mais ce n’est pas la guerre.
This is what I was thinking as I read John Arquilla’s intriguing article on cyberwar at Foreign Policy, “Cool War: Could the age of cyberwarfare lead us to a brighter future?“
Here’s his thesis:
On balance, it seems that cyberwar capabilities have real potential to deal with some of the world’s more pernicious problems, from crime and terrorism to nuclear proliferation. In stark contrast to pitched battles that would regularly claim thousands of young soldiers’ lives during Robert E. Lee’s time, the very nature of conflict may come to be reshaped along more humane lines of operations. War, in this sense, might be “made better” — think disruption rather than destruction. More decisive, but at the same time less lethal.
To which one can only add, “I hope so.” But one is reminded of Clausewitz’s warning that once you unleash the dogs of war, it’s hard to know where the escalation of violence will stop: “War is an act of violence pushed to its utmost bounds.” The side that holds back, loses.
So either cyberwar is not real war, or, which may be saying the same thing, it won’t replace violence but be merely an adjunct to it.