xGW theory has been under scrutiny in the “Twitterverse”:http://twitter.com, and by the usual suspects. Although xGW theory has seemed to progress in the past few years it is still a solution for a problem that we cannot seem to figure out. I have even asked “what use is xGW?”:http://cominganarchy.com/2008/06/05/what-use-is-xgw/
Selil offers his drawing skills to find “a unified generational warfare theorem”:http://selil.com/?p=515. His visualizations are very inspiring — so in fact, that they motivated me to think about my own diagrammatical solution to the xGW problem.
Selil raises the usual problem with generational warfare theory: chronology. “tdaxp addressed”:http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/05/27/the-terminology-of-xgw.html this by suggesting the “G” from xGW be revised from “generation” to “grade” to de-emphasize the dependence on time. I suggested returning to “Boyd’s original categories”:http://cominganarchy.com/2008/05/29/reforming-xgw/ that served as the basis of 4GW theory and are time independent. However, that precludes any relationship between the different grades of warfare. That is a core problem of xGW: what is the relationship between the various grades (if a relationship exists at all)? It seems to me that Selil is trying to solve this problem with his “pretty pictures”:http://selil.com/?p=515. I also have tried to capture this problem in a series of diagrams I present to you below. Be forewarned: these diagrams represent the _problem_ with xGW theory, not the solution. They may be a step towards the framework that makes xGW useful, a goal that Selil and I — among others — find worthy.
My hypothetical diagrammatical framework aims to help us think not only about what direction we should take the debate, but also the types of insights such a framework could offer. This hypothetical framework is centered upon relationships, specifically the overlaps between the various grades of warfare. Below I will present a number of examples. I offer no real-world examples to warrant my selections of the categories, and there is numerous unstated assumptions in the models. This is purely an intellectual exercise meant to engender more discussion.
_Example 1_ take grades 1 through 4 and assume they have an equal and overlapping relationship. The result reveals four (a, b, c, d) transitional types of war. Question: could the variously defined 5GW be found in one of these areas, or should it get its own circle?
_Example 2_ shows a much tighter Venn diagram resulting in a much more complex set of relationships: _beta_, _mu_, _omega_, _delta_ and the elusive _apeiron_, the singularity of conflict.
Assuming one could devise a set of stringent rules of demarcation, data could be gathered about specific conflicts, diagrammed and compared. Diagrams could be analyzed for patterns useful in decision-making.
_Example 3_ uses “Boydian categories”:http://cominganarchy.com/2008/05/29/reforming-xgw/ of conflict (Attrition Warfare, Maneuver Conflict, Moral Conflict) rather than the 1 to 4 generations in fashion recently. Here we have four sub-categories of conflict _beta_, _mu_, _delta_ and infinity.
To add another layer of complexity, we could include the spectrum of conflict — from high intensity conflict (HIC) to low intensity conflict (LIC). Each of the grade circles could be gradients of the spectrum (from dark to light). In the example below the darker shades would represent HIC while lighter shades represent LIC.
This hypothetical diagram would cause us to ask the question: Are the overlapping “sub”-grades of conflict compatible with HIC? It seems only the three major types of conflict reach to the outer boundaries. That would be an interesting insight.
All said and done, this is simply speculative blue-sky engineering to get people to think about the relationships between the various grades of war. A general (and unified) framework is still needed to guide discussion of xGW, even if a use for it has yet to be discovered.