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.

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