The art of cyberwar

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OK, that title must have been used before. But it's more than usually apposite, in the context of a fascinating World Policy Journal interview with Maj. Gen. Jonathan Shaw, who has the unenviable responsibility for future warfare management in the U.K.  – “international security, global issues, and especially cyberwar – or as he prefers to call it, unrestricted warfare.”

Inevitably, discussions of cyberwar and cybercrime tend to center on technology, and, of course, that's how it has to be in terms of short-term response and counter-response. However, Shaw quite rightly goes back to first principles with a quotation from Clausewitz: “If there must be war, victory lies not in defeating an army, but in securing the willing submission of a populace. Stability, not a passing triumph of arms, is the test.”

That has obvious resonances in the context of recent military conflicts, but it has a far wider application in terms of future conflicts. Like many of us, he seems less than happy with the concept of some discrete concept of “cyberwar.” Rather, he sees it as “just being part of a broader concept of ... unrestricted warfare. It's just another tool for governments to use. What I see is a blurring of the distinctions between war and peace and what is civilian and what is military.”

Of course, for populations who happened to be in the way of a band of crusaders, an occupying army, bombing raids on an industrial center, and so on, those distinctions have always been blurred.

That conversation is at The Once and Future War. Hat tip to Ian Cook for drawing my attention to it.

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