Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Or A Thought Prompt Driven By a Another's Thought Prompt
(FARC Soldiers via BBC)

Wiggin's wonders aloud whether legitimacy is zero sum. That, if in order for one entity gain legitimacy, another must lose legitimacy. He links to John Robb's post here that highlights a Lind quote.

In the Great Depression of the 1930s, states’ economic failure brought governments and even systems of government, including democracy, into question. In both Europe and the United States, Communism and Fascism gained certain popularity because in the Soviet Union, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, everyone had a job. But the state itself was not challenged, because there was no alternative to the state.

Now, there is. Intelligent Fourth Generation entities, ranging from some drug gangs through organizations such as Hezbollah, are competing directly with the state for people’s primary loyalty. If those Fourth Generation entities can provide basic services, including food, when the state can no longer do so, they will gain the legitimacy that state is losing. In Fourth Generation war, that is a bigger win than any potential military victory.

This concept of a 4th Generation entity makes sense when considering the parasitic, narco-feudalists affecting the likes of Mexico and Columbia. Keeping the host (the nation) in a state of continued decay is essential for maintaining their cocaine driven baronies.

However, from my perspective, Hezbollah and Hamas are hardly seeking the state of "perpetual 4GW" (or the Robbian Global Guerrilla) rather are endeavoring to usurp the existing political authority and replace it with their own construct. Think of it as a very gradual coup that occurs not from the top down (a la Pervez Musharaff, perhaps) but yanks the bricks from the foundation that supports an existing regime in a very slow and methodical fashion. Very much in line with Robb's "hollowed state" but the goal isn't anarchy but political change.

Certainly this strategy has worked very well for Hamas as they now maintain political control of the West Bank and Hezbollah as they now hold unprecedented and legitimate power (with some help from Israel) within the Lebanese parliament. Both entities achieved this through the above mentioned displacement of loyalty to the state to loyalty to the party through establishment of a grassroots social welfare system that provided where the authorities could or would not.

So the question is, when does a 4GW entity stop being a 4GW entity? Should we consider Hamas and Hezbollah along the same lines of FARC or any Mexican drug cartel? Is 4GW directly defined by a groups modus or it's status?


SnoopyTheGoon said...

When does a 4GW entity stop being a 4GW entity?

The answer seems to be quite straightforward: when the coup you mention is completed. In Gaza it was when Hamas decided not to hide behind the facade of 4GW entity and completed the coup by some bloodletting.

Jay@Soob said...

Snoop. agreed. And so I wonder why Lind insists on relegating Hamas and Hezbollah as 4GW entities.

Mike said...

My response would be that it doesn't really matter. I never get too bogged down in worrying what category a conflict or organization falls in. 4GW is so open ended, seeing as how everything from Mao's Revolution through the anti-colonial nationalist/communist movements in Asia and Africa in the '60s up to the conflicts in AFG and IQ (both of which are different as night and day) are included in it.

It's crucial to note these differences, such as that the Sunni insurgency has a different feel than dealing with the Shi'ite militias and that both of these are different from the rural tribal Taliban type insurgency in Afghanistan, or that FARC and the cartels operate in a fundamentally different way than a pseudo-state organization like Hezbollah or Hamas. However, it isn't important to figure out what's "4GW" and what's not.

4GW provides a convenient shorthand for generally describing things, especially to someone who is completely unfamiliar with the term, but once you get past the basics I think it's really too general to be of much use. It's better to move down an analytical level or two and start to describe things more specifically.

Anonymous said...

That's why 4GW in the XGW framework is so much better than 4GW in Lind's Generations of Modern Warfare (GMW).

No open ends.