Understanding Fourth Generation War


The Four Generations began with the Peace of
Westphalia in 1648, the treaty that ended the Thirty
Years’ War. With that treaty, the state established a
monopoly on war. Previously, many different enti-
ties had fought wars—families, tribes, religions, cit-
ies, business enterprises—using many different
means, not just armies and navies. (Two of those
means, bribery and assassination, are again in vogue.)
Now, state militaries find it difficult to imagine war
in any way other than fighting state armed forces
similar to themselves.

Look around the US. Where do you see non-state forces fighting? “Fighting” can mean a lot of things, from coopting the government and legal system, to organizing protests, to propaganda campaigns, all the way down to the physical level of one Latino gangster shooting another. According to John Boyd, war has three levels: the moral, mental, and physical. The moral level is the highest. Violence almost always works against you on the moral level because the power of 4th generation forces is in their relative weakness to the State. States look like oppressors when they fight them on the physical level. Mistakes made on higher levels of war negate successes on lower levels (mental, physical). As Western nation-states try to maintain their power over all the emerging 4th generation forces they’ve allowed to immigrate such as Latino gangs or encouraged to operate such as Antifa, they’ll increasing wield a club against everyone. This will further damage their legitimacy. Rapidly-accelerating devolution is happening already.

2 Replies to “Understanding Fourth Generation War”

  1. I’ve tried to understand 4GW as anything other than treachery and propaganda, and failed. Even in van Crevald’s book on the topic. It doesn’t strike me as actual military tactics or strategy.

    Anarcho-tyranny remains the best description of what Western rulers are doing. Although I’ve begun wondering if they’re even in control of themselves, and not pawns of supernatural forces. Do they really intend to be the successful rulers of a global Yugoslavia?

    1. Yeah, we don’t know what forms 4GW will take. Van Creveld describes it as “Non-trinitarian war” meaning “war not waged by the trinity of the people, the military and the government.” A simple way to understand it is war as it always has been before the rise of modern nation-states after the Peace of Westphalia. War has many levels: the strategic, operational, and tactical. John Boyd’s framework was “Moral, mental, and physical.” The physical level is the lowest level, like the tactical level in the old framework. Mistakes made at higher levels negate successes at lower levels.

      War doesn’t have to involve violence at all. In 4GW, the most bewildering type, aims are achieved through multiple means by connecting centers of gravity of your own while disconnecting those of the enemy. THis doesn’t have to involve weapons and fighting at all. Look how successful the Left has been with cultural Marxism and the Long March without fighting a single shot. In fact, when they WERE doing all those bombings in the 70s, their violence worked against them. Ayers et al became the Establishment and succeeded strategically/morally/mentally beyond his wildest dreams.

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