Wednesday, January 21, 2009

States can employ netwar too

In Arquila and Ronfeldt's book Networks and Netwar and Castells' The Power of Identity, among other sources, the Zapatistas are singled out as an example of how a militarily weak force can leverage non-governmental organizations and public media to forestall crippling attacks by state armies. That is, a networked organizational structure can successfully prosecute asymmetric war against a state by stringing together other actants.

One particular state - Israel - has been active in leveraging this networked model for their own advantage. Wired's Noah Schachtman chronicles how Israel has been using digital video to document their operations "to defend themselves in the court of public opinion" -- for instance, by documenting the presence of anti-aircraft cannon inside mosques that they subsequently bombed. To distribute the video, they circumvented the established media and set up a YouTube channel.

We'll see more of this across conflicts, I think, as global information and monetary flows increasingly bind states and make "the court of public opinion" more critical for states' military operations.

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