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The Transformation of War

George Mokray writes:

I posted my rather extensive notes from Martin van Creveld's The Transformation of War on dailykos at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/9/22/02622/8960

Heartbreaking that it was published in 1991 and seems so fresh and pertinent today. I wonder what he is thinking about the recent Lebanese adventure.

An example:

In the future, war will not be waged by armies but by groups whom we today call terrorists, guerrillas, bandits, and robbers, but who will undoubtedly hit on more formal titles to describe themselves. Their organization are likely to be constructed on charismatic lines rather than institutional ones, and to be motivated less by "professionalism" than by fanatical, ideologically-based, loyalties. While clearly subject to some kind of leadership with coercive powers at its disposal, that leadership will be hardly distinguishable from the organization as a whole; hence it will bear greater similarity to "The Old Man of the Mountains" than to institutionalized government as the modern world has come to understand that term.

A combination of factors: the nuclear weapons revolution; the global reach of modern media; the socialization of the armed forces in most of the developed world, where they are seen as part of the society, not apart from it; all of these, and more, have contributed to a situation where the modern Great Powers are unable to use force against each other successfully. Nuclear deterrence countenances no conventional assault; the worldwide audience for military acts -- and for the rarely-successful-for-long censorship of the acts -- magnifies brutality into atrocity; and the public will not long sit still for bloodshed. Conventional war, as we last saw prosecuted effectively in the first half of the 20th century, has little future.

But how the state, which has historically sought a monopoly on violence, can handle the spread of open source warfare, remains an unanswered question.


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