War 2.0: Irregular Warfare in the Information Age argues that two intimately connected trends are putting modern armies under huge pressure to adapt: the rise of insurgencies and the rise of the Web.
Both in cyberspace and in warfare, a public dimension has assumed increasing importance in only a few years. After the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, Web 2.0 rose from the ashes. This newly interactive and participatory form of the Web promotes and enables offline action in new ways.
Similarly, after the U.S. military — transformed into a lean, lethal, computerized force — faltered in Iraq after 2003, a robust insurgency rose from the ashes. Counterinsurgency became a social form of war — indeed, the U.S. Army calls it "armed social work" — in which the local population was the center of gravity and public opinion at home the critical vulnerability.
War 2.0 traces the contrasting ways in which insurgents and counterinsurgents have adapted irregular conflict to novel media platforms. It examines the public affairs policies of the U.S. land forces, the British Army, and the Israel Defense Forces. Then, it compares the media-related counterinsurgency methods of these conventional armies with the methods devised by their irregular adversaries, showing how such organizations as al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and Hezbollah use the Web, not merely to advertise their political agenda and influence public opinion, but to mobilize a following and put violent ideas into action. But the same technology that tends to level the operational playing field in irregular warfare also incurs heavy costs on insurgents, and even heavier costs on terrorists.
Author: Thomas Rid and Marc Hecker