Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy

By John Arquilla; David Ronfeldt | Go to book overview

Chapter One
THE ADVENT OF NETWAR (REVISITED)1
John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt

Editors' abstract. This introductory chapter provides a reprise of many of the points we have made about the netwar concept since 1993. In this book, we depict netwar as having two major faces, like the Roman god Janus—one dominated by terrorists and criminals that is quite violent and negative, and another evinced by social activists that can be militant but is often peaceable and even promising for societies. Indeed, the book is structured around this theme.

The information revolution is altering the nature of conflict across the spectrum. We call attention to two developments in particular. First, this revolution is favoring and strengthening network forms of organization, often giving them an advantage over hierarchical forms. The rise of networks means that power is migrating to nonstate actors, because they are able to organize into sprawling multiorganizational networks (especially “all-channel” networks, in which every node is connected to every other node) more readily than can traditional, hierarchical, state actors. This means that conflicts may increasingly be waged by “networks,” perhaps more than by “hierarchies.” It also means that whoever masters the network form stands to gain the advantage.

Second, as the information revolution deepens, the conduct and outcome of conflicts increasingly depend on information and communications. More than ever before, conflicts revolve around “knowledge”

____________________
1
Our netwar concept predates, and should not be confused with, the U.S. military's network warfare simulation (NETWARS) system.

-1-

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