chapter  9
Generations at war?
ByJOHN FERRIS
Pages 3

The history is reductionist – Hammes loots the past for pedigree while discarding anything that does not fit his needs. His observations of current trends are intelligent, but he transmutes them into theory by dubious means. Implicitly, his case rests on ideas about “ages” and “generations”, which he treats not as a loose means of categorization, but as tools to identify the essential characteristics of a time, from which one can predict what must happen, or cannot. Only a single generation can exist at a time, except when one is beating another to death. Ages have one and only one set of true characteristics – thus, his question whether current insurgencies are mere “aberrations”, or indications of “the evolution of a new generation of war”. Yet in reality, several generations coexist at any time, many things occur in any “age” which do not fit the name, and the world is filled with contrary trends. Hammes uses the concept of “age” exactly as do the advocates of “information age” warfare whom he criticizes.1 That similarity indicates something about American thinking on strategy and war.