The View From Olympus 34: Important New Book on 4GW

Much of the writing thus far on Fourth Generation war gets it wrong. Most frequently, the author does not understand that a generational change is a dialectically qualitative shift (doesn’t anyone read Hegel anymore?). Tom Hammes makes this mistake in defining 4GW as insurgency. Insurgency is clearly not a dialectically qualitative shift. States have been dealing with it at least since the Spanish guerrilla war against Napoleon, and so long as the fight is for control of the state, it represents only a change in means, one that more often than not fails.

It is therefore with pleasure that I can announce a new book that gets it right. The book is Winning Wars Amongst the People by Peter Kiss, a Hungarian-American who served twenty years in the U.S. Army.

Winning Wars Amongst the People gets it right in a multitude of ways. First, the author has a correct definition of 4GW. Briefly, he defines it as “violent asymmetric confrontation between non-state actors and the state’s security forces.” The book’s first table explicitly contrasts Westphalian conflicts and Fourth Generation conflicts in five different categories. Such categorization is useful because readers can apply it to whatever conflict they may face. In general, the book’s second chapter offers what may be the best single summary of all the generations, with the valid observation that it is premature to start speaking of a fifth generation. In my view, the Fourth Generation is so vast a phenomenon that it will take at least a century to emerge fully.

The second way Peter Kiss gets it right is that, having clearly established the theoretical framework, he turns to case studies, four in number. Case studies are an excellent way to study war.

Here yet another merit appears: the author is not politically correct. He does not look merely at 4GW in places like Afghanistan, where NATO’s failure means it is unlikely to undertake similar ventures in the foreseeable future. Kiss understands that 4GW comes to a theater near you, and for him (Kiss writes from a Hungarian perspective), that means Europe. One of the book’s four case studies is titled “France, 2005: The First Act of a Religious and Ethnic Insurgency.”

France and other European countries already face 4GW on their own soil—4GW driven by Islam. Kiss is not afraid to violate the dicta of cultural Marxism by recognizing this fact. He writes:

Islam does not accept the notion that certain areas of either public or private life may be outside its reign; it rejects the nation-state and subordinates freedoms and individual rights to the teaching of religion and the interests of the umma (Islamic community). Few Muslims have been willing to give up the teachings of their religion; instead, they have chosen to isolate themselves. They have rejected the values, morals, and laws of France and rejected the education system that would offer their children the opportunity to integrate into the host society … This carries within itself the danger that a steadily increasing proportion of the society forms a “fifth column” in the heart of the country.

The book’s last chapter considers how one state, Hungary, might prepare to meet the 4GW challenge. What applies to Hungary is relevant to other European states as well. While Hungary has a real conservative government that could consider 4GW objectively, the rest of Europe’s politicians including nominal “conservatives,” are so paralyzed by cultural Marxism they can do nothing. Those responsible for security in European counties, however, must think about the 4GW threat on their own soil, even if they do so quietly. The Ostrich posture will ensure only that Europe gets its bottom kicked.