If we look around the world at the prospects for Fourth Generation entities, what does the new year reveal? Regrettably, they seem to face a rosy future.
The Israeli assault on Hamas in Gaza will succeed physically, prove a mixed bag mentally and fail on the moral level of war. Hamas is militarily a pushover compared to Hezbollah, which makes the David vs. Goliath nature of the conflict all the more evident. The stronger the contrast, the worse the outcome for Goliath. The fact that the timing if not the event is driven by Israeli electoral politics makes the moral picture even grimmer. Add in that absent a deal Hamas’s rocket fire will continue and we see the makings of a debacle for Israel.
Some may see the assault as Israel selecting the "Hama option" van Creveld discusses, but I do not agree. Choosing the Hama option would mean subjecting Gaza to a World War I—style bombardment, with tens of thousands of Palestinians killed and the rest fleeing into Egypt for their lives. Gaza would largely be flattened, as was the Syrian city of Hama. As usual, the reality here is that the state has fallen between the two stools of the Hama option and de-escalation, which guarantees failure.
When the dust settles, I expect Hamas to emerge bloodied but stronger. It will continue to control Gaza, its support on the West Bank will soar (right before elections there) and the Palestinian Authority will look more like a stooge than ever. Strategically, the most important result will be further weakening of the legitimacy of the Egyptian government, which is bad news for America’s interests in the region.
On another front, the seeming quiet between India and Pakistan is deceptive. I expect an out-of-the-blue strike by India on 4GW training camps in Pakistan, a Pakistani defeat and possibly a collapse of the Pakistani government in consequence. How many collapses of governments Pakistan can endure before the state itself crumbles is a key strategic question. The answer, I suspect, is not many more. Pakistan could offer Islamic 4GW forces an earth-shaking victory in 2009.
In Afghanistan, the war continues to go badly for NATO and the U.S. More American troops doing what they are doing now will make the situation worse. The U.S. Army seems incapable of transferring what it learned in Iraq to Afghanistan. It is attacking the population rather than protecting it, which guarantees failure. The one bit of good news is that the Taliban and al Qaeda are replicating the latter’s mistakes in Iraq.
The advent of the new American President changes nothing, because in Washington nothing really changes. One wing of the Establishment leaves government and goes into the think tanks and lobbying firms, another returns from those same places to government. The Obama crowd will not face up to the problem of America’s over-extension. It is just as globalist, interventionist and imprudent as Bush’s herd of Gadarine swine. Gates may prove the one exception, but in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is hated. Plan on more mad foreign military adventures, despite the fact that we now have to print the money to pay for them. 4GW opponents will end up winning most.
Perhaps the brightest sign on the horizon for 4GW entities of all types, not just those that represent Islamic jihad, is the world economy. If the world recession becomes a world depression, which looks more and more likely, states everywhere will be weakened. For reasons Martin van Creveld lays out in The Rise and Decline of the State, citizens now expect their state to take care of them economically. If they have no jobs and face penury, they will be ready if not eager to transfer their primary allegiance from the state to something else. A big winner here will be gangs of every sort.
This bleak Rundschau should not surprise us. We live in a time toward the end of the world of states. A growing number of states will vanish. Still more will become hollow shells, within which 4GW entities thrive while protected by "state sovereignty." As Globalism collapses economically and the global elites are revealed as emperors without clothes, the motto of every state will become "sauve qui peut."
If you’re lucky enough to have a time machine, set it to "Back" and get aboard.