The curse on the strong - why 4GW is so hard to fight?

Thomas Barnett is among the few people who recognize the asymmetry of 4GW, and has submitted a proposal on how to deal with it. The best strategy to deal with 4GW, or any war, has been spelled out by clearly Sun Zi, and re-interated in Useless Tree. It is so simple and straightforward, and common sense. It does not take a strategist to understand this. i.e., When you are fighting an asymmetric war, you need to first figure out what is asymmetric and try to change that.

But people continue to err. How could the Jewish people, which has produced so many bright minds for our world and human civilization, and their state Israel, which has won so many wars brilliantly, made such a simple mistake this time?

Because Israel is strong, both physically and diplomatically, with the backing of the hegemon USA. Here is a statistical hypothesis: it is usually the weak who would choose the right strategy and the strong who tends to err.

A few reasons
  1. the strong has larger number of options, and hence more likely to err
  2. the weak does not have the short term option and is forced to consider the long term plan; when there is no other option within the context of war, the weak has to think big picture, and consider war in the bigger picture of politics and economics, and more
  3. straightforward and simple solutions are easy and convenient, they are readily available to the strong, but they are usually the short term choice
  4. the strong is usually arrogant and tends to overlook a number of potentials potholes
  5. as Sun Zi correctly advocated, prudence is gold in war, since the cost for error is enormous. the weak is forced to exercise prudence because resource is limited - not so for the strong
This is why they said "The arrogant always lose" (骄兵必败). This is a curse on the strong. Think about this when you make your choice. It will be less likely for you to discount the correct proposal. It takes patience even if you are strong.

This applies to Iraq as well.

This also applies to GWOT.

Update: Part (ii) on 4GW here.

1 comment:

purpleslog said...

You reason #2 is the leading reason the weak are so far better at 4GW then the strong. The weaker actor in a conflict has to think more creatively, use more guile, and use the full spectrum of resources available to it. The weak, has a greater incentive for Warfare Learning.

As 4GW theory develops, comes out into the open, and becomes known and considered by the leaders of the strong, this advantage will lesson or be eliminated. Right now most 4GW learning has been by the weak on how to defeat the strong.

4GW theory (4GW as advanced/evolved guerrilla warfare) is far from being complete or mature - I think the surface has only been scratched: http://purpleslog.wordpress.com/2006/07/22/the-prevailing-4gw-concept-is-too-narrow/