Daniel's third beast is described in Daniel 7:6.

After that, I looked and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads and it was given authority to rule.

The leopard is an animal known for its agility and intelligence. It lies in wait near a town to tear to pieces anyone who ventures out (Jer 5:6; Hos 13:7). It is also very swift (Hab 1:8). The two pairs of wings are also an indication of swiftness and speed. This beast has four heads and it is given authority to rule. The number four represents the earth. A head stands for authority, so the four heads mean that this beast has authority throughout the earth. This suggests that the beast is not a nation, but a worldwide movement. The leopard is found in India, Asia and Africa, indicating that this movement will be based in the developing world.

I believe Daniel was describing the development of Global Terrorism. In recent years, a worldwide network of terrorist groups has sprung up. These groups are very agile: they go underground for a time, and then when the time is right, they strike at a place where society is vulnerable. They move very quickly, and by the time their crime is discovered, they have gone underground again. This terrorist movement is agile and violent, just like a leopard.

This kind of terrorism is very difficult to control. It could be used as a justification by central governments taking power for themselves. Some form of international government could be justified by the need to control terrorism, so the growth of International Terrorism could help the Beast to gain power.

More recently, the leadership of international terrorism has passed to Osama bin Laden and his Al Qa'ida network. This network has trained thousands of Islamic terrorists and sent them all over the world. Bin Laden is directing terrorism against the United States and the rest of the western world. His efforts climaxed in the attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. It is interesting that Daniel saw a leopard with four wings. That is the number of planes that Al-Qa'ida used to hijack and attack the United States.

Fourth Generation Warfare

When I first wrote about this passage in the 1980s, I thought that this foretold the development of global terrorism. This is partly true, but it misses the point, because focussing on terrorism just produces fear. The leopard represents more than mindless terror.

The key to understanding the leopard is the word "four". The four-headed leopard (4HL) represents groups using "fourth generation warfare" (4GW).

This doctrine of Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW) was first defined in 1989 by William L Lind and a team of American Marine Corp analysts. I am not stupid enough to think that Daniel was thinking about 4GW, but I do believe that when Walter Lind was working with his mates to describe this new phenomenon, the Holy Spirit popped the number four into their minds, as a clue for alert readers of Daniel.

4GW describes a Return to a decentralized form war in which the state has lost its monopoly over combat forces. One of the major participants is not a state, but an ideological network that employs tactics that weaken a powerful state.

Prior to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, wars were fought by armies and navies owned by families, tribes, religions, cities and business enterprises. Westphalia gave the state a monopoly over war. The first generation of state-controlled war used line and column tactics, where battles were formal and the battlefield was orderly. This created a military culture of order.

The second generation began in the middle of the 19th century when rifled muskets, breech loaders and machine guns made the old line and column tactics suicidal. The solution was mass firepower, most artillery fire. Order was restored by placing infantry in trenches and using centrally-controlled artillery according specific plans and orders. Obedience was more important than initiative and discipline was imposed from the top.

Third Generation warfare was developed by the German Army and is commonly known as Blitzkrieg or manoeuver warfare. The emphasis is on mobile firepower, speed and surprise. The aim is to get behind the enemy's lines and destroy them from the rear.

The fourth generation marks a radical change in the nature of warfare, because the state loses its monopy.

Different Enemy

William S Lind is an ex-marine and one of the best military thinkers of our time He has described the most important features of fourth generation warfare.

  • 4GW undermines the authority of human governments by exposing their weakness.

  • Strong nations find themselves fighting against a variety of ambiguous and shadowy non-state entities that blend into the background like a leopard.

  • The state loses its monopoly on war. State militaries will find themselves fighting non-state opponents, such as al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the FARC.

  • Cultures are in conflict. Not only are these organisations not states, they are shaped by a religious or cultural disctinctive.

  • A 4GW entity is likely to be widely dispersed and largely undefined.

  • The distinction between war and peace will be blurred to the vanishing point. Often their will be no definable battlefield or front.

  • The distinction between "civilian" and "military" may disappear. 4GW combatants melt into the background like a leopard.

Different Methods

Traditional military forces are poorly equipped to deal with 4GW.

  • 4GW focuses on undermining an opponent's strengths and exploiting their weaknesses

  • Third generation military establishments are confused, because 4GW uses methods that are asymmetrically different from their usual mode of operation.

  • 4GW combatants choose attacks that achieve the maximum possible psychological impact with the minimum investment. 9/11 is a good example

  • Their goal is to collapse the enemy from within, because the 4GW group is not capable of destroying them physically.

  • Targets will include such things as the population's support for the war and the enemy's culture.

  • Correct identification of enemy strategic centers of gravity will be highly important.

  • Actions will occur concurrently throughout the participants' depth, including their society as a cultural entity.

  • Powerful weapons and bombs are ineffective against 4GW combatants, because they kill civilians and destroy homes. This just recruits more people to the 4GW cause.

US Military

Fred Reed explains why the United States military is poorly equipped to deal with 4GW.

The US military is the military of World War II, but with better technology. The Navy still consists of carriers surrounded by ships intended to protect the carriers. The heart of the army is still armored and infantry divisions with artillery and close-air support. The Air Force too. All are designed to fight enemies like themselves. However, there are no enemies like themselves, and WWII forces do not well fight the enemies they do have, such as ragtag dispersed guerrillas, because they are not intended to fight them.

Why a World War II military? Because of institutional inertia, because men delight in fast, powerful things that make loud and stirring noises, because the ships and tanks and submarines are magnificent. Relinquishing them is too painful to contemplate. Instead of changing its forces to suit present needs, the Pentagon keeps them as they are and tries to use them where they do not work well.

WWII militaries are intended to destroy expensive point targets and to conquer crucial territory. For example, they try to destroy the enemy's aircraft and conquer his cities. This America does this very well indeed. The difficulty is that dispersed guerrillas do not have any expensive point targets, crucial territory, or cities. The Pentagon is using baseball bats to fight mosquitoes. The absurdity of using a B1 intercontinental bomber for close air support is manifest. But you've got the plane, the pilots don't want to miss the war, and so you find something for them to bomb .

The United States military is struggling in Afghanistan, because it is using third generation methods against a 4GW enemy.

The Lebanon War

Military strategists who can take off their "Israel good, Iran bad glasses" are studying the 30 day war very carefully. Hezbollah did not win the war against Israel, because they had support from Iran. Israel actually received far greater supply of military weapons from the United States. They won the war because they organised and fought using 4GW methods. Israel bombed Beirut and shelled southern Lebanon for two weeks, destroying roads and bridges and smashing telecommunications systems. However, when they sent in their army with tanks and armoured vehicles, Hezbollah came out of their holes and caves with handheld rocket launchers and stopped the best equipped and best trained army in the Middle East.

American Empire

The four winged leopard will contribute to the destruction of the American Empire. William Lind recently commented about the impact of economic troubles on fourth generation warfare on the legitimacy of the state.

We must remind ourselves that the root and origin of Fourth Generation war is a crisis of legitimacy of the state. One of the functions the state is now expected to perform, in free market as well as socialist countries, is to ensure that the economy functions as well. A world-wide financial panic followed by a world recession or depression would mean the state was failing in one of its core functions. That in turn would further diminish the legitimacy of the state.

He notes that a state's legitimacy is a not a function of elections, but depends on the ability of the state to provide vital services. Fourth generation warfare will play an important role in under mining human faith in human government.

Intelligent Fourth Generation entities, ranging from some drug gangs through organizations such as Hezbollah, are competing directly with the state for people's primary loyalty. If those Fourth Generation entities can provide basic services, including food, when the state can no longer do so, they will gain the legitimacy that state is losing. In Fourth Generation war, that is a bigger win than any potential military victory.

In terms of 4GW theory, the lessons here are two. First, a global economic crisis is likely to lead to a much deeper crisis, a widespread existential crisis of the state itself. Second, the Fourth Generation entities that benefit from this crisis will be those that provide basic services more effectively than can the state. Once again, just as from a military perspective, we see that the "Hezbollah model" is the most promising model for Fourth Generation, non-state organizations. That model includes a highly competent military that can defeat state armed forces. But it employs its military capability sparingly, fighting only when attacked or when a low-risk, high-payoff military opportunity presents itself, which will be seldom. For 4GW entities, the outcome of wars will remain unpredictable. Instead, the Hezbollah model focuses day-to-day on providing services to the people, building its legitimacy vis-a-vis the state and gaining the population's primary loyalty. At some point, that loyalty will become so strong that not even military defeat by a state's armed forces will destroy it.

The four winged leopard will undermine the empire set up to defeat it by underming its legitmacy. Human government will eventually collapse when people no longer trust it to care for them.

Fourth Generation Church

A great irony in Lebanon is that Israel was was using a Willowcreek-Saddlebank model, but was defeated by some small groups of committed Moslem's organised in a way much closer to the New Testament model.

To cope with the collapse of human government, churches will have to become fourth generation entities. Our weapons are spiritual and our goal is different, but our structures and organisation have to be more like 4GW entitities.

Many years ago, I shared a vision of a the church as a commando army. I did not fully understand this at the time, but I now realise that if Christians are willing to take up this challenge, the the legitimacy of the state will be undermined. We can get ready for the time when,

The saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever - yes, for ever and ever (Dan 7:18).

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