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Fourth Generation Warfare: Twisting our minds into total submission

Jutta Schmitt | 26.08.2009 15:17 | University Occupations for Gaza | Analysis | Education

Only with a social class consciousness and a consequently internationalist, anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist vision can we emerge without harm from the bombardments of mental manipulation a ...


In the context of the threat and open provocation that constitutes, for Venezuela and all of Latin America, the setting up of seven US military bases on Colombian territory (in addition to three bases US forces are already operating from), Venezuelan-American lawyer Eva Golinger warned in the television programme La Hojilla on August 14th 2009, about a new war doctrine recently released by the Pentagon and already being executed here in Venezuela: Irregular Warfare. Considering the seriousness of what Golinger brought forward in the programme mentioned, it is pertinent to go more deeply into the matter in order to determine, how this new doctrine is connected with other concepts and realities as for example Fourth Generation Warfare as well as with ideological constructions like the so called Theory of the New Wars. The latter is a compound of arbitrary postulates originating from the academical realm and sold to the public as a 'theory' which dates back to the beginning of the new millennium and which has quickly found its way into the sphere of the national security strategies of both, the United States of America and the European Union. Once we've come to know the interrelations and the general context into which the latest war doctrines are inscribed we can better design our own defense strategies and even think of outlining a categorical counter-offensive.

In an update for the doctrine of Irregular Warfare released by the US Department of Defense in December last year, we find the following definition of the concept:
„ ... to fight unconventionally, such as by working with foreign security forces, surrogates and indigenous resistance movements to shore up fragile states, extend the reach of US forces into denied areas or battle hostile regimes.“ (1)

The directive then proceeds to explain the reasons for the update, referring in the first place to the emergence of irregular challenges that threaten the United States' national security:

„ The policy, a result of more than a year of debate in the defense establishment, is part of a broader overhaul of the US military's role as the threat of large-scale combat against other nations' armies has waned and new dangers have arisen from shadowy non-state actors, such as terrorists that target civilian populations.“ (2)

The idea that 'classical' or conventional wars between national states as experienced during the Twentieth Century are a thing of the past and that the new wars of the Twenty-First Century are of an essentially different character, is not that new. Since quite a couple of years already the US- American and European ruling classes, through their big means of mass communication, have been suggesting to the world public opinion that the protagonists of the wars of the Twenty-First Century are some 'bad guys' who operate as 'non-state-actors', in other words, terrorists. We are told that the wars of the Twenty-First Century are and will be inner-state armed conflicts with endemic roots, that is, home-made. We are further told that this type of conflicts are of an ethnic, religious or political-ideological nature, promote terrorism, open the doors for drug-trafficking and organized crime and thus erode any effort to guarantee public order and internal security, reason for which they necessarily lead to the so-called 'failed States'. 'Failed States', in turn, endanger the peace of their surrounding region and thus constitute a security challenge to the 'modern' or 'civilized' countries, especially in our globalized world. The latter, for being 'superior' with regard to their values and economic and cultural performance, are obligated to intervene in those 'chaotic regions' for the sake of helping the populations there to recover or gain the firm ground of 'western-democratic civilization'.

We have to have this crystal-clear: The spreading and penetration of this kind of ideas forms an intrinsic part of another war doctrine, that of Fourth Generation Warfare, the main theater of operation of which is the human mind of both, the populations of the metropolitan countries as well as the populations of those countries who do not pertain to this auto-proclaimed 'western-democratic-civilization'. The main objective of Fourth Generation Warfare fought on a world-wide scale is to bomb, weaken and then mold the human psyche so that the peoples of this world will succumb to the reality of globalized capitalism with its economic, financial, ecological, social and moral crisis, with its perverse concentration and monopolization of capital and power in the hands of some small elites, and to make the peoples of the world accept the eventual rise of a totalitarian, repressive and dictatorial system on a global scale, which we have referred to in earlier writings as 'globofascism'. (3) Specifically, the goal of Fourth Generation Warfare world-wide is to make the populations of the metropolitan countries adopt, as their own, a supposed 'civilizing and pacifying mission', based on the 'universal values of western democracy' which needs to be extended all over the world; and to make the populations of the 'periphery' give up on resistance and accept the forceful imposition of neo liberal, globalized capitalism and its rules of the game as the only viable way for humanity, thus making them refrain from seeking to establish alternative models, such as is the case here in our latitudes.

The cannons in this war against the human mind and psyche are the mass media and the artillery is 'information'. Amongst the army that moves this lethal machine figure journalists, columnists, scientists, military personnel, strategists, politicians, advisers, State officials, burocrats, diplomats and academics, all of them putting themselves knowingly or unknowingly at the service of unrestricted capital accumulation on a global scale, nevermind its nefarious consequences, a thousand times proven, a thousand times suffered. The serfdom of its followers increases even more in times of a systemic crisis like the one we are experiencing at this moment, which is of a magnitude that only uses to be 'resolved' by means of a devastating world war.

So let us get acquainted with one of the fighters of the Fourth Generation Warfare, defender of globalized, neoliberal capitalism and exponent of the Theory of the New Wars: Thomas P. M. Barnett, US citizen, military analyst and geo-strategist of the Pentagon, who identifies in his book, 'The Pentagon's new map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century' (4), a critical zone which hosts internal conflicts, possible failed States and threats for international security, and which he calls 'the non-integrated gap'. This dangerous black hole comprises Central America and the Caribbean, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Guyana, Suriname, French Guyana, the African Continent except South Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East except Israel, Central Asia, Indochina, Indonesia y Phillipines. The 'non-integrated gap' stands in a stark contrast to what Barnett calls 'the functioning core of globalization', that is: the United States of America, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Western Europe, Russia, China, India, Japan and Australia. What characterizes the 'non-integrated gap' according to Barnett is its being composed of countries that are uncoupled from globalization and its rules of the game, reason for which they constitute a potential danger and a challenge for the 'functioning core' from the point of view of Western security policy. Thus and in the name of the security strategies of the 'functioning core of globalization', the countries of the 'non-integrated gap' will have to be forcefully integrated, that is, by military power. Behind this cumbersome terminology hides, of course, a simple reality: The open militarization of neoliberal capitalism and its unhindered expansion to all corners of the planet. In the words of Barnett himself:

“ If a country is either losing out to globalization or rejecting much of the content flows associated with its advance, there is a far greater chance that the U. S. will end up sending forces at some point. Conversely, if a country is largely functioning within globalization, we tend not to have to send our forces there to restore order or eradicate threats.“ (5)

The frontiers between the 'non-integrated gap' and the 'functioning core of globalization' are, according to Barnett, in any case (and conveniently) dynamic, and it may occur that a sector of the 'non-integrated gap' ends up forming part of the 'functioning core', as has effectively happened with Eastern Europe, which has been 'integrated' (or rather absorbed), after the neoliberal restructuring of its economies, into the European Union in the context of the Union's expansion towards the east ('Osterweiterung'). This occurred in 2004, the year when Barnett published his book and when ten new member states, eight from Eastern Europe, joined the European Union, followed by another two in 2007. However, Barnett does not exclude the possibility either, that reversely, part of the 'functioning core' may decay and come to form part of the 'gap'.

Barnett's European equivalent is Robert Cooper, a British diplomat, strategist, European National Security Strategy adviser in 2003, main advisory of Javier Solana, the High Representative of Foreign Policy and Common Security of the European Union, and author of the book 'The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-First Century'. (6) Cooper, like his American counterpart, divides the world in two: a 'postmodern' world, conceived as a voluntary association of States like the European Union and characterized by its security, transparency and the interdependence of its member States; and a 'pre-modern' world, conceived as a world of 'failed States', incapable of maintaining their monopoly of force and of defending their citizens from the actions of irregular groups, destabilizing factors or organized crime. Like a postmodern Machiavelli, Robert Cooper openly and unscrupulously recommends the double standard as the method of international relations in our world of two worlds of the Twenty-First Century:

„ The challenge to the postmodern world is to get used to the idea of double standards. Among ourselves, we operate on the basis of laws and open cooperative security. But when dealing with more old-fashioned kinds of states outside the postmodern continent of Europe, we need to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era - force, pre-emptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the nineteenth century world of every state for itself. Among ourselves, we keep the law but when we are operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle. In the prolonged period of peace in Europe, there has been a temptation to neglect our defenses, both physical and psychological. This represents one of the great dangers of the postmodern state.“ (7)

Let us take note then, that the United States of America as well as Europe see us, the peoples who conform Humanity of the South and who have been victims of their criminal assaults ever since the times of colonization, as a 'black hole', 'non-integrated gap', 'pre-modern world' or 'jungle'! Let us also take note, that the conflicts in our regions, products of our historic realities in which each stage since colonization has been marked by impositions and interventions from the capitalist power centers and often artificially stoked from outside, are 'home-made', tribal in nature, inter-ethnic, anachronistic, just typical of the jungle! Once more, each and every word of Western propaganda transpires hateful racism and supremacism. However, there is an interesting detail when Cooper reveals the class character of the 'new' security and defense doctrines, underlining that it is essential for the elites of the 'postmodern world' to establish a set of beliefs in a 'civilizing mission' to convince their own population and others of their noble intentions:

„To persuade your own people to risk their lives in chaotic foreign countries requires the belief that you are spreading some gospel, pursuing a mission of civilization or (in the worst case) establishing the natural superiority of your race. It requires confidence and conviction. And then, if you are to be successful, you have to persuade the people that you are subjugating that you are doing this in their own interests and in the service of a higher good; most people are subjugated by ideas rather than by force.“ (8)

In their need to control the minds of their populations with this kind of 'new myths' within the context of Fourth Generation Warfare and to achieve that they affirm the ever more openly military character of the European Union, the European dominant classes can count on various erudites, true masters in hiding the cold interests of economic-imperial expansion of the European elites behind a mask of morality, humanism and the virtues of a guardian angel. Amongst them are Mary Kaldor, of British nationality, director of the Center for Studies of Global Governance at the London School of Economics and Political Science, member, at the time, of the Study Group of European Security Capacities in the service of Javier Solana and author of the book: 'New and old Wars. Organized Violence in a Global Era'. (9) Kaldor arguments in the same line as Cooper when she, too, states that we live in a world of two worlds: the world of 'modern cosmopolitanism' which is a world in peace, based on the values of inclusion, universalism and multiculturalism, and the world of 'pre-modern particularism', which is a world characterized by the implosion of those States which have been unable to cope with globalization and whose autonomy, monopoly of violence and capacity to defend their citizens has been broken, giving way to violence and the collapse of democracy. Thus, Kaldor pleads for the launching of a 'global civilizing process' in order to contain the threat that the premodern world poses for global security.

The German sociologist Ulrich Beck, in the same order of ideas, claims an 'European Cosmopolitan Empire', a kind of guardian angel who, in order to confront the dangers emanating from the pre-modern world, must impose by force the values of the postmodern world there, in the name of the unprotected citizens of the pre-modern world:

„A new policy is emerging, a post-national policy of military humanism, that is, the implementation of a transnational military power that has the goal of reinforcing the respect for human rights beyond national boundaries. [...] Thus, war becomes the continuation of ethics by other means.“ (10)

Finally, Herfried Muenkler, professor for Political Theory of the Humboldt University in Berlin and author of the book 'The New Wars' (11), defines these as characterized by 'de-nationalization' and 'asymmetricalization'. The latter concept refers to the unique, military supremacy of the United States of America in today's world, that can only be confronted, by any given adversary, by means of asymmetric strategies like terrorism or guerrilla warfare. 'De-nationalization' refers to the decomposition of State authority which occurs, according to Muenkler, in the first place in countries of the so called 'Third World' and which is the result of the failure of modern State building processes there, with the blame lying on their immoral and corrupt elites. Thus, Muenkler conceives the new wars as state-disintegration-wars. The State's loss of its monopoly of violence gives way to the emergence of violent private groups who finance themselves through smuggling and drug-trafficking with destabilizing consequences for politics and economics of the region, reason for which the West must intervene to avoid a major encroachment. In the words of Muenkler:

„International terrorism has its refuge in the first place there where State structures have collapsed in the course of an inter-societal war. No region exists today in the globalized world in which the collapse of State structures would not have serious consequences for global, political and economic structures, reason for which, from the point of view of security policy, the need for military export of stability emerges. The West has to be prepared to assume the armed pacification of entire regions.“ (12)

'Postmodern world' versus 'jungle world', 'military humanism', 'military export of stability', 'armed pacification' – these are the keywords of an ample literature of which we have barely presented some fragmentary extracts, the postulates of which have penetrated, like bullets, the brains of millions of people in Europe and North America. These ideological constructions, disseminated in the realm of academia, in books and strategic documents of security and defense, in the press and on TV, represent nothing less than the 'moral' legitimation of the 21st century's aggression wars, ignoring any notion of national sovereignty, territorial integrity, self-determination of the peoples and the principle of non-intervention for considering them archaic, pre-modern concepts, proper of the jungle. The military export of stability in recent times to what was once Yugoslavia, to Afghanistan, Irak and Gaza, gives us an idea of what is awaiting us with the planned export of stability to Our America, Latin America, with the setting up of seven or more US military bases on Colombian territory.

With this general context in mind, having shown the connections between Fourth Generation Warfare and ideological constructions like the Theory of the New Wars, and taking into account their consequences for the thinking and attitude of millions of people in the metropolitan countries, let us get back once more to the concept of Irregular Warfare as introduced and explained by Eva Golinger in the programme 'La Hojilla' on the 14th of August. Under the premise that we have entered (or never left) an era of perpetual warfare, the new doctrine of Irregular Warfare comes to be the core of the United States' military mission of the 21st Century. Its goals are to materialize the strategic, mid- and long term objectives by means of unconventional methods, working on the adversary's physical and psychological erosion in the context of a protracted low-intensity-war which is being waged on a regional and global scale. All this in order to gain control over territories, natural and energy resources, geo-strategic corridors and entire populations. Irregular warfare is about what the US Department of Defense, in correspondence with the concepts sketched above, calls 'stability operations', when in reality and reversely, the objective of these operations is the continuous and systematic destabilization of governments who are perceived as hostile or non-aligned with the interests of the US, or who simply defend their national sovereignty, territorial integrity and self-determination – 'pre-modern', 'archaic' ideas and concepts, according to the global elites.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the already mentioned North American strategist Thomas P. M. Barnett, in an article published on the 10th of August, titled 'The New Rules: The Evolution of the U.S. Military', states in response to the „predictable condemnations from anti-American elements in South America“, that the installation of new US military bases in Colombia „simply reflects the increasing granularity of our efforts at promoting regional stability.“ (13)

'Stability operations' – there is certainly something striking about this concept: If there is anything the global ruling classes have tried to stabilize without success, it's this very system which is unstable in itself: capitalism. There is no capitalism without crisis, there is no crisis without capitalism. The capitalist economic crisis is being periodically generated by the internal contradictions of the system, and wars are its periodical 'solutions'. Economic crisis and its solution, war, are the two sides of capitalist instability. However, when capital and labour forces are being destroyed by wars the system gets a new lease of life as long as the 'reconstruction' lasts, and this is wherein its perverse stability and stable perversion lies.

Only with a social class consciousness and a consequently internationalist, anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist vision can we emerge without harm from the bombardments of mental manipulation and draw up a strategy that does not end up delivering us into the arms of the monster we are fighting.


(1) New Irregular Warfare Directive, in: Small Wars Journal,
(2) ibidem
(3) Jutta Schmitt, On the objective function of terrorism and racism in the era of globalization (Acerca de la función objetiva del Terrorismo y Racismo en la Era de la Globalización), in: Franz J. T. Lee & Jutta Schmitt, Venezuela: La Revolución Bolivariana pasando el Rubicón, Editorial IMMECA, Mérida 2006.
(4) Thomas P. M. Barnett, The Pentagon's new Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century, G.P. Putnam's Sons / Penguin Group Inc., New York 2004
(5) Thomas P. M. Barnett, The Pentagon's New Map,
(6) Robert Cooper, The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-First Century, Atlantic Books, London 2003
(7) Robert Cooper, The new liberal imperialism,
(8) Cited in John Keane, Remarks on Robert Cooper's Towards a European Army?,
(9) Mary Kaldor, New and old Wars. Organized Violence in a Global Era; Stanford University Press, Stanford-California 1999.
(10) Ulrich Beck, Ueber den postnationalen Krieg, en: Blaetter fuer Deutsche und Internationale Politik, Nr. 8 / 1999, S. 987, (, my translation from German.
(11) Herfried Muenkler, Die neuen Kriege, Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek 2002
(12) ibidem, pág. 221, my translation from German.
(13) Thomas P. M. Barnett, The New Rules: The Evolution of the U.S. Military ,

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