Last night on C-Span, at the ungodly hour of 2:30 am, I watched Col. Thomas Hammes give a presentation of his book, The Sling and the Stone, War in the 21st Century. It was an explanation of 4th generation warfare and the requirements for military transformation. The simple explanation of 4th generation warfare is that it is Information Age Warfare. It is corporate strategic thinking backed up with weapons. It encompasses all means of war including economic, social, psychological, legal, and physical force. It is high tech, guerilla warfare.
One example that the Colonel used to illustrate high tech guerilla warfare was between Taiwan and China. China has the capability to overwhelm Taiwan, but that would be messy. In the world of high tech warfare, China simply has to surreptitiously cut Taiwan's communications cable with the outside world. Who did it? How did it happen? Nobody knows. Economic, social, psychological and would ensue but there would be nobody to blame.
Being the soldier that he is, Col. Hammes centers his discussion on the use of such tactics in actual war theatres like Afghanistan and Iraq. His view of transformational requirements include the soldier's need for education in language and culture of the opponent country, increased tours of duty so that soldiers become enculturated and can establish networks, the need for autonomous decision making as the need arises rather than centralized command and control from headquarters. When combined with information age capabilities, the modern, transformed soldier will have all the tools necessary to manipulate people and their environment using his best judgment to defeat the enemy.
The problem is that High Tech Guerilla Warfare is a game that anybody can play. Col. Hammes second example was closer to home. Eco-freaks decide that there are too many people so they release some kind of biological agent to kill a lot of them. Reminiscent of the anthrax attacks on the Democratic leaders in congress and high profile members of the media - not coincidently, as the debate on the Patriot Act was beginning. And the Patriot Act was being debated because of the attack on World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which was a catastrophic 'failure' of our air defense systems. Not coincidently, the military was able to get huge increases in the budget for all their wish list of big-ticket items. All's fair and anybody can play High Tech Guerilla War.
Greed, a vacuum of leadership and paradoxically the efficiencies of technological innovation brought about this dangerous new world. Automation has made it possible for fewer and fewer people to control greater and greater shares of resources and capital. There are 587 billionaires - many of them double-digit billionaires in a world of over 6 billion people. These 587 people control the world's markets of goods and services. As the heads of corporations their sole purpose is to make more money. They are driven to crush or buy up their competitors. They are driven to manage efficiently using as much automation as possible with as few people as possible for the cheapest possible production. And therein is the problem.
Corporations view people as disposable commodities to be cast aside when they are no longer useful or profitable. In a world controlled by mega-corporations, this means that probably about 4 billion people are not useful, nor profitable.
In a rational world, leaders with integrity would be looking for solutions to the problem of concentration of wealth and power and technological efficiency in the hands of a few. Tragically, we have few leaders with integrity and they are not the ones with the power. Corporate managers, having the money to select our 'leaders', are naturally selecting people who can be bought. The corporate-selected 'leaders' are using our legal system, treasury and military to expand corporate power and growth. In other words, they are feeding the engines of commerce that are destroying the lives of the majority of people in the world.
The corporations have ensured this control in perpetuity through control of information in the media and they have installed computerized voting systems to ensure control of the political process. Corporate control is creating a fantasy world in which public perception does not match the reality on the ground. Police state tactics are being implemented which will attempt crush rebellion caused by the disparity between image and reality.
A transformed, high tech military as Col. Hammes envisions won't be effective in stopping guerilla warfare aka terrorism because it doesn't address the root cause of the problem and our political leaders are incapable of addressing it. Until the problems of global capitalism, greed and the disparity between truth and fiction are addressed, there will be no peace.