Vladimir Putin: "The fuel and energy sector, overall, is the goose that lays the golden egg. Killing the goose would be insane, stupid and unacceptable."
The purpose of this scenario is to demonstrate how global guerrilla methods (systems sabotage) might be used in the relatively simple test case: the disruption of energy exports to coerce the Russian state. Most western economies are more complex and therefore wouldn't be as vulnerable to attacks on a single set of systems. This development is a natural outgrowth of the innovation we see from open source warfare in Iraq bazaar of violence and recent Chechen activity. Even though this conflict started as a classical war of national independence, it will likely end as another major engagement in our epochal war against global guerrillas.
The Moral Objective
To win, the Chechens need to win a decisive moral victory. The moral center of a nation encapsulates its will to fight. The disruption of this moral center has traditionally been accomplished by directing menace, uncertainty, and mistrust at the nation's population (Boyd). The advent of a world dominated by global markets has changed this equation.
Nation's are no longer self-sufficient, they are interdependent and increasingly reliant on their ongoing ability to perform in global markets. Fall behind in this competition and currencies collapse, debt becomes exorbitant, and domestic stock markets plummet. A sharp slap of Adam Smith's invisible hand can quickly turn a weak state into an economic basket case. As a result of this progress, the target for a moral victory doesn't rest within the nation-state, but rather the global market.
Within this new calculus, actions that undermine the moral psychology of these markets vis-a-vis the target country, is the new measure of victory. Market psychology (of investors, trading partners, etc.) is marginally influenced by traditional terrorism. Systems sabotage is different. It can radically impact market psychology by building uncertainty (kryptonite for markets), menace to contracted export flows (resources in this case -- 1/3 of Europe's natural gas comes from Russia), and mistrust (a flight to alternative suppliers and investment opportunities).
If Russia can be put to the edge of financial catastrophe due to a moral victory won in global markets, the achievement of the limited objective of Chechen independence is easily possible.
A Strength Turned into a Weakness
In a typical 4th generation warfare practice, Chechen guerrillas can best undermine Russia's ability to compete in global markets by turning its greatest strength into a weakness. The ongoing strength of the Russian economy today, and in the future, is its energy industry. It is their strongest connection to global markets and the source of the funding that allows the government the flexibility it needs to take unilateral action.
Unfortunately, global guerrilla systems sabotage -- as we have seen in Iraq -- is extremely effective at energy disruption. The magic of this method is that it provides extreme levels of leverage through the interdiction of network systempunkts (how this would be accomplished is the subject of the Chechen Independence Part 3).
Indirection and the Horns of a Dilemma
A major benefit of the decentralized open source approach to global guerrilla insurgency, is that it naturally puts their adversaries on the horns of a dilemma. Simply put, this is a situation when an adversary is forced to attack multiple aggressors and defend a plethora of vulnerabilities with insufficient resources to defend or attack them all. With multiple groups probing the target state for weakness (Iraq has more than 60 autonomous groups), all critical targets are simultaneously vulnerable.
How the media cover "terrorism" can also provide support for global guerrillas. Direct assaults on the target population (traditional terrorism like that of the Chechen Black Widows) get the greatest coverage. It dominates the headlines and therefore will evoke the greatest defensive response from the target state. Attacks on infrastructure get much less coverage and therefore less attention. However, the impact of systems sabotage vs. traditional terrorism on markets is entirely lopsided in favor of systems sabotage. In the parlance of Blitzkrieg, traditional terrorism would be termed a Nebenpunkt (a distracting effort).
This "media effect" in combination with the vast vulnerability of a state's critical systems architecture, provides an amazingly effective means of manufacturing indirection. As we see in Iraq, the state is in a perpetual collapse due to systems sabotage, while the vast majority of the defensive effort is put towards the defense of the political, governmental, and military targets. Large attacks against high profile symbolic targets (of traditional terrorism) provides the cover to allow systems sabotage to remain a green field -- a set of targets that are always under-defended and continuously provide amazing rates of return on the violence capital invested.