Unrestricted Warfare

trojan-horseI think about this topic, conflict and unrestricted tactics related to war on and off on a pretty regular basis, there is nothing like the study of conflict and how conflicts are won or lost when it comes to understanding thinking outside the box.

A recent blog post from a friend of mine about a translated Chinese text called "Unrestricted Warfare" got me thinking on the topic again. I found the text pretty interesting and a worthy read for anyone interested in conflict and the "Art" of war in a more modern time.

I however found it very unfortunate that some have developed the belief that the text is directed at Americas destruction. This is likely due to it's ridiculous and perhaps unauthorized re-publication as a book in 2001 (The original text was published in 1999, and is available for free download). The cover has a picture of the twin towers burning and the tag line "China's master plan to destroy America" all of which was added by the translator of this specific version. It's unlikely that the original authors would have written the book as a treatise on the destruction of America but rather on the topic of how one nation might rise up and displace an existing superpower to either take an equal or greater position on the world playing field. It's no surprise that America is a common subject in the text given the position of the United States today but it could easily be any superpower.

The truth is that at the global political level, there are no laws, ethics or boundaries. There is only a desire to advance your nations power and a willingness to do anything to achieve that goal - anything that you can get away with. There is a strange calculation that occurs at this level, where the needs of your nation outweigh the needs of another and where war, covert action, destruction and death are all justified and acceptable if they further your nations goals.

[ad#inlineLarge]Billy suggests in his post that the rise in computer network attacks originating from China taken in conjunction with this text seem to suggest that something more direct or organized is in motion. I agree that this is likely, but this shouldn't be a surprise. China is not the innovator here nor the only nation currently practicing such tactics.

The true innovator (in modern history) on this topic is America itself. The USA has been practicing asymmetrical warfare since the revolution and has continuously honed its tactics over the years. Although from the USA's point of view it's not so much asymmetrical as it is unconventional at this point, but the genesis of its methods is clearly a huge influencer in how it approaches conflict and wages war today.

So it should go without saying that America has been practicing the same tactics as the PLA on the Internet for some time now and my guess is that the PLA are now seeking to level the playing field. I see these new challenges from China as ultimately good for the world and the USA. Just as in business the same is true for nations, there is nothing like competition when it comes to keeping people focused and driving innovation.

Which brings me back to thinking outside the box. Unrestricted warfare to me means approaching problems using unconventional methods without the limitations of past thought. The war might be fought for national power or technological innovation, it doesn't matter, whatever it is, to innovate we all must commit ourselves to waging unrestricted warfare if we are going to move forward.