Making sense out of 4GW

[Significantly revised at 6 pm EDST, on March 12th]

Fabius Maximus, in stark contrast to his nickname “Cunctator” (Delayer), takes the initiative:

When non-T conflicts become struggles for control of large geographic areas (not neighborhoods) AND involve substantial use of force, we call them 4GW’s. In the words of Martin van Creveld (private communication) 4GW is a tactic (or body of tactics) used in non-T conflicts. So is crime. So are private acts of violence by super-empowered individuals (see BNW [Brave New War] and Robb’s other writings for more on this). Although these three things can blur together, they are conceptually distinct concepts. Confusing them by calling them “war” can have bad consequences. This is one of the key contributions of Richards in IWCKI [If We Can Keep It].

Fabius may be on to something. He’s been researching non-Trinitarian conflict for well onto five years and I think he’s come up with a new paradigm in the original Kuhnian sense that may eliminate a lot of the confusion that now clouds discussion and hinders the creation of solutions. He leads off with the observation that there are many different forms of non-Trinitarian conflict but only some of these — I would personally argue that only a very few — merit the label “war.”

Consider, for example, the distinction between war and crime: War is prosecuted by military forces whose mission it is to force the other side to capitulate and destroy them if they don’t. Crime is dealt with by law enforcement, whose mission it is to protect the citizenry and apprehend — not destroy — perpetrators for processing by the criminal justice and corrections systems.

This looks to be the start of an seminal series on where the war segment of non-Trinitarian conflict is going in the 21st century and by implication, what we can do about (and with) it. Check it out.

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