“Fourth Generation Warfare” Resources and MountainRunner Reviews “No End in Sight”

by Chris Borgen

While working on an article on Fourth Generation Warfare (see also this) and international law, I have started reading various blogs that are concerned with the decentralization of military force, the evolution of security threats, and of the techniques for addressing those threats.

In case Opinio Juris readers are interested in these (or related) issues, let me note a few of the many useful resources on the web. A good group of sites are Coming Anarchy (to which I have linked in various posts in recent weeks), Global Guerillas, Thomas P.M. Barnett, Small Wars Journal, and MountainRunner. They are all very interesting and informative on topics such as networked conflict, the transformation of the military, and the relationship of military to other forms of power projection. Agree or disagree with their various viewpoints, they are likely to get you thinking. Moreover, their blogrolls and resource lists can point you to more excellent sites. See also this resource list.

As for my current research, I’ll write more on that in the coming weeks.

For now, I want to point out that MountainRunner has posted a review of the film“No End in Sight.” MountainRunner, by the way, is blog whose purpose is

… to explore and discuss the relationships between military force, both public and private, public diplomacy, and modern conflict. Implicit in this is the friction between civil and military institutions as it relates to command and control of military force in a constantly evolving environment where conflict is a political tool of both the weak and the strong. Public diplomacy thus becomes a potential tool an element of national security to shorten, terminate, and prevent conflict to save the lives of both civilians and military personnel as it seeks to influence present and future enemies and their support networks.

As for his take on the film, the review begins by stating that

Charles Ferguson has made a strong picture that will likely get strong traction by not playing on emotion but telling it like it was. Through 3,000 pages of interview transcripts over 70 interviews, plus 40 more in Iraq, he creates a riveting narrative with smart interviews spliced with press conference footage to make this film. The result is some pretty incredible, and damning, statements from former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Ambassador Barbara Bodine, General Jay Garner, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Col. Paul Hughes, Nir Rosen, George Packer and others. Splicing in news conferences from Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Cheney, President George W. Bush, and others helped tell the story of OHRA, CPA, and after. Needless to say, Rumsfeld plays a significant role in the movie through his press conferences.

Check out the full review.

And, while you are clicking around to various sites, don’t miss this post, also from MountainRunner, that includes an organization chart for the spy squirrels, attack badgers, and other [potential] irregular animal troops. OK, I promise that will be my last reference to that stuff. Really.


4 Responses

  1. Does this “Fourth Generation Warfare” stuff (which I know next to nothing about: hence, thanks for the links) have anything to do with some arguments made by Philip Bobbitt in The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History (2002)?

  2. Some of Bobbitt’s discussion in the closing sections (Possible Worlds and The Coming Age of War and Peace) touch on some 4GW issues (especially related to the rise of terrorism) but I do not think that is the focus of his book’s argument. Bobbitt is trying to work through the relationship of military strategy and consitutional and international orders. Much of the 4GW literature I’ve seen is about how non-state actors (terrorist networks, insurgents, transnational organized crime, etc.) are able to project power and/or frustrate the power projection of states. So the focus is less on the consitutional order within a state and the order among states and more on how non-state actors are making the strategic landscape more complex.

    Bobbitt does have a new book coming our called “Terror and Consent” that may deal with some of these issues more specifically.

    John Robb’s book “Brave New War” is a recent book that deals with 4GW, has gotten lots of praise, and is next on my reading list.

  3. Thanks Chris, I’m most grateful (and I suspect others might be as well).

  4. Unfortunately, many of the countermeasures states will see in these coming years will probably take the forms of greater intrusiveness into the lives of their citizens.

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