"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle."
This was written by Sun Tzu in his book, The Art of War, in the 6th century B.C., and has held true since then. Information has proven to be an extremely useful asset in war. With the rapid development of technology, more and more aspects of war are dependent on the information a country has, and how they can stop another country from accessing it. Information and technology have become so important that there is now an entire field of the military focused around what has been deemed Information War, or Infowar.
But what exactly is Infowar? If you ask 100 different political scientists you’ll get 100 different answers. Many people are attempting to justify Infowar as a new type of war that will definitively change the way militaries fight each other, but according to definitions like that of General Ronald Fogelman, "Information Warfare is any action to Deny, Exploit, Corrupt or Destroy the enemy’s information and its functions; protecting ourselves against those actions and exploiting our own military information functions," countries have been fighting Information Wars since the 6th Century B.C., and probably before (Borden). The true distinction between previous warfare and that of the present day is the use of technology, the rapid progression of which military strategy is attempting to parallel. Many theorize an eventual entirely cybernetic war (known as Cyberwar or Netwar), one that will be fought entirely on computers. With this kind of war, information would be the only essential factor. But can a war truly be fought if no human life is taken? Can someone win this kind of war, or will it simply continue unresolved? The only thing that is truly clear right now is that "[w]ar is in the midst of a profound crisis. Only twice before has war changed so fundamentally. Thousands of years ago, ancient war developed from the ritual (primitive) war about the time civilization arose. Five hundred years ago, the process that led to modern war was articulated in Machiavelli’s call for total political war" (Gray 23). With the beginning of a new era of warfare, people have been creating handfuls of theories for the future of war, each one with its own name. Chris Hables Gray, in his book Peace, War, and Computers, made a compilation of many of these names:
All of these names attempt to describe the current phenomenon that war is entering, but being on the brink of this new era, people can only hypothesize what this new war will be. These theories all seem to include the effects of technology on warfare, particularly their effects on the gathering of information. But even information can be defined as many different things.
The search for information can mean anything from location of enemy bases to the technology needed to remote control a missile. The information that is being able to be achieved can really go two ways. On one hand, it can lead to a war fought in cyber space, with very little damage and deaths. On the other hand, this rapid increase in technology can be used to create bigger and more devastating weapons to the point that one bomb can have apocalyptic results [please put in link to Christian’s article] (although some might argue that no one will be balls to the wall enough to use it). In my opinion, to truly enter a new era of war, it would require the prior of these two scenarios. Humans have been focusing on making bigger and more devastating weapons for as long as war has been around, the use of technology to advance this same progression would not be wholly revolutionary. It would in fact be the use of information to enable militaries to fight less destructive wars that would take humans into a new generation of warfare. Wars could be fought with more use of computers and less use of human life. The military would effectively become a cyborgian system, at least even more of one than it is now, and humans would use information to fight a strategic war, rather than a war of attrition.
A true Information War would be one where information was used to strategically lessen the casualties or cost of a war, while still achieving victory. A cybernetic war would be fought by strategically fighting over the Internet. This can be done in many ways. Militaries can attempt to erase other government bank accounts, and break into the databases of their computer systems. The front line would effectively be turned over from the soldier to the hacker. Fighting a Cybernetic War to a lesser extent can even mean having a human control robots on the battlefield, even generals being able to see where their troops are via GPS [please put in a link to Robert’s article here]. The U.S. military is working on a chip they can place into animals that will make them able to be remote controlled. They are developing methods of inserting it into cocoons of butterflies, so that the butterflies actually develop around them. Once implanted the chip will set of smell detectors in the brain that make the butterfly want to turn certain directions. This insect will be thoroughly cybernetic, with a machine-organism system in its brain. Once controlled, butterflies can infiltrate enemy bases and, with use of video cameras and recorders, gather necessary information that the military needs. The same method is being researched with sharks, and a number of other animals. It could get to the point where not even a simply fly can be trusted inside government facilities (Christensen).
In The Art of War, Sun Tzu also wrote, “The best victory is when the opponent surrenders of its own accord before there are any actual hostilities...It is best to win without fighting”. This is true now more than ever. Now that we have entered a time that humans have the capability to destroy the entire world, the focus should no longer be on creating more destruction, but effectively lessening it. The more information a military has, either on the plans of the enemy, or in the form of advanced technology, the closer that army will come to achieving an effective Information War as I have just described it.
(will be active shortly)
The Internet Society History Page
"NSA Prepares for Cyber War." Baudrillard's Bastard. 07 May 2007. 14 June 2007
Copyright © 2007 Andrew Cichowski, All Rights Reserved.