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The other day I came across the term Fourth Generation Warfare.  A term used by military thinkers to describe conflict at the end of the 20th century.

Now I am no General but my first reaction to the term was ” Fourth Generation – Kill everyone up to and including Great Grand Dad.”

The problem is that our traditional definition of “war” is outdated, and so is our imagination of what war means.

How many wars have you witnessed since World war Two.

So how many the easy answer might just be: too many.

I was lucky like most of us these days as I was not around for either of the World Wars. 


Some time ago I wrote a post ” We watch as a civilization thousands of years old goes to rack and ruin Nov 2014.

With 20 million soldiers worldwide and every conceivable weapon it’s no wonder we have a world that is incapable of living in respect of each other.

Right now in 2015, it’s hard not to get desensitized to death and violence.

The Syrian war is now in its fifth year.

Anyway back to the term Fourth Generation Warfare.

This term is used to describe the current growing inferno that is currently wreaking havoc in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen which will engulf the whole region and beyond and has the potential to push it over the threshold into a third world war.

What is needed is a concept which explains to blinkered military and political leaders why *they cannot win* unless they change what they are doing in *truly radical* ways.  Why?  Because what has changed is the near instantaneous nature of the cognitive and moral aspects of war, empowered through information technology.

What we are really seeing is that the increased “dispersion and democratization of technology, information, and finance” brought about by globalization has given terrorist groups greater mobility and access worldwide.

Isis ,Hamas and Hezbollah ( If you consider the latter two terrorist organisations) ,especially, have established themselves as organizations capable of addressing the everyday problems of their constituencies. They are integrating themselves into the social and political fabric of Muslim societies worldwide.

While we watch they are turning their constituencies into effective weapons by creating strong social, political, and religious ties with them; in short, they have become communal activists for their constituencies, which have, in turn, facilitated the construction and maintenance of substantial financial and logistical networks and safe houses. This support then aids in the regeneration of the terrorist groups.

We see that even in the so-called information age, the use of brute force remains an effective tactic in many parts of the world.

Terrorists, guerrillas, and similar actors generally aimed at eroding an opponent’s will to fight rather than destroying his means.

“Maybe those gangs of Islamist terrorists and Jihadists are doing a hell of a job destabilizing and fragmenting the Arab world.  And surely the US/EU will continue to look from on high and make-believe they see no terrorism and hear no terrorism until the whole region is set for a greater Israel scenario.”   To Quote (Hillary Clinton.)  The next President more than likely of the USA.

No boots and uniforms on the ground has turn ISIS, contrary to Al Qaeda hoax, into the most dangerous international terrorist organization the world has ever come to witness.

If ISIS is allowed to grow bigger in the hope of fragmenting the Arab world and giving more space and influence for the Zionist entity then this whole thing will turn into an imminent world menace.

Unfortunately or perhaps fortuitously there is no stomach in the west to tackle ISIS head on. That option has long gone.

The main target behind ISIS is to ignite a Shiite/Sunni inferno that is drag Saudi Arabia and Iran into a dreadful conflict that will destabilize and weaken both states.

ISIS is already issuing passports and promotional publications for the new Caliphate and is now presenting itself as an ideologically a superior alternative to al-Qaida.

All three groups – Jabhat al-Nusra and Zawahiri’s al-Qaida on the one hand, and Isis on the other – share the same goals: the creation of an Islamic state in Syria (and Iraq.)  Iraq is already a country of two distinct halves.

Everybody now seems to have some kind of involvement in this fight, which may have killed more than 200,000 people, and no one has a realistic idea of how to end it or for that matter to navigate the chaotic seeming tempest of our modern world.

One way other the other history never begins with a sudden event.

No matter what terminology we use ISIS definitely has its origins in the USA invasion of Iraq after 9/11.  It is now shaped by the nature of conflict which is taking on an increasingly sectarian characteristic. As a Jihadist organization claiming to represent the true Islamic Khilafat, its project( for the lack of a better word) will not stop at the current borders and it will continue seeking to expand its territory.  Building its own state and consolidating its power in the areas it manages to control.

So where do we stand to-day?

As the attention of the world focused on Ukraine and Gaza, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis)  captured a third of Syria in addition to the quarter of Iraq it had seized in June.

The frontiers of the new Caliphate declared by Isis on 29 June are expanding by the day and now cover an area larger than Great Britain and inhabited by at least six million people, a population larger than that of Denmark, Finland or Ireland.

It is believed to have some 30,000 fighters in its ranks, with about 10% of them from the West. ( 3,000 Westerners)

In a few weeks of fighting in Syria Isis established itself as the dominant force in the Syrian opposition, routing the official al-Qaida affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, in the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor and executing its local commander as he tried to flee.

In northern Syria some five thousand Isis fighters are using tanks and artillery captured from the Iraqi army in Mosul to besiege half a million Kurds in their enclave at Kobani on the Turkish border.

In central Syria, near Palmyra, Isis fought the Syrian army as it overran the al-Shaer gas field, one of the largest in the country, in a surprise assault that left an estimated three hundred soldiers and civilians dead. Repeated government counter-attacks finally retook the gas field but Isis still controls most of Syria’s oil and gas production.

Branches of ISIS have sprung up in Egypt and Libya, and in March 2015, the Nigerian-based Islamist sect Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS.

ISIS is definitely not Al Qaeda.  Al Qaeda distanced itself from ISIS as it grew increasingly violent and intolerant, even of Muslims.

It has no boundaries in regard to its savagery.

This inferno will not be controllable, and nobody will be immune from it, most of all the Jewish state of Israel (maybe only then the US/EU will regain some of their lost senses and start to see and hear the evil of their own doing.)

Our reluctance to act promptly and decisively with the present and imminent danger of ISIS might seems contradictory to their holy Gospel of war on terrorism, but a closer look will reveal the perfect harmony of the western passive stand with their newly adopted trend of 4th generation asymmetrical warfare.

What is the beauty of this new 4th generation warfare?

In brief, the theory holds that warfare has evolved through four generations:

1) The use of massed manpower, 2) firepower, 3) maneuver, and now 4) An evolved form of insurgency that employs all available networks—political, economic, social, military—to convince an opponent’s decision makers that their strategic goals are either unachievable or too costly.

This is laughable : The Caliphate may be poor and isolated but its oil wells and control of crucial roads provide a steady income in addition to the plunder of war.

When it comes to ISIS is a different story; it’s an obviously more organized, highly militarily trained to use US sophisticated weaponry and attracting evermore young recruits from the west.  Who by the way through the Media are its biggest propaganda arm with on average 25 articles per day.

The group uses social media outlets such as Twitter, Whats App, and Facebook to promise new recruits material rewards, such as free housing and a steady salary.


The most virulent militant organization in Egypt, pledged allegiance to ISIS.


At least three militant groups, one in each of Libya’s three regions, pledged allegiance to ISIS.

The group has also reportedly received funding from wealthy individuals in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, and Qatar and then used the money to buy arms on the black market. These nations support ISIS because both consider Iran and Syria a threat, share anti-Shiite sentiment, and want to protect fellow Sunnis from violence sanctioned by Assad and Maliki.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar have passed legislation banning such aid, but the governments have done little to enforce the laws.

As we are unwilling to cut the head of the serpent we can only hope that ISIS might have its own internal disagreements about the future. (A slow burn, rather than complete eradication, may be the best possible outcome).

First, a dispute with local populations and the more indigenous groups that have their distinct concerns and priorities other than the strict interpretation of Sharia law, and this dispute is already in place in Syria and some parts of Iraq.

The second.  A conflict within the organization between its Iraqi wing that might prioritize the “sectarian conflict” with Shias and issues related to communal identity, and the global wing that adopts the ideology of jihad and looks beyond Iraq.

So we are left with: Why do it yourself when your own enemies (infiltrated by covert operatives) could do it, even better, and change their own sovereign country into a failed state ready to be controlled and subjugated.

The price we might pay in a future conflict could be high indeed.

Life is not a solo act. It’s a huge collaboration.

We are the only beings on the planet who lead such rich internal lives that it’s not the events that matter most to us, but rather, it’s how we interpret those events that will determine how we think about ourselves and how we will act in the future.

So where does 4th Generation War come into the picture. War is war no matter what term you give.

It is a loose collection of ideas that does not hold up to close scrutiny.

4GW has reinvented itself several times, taking advantage of the latest developments in technology or tactics, and whatever ideas or theories happened to be in vogue is not working.

Victory in 4GW warfare is won in the moral sphere. The aim of 4GW is to destroy the moral bonds that allows the organic whole to exist — cohesion.

There does not seem to be anything Moral about ISIS or Drones.

Through the haze of horror and grief we all witness this war is becoming internationalized and we are running out of time to do anything about it.

Mr Bush wanted to leave Iraq divided up into three separate states along sectarian lines, Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish.  He got his wish.