Monday, April 30th, 2007
BRAVE NEW WAR
Brave New War by John Robb is a book that was really written for two audiences.
The first is the relatively small number of specialists in military affairs, serious students of geopolitics and bloggers who are already avid readers of Robb’s Global Guerillas site. For them, Brave New War is a systematic and footnoted exposition of the theories of conflict and “dangerous ideas” that Robb discusses daily on his blog. They will be entertained and challenged by the same analysis that makes them return again and again to Global Guerillas to debate John Robb and one another.
The second audience is composed of everyone else. Brave New War is simply going to blow them away.
Brave New War is a tightly written, fast-paced work on the emergent nature of warfare, conflict global society with a decidedly dystopian take. In a mixture of original ideas and synthesis of the works of other cutting edge “thought leaders”, Robb, a platform designer and former mission commander for USAF Counterterrorism operations, draws analogies from the tech world to explain changes in warfare in the age of globalization. Calling the Iraq War “ the modern equivalent of the Spanish Civil War” Robb highlights a robust number of critical concepts in Brave New War that are, in his view, altering international and subnational conflict, including:
Bazaar of Violence
Dynamc Decentralized Resilience
Fourth Generation Warfare
The Long Tail of Warfare
Some of these concepts are Robb’s, some belong to others and in Brave New War you will find citations for figures as diverse as William Lind, Chris Anderson, Nicholas Nassim Taleb, Valdis Krebs, Eric S. Raymond, Thomas P.M. Barnett, Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, Philip Bobbitt, Moises Naim and David A. Deptula. One of the great strengths of Brave New War is Robb’s capacity as an analyst and theorist to apply the revelations of research into network theory to warfare, and to conceptualize armed political conflict within the framework of platforms and ecosystems. This gives Robb’s arguments a degree of horizontal “interconnectedness” seldom seen in works on military affairs ( except, as Robb himself points out, in the work of his frequent online sparring partner, Thomas Barnett).
Robb is betting heavily on increasing levels of global instability and systemic breakdown as “feedback” from global guerillas overloads “the system” and disrupts globalization. It is this orientation toward discerning the worst-case scenarios and descent into entropy that will raise hackles amongst some readers, though Robb ultimately predicts a strengthening of systemic resilience and a burst of innovation as a result of these tribulations.
Brave New War is the must read book of 2007.