A fourth generation war near you

John Robb picks up the “Mexico is next” theme in a post on Global Guerrillas that I highly recommend. While the world is still focused on the Middle East, the real action has shifted closer to home:

The only existential threat the US faces in the near term is from global guerrillas in Mexico and not the Middle East.

We may yet get a chance to see if this counterinsurgency stuff really works, not in perpetuating an occupation but in countering an insurgency.

An alternative is that what we’re going to face might better be described as a fourth generation, non-trinitarian conflict and not classical insurgency because it doesn’t appear that the goals of the groups employing terrorism and guerrilla warfare tactics involve replacing the government of either Mexico or the United States (see Bill Lind’s latest, below, for a discussion of this point).

So it is armed conflict, and if it isn’t insurgency, is it war? This is an important question because, as the current president claims and as the candidate from his party agrees, in war, a president has extraordinary powers.

While such powers have proven useful when the country faces the military forces of another country, they also allow the president to undertake activities that would be counterproductive if used against a guerrilla-type opponent, where the outcome depends primarily on moral elements — that is, on our ability to attract allies, maintain our own determination, and dry up the guerrillas’ bases of support.

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