when hostage-taking was in style. Despite inflicting some signfiicant casualties, terrorism
was largely ineffective because these groups did not have the armaments, technology, or climate that allowed them to operate effectively. For example,
nuclear terrorism was the unlikliest of unlikely scenarios. Despite the mind-bogglingly high-number of nuclear warheads between the U.S. and the USSR,
the security of these weapons and the nature of the world economy made it impossible for sub-national groups to acquire anything better than plastic
Flash-forward to 2001. 19 Islamic terrorists hijack four planes and kill 3,000 people in less than five hours, bringing down two of the world's
largest buildings in the process. In comparison, it takes the powerful U.S. military an average of 250 rounds fired before a single insurgent is
killed in Iraq. Basically, 19 terrorists killed more people in less than a day than our military does in a single month in Iraq. Just like that, the
world changes. Thanks to free-flowing money and technology, these killers are able to infiltrate the world's only superpower and brought it to its
knees (for at least a day). What's more, the world's biggest national security threat is not war with another state, it is nuclear terrorism. As
alluded to earlier, a nuclear weapon was a pipedream for terrorists in 1987. In 2007, it is well within their reach.
Let me end this lengthy opening post by posing a question to you all: Is there a way for us to alleviate the newfound power of these small
decentralized forces, or has our own progress resulted in their empowerment? Feel free to comment on all I've said thus far.
More to come.