We have entered an age in which entire nations are subject to dispossession, starvation, rape, and murder on a scale approaching genocide--not at the hands of a conquering foreign power but under the guns of their neighbors. Paramilitary warriors--thugs whose talent for violence blossoms in civil war--defy legitimate governments and increasingly end up leading governments they have overturned. This is a new age of warlords, from Somalia to Myanmar/Burma, from Afghanistan to Yugoslavia.Classification
Peters concludes that warriors now number in the millions globally and can be divided into four distinct categories:
- Underclass. A loser with little education, no earning power, and no future.
- Disrupted young males. Young men and boys drawn into the warrior milieu due to the disruption of normal paths of development (school, work, etc.).
- Believers. Men that fight due to strong belief (religious, patriotic, etc.) or those that have extreme suffered personal loss.
- Former military men. Former military men that have not been integrated back into society. They have no other skills except violence.
Peters correctly points out the central paradox of warrior culture. These warriors continue conflict for their own gain -- the spoils of war and the continuation of a way of life. Perversely, the continuation of violence prevents society from delivering the benefits necessary to rehabilitate them.The Modern Warrior
Peters' formulation works well as a starting point in our analysis. Warriors, as he describes them, are difficult to defeat because of the asymmetrical methods by which they fight war. It's classic fourth generation warfare -- dirty, nasty, and ultimately won or lost in the moral sphere.
However, as tough as the the 4GW warrior is, it fails to account for the extreme resilience and innovation we see today in global terrorism and guerrilla warfare. We are also fighting on many more levels that merely the moral one. This implies that something has been left out of this analysis. My conclusion is that it fails to appreciate how globalization has layered new skill sets on ancient mindsets. Warriors, in our current context, are not merely lazy and monosyllabic primitives as Peters implies. They are wired, educated, and globally mobile. They build complex supply chains, benefit from global money flows, and they invest shrewdly. In a nutshell, they are modern.
Additionally, they have stumbled into a decentralized system of coordination/learning, something that I call open source warfare, that has led to radical improvements in how they prosecute warfare. This has enabled:
- Systems disruption. The coordinated decimation of a state's infrastructure, markets, and social order. Iraq is a classic example.
- Strategic reach. Attacks from 9/11 to Bali to Madrid. To provoke or coerce global participants. Attacks that influence the flows of global resources (oil) and people (tourism and commerce).
- Participation in Black globalization. Economic dissonance caused by the traffic in drugs to people.