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    On “Unrestricted Warfare” and the Generations of War Framework

    The book Unrestricted Warfare (or Total Warfare in some translations) written by PLA Colonles Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui covers a wide range of possible conflict methods. It is available at Amazon.com or free on the internet via as a PDF. I read the book in early 2004.

    I started writing about this earlier in the day in this post, but I realized I was going off on a tangent. The Hacker/Botnet post got me thinking about the book some more.

    What I got from the book was a broader thinking on the range of methods of conflict, and in the interesting ways that different methods can be combined.

    The following methods are listed:

    • Atomic warfare
    • Diplomatic warfare
    • Financial warfare
    • Conventional warfare
    • Network warfare aka Information Technology Infrastructure warfare (not to be confused with Netwar or Network-Centric warfare)
    • Trade warfare
    • Bio-chemical warfare
    • Intelligence warfare
    • Resources warfare aka Natural Resources warfare
    • Ecological warfare
    • Psychological warfare
    • Economic aid warfare
    • Space warfare
    • Tactical warfare
    • Regulatory warfare
    • Electronic warfare
    • Smuggling warfare
    • Sanction warfare
    • Guerrilla warfare
    • Drug warfare
    • Media warfare
    • Terrorist warfare
    • Virtual warfare (deterrence)
    • Ideological warfare

    This list should not be thought as of definitive and final.

    Offhand it might be useful to add the following to the list:

    • Culture warfare
    • High Energy warfare
    • Infrastructure Systems warfare (e.g. roads , power – think Russia turning off gas pipelines)
    • Lawfare aka Legal Systems warfare (was implicitly stated)
    • Meme warfare (kind of covered in Ideological warfare)
    • Meteorological/Geophysics warfare
    • Nanotech warfare (future)
    • Netwar
    • Network-Centric warfare
    • Open Source warfare
    • Population / Immigration Warfare
    • Reputation warfare
    • Robotic warfare

    The authors suggest that different methods can be combined in interesting ways.

    For instance, the John Robb's Global Guerrillas idea could be constructed as guerrilla warfare + infrastructure systems warfare + financial warfare + open source warfare.

    Many of these conflict types resemble Nye's Soft Power ideas in that they are non-kinetic and indirect.

    The conflict methods cut across the Generations of War categories.

    For instance Atomic Warfare:

    • 2GW: Strategic Nuclear Weapons
    • 3GW: Tactical Nuclear weapons to take out, redirect, and neutralize large Soviet armored formations
    • 4GW: The threat of nuclear terrorism and blackmail
    • 5GW: Actor A convinces actor B that actor C is planning nuclear terrorist activity against actor B, so actor B needs to take out actor C before actor C has the capability ready; Or actor A does the nuclear terrorist attack but frames actor C for it (same result in both cases)

    So I am picturing a conflict matrix:

    Left to Right: Hard Power methods / Soft Power methods.

    Top to Bottom: 0GW, 1GW, 2GW, 3GW, 4GW, 5GW

    One thing that is very noticeable, most of these methods are outside that of what is normally though of as the national security establishment. Also, the time-frames often are longer then that of a two-term president.

    Ok, I should write more now, but I have to pack for a trip. Future Purpleslog will followup sometime later.

    5 Responses

    1. Classic tdaxp

      tdaxp posts from 2005 are popping up all over the web today. Maybe it’s time for a retro blog?

      Over at myspace, Briana likes the mahna mahna song.

      Curtis Gale Weeks at Phatic Communion links to my series on Jesusism-Paulism.

      The epinomou…

    2. […] Unrestricted Warfare by Qiao Liang and Wang (see also PDF version, this, this, this, this, and […]

    3. […] Unrestricted Warfare by Qiao Liang and Wang (see also PDF version, this, this, this, this, and […]

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