The idea of a Second American Civil War interests me in terms of fiction. (It really doesn’t matter if it interests me in person. As Leon Trotsky said, “You might not be interested in war, but it’s very interested in you.”)

What was once an idea only discussed on the fringes of American politics and society gets increasingly mentioned by both sides of the political spectrum. State secession is openly discussed. Amazon gives me 75 pages of books with the search words “second American civil war”. No doubt many are Amazon’s often irrelevant listings. Others are history books or books on contemporary politics or alternate histories. But others aren’t. The phrase “cold civil war” is sometimes used for American politics today. If such creatures as historians are willing and able to exist in the future, they may say the opening shots of an American Civil War have already been fired at Kenosha, Wisconsin.

I am not starting another series on the fiction depicting such a war. I already have too many unfinished series in progress on this blog. However, this is not the first book on the theme I’ve reviewed. Adam Connell’s Total Secession doesn’t have a Second American Civil War as its backdrop and only a limited discussion of why the nation broke up, but it is set against the backdrop of S-Day, the Day of Total Secession from the Union. The Operation Enduring Unity trilogy by R. A. Peters has the war breaking out and escalating more as a result of political farce and bad luck than anything else. It’s a satire on the bad uses politicians put the military to, but it is not concerned with partisan politics. However, it does seem realistic in its depictions of how such a war might be fought militarily and economically. It is not, however, a work of Fourth Generation Warfare.

Essay: Victoria: A Novel of 4th Generation War, Thomas Hobbes, 2014. 

Cover by Ørjan Svendsen

That’s military theorist William S. Lind, co-author of our last book, lurking behind that pseudonym. The genesis of this novel was an April 30, 1995 op-ed piece he wrote for The Washington Post.

It’s a long, mostly well-written novel that seriously looks at how implementing 4th Generation Warfare concepts enables the state of Maine to ultimately secede from the United States of America and become an independent nation. Regardless of your political persuasion, it’s worth reading for a depiction of how Fourth Generation Warfare could be fought in a breakup of the USA. I suspect, in fact, that the leaders of the Year Zero mobs are already familiar with many of the concepts of Fourth Generation Warfare. However, I will warn anyone who regards themselves as feminists that they will probably want to sedate themselves before reading it or get some dental appliances lest their molars shatter under the pressure of clenched jaws.

Notice I said “political persuasion” not ideology. This book is decidedly anti-ideological. Lind regards ideologies as thought killers because ideologies distort reality for those who hold them. That makes effective action harder to say nothing of setting questionable goals. Lind follows political philosopher (and weird fiction author) Russell Kirk in this. (Kirk was also a mentor to Jerry Pournelle.)

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4th Generation Warfare Handbook

Regular readers of this blog may wonder why I’m reviewing this book. After all, didn’t I say I wasn’t going to review non-fiction books anymore unless they were on certain topics? So, why am I writing a review of a what is a handbook intended for professional military officers?

All will become clear with the post after this one.

Review: 4th Generation Warfare Handbook, William S. Lind and Lt. Col. Gregory A. Thiele, USMC, 2015.

In one sense, Fourth Generation Warfare is not something new. It’s a return to how warfare used to be fought before the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. It is not war between nation states but between “clans, tribes, ethnic groups, cultures, religions and gangs”. But it is fought in a modern context with electronic distribution of propaganda being important.

First Generation Warfare existed from the Peace of Westphalia through the American Civil War. The armies that fight it salute, have uniforms, drill, and have clear distinctions of rank. It’s organized war between nations.

Second Generation Wafare came out of World War One. Battles are planned methodically and coordinated from a central command. It believes there is a solution to every military problem. Artillery is emphasized, and it is a war of attrition and firepower. It was developed by the French. The authors don’t specifically say this, but I suspect they were thinking of the French counteroffensive at Verdun or the war’s Last Hundred Days.

Third Generation Warfare came out of the same war and was developed by Germany in its stormtrooper tactics, particularly as used in the Kaiserschlacht of 1918. It is maneuver warfare with soldiers being aware of strategic objectives and being able to practice on the spot initiative to achieve them. This means they can cycle through the famed OODA (observe-orient-decide-act) decision loop faster than opponents who have to relay observations to a central command and wait for orders before reacting. The German Blitzkrieg of the Second World War was simply the same principle mechanized. (In both wars, I’d argue, from my state of relative ignorance vis a vis the authors, logistical concerns doomed German offensives as well as political interference in the case of Germany’s invasion of the USSR.)

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