Saturday, August 25, 2007

Review of Brave New War #1

Brave New War by John Robb is packed full of same material and minimalist writing style (I approve) that may be found at his web site Global Guerrillas. Now the meat of the matter is available in one compact book. If you've followed his web writing, his book covers the salient points while avoiding beating his subject to death; for new comers to 4GW concepts, I suspect it adequately conveys both the complexity of physical networks and the relative simplicity involved in disrupted technological systems.

Before I write further concerning my review, a while back William S. Lind reviewed his book Brave New War and made an interesting, if somewhat flawed point:
I think John Robb’s Air Force Background may mislead him to an extent. Air Forces have long believed that the bombing of critical nodes in an enemy’s military, communications or economic systems can win wars; American air raids on German ball-bearing plants in World War II are a famous example. In reality, it seldom works because the enemy’s re-routing, redundancy and repair capabilities enable him to work around the destruction. Robb is right that such destruction can increase costs, but wartime psychology can absorb higher costs. War trumps peacetime balance-sheets.
Although true regarding World War II, a comparison with present day society is stretching things a bit. Disruptions are a major source of stress and lost revenue. If the power is off for a prolonged period of time, as it was for some people in Western Washington late last year, the population gets mean. Everything depends on infrastructure. Sixty+ years has brought many changes including psychological dependence on machines. Selfishness (for want of a better term) is the norm. Decadence does not breed loyalty or enable any kind of wartime psychology. The worst will come out. Although less dependent, Iraq is being crippled by problems with infrastructure. Western countries might collapse as well. The first few times the power is knocked out by Global Guerrillas, the population will curse the perpetrators. After 100 times, the government is blamed and looses legitimacy. Why should I pay taxes if the lights can't even be kept on?

Lind is without doubt responsible for an extraordinary intellectual achievement in identifying 4GW. Rarely are trends identified so quickly by contemporaries, but his grasp of contemporary western culture is limited. As seen in Importing More Fourth Generation War:
The root of the problem, as is usual in Fourth Generation war, is loyalty. As the Times story says, the Kurds, like virtually all refugees from other cultures, are "bound by a common language and ethnicity." Those bonds are stronger than formal American citizenship, and they provide a rich soil in which 4GW can grow. In America 's poisonous popular culture, the necessary seeds are quickly planted among young men by the same rock and rap music, video games and examples from the culturally disintegrated black community that have overwhelmed Hispanics and other immigrants. As always, the cultural Marxists fly cover over the whole diabolical mess, labeling any serious discussion of the problem "racism."
Without addressing particulars, like many (true and probably older) conservatives, he identifies supposed vectors without ever touching on the disease, namely decadence. In fact, I suspect few intuitively understand its affects. Music and video games are a product of the environment. Pop culture is a media commodity. White suburban kids buy most gangsta rap. Cultural Marxists, as identified by William S. Lind numerous times, would have no fertile soil in a non-decadent culture. Pop culture includes conservatives as it does everything else that may be packaged and sold. When civilization declines all boat are lowered with the tide. Some also manage to beach themselves.

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