What is the core of this gap discussion?

Dan of tdaxp continues his over-generalization in pursuit of scientific purity of independently verifiable variables. Called out on his overly broad statement about Bhutto’s death, Dan responds by claiming I reject the whole core-gap framework. This is another example of his painting by the widest brushstrokes possible, which despite his frequently smart analysis, is too often done when he analyzes conflict.

Does the Core and the Gap exist? That is, does a generally well-off realm known as the Functioning Core contain goods associated with globalization (wealth, peace, etc), while a realm known as the Non-Integrating Gap lack these goods?

Mountainrunner, surprisingly, appears to say the answer is no. While he does not say so directly, he notes that (in general) anything that exists in the Gap exists within the Core, and vice versa. In response to my claim that the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Bhutto is not surprising because it happened in the Gap, Mountainrunner wrote:

My point is this: this is about violence and death and ideology that is not specific to Islamists or the Gap. Heads of state were targeted. The IRA reminded Thatcher they only needed to be lucky once, she needed to be lucky all the time. Italy, Greece, Hungry, etc. Take your pick and you’ll find attacks on leadership.

This discussion began with my berating him for his "of course a political leader was assassinated in a Gap country, that’s what makes them a Gap country." My response can be found the comments of his post but I copied it here for your convenience:

Dan, you completely misconstrue our discussion. I do not say the core-gap model doesn’t exist. Our discussion at my blog is about your statement that Bhutto’s assassination in a Muslim country shouldn’t be a surprise, a statement you base on the Core-Gap model. What comes of Bhutto’s death will be indicative of it happening in the Gap. The kinetic nature of the first attack on her life was indicative of the kinetics more likely to be found in the Gap, but neither her death nor the tactics in the successful attack are. This is the "core" of the argument.

I didn’t see a rebuttal from you on the severity of attacks in a core country like Mexico that would break your scientific analysis.
You should be more precise in your analysis while at the same time understanding that buckets, or bins, of categorization are more than porous, but blended in with others when you look at the details.
The devil is certainly in the details and makes for messy analysis but have the ability to enlighten us to different trajectories, and thus counters and solutions. Overly broad statements for convenience mask the facts, limiting choices, and confuse unnecessarily.

In our discussion, we again return to his belief in Fourth Generation Warfare. See the discussion here if you care. 

11 Replies to “What is the core of this gap discussion?”

  1. MR,”Dan, Dan, Dan… while you can certainly take pride in catching the error in sentence construction (which is really certainly easy with my online writings that I spend virtually zero time checking), the meaning is most certainly clear. I have fixed the sentence in question and properly joined it with its predecessor.”
    I do not know what you are talking about.
    That is not rhetoric: I am increasingly confused reading what you have written in this conversation.
    I have asked several times for you to clarify what you have written, so I can grasp your meaning. I do this because I enjoy reading your blog, and gain from reading it.
    However, every time I’ve asked for clarification in this conversation, you’ve responded defensively. When I ask “Can you rephrase” or something similar, I’m not being snarky — I’m asking for an opportunity to look at the same thought form a different perspective, because my current standpoint is foggy.
    As I count, there are now three substantive threads between us in this conversation in which you have ceased contributing. That’s fine, if you do not think clarifying your meaning to someone is confused is worth your time. But I care about what you write enough that I hope you will resume the conversation.
    Jeffrey,
    “This is relevant to my overall opinion that the generations of warfare theory is seriously flawed.”
    How so?
    “Why don’t you have an About page at your blog where readers can see your credentials and/or experience on this topic?”
    Because I don’t argue from authority. I argue from facts and reason.
    You’ve now wasted two comments questioning facts about me rather than rationally attacking the substance of I have written. That’s too bad, because it’s a waste of my time. And, I suspect, of yours, as well.

  2. Dan tdaxp is who exactly? There’s no About page at his site that I could find, nor at his Amazon profile, although he appears to be a fan of Tim LeHay’s “Left Behind” series. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s written an essay on how Armageddon can be defined as a #GW type of warfare. 🙁

  3. MR,”Which despite his frequently smart analysis, is too often done when discussing conflict.”
    I’m not sure how to respond to this.
    Given our current conversations, if I ask you to rephrase this, you may tell me to re-read some analysis from a while ago (without you actually rephrasing the comment that caused my confusion).
    However, if I attempt to guess your meaning (prefacing my confusion by indicating that I am replying to what you appear to be saying), I will be “overgeneralizating” and writing in “the widest brushtrokes possible.”
    Personally, I think this conversation would be most productive if you respond in the discussion threads to specific points made and questions raised.
    Jeffrey,
    Hello. Dan tdaxp is me. 😉
    How did your statements/conclusions relevant? (That is, how are ad hominem attacks important for understanding, say, the generations of warfare?)

  4. Dan, Dan, Dan… while you can certainly take pride in catching the error in sentence construction (which is really certainly easy with my online writings that I spend virtually zero time checking), the meaning is most certainly clear. I have fixed the sentence in question and properly joined it with its predecessor.This nitpick reinforces to me that you should have had a new year’s resolution to stop taking things out of context and nitpick at them, as you do with your analysis of conflict.
    That said, I have to admit you read my work and still offer better (if myopic at times) criticism than too many of my professors. I could share some of those stories here, which would make you laugh, but we both have better things to do with our time.
    Respectfully,
    M

  5. Hello Dan. I haven’t applied an Ad Hominem argument to your writing. You did review several of Tim LaHaye’s books, and I’m surmising, based on what I’ve read of your theory of 4GW and 5GW, that you would have a category of #GW for a war that you surely believe to be coming – Armageddon.This is relevant to my overall opinion that the generations of warfare theory is seriously flawed. That you are so enamored of it makes me wonder what your background is. Why don’t you have an About page at your blog where readers can see your credentials and/or experience on this topic?

  6. Dan,you’re confusing defensiveness with annoyance. I’m not being defensive, just tired that you can’t link the responses to the questions. I fixed the first paragraph of the post to clarify the point and when telling you that, you replied you don’t know what I’m talking about. Now perhaps you’re not referring to the comment text but to the substance of my statement that you paint by broad brushstrokes. Instead of my words, I’ll instead rely on the words of Arms and Influence who posted today on our discussion, or more precisely, your position.
    Hopefully that clarifies things. If not, then please illucidate what is unclear. I know that’s a little like telling me what you don’t know, but I need to move on to other topics and am comfortable with what I’ve posted on this and the other related discussion to far. I appreciate that sometimes (often? always?) I need an editor to clean up my text, but the general point should get across.
    All in all, I do appreciate keeping me on my toes.

  7. Some things I am unclear on:a)
    “The assumption of the title “Fifth Generation” of warfare is an explicit acceptance of the prior frameworks.”
    What do you mean by this?
    b)
    Regarding (a), it appears from context that you argue that anyone who mentions any generation of warfare must agree with everything Lind has written regarding the generations of warfare. Is this true?
    c)
    What is a ‘3GW failure in thinking’?
    d)
    “You retort that “I assume you reject the scientific tenant of independent variables, because factors connect to each other inseperably?” belies your methodology”
    What is your methodology?
    e)
    “The bounding you apply is understandable but misleading and distorting, but apparent in mainstream media analysis and political posturing throughout history.”
    How so?
    f)
    “The kinetic nature of the first attack on her life was indicative of the kinetics more likely to be found in the Gap, but neither her death nor the tactics in the successful attack are.”
    Is “Assassinations of major political figures are not more likely to happen in the Gap than the Core” the point you are making?
    g)
    “I didn’t see a rebuttal from you on the severity of attacks in a core country like Mexico that would break your scientific analysis.”
    How would you measure this? By percentage of recent leaders who died from political violence? Percentage removed by a coup?

  8. Dan,Dan, I know this wasn’t aimed at me because you know I was working on something else, among others things on my plate. Thanks for listing our current topics of discussion, let me respond now:
    a)”The assumption of the title “Fifth Generation” of warfare is an explicit acceptance of the prior frameworks.”
    What do you mean by this?

    Fifth is an ordinal based on preceeding iterations of something. Generation is a noun indicating descendency or evolution. You don’t use the identical naming convention (“xGW”) if you do not agree with its foundations, and 4GW is based on a sequencing of activities that are selected and misattributed. The errors behind 4GW, and thus the foundation on which you launch 5GW are not just those of Mr. Lind, but of Dr. van Creveld as well.
    b) Regarding (a), it appears from context that you argue that anyone who mentions any generation of warfare must agree with everything Lind has written regarding the generations of warfare. Is this true?
    What we are talking about here is not the mention of 4GW, but the extension of the theory. I would expect that you would be one of the first to acknowledge that building on somebody else’s work is, at the very least, implied acceptance of that work. The exceptions you’ve made, including “evidence” (or something to that effect) that 4GW occurred 200 years prior is not substantial enough of a distance as you adopt the same grammar of the theory. If you really have a problem with the theory that is larger than Lind, and I do not suspect you do, then you’d create your own. “Fifth Generation” isn’t your own theory. You’re better than that.
    There are others, like T.X. who I know, who clearly distance themselves from the guts and major failings of the theory. I do not see the distance in your work but instead tight association.
    c) What is a ‘3GW failure in thinking’?
    Over-reliance on tactics and not target. As Mr. Lind wrote:

    As Martin van Creveld has said, what changes in Fourth Generation war is not merely how war is fought, but who fights and what they fight for. The Sling and the Stone does not seem to grasp that these are larger changes than the shift from conventional war to insurgency.

    d) “You retort that “I assume you reject the scientific tenant of independent variables, because factors connect to each other inseperably?” belies your methodology”
    What is your methodology?

    Good question. I look more holistically and consider the motivations and intent in my analysis. This was clear in my critique of another who focused almost exclusively on how war is fought (tactics).
    e) “The bounding you apply is understandable but misleading and distorting, but apparent in mainstream media analysis and political posturing throughout history.”
    How so?

    Over simplification can be useful or it can be harmful and, as I wrote, “misleading and distorting.” Too much simplification and you’re left with a Huntingtonian Clash argument with little appreciation or understanding, let alone awareness of the foundations of hatred, disillusionment, and frustration, blinding you to more appropriate solutions. This is seen in political speeches as well as the mainstream media. You, on occassion as in this one element I drew out, did it as well.
    f) “The kinetic nature of the first attack on her life was indicative of the kinetics more likely to be found in the Gap, but neither her death nor the tactics in the successful attack are.”
    Is “Assassinations of major political figures are not more likely to happen in the Gap than the Core” the point you are making?

    No, but there’s more to it. Is there a magic number at which a Core country become a Gap country? Or vic versa for that matter? Does the person have to be a “major” political figure to the U.S.? Does that mean they have to be a public figure as well? Her death is more than a statistic, otherwise if she died while on tour in say France, would that make France a Gap (some might say it is already, but I like France so I won’t)?
    g) “I didn’t see a rebuttal from you on the severity of attacks in a core country like Mexico that would break your scientific analysis.”
    How would you measure this? By percentage of recent leaders who died from political violence? Percentage removed by a coup?

    See above.
    Some of these answers aren’t the quality or depth they were the first time I wrote them, but the damn comment system timed out on me and I had to re-write this. Somebody should talk to the lazy blog admin about this…

  9. MR,Thank you for the reply.
    a)
    By what you seem to argue, it woudl appear any natural scientist must conceptualization evolution exactly as Darwin did, every physicist must conceptualize gravity as Newton did, every politician must conceptualize a Republic exactly as Plato did, every military theorist must conceptualize xGW exactly as Lind does.
    Is this an accurate summary of your position?
    If not, why are onyl those who use the xGW framework held to such a standard?
    b)
    “What we are talking about here is not the mention of 4GW, but the extension of the theory. I would expect that you would be one of the first to acknowledge that building on somebody else’s work is, at the very least, implied acceptance of that work.”
    Certainly an adaption of similar terminology implies shared theoretical assumption, except of course where noted. Lind views the generations as emerging very rapidly and very recently. I’ve argued the generations emerged very slowly, some of them millions of years ago.
    c)
    Desccribing a Lind-van Crevald – Hammes debate on the nature of the generations of war highlights the intellectual vitality of the theory. Indeed, saying “Two theorists of the same school disagree!” as an argument that that philosophy is wrong is reminiscent of Young Earth Creationist attacks on evolution, more than anything else.
    d)
    I’ll respond in more detail to your review of Robb’s book a bit later.
    e)
    I think you’re confusing the roles of conditions and factors in analysis, as I mentioned to Chris [1].
    f & g)
    I notice you answer a question on operationalization with another question on operationalization, rather than answering the question put to you.
    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/01/05/hit-and-run.html#c1851332

  10. Dan, seriously, I don’t have the time to keep going over this. As far as (a) is concerned, no. I thought I made is clear I’m talking about war not science. War is not science. On (b), I hesitate to ask “millions of years ago”? On second thought, ignore I responded to that. On (c), no, because then I’d be a 4GW person because I agree there have been changes, but I disagree with core elements of 4GW. Ok on (d-g).I don’t have time to keep over this and continue this thread. Over beer we could do this, but doing this online is not worth the time. I’m just letting you know now that it is highly unlikely I’ll respond to your next comment if you pose a question. I’m sure we’ll take up these or similar points in the future.

  11. a)Clearly the practice of war is not science (though war is an application of science, and the study of war is most reliably done scientifically), just as practice of chemistry is not science (though chemistry is an application of science, and the study of chemistry is most reliable done scientifically), just as practice of politics is not science (though politics is an application of science, and the study of politics is most reliably done scientifically), etc.
    b)
    Chimpanzee troops behave in ways identical to 0GW and 1GW, including pitched field battles, insertion teams, bezerking, etc. This implies our last common ancestor, who probably lived about six million years ago, did as well. Higher generations, which are more complex and subtle (1GW requires concentration of labor on the battlefield, while 2GW requires concentration of firepower, etc) doubtless evolved as working memory increaed. I assume that all generations had first emerged by the time cities were built.
    c) “no, because then I’d be a 4GW person because I agree there have been changes, but I disagree with core elements of 4GW. ”
    Could you rephrase?
    It appears you are saying that complete agreement with an original formulation of a theory is needed in order to adopt the terminology of the theory — so, for instance, no one after Newton could have spoken of gravity, etc. That’s clearly absurd, so you must mean something else.
    Alternatively, you could be saying that the study of war must proceed by different rules than the study of all other phenomena, and part of this difference in rules is that terminology must be used consistently across all theorists in the study of war, but not in the study of any other activity.

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