(2004-11-02) Sterling On Robb 4GW

Bruce Sterling on John Robb and FourGW thinking. The problem with 4th Generation Warfare theorists is that they still think that AlQaeda susses out the global situation much the way that they do. This just isn't so. Al Qaeda thinks of themselves as a madrassa, a seminary for martyrs. They don't analyze systemic vulnerabilities in terms of single points of failure or leveraged returns on investment. Every act of war they commit is a warcrime; their primary motive is a life-annihilating grand passion; they revel in publicly and bloodily bursting the bonds of mere Western reason.

He points to this interesting interview with Mahan Abedin about Osama Bin Laden and AlQaeda. Zawahiri impressed upon Bin Laden the importance of understanding the American mentality. The American mentality is a Cowboy mentality- if you confront them with their identity theoretically and practically they will react in an extreme manner. In other words, America with all its resources and establishments will shrink into a cowboy when irritated successfully. They will then elevate you and this will satisfy the Muslim longing for a leader who can successfully challenge the West... The Americans thereafter (the attack on the 1998 Kenyan embassy - see Bill Clinton) persisted in turning Bin Laden into an obsession. The immediate effect of this was that thousands of Muslims travelled to Afghanistan... AlQaeda is a very interesting organization. They do not believe in the party structure, they see themselves as a college where people enroll, graduate and then go their separate ways. But they are encouraged to establish their own satellite networks which ultimately link in with al-Qaeda... Al-Qaeda tried hard in the mid 1990's to acquire these (WMD) weapons from the Russians because they knew they were cheap. They tried to contact senior Russian military officers... Firstly, it (War On Iraq) is proof that America is not merely interested in revenge for 9/11 - it shows that America wants to besiege Muslims. Second, it has highlighted the quisling status of Arab regimes (Saudi Arabia). Thirdly, Iraq is an ideal place to pin down and attack the Americans... If another attack in America materializes, the American social structure is simply not powerful enough to withstand it... There are many people in America who want to tackle the matter in a much more intelligent manner but they have been silenced by this pervasive McCarthyism. Now of course the right wingers, the Zionists and the arms lobby will refuse to give ground and then a clash inside America is likely to ensue.

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