What is “New War”?

In “The Puzzle of New War” in TCS Daily, Dr. Michael Vlahos writes that all of the discussion about new types of war — asymmetrical war, unconventional war, 4th generation war, etc. — is really not about new methods of war.  It’s a very interesting article and I’ve extracted a few of the key paragraphs here:

“New War is not really new at all — what is new is that it is new to us, and our so-far-unsuccessful attempts to deal with it.”


“Moreover the Romans, not so unlike us, had both threatening states and myriad non-state threats to deal with… What the Romans always tried to do was simple and straightforward, and well within the accepted standards of Greco-Roman civilization. They would try to negotiate with these groups, but if they became a problem, a Roman army would march off to wipe them out.”


“We should remember these long-ago events because unrecognized armed communities — “non-state actors” — are not easy military propositions.  Non-state threats — or unrecognized armed communities — do war differently. The difference, it turns out, is not necessarily in tactics or technique… Like what the Romans faced, if we want to defeat such a community, we must engage and destroy it utterly.


Fighting another nation state — at whatever level — is all about negotiating relative advantage within the context of an already well-established relationship…. If we cannot exterminate whole communities, then we must persuade their people to come over to us: by going over to them and developing relationships.

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