Saturday, July 1, 2017

Wisdom Of The Week

Cyber warfare makes things even worse for would-be imperialists. As recently as the days of George W. Bush, the U.S. could wreak havoc in far-off Fallujah while the Iraqis had no means of retaliating against San Francisco. But if the U.S. now attacks a country possessing even moderate cyber warfare capabilities, malware and logic bombs could stop air traffic in Dallas, cause trains to collide in Philadelphia and bring down the electric grid in Michigan.

In the great age of conquerors, warfare was a low-damage, high-profit affair. At the battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror gained the whole of England in a single day for the cost of a few thousand dead. Nuclear weapons and cyber warfare, by contrast, are high-damage, low-profit technologies. You could use such tools to destroy entire countries, but not to build profitable empires.

Hence in a world filling up with saber-rattling and bad vibes, perhaps our best guarantee of peace is that major powers aren’t familiar with any recent example of a successful war. While Genghis Khan or Julius Caesar would invade a foreign country at the drop of a hat, present-day strongmen talk loud but are very careful about actually launching wars. Of course, if somebody does find a formula to wage successful wars under twenty-first-century conditions, the gates of hell might open with a rush. This is what makes the Russian success in the Crimea a particularly frightening omen. Let’s hope it remains an isolated example. Though, even if it is impossible to wage successful wars in the twenty-first century, that does not give us an absolute guarantee for peace. We should never underestimate human stupidity.

- Why It’s No Longer Possible for Any Country to Win a War by Yuval Noah Harari

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