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Modern Warfare, Intelligence and Deterrence: The Technologies That Are Transforming Them Hardcover – February 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

During the cold war, the nuclear arms race made war increasingly unthinkable. Today, in contrast, many argue that arms races in robotics and computer technologies are making war increasingly thinkable. Remotely piloted "hunter-killer" drones, for example, make it far easier to launch an attack without the military or political risks of putting boots on foreign soil. But technology can also make wars less deadly.

Low-tech fighting has often turned into blood-bath wars of attrition, as the Napoleonic campaigns, America's civil war and the first world war attest. With modern technology, however, fighting forces can wage "system against system" war. Destroy enough elements of an enemy's system—kit and infrastructure, or specialists needed to operate it—and the force cannot keep fighting. With air power, for example, an attacker can wreck critical equipment behind enemy lines without needing to shoot its way through troops on the ground.

What matters, then, is to ensure that military know-how leads not to the nightmare of mass or nuclear destruction, but rather to fewer and less deadly conflicts. This book explores the technological developments that have given rise to what has become one of the biggest challenges of today.

The book is organised in five parts, as follows:

Land and sea

  • Designing, and countering, new weaponry

  • Upgrades for combatants

  • Powering up, differently

  • New materials, new capabilities

  • iPod militaries

  • Nukes

Air and space

  • Attacks from above

  • The growing drone dimension

  • Air ops, for less

  • Aircraft and flight, enhanced

  • Militarising space

The computer factor

  • The new realm of cyberwar

  • Better equations, smarter machines

  • Propaganda ops, online

Intelligence and spycraft

  • Identifying, and killing, the quarry

  • Finding what's hidden

  • Getting to know you better

The road ahead

  • The challenge of irregular warfare

From the Back Cover

The Panzerfaust 3, a German shoulder-fired heat-seeking anti-tank missile, can punch through a metre of solid steel. An Israeli precision bomb, the MPR-500, can hammer through several storeys of a building and explode on a chosen floor. Russia's Sizzler, a manoeuvring anti-ship missile, can fly 300km and then sprint at three times the speed of sound. Satellites can be blown up. Software can be scrambled with "cyber-missile" computer viruses. Data-mining computer programmes fed by unmanned spy planes can reveal terrorist or insurgent activity.

Technological one-upmanship fuels arms races and will make wars easier to start. Crucially, however, wars are apt to be smaller and less deadly than the horrific conflagrations of the last century. Technological underdogs will benefit from "asymmetric" weapons such as formidable makeshift bombs and "munitions of the mind" for psychological warfare. Some powers will benefit from complex weaponry, such as an aircraft-carrier-killing ballistic missile being developed by China. Much weaponry will most benefit the West, in part by harnessing its cultural strengths of individualism and innovation. All of it is profoundly reshuffling balances of power throughout the world.

The five parts of this book—land and sea, air and space, the computer factor, intelligence and spycraft, and the road ahead—present a selection of the best and most revealing of The Economist's writing on how startling innovations are reshaping armed conflict and the quest for peace.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (February 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118185374
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118185377
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,537,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jim Sutherland on September 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
For the better part of the last century, the Marine Corps mantra "We fight our battles on land, sea, and in the air" seemed to cover all the possibilities. But that's changed: warfare is now conducted in five domains, not three -- land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace. It was one of my sons, Benjamin, who first articulated that message for me. I was in need of updating. Although I served three years of active duty in the marines over 50 years ago, I have not kept up on the ways in which new technologies have transformed the fighting of wars and altered the requirements of national defense.

Now that same Benjamin is engaged in reaching an international audience, also in need of an understanding of the new, often amazing, and sometimes mind-boggling ways in which technology is affecting modern warfare. He's doing this as a journalist, the editor of a new Economist book, "Modern Warfare, Intelligence and Deterrence," which has been published in the United Kingdom (Profile Books) and the United States (John Wiley & Sons). Reflective of the book's multi-national significance, publishing rights have been acquired for a Chinese edition. (Full disclosure -- the first time Benjamin sees this review will be when he reads it on Amazon. He had no involvement in writing it.)

The book consists of a collection of 71 articles that have appeared in recent years in The Economist, arguably the most highly regarded weekly newsmagazine in the world. Written by 26 different journalists, they were selected for inclusion in the book to convey significant and often remarkable developments in each of the five domains of warfare.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Hanson on January 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book provides an excellent view of how science and technology developments are affecting the contemporary national security environment. The macro-level analyses about how new developments in fields as diverse as armor, command and control, and unmanned aerial vehicles are some of the most insightful projections I've read. I just have two complaints about this book:
-First, much of the book simply rehashes old Economist articles. That doesn't bother me so much, but they haven't even been updated to reflect the new publication dates--you have to look back to the date of publication in order to see what they mean by "last year," for example. Instead of simply reprinting these articles, I wish they'd put a little more effort into actually bringing them up to date.
-Second, there is a bit of sloppiness in some of the details. For example, in the article "Peril on the sea," there is an extended discussion of "cavitating" torpedoes, when the term they are looking for is presumably "supercavitating."

Still, this book brought to my attention many issues that had never before been on my radar screen. It gave me the first coherent picture of the ins and outs of seabasing, and the article on better algorithms for shuffling containers around in logistics was shockingly interesting. A very good job!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By spinoza on June 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
this is a great collection of essays. if this kind of information is in the newspapers, it is well-hidden. glad the economist takes technological warfare seriously enough to keep one of its best reporters on the case.
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By kc-lam on December 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Robotics and computer technologies have shaped modern warfare. This book presents many interesting articles on recent (though not up-to-date) developments in modern warfare, intelligence and deterrence. However, there are little technical details of the technologies that are transforming them.

Warfare technologies are improving; soldiers have improvised physical protection, fed with better intelligence and wield more effective precision weaponry. For example, airborne laser was developed to hit large missiles just after they are launched. Smart bombs continue to be clever even after arriving at the target; their fuses can set off explosions at precisely the right moment. Weapons with "kill switches" and "back doors" could be shut down remotely if stolen. Some rob raider hover like insects and are not much bigger; they can peek easily.

Good read!
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