Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Phil Beckman on Fifth Generation Warfare

Phil Beckman writes:

>"In a recent post Mitchell mentions that 4GW may be passe and that many of the things that Hammes writes about aren't necessarily relevant to fighting an extremist enemy. I agree. I've used the term 4GW within the framework of our discussion out of convenience, but I think the phenomena we are dealing with have yet to be adequately described and are much larger than what 4GW theorists are talking about. Over the past several years there have been many discussions of 4GW, 5GW, asymmetric war, unrestricted war, media war, idea war, meme war, etc. Not only do the Islamists present us with a different kind of threat that challenges our existing categories, but these theories allow us to review the left's success in achieving "cultural hegemony" in our universities, media, government and generally throughout our society, as well."

Phil Orenstein had written in a recent post:

>"To win the war of ideas that is central to this debate we need to put partisan politics aside and refresh ourselves with the spirit of the American Revolution and our founding fathers who fought the battle of ideas before winning the revolutionary war against the British Empire."

Beckman continues:

>"I agree that this is exactly what should happen, but it's not going to happen. We can't put partisan politics aside because the left's ideology is not only not rooted in the ideals of the American founding, but is inherently inimical to them. Remember that we live in a time where if you are a judicial candidate and you believe that the federal gov't should exercise only those powers that have been delegated by the Constitution, then you will be attacked as a right-wing extremist. Our goal should be to have the ideals and spirit of the American founding be generally accepted across all political differences. This is what we would be championing in a 4GW, media war, idea war campaign etc. But we have to accept that this is going to bring us into direct conflict with the left.

>"Around July 4th, the LA Times published an Op Ed in which the liberal writer asked, was the American Revolution really worth it? After all if we had remained part of the British Empire slavery would have been abolished in 1830 rather than 1865 and chances are we would have established the same socialist welfare state that the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have. The reality is that the left has no use for the ideals and spirit of the American Revolution.

>"The recent ISI study revealing the disastrous ignorance of American history and government shows us just how real our challenge is. We can't expect people to be inspired by the ideals of the American founding and be willing to risk their lives in defense of these ideals if they don't know what they are. This ignorance creates a population that is susceptible to the idiocies of Chomsky, Moore, et al. So promoting these ideals and educating people about them needs to be a central component of any pro-liberty, pro-American campaign.

>"While partisanship is inevitable, at the tactical level setting aside partisanship is important. For example, the Kelo decision created an opportunity to run a campaign against against eminent domain abuse and offered an opportunity to educate people on the importance of private property rights to the free society. People of all political persuasions own property and thus this kind of a campaign can appeal to everyone.

>"What we are talking about is creating a movement in which people are inspired by the ideals and a vision of the American Experiment to take action on their own, independent of any centralized control and guided by their ideals and values. The specific kinds of non-violent action available to us are many and varied. Any type of media, technology, activism, rhetorical technique and organizational form is there in the tool box. What I would like to see is a proliferation of dozens perhaps hundreds of organizations all promoting pro-liberty, pro-American ideals and working to counter the postmodernist left and Islamic fundamentalism. How do we inspire people to do this?

>"I keep coming back again and again to ideas, attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and interpretations because that seems to me to be the primary battlefield. Alinsky references the well-known statement of John Adams that the revolution had taken place in the minds of the people before the war was fought. Something like that needs to happen now. This is the kind of thing that operates at a more fundamental level than electoral politics. This is about what people believe about their country and ultimately what they believe about themselves. We need to be striving to create this kind of a revolution in the minds of the people. So whether we call it 4GW, meme war, media war, culture war, whatever, I don't care, but it needs to be done."

My comment:

Phil Beckman's points are well taken. There needs to be more assertiveness and more discussion of laissez faire ideals. Individualism and the spirit of the American revolution have been attacked for ten decades by leftists, progressives and the acolytes of JP Morgan and rationalized markets, e.g., the Rockefeller wing of the Republican Party and the New York Times. Groups like ISI are critical, and I am delighted that my student Pini Bohm has started an ISI group at Brooklyn College.

Beckman continues:

>"I believe that if any generation deserves the title 'Greatest Generation' it is the founding generation. The more I learn about what they achieved the more I admire them. But we can't be constantly looking backward to them and using their words to express our beliefs. We have to drink deeply of the ideals of the American founding, make them a part of us and articulate them in our own words in a way relevant for our own time. Future generations should look back to our words and deeds and be inspired. The challenge that we face is to create a vision of where we as Americans are going together in the future. A vision of the American Experiment for the 21st century. One sign of our success will be when the American-born children of immigrants from Vietnam, Ghana, Ecuador, Korea, India, El Salvador, and Ethiopia adopt the ideals and vision of the American Experiment and root their identities there and reject the multiculturalism and cultural relativism propagated by the left. If we can't out-compete the left with people who made great efforts to become Americans then we are screwed. Our vision is what they came to pursue; the left's vision is a recipe for failure and dystopia.

>"We need to stoke the hearth-fire of liberty. If 300 million Americans are filled with and inspired by the vision of the American Experiment then the Jihadists have no chance in disrupting our society. But if half the populace ranges from ambivalence to hatred of America then we are in trouble. And it is the left that is responsible for that ambivalence-hatred."

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