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Brave New War
The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization
- Read in 15 minutes
- Audio & text available
- Contains 9 key ideas
Modern technology and globalization have made it possible for one man to wage war against an entire country and win. Although it might seem unbelievable, it’s not.
Technological advances like the internet have made it possible for groups of terrorists and criminals to continuously share, develop and improve their tactics. This results in ever-changing threats made all the more dangerous by the interconnected nature of the modern world, where we rely on vital systems, like electricity and communication networks, that can be easily knocked out. Brave New War (2008) explores these topics and gives recommendations for dealing with future threats.
Key idea 1 of 9
Large, resourceful nation-states can no longer dominate warfare.
For the past four hundred years, most wars have been fought between two or more nation-states for control of a geographic area. In such conflicts, the largest states with the biggest military capacities tended to prevail.
But with the advent of nuclear weapons and the growing global interconnectedness of the world, larger states no longer dominate warfare so overwhelmingly.
Since nuclear weapons were developed in the mid-twentieth century, it has become increasingly unlikely for two developed nations to come into direct conflict. This is due to the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, according to which no state with nuclear weapons can be attacked without the attacker also being devastated in a matter of hours. Large armies became essentially useless in the shadow of these weapons.
Secondly, nation-states have become more interconnected through trade, among other things, meaning that any conflict would hurt their economies. At the same time international bodies like the UN work to uphold peace by refusing to legitimize most conflicts, further decreasing the value of large armies.
Another factor decreasing the advantage of countries with large armies is the trend toward proxy wars, which are not fought by the actual states, but by proxies such as guerrillas.
Both large and small states have waged proxy wars when they could not directly engage each other. For example, the United States used guerrillas to fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, while Iran and Syria used Hezbollah terrorist proxies to bomb a US Marine barracks in Lebanon.
Guerilla warfare means avoiding large battles in favor of small-scale attacks that wear down the enemy gradually, negating the advantage of large armies, which can be bled dry this way.
Over the past half century, the advantage of large nation-states in warfare has been gradually eroded to the point that large armies in theaters, like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, have struggled greatly against guerillas.