The new faces of the war

One hundred years after the Armistice of 1918, the way of doing and experiencing the war has changed profoundly with the use of a wide range of new technological tools. On the ground, conflicts are on the rise, but within states, this time.

The war is not what it was. Since 1945, the traditional – interstate wars – have almost disappeared, giving way to interstate conflicts, led by fighters who have nothing to do with those of the last world wars. In the 90s, the end of the Cold War had brought hope to a worldwide decline in violence. Thirty years later, according to the majority of measurement organizations, conflict is starting to rise.

Armed conflicts, in particular "internationalized" internal conflicts among the belligerents supported by foreign actors, have been on the rise since 2012 and the number of victims has increased significantly in recent years: civilians are paying a heavy price. The number of deaths related to combat, however, remains relatively modest compared to the period 1945-1990 and their proportion to the population has drastically decreased since 1940. Another observation, most of the conflicts are concentrated in Africa, Asia and in the Middle East.

New weapons, new places, new times

Within a century, bellicose violence has been transformed and conflict has returned to normal, say researchers Benoît Pelopidas and Frédéric Ramel, co-directors of a recent book on the subject (1).

The way of doing and living the war has profoundly changed with the introduction of nuclear weapons systems and the use of a wide range of technological tools, drones – one of the forms of robotisation -, cybernetic tools, or with the combination of conventional means and irregular war resources (influence, guerrilla warfare, terrorist actions). The convergence of nanotechnologies, biotechnologies, advanced computer science and cognitive science allows the development of new tools to increase the capacity of the combatant.

Russia is suspected of a cyber attack on a factory

Moreover, the very notion of "battlefield" extends to new theaters, not just physical (terrestrial, maritime or aerospace), but also to radio waves, information and cyberspace. At the time of the "war on terror" and of the "cyber war", the extension of the war zones definitively obscures the distinction between war time and peace time, war zone and zone of peace.

From now on, what the philosopher Frédéric Gros calls "The widespread war" it can strike "Anywhere, anytime, anyone", we install "A & # 39; gray area with a perpetual threat", cancel the distinction "Between the soldier and the civilian, the criminal and the enemy, the inside and the outside" is "Opens the temptation of an answer without limits".

The concept of domain of the complete spectrum It has been integrated into American military doctrines since 1996, insists on the need to dominate all the spaces where the confrontation can occur. Same for the Chinese concept of "The war out of bounds". " If the war includes obviously, in addition to conventional military actions, guerrilla and terrorism, it now extends to the economy, to law, to the media, to culture ", says historian Thomas Hippler in recalling the scenario developed by Chinese strategists of a consistent attack "To provoke, by speculation on the stock market, a financial crisis in the enemy nation, before sending computer viruses against the civil power grid, the media, telecommunications and traffic regulation". "Physical violence is only the last stage of this" war out of bounds "."

On April 4, 2018, in Zolote 3, in the forefront of Ukraine and the self-proclaimed Lugansk Republic. / Corentin Fohlen / Divergence

On April 4, 2018, in Zolote 3, in the forefront of Ukraine and the self-proclaimed Lugansk Republic. / Corentin Fohlen / Divergence

To undermine the trust of citizens

The war in cyberspace has assumed a very concrete dimension of manipulation of information aimed at stimulating internal divisions in the target state, fueling relativism and undermining the trust of citizens in institutions.

Marine Guillaume, lecturer at the École Polytechnique, cites the case of the piracy of the sites of the democratic camp, of the propaganda and "False news" forwarded to Facebook or Instagram via "Troll Farms" attributed to Russia during the 2016 US presidential campaign. In Ukraine and Syria, Russian operations have mobilized cyberspace by combining the dissemination of false information and the neutralization of critical infrastructures.

Last mutation of conflict, insecurity of the human-ecosphere relationship, consequence of climate change and international competition for resources. The environment, nature, is no longer the fixed and stable framework of wars, but reacts to human activities and becomes part of the confrontation.

"The combination of a macro-environmental crisis with the effects of terrorist violence appears as the two contemporary faces of the rise to the extremes theorized by Clausewitz", say Benoît Pelopidas and Frédéric Ramel. "The great challenge, adds Benoît Pelopidas, it is to continue to think about the possibility of a common world and democratic decision-making and to consider, in contrast to a tradition that favors the use of force, a response that is not only state and military. "

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The Paris Forum on Peace

A new world meeting.

The Paris Peace Forum, designed by Emmanuel Macron, is organized by the Körber Foundation, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, the French Institute for International Relations, the Montaigne Institute, the Sciences-Po and the Ministry of 39; Europe. Foreign Affairs.

The first edition of this annual meeting will take place from 11 to 13 November at La Grande Halle in La Villette. It brings together actors in global governance for three days: states, international organizations, local governments, NGOs and foundations, businesses, journalists, trade unions, religious groups and citizens.

The Forum aims to focus on those struggling to implement concrete solutions to cross-border problems. It should focus on 120 initiatives, presented in five villages: peace and security, environment, development, new technologies and inclusive economy.

Bibliography on "the new faces of war"

Global challenge: wars and armed conflicts in the 21st centuryis century, under the direction Benoît Pelopidas and Frédéric Ramel, Presses de Sciences-Po, 2018, 277 pp., 29 €.

A history of the XIX waris century until the present day, under the direction of Bruno Cabanes, Éd. of the Threshold, 791 p., 32 €.

Humanitarian Wars? Lies and Intox of Rony Brauman, Ed. Textuel, 2018, 127 p., € 15.90.

Partisans and centurions, a history of irregular war in the 20th centuryis century of Elie Tenenbaum, Perrin, 522 p., 25 €.

Cyber, The permanent war, by Jean-Louis Gergorin and Leo Isaac-Dognin, Ed. Cerf, 2018, 316 p., 21 €.

François d & # 39; Alançon

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