I’m not sure who I wrote this letter to in 1993/94, but I’m guessing maybe my mentor Daniel T Kuehl given the discussion about warfare. I found it while digging up an old report for Bob Gourley.

I’m clearly trying to make sense of the strategic and moral implications of Information Warfare. By the time I wrote my thesis a year later, I had moved away from the crossbow and focused on the Conoidal Bullet and Bushnell’s Turtle (early submarine warfare) as applicable analogies.

—————–1993/94 Letter to unknown ————

Thinking about the relationship to nuclear weapons. I’ve been thinking about Mueller’s argument about the moral implications of fighting nuclear war or general wars and how he thinks there is a global conscience or lesson that we have learned that says war is bad, repulsive, immoral, etc. I was thinking about how this relates to information warfare, and I think the greatest impact that information warfare will have is that it removes these concerns of morality. Morality is almost always linked with humanistic concerns, but what if you are only waging war against machines. Where does that leave the moral concerns?

However, there is another difference and that is the steps of warfare. Conventional warfare escalates to nuclear warfare. Nuclear war is a worst case scenario. It isn’t very likely that nuclear war would be the precursor to conventional warfare. Where information warfare is concerned, the opposite holds true. Third wave states will fight information warfare first until Third Wave capabilities are destroyed, then you are forced to revert to Industrial Age or conventional warfare. Am I making any sense? I guess I am trying to say that nuclear technology was seen as a next step warfare weapon, what we use after our current techniques have failed, or as a strategic supplement to conventional warfare. This is not the case with autonomous information warfare, since it will be used before conventional warfare. This relates strongly to the realist/liberal debate surrounding information warfare. What is a more effective deterrent to information warfare? Threats or capabilities of counter information warfare or threats of conventional warfare? If it is the later, how do you morally justify your response in a globally enlightened system that Mueller describes, if such a thing exists. How important are these information systems to us? If they are the lifeblood of our Third Wave society, we had better recognize that and prepare to defend them.

I have also been thinking about other weapons and how they relate to information warfare. I think the crossbow might serve as a good analogy, even though it is outdated. The implication being that the crossbow empowered otherwise weak individuals to wage effective warfare against better equipped and better trained knights. If armor might be taken as an analogy for today’s strong conventional military capabilities, then information warfare is the crossbow that launches the arrow that pierces the armor, possibly killing the knight, even though the peasant had no armor or horse of his own. The United States might be seen as the Goliath to David’s stone.

Also any modern “smart” weapons might be useful correlations to draw. Especially those that lower the cost of human life by striking accurately at industrial and strategic targets. Didn’t we feel more moral being able to launch Tomahawks into Baghdad to take out communication centers than carpet bombing the city. Removing the human contact also helps. It is much easier to destroy or kill watching it on a computer screen a few hundred miles away then driving a bayonet through someone’s heart on the front lines.

I still have a lot more I want to read today, but I like to air out thoughts as they occur. Any thoughts or suggestions? Is there a crossbow of conventional warfare that changed the way war was fought, made weak states able to deal deadly blows to stronger military powers?