Internally, in the U.S. military and the larger defense and foreign policy establishment, 4GW is dead, as is maneuver warfare and increasingly any connection to the external world. The foreign policy types can only perceive a world of states, in which their job is to promote the Wilsonian née Jacobin, follies of “democracy” and “universal human rights.” They are in fact, 4GW’s allies, in that their demand for “democracy” undermines states, opening the door for more 4GW.
In most of the world, democracy is not an option. The only real options are tyranny or anarchy, and when you work against tyranny, you are working for anarchy. The ghost of bin Laden sends his heartfelt thanks.
Third Generation doctrine has been abandoned, de facto, if not de jure, by the one service that embraced it, the U.S. Marine Corps. The others never gave it a glance. The U.S. military remains and will remain second generation until it disappears from sheer irrelevance coupled with high cost. That is coming much sooner than any of them think.
In the external world, meanwhile, fourth generation war is triumphing on almost all fronts. Somalia appears at the moment to be a setback. But elsewhere, the forces of stateless disorder (and there are many, not just AQ) have much to celebrate. The bottom line that defines victory or defeat for both states and non-states forces is one question: Is there a real state? A quick tour d’horizon shows spreading state failure. Libya is now effectively stateless, thanks to the “democracy” crowd in Europe and Washington. Fourth generation war is spreading from Libya into west Africa, where states are already largely fictions, Syria is now stateless. The Iraq created by the American invasion was always a Potemkin state, and 4GW there is growing fast, in part fueled from Syria. Fourth generation war is again kicking NATO’s and the U.S.’s butt in Afghanistan, and entirely predictable outcome of invading the Graveyard of Empires. Far more dangerously, 4GW elements grow ever stronger in Pakistan, where the state is failing. Even in Egypt, which has been at least a proto-state for 5,000 years, the state is shaky.
In many of these cases, including Egypt and Pakistan, the only element strong enough to hold the state together is the army. But the “democracy” crowd in Washington immediately threatens aid cut-offs, sanctions, etc., if the army acts. Again, the children now running America’s foreign policy are 4GW’s best allies.
Fourth generation war includes far more than just Islamic “terrorism,” and we see it gaining strength in areas far from the Middle East. Gangs have grown so powerful in Mexico, right on our border, that I predict the state will soon have to make deals with them, as the PRI has done in the past. Invasion by immigrants who do not acculturate is a powerful form of 4GW, more powerful than any terrorism, and that is occurring on a north-south basis (except Australia) literally around the world. Remember, most of the barbarians did not invade the Roman Empire to destroy it. They just wanted to move in. In fact, most were invited in. Sound familiar?
What should concern us most is precisely the disconnect between the internal and external worlds. Externally, 4GW is flourishing, while internally, in the US government and military, it does not exist. This is the kind of chasm into which empires can disappear.