Lonsdale, The Nature of War in the Information Age: Clausewitzian Future (2004)[edit | edit source]

Context: Seeks to answer the question “Does the classical Clausewitzian theory of the nature of war retain its validity in the information age.”

Thesis: Advances in technology, information networks, and situational awareness tools alter the characteristics, but do not alleviate the fundamental nature of war or the requirement for humans in war. Information should be seen as a new dimension or aspect of war that gives the strategist another means to project power.


1. Warfare is fundamentally a human activity – requires human interaction to impose your will upon the enemy

1.1. Focus on primary trinity: Primordial violence, Chance, and Instrument of Policy

2. Factors affecting the future battle field (Causality avoidance)

2.1. Distant bombardment – Afghan model SOF + Airpower is the compromise

2.2. Unmanned platforms – Need to hold territory is the counterargument

3. Five central factors that will prevent the information RMA from changing the nature of war

3.1. Demands of strategy and influence of policy

3.2. Polymorphous character of war

3.3. Paradoxical logic of strategy

3.4. Physical reality of geography

3.5. Human element

4. Pure networks (artificial intelligence) are ill suited to the demands of battle command. Someone will have to lead and consider the post-conflict settlement, not just the defeat of the enemy forces.

5. The arguments for network warfare and the RMA are similar to the strategic bombing arguments. Political restraints will always be present, and the ability of information to independently win wars will be questioned.

6. Information does represent a fifth element, and strategic power can be projected through it.

6.1. Best when coordinated with the other 4 elements.

7. Certainty in war, the ultimate goal of information, is unlikely for the following reasons:

7.1. The enemy is intelligent and responsive

7.2. War contains intangibles

7.3. Enemy intent is never certain

7.4. Information overload is a possibility

7.5. Geography

7.6. Human error or bias

7.7. Chance

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.