Modern War in a Postmodern World

Modern Warfare

Lately, I had a brief discussion with a good friend of mine. Actually, we were debating on my suggested PhD topic but somehow also drifted to Political Philosophy. Thus, the question in focus was: Cyberwarfare as Postmodernism or Modernism?

Well, I like to keep my blog articles as much as possible attractive for all the readers. Therefore, I am not going down the road of a lengthy and academic discussion on Modernism and Postmodernism – especially because I think I would not be capable of doing it in a sense, that the digest fits in a couple of lines.

Basically, when we are talking about the Internet, we are already in the Postmodern World – by definition. The Internet as hen and egg for globalization (BINGO!) does only really fit in the postmodern world of today. Really? I would not go so far.

The modern world is inter alia characterized by the strong standing of the nation-state as actor in national but also international relations. In the occidental sphere, states (kingdoms etc.) were engaged in a lot of betrayals, backstabbing and of course wars. These wars were not only costly but also caused a lot of the former entities to vanish. Therefore, stronger states formed, taxes were raised for revenue in order to finance armies. Also, the armies became much more professionalized and as a result standing armies – instead of the feudal system of raising armies and hired mercenaries. That is the modern world.

In the postmodern world, depending on which author you refer to, nation-state plays either an important role or a less important role. The earlier international relations theories e.g. realism hold the nation-state not only as the most important but also more or less the only player in international relations. Younger approaches focus either on perception (social constructivism) or on economic web-like structures (liberalism) involving a whole bunch of different players. In our globalized world with a worldwide communications medium, the business and civil sector gain momentum. That is what they say.

Now, back to my dissertation topic. It is about cyber warfare and the role of the nation-state. From what we can read, you would maybe like to argue, that the nation-state is more regarded as being in a Postmodern setting – what he basically is based on the current date. However, I have my doubts that from a strategic point of view in international relations, this assumption (or statement) can be backed up. While UN Peace Corps and the NATO are pretty much strategic bodies reflected a Postmodern World, cyber warfare is going to have difficulties to be fought on a bi- or multilateral scale.
In my opinion, for the rising issue of cyber attacks and conflicts, the nation-state will – or at least has to – gain more momentum than before. The civil society and the business sector are heavily and easily affected by cyber warfare and not only state structures. Therefore, the nation-state has to take care about them. This can only work, if the nation-states themselves protect themselves. They cannot hope for the UN or NATO to protect them.

Another interesting point might be not the defensive but the offensive potential. Nation-states can have the capabilities on their on to wage cyber wars. They do not need other states to help them with military or logistical support (based on the ‘nature’ of cyber warfare) and therefore can act autonomously.

On that note, I would leave it up to your thoughts to continue this idea. I find it kind of fascinating and even though I am a social constructivist by heart, I am going to have a hard time applying it to this topic.

On this exactly day, one year ago, my blog was created and filled with the first article. I would like to thank all of you for your interest! Over 4000 Content Views shows me that I am not the only one reading my blog :). May it be an omen that this weeks article is on my suggested PhD topic and keep your fingers crossed for me being able to take up my studies next year!

Thank you all!

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