From the Inside Flap
During the summer of 2004, a small group of Iraqi insurgents blew up a southern section of the Iraqi oil pipeline infrastructure. This attack cost an estimated $2,000 to produce, and no attackers were caught, while the explosion cost Iraq $500 million in lost oil exportsa rate of return 250,000 times the cost of the attack.
In Brave New War, the controversial terrorism expert John Robb argues that the shift from state-against-state conflicts to wars against small, ad hoc bands of like-minded insurgents will lead to a world with as many tiny armies as there are causes to fight for. Our new enemies are looking for gaps in vital systems where a small, cheap actionblowing up an oil pipeline or knocking out a power gridwill generate a huge return.
Drawing on scores of chilling examples from the ongoing insurgency in Iraq, Robb reveals how the technology that has enabled globalization also allows terrorists, criminals, and violent ideologues of every stripe to join forces against a far bigger and richer foe without revealing their identities, following orders, or even working toward the same ultimate goal. This new brand of open-source warfare enables insurgents to coordinate attacks, swarm on targets, and adapt rapidly to changes in their enemy's tactics, all at minimal cost and risk. And now, Robb shows, it is being exported around the world, from Pakistan to Nigeria to Mexico, creating a new class of insurgents he calls global guerrillas.
This evolutionary leap in the methods of warfare makes it possible for extremely small nonstate groups to fight states and possibly win on a regular basis. The use of systems disruption as a method of strategic warfare gives rise to a nightmare scenario in which any nationincluding the United Statescan be driven to bankruptcy by an enemy it can't compete with economically. We are staring at a future where defeat isn't experienced all at once but as an inevitable withering away of military, economic, and political power through wasting conflicts with minor foes.
How can we defend ourselves against this pernicious new menace? Brave New War presents a debate-changing argument that no one who cares about national security can afford to ignore: it is time, says Robb, to decentralize all of our systems, from energy and communications to security and markets. It is time for every citizen to take personal responsibility for some aspect of state security. It is time to make our systems, and ourselves, as flexible, adaptable, and resilient as the forces that are arrayed against us.