Monday, September 17, 2007

Review of Brave New War #8

Review of Brave New War by John Robb (Continued).

This book is in general agreement with other 4GW authors. The world is changing back to old mindsets mixed with modern goals and technology. Centralized state control is fading (in general) world wide. Eventually, economic collapse will effectively break governments of power. Robb discusses a future where fortified enclaves develop along collectivist lines. The rich individually and collectively; the middles class collectively. He does not discuss the effects of massive currency collapse on the rich and middle class. It may be inferred that he is basically predicting another Great Depression coupled with a crippled state. Many other 4GW authors go further and view it as a change in the nature of civilization. The reality may prove something in between.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Medicine - An art that has submitted itself wholly to science.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Review of Brave New War #7

Review of Brave New War by John Robb (Continued).

Large electrical grids and other networks are vulnerable due to the large transmission distances involved. One cannot guard every power or gas line. As a result, as prevention against disruption, power will need to be generated locally, presumably primarily through renewable such as solar (which will become cost competitive within the decade) and wind power (which is competitive now). The national network is too vulnerable, which will provide incentive to localize power generation. The question remains whether or not this development may be forced.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Review of Brave New War #6

Review of Brave New War by John Robb (Continued).

Guerrilla Entrepreneurs are driven by a range in motivation. Some are mercenary; most are not (as being driven solely to fight for pay). Circumstances dictate the means and methods. Some do not kill. Their targets are physical infrastructure and systems, such as targeting critical nodes and transmission lines. Computer systems may also be threatened. The Guerrilla Entrepreneur is exploiting the weakness of Maximum Advantage. Technical efficiency as final consideration leads towards connectivity thus inevitable spawning many unintended consequences. A primary conflict point occurs along cultural lines. Once a dominant culture succumbs to the lure of Maximum Advantage, it will force itself upon all others via contact vectors. Interestingly (or not), the technical morality meanwhile smothers all the competition by buying it out, then pushing it to the population. As the boundary is reached, the spaces are filled in. The original only occurs one as the bizarre becomes common place. Along lines of popular culture*, this behavior is transmitted in all its decadent glory. Guerrilla Entrepreneurs may also utilize the same media techniques with increasing sophistication. Indeed, being small their propaganda may be altered as necessary in almost real time. A committee does not need to meet and discuss the matter for months to change tact and approach. Psychological warfare is inevitably employed in modern conflicts. Internal battles are no exception.

* I would recommend Tom Frank (in general) and The Baffler crew for those readers interested in bashing the cutting edge.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Review of Brave New War #5

Review of Brave New War by John Robb (Continued).

Open Source Warfare is a concept that describes warfare like a bazaar. Fighters, bomb makers and others sell their talents by the job to "organic" guerrilla movements, gangs, clans etc. that often make no claim and do no covet the mantle of state. The weak can challenge the strong by buying the services of those willing to do the job. Indeed, even states are using more mercenaries these days, so why would others not do so?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Review of Brave New War #4

Review of Brave New War by John Robb (Continued).

As the author points out, the War in Iraq is similar to the Spanish Civil War in being an incubator for new types of warfare. In Spain, the bombing of Guernica by three waves of German bombers is cited as an example of experimental warfare. In Iraq, the art of systems disruptions and the small bleeding dry the strong are both examples. However, unlike Spain where the strong learned at the expense of the weak, the opposite is true of Iraq. Technology has advanced both in terms of weapons availability and its ubiquitous presence within complex systems. A modern state may be fought successfully by turning off the lights. Even if the result is a smoking ruin, the weak cannot help prevail.

The weak can always build. In unstable situations, the masses are best kept busy by building infrastructure. Revolt and revolutionary impulses are blunted by employment. Any state forces forgetting this truism, like the US did in Iraq, will find their situation ultimately untenable.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Review of Brave New War #3

Review of Brave New War by John Robb (Continued).

One of the interesting points the author makes in this book (and has done so repeatedly on his Website) is the similarities of the Spanish Civil War and the War in Iraq. Both conflicts are precursors to even greater wars. In addition, although never alludes both contain contained (truly) revolutionary elements. However, a primary component has changed its nature, namely anarchistic* drivers towards smaller or even no government. In the 1930s, anarchy was embodied by movements and figures; in the 2000s, anarchy is an historical force. Technological civilization is vulnerable in proportion to its size. Decentralization and isolation are a response, including gravitation toward closed collectivism. As infrastructure is divided the result can be harsh if the transition is managed poorly (which is most certain in chaotic circumstance). It becomes only prudent to disconnect from the national grid or road system as autonomy is assumed or wrested. Chaos can be halted. People will need to depend on themselves more. In the US, I suspect the federal government would take a backseat to state and local jurisdictions (some of which will Fall Apart on their Own).

* In the sense, meaning no rulers or government. Chaos is not inherent; just likely.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Review of Brave New War #2

Review of Brave New War by John Robb (Continued).

The author emphasizes the vulnerabilities of a technological society to the forces of chaos. The state is too slow and unwieldy to adequately defend against those forces that wish to sow disorder and yet have no interest in replacing a government with themselves (as was the case with previous forms of guerrilla warfare). Although some success may be gained by spectacular (and deadly) attacks such as witnessed on 9-11-01, in general, the small and weak are better off overcoming the large and strong by means and methods of systems disruptions. Deadly attacks will provide diminishing returns by hardening resolve and creating new enemies. Also, the response is not universal. A terrorist attack on Italy would not be as effective as one against the US as a smaller state does not possess the resources to massively over-react. (In addition, the perpetrators generally do not live to fight another day.) On the other hand, attacks against infrastructure and other technological systems are relatively easy to plan and implement with little risk to the participants (assuming a certain level of knowledge of those systems). An example cited by the author was an attack on Iraqi infrastructure that cost several thousand dollars to carry out, but resulted in the loss of $500 million in lost oil export revenue. (The cell responsible also escaped unnoticed and unscathed.) Compared to actual combat, it simply does not take much to fight this type of economic warfare.