Rid, T. and M. Hecker War 2.0: Irregular Warfare in the Information Age Westport: Praeger (2009) 280p
War 2.0: Irregular Warfare in the Information Age, co-authored with Marc Hecker, argues that two intimately connected trends are putting modern armies under huge pressure to adapt: the rise of insurgencies and the rise of the Web. Both in cyberspace and in warfare, a public dimension has assumed increasing importance in recent years. After the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, Web 2.0 rose from the ashes. This newly interactive and participatory form of the Web promotes and enables offline action. Similarly, after an attempt to transform the U.S. military into a lean, lethal, computerized force faltered in Iraq in 2003, counterinsurgency rose from the ashes. Counterinsurgency is a social form of war — indeed, the U.S. Army calls it “armed social work” — in which the local population becomes the center of gravity and public opinion at home the critical vulnerability.
War 2.0 traces the contrasting ways in which insurgents and counterinsurgents have adapted irregular conflict. It examines the public affairs policies of the U.S. land forces, the British Army, and the Israel Defense Forces. Then it compares the media-related counterinsurgency methods of these conventional armies to the more diverse methods devised by their asymmetric adversaries, showing how such organizations as al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and Hezbollah use the Web not merely to advertise their political agenda and influence public opinion, but to mobilize a following and put insurgent operations into action. But the same technology that tends to level the operational playing field in irregular warfare also incurs heavy costs on terrorists and insurgents. (hardback)
Thematically rich and masterfully constructed, this book shows how our wired-up world has changed the operational environment, making both war and insurgency more complex, decentralised, and bottom-up. Few other books have grasped so effectively the seismic change in the character of war. War 2.0 is Clausewitz rebooted for the 21st century.
– Christopher Coker, Professor of International Relations, The London School of Economics, author of Humane Warfare
War, flowing from society as a whole, is constantly evolving. Winning wars requires understanding the changing environment and adapting faster than the enemy. Rid and Hecker provide powerful case studies on how our primary enemies have understood and adapted to the changes Web 2.0 is driving. It would behoove professionals to read and understand this remarkable book.
– T.X. Hammes, Colonel (Ret), U.S. Marine Corps, author of The Sling and the Stone
High-tech revolutions are rocking the military and the media, toppling hierarchies, and upending traditional players. Until now, no one has shown how these twin upheavals are linked–and feeding one an-other. War 2.0 reveals how the old ways of war and communications are coming apart, and what the chaotic, self-organizing, networked future is likely to be.
– Noah Shachtman, Wired magazine, editor of Danger Room, a security blog
The public, more than ever before, has become the center of gravity in irregular warfare. Sharp and testing, War 2.0 probes the burgeoning impact of the new media.
– Gérard Chaliand, author of History of Terrorism. From Antiquity to Al Qaida.
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