A large literature has emerged on intelligence and war which integrates the topics and techniques of two disciplines: strategic studies and military history. The literature on intelligence and war is divided into theory and strategy; command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I); sources; military estimates in peace; deception; conventional operations; strike; and counter-insurgency and guerilla warfare. Sun Tzu treats intelligence as central to all forms of power politics, and even defines strategy and warfare as “the way of deception.” On the other hand, C3I combines signals and data processing technology, command as thought, process and action, the training of people, and individual and bureaucratic modes of learning. Since 1914, the power of secret sources has risen dramatically in peace and war, revolutionizing the value of intelligence for operations, especially at sea. The strongest area in this study is signals intelligence. Meanwhile, the relationship of intelligence with war, and with power politics, overlaps on the matter of military estimates during peacetime. The literature on operational intelligence is strongest on World War II. However, analysts have particularly failed to differentiate the effect of intelligence on operations, from that on a key element of military power since 1914: strike warfare. In counter-insurgency, many types and levels of war and intelligence overlap, which include guerillas, conventional and strike forces, and politics in villages and capitals.
Chiara de Franco
Contemporary conflicts and warfare are invariably connected to some recurrent elements: globalization; the decline of the State; the emergence of transnational relations, both cultural and economic; late capitalism; post-industrialism; the end of ideologies and metaphysics; and the rise of the “society of spectacle” and the information age. These elements are all generally recognized as being the distinctive characteristics of postmodernity. The media plays an important role in understanding conflict dynamics and in illuminating some characteristics of postmodern conflict. The literature on the relationship between the media and conflict develops concepts and theories which are essential for understanding the role of the media in the evolution and conduct of contemporary conflicts. This literature focuses on two different aspects: firstly, the specific activities of the mass media, i.e. the media coverage of conflicts, and secondly, the interaction between the media and the political and military decision-making processes. Following either the powerful media paradigm or the limited effects hypothesis, these works develop in the same period very different concepts like propaganda and the CNN effect. It is important to keep in mind that these concepts are the result of an attempt to clarify the existing conceptualization of the role of the media in present conflicts and do not represent consolidated categories as such.
Karl P. Mueller
Air power refers to the use of aviation by nations and other political actors in the pursuit of power and security interests, along with the use of long-range missiles. Since armies and navies first began to experiment with the use of airplanes as implements of war, air power has emerged as an integral component of modern warfare. Air power was born in the crucible of World War I, but came of age in the conflagration of World War II. The developmental history of air power is significant to security studies in general and to the study of air power in particular. Owing to the rapid series of state changes in air power, trying to understand the nature of air power and its effects on modern warfare and international security has become more complicated. Two questions that are central to the study of international security are whether air power facilitates offense as a whole and whether it encourages aggression as a result. There has also been a debate over the issue of how air power can most effectively be used to coerce an enemy through strategic bombing. Another source of disagreement is the question of whether air and space power constitute one subject or two. In general, there are compelling merits in treating space power as a domain of national security theory and policy separate from those of land, sea, and air power.
Patricia A. Weitsman
Military alliances predate even the state system as a form of international cooperation, and they take on many forms. The motivations of states seeking to join, the commitment levels formalized in the alliance agreement, and degrees of institutionalization all take different forms in the literature, but these scholarly perspectives can be boiled down to a few approaches: the realist, the rationalist and formalist, the liberal or institutionalist, and finally, the constructivist arguments on alliance identities. Moreover, a common thread among the literature on military alliances is an understanding that alliances provide a wide range of services to their members, and contain more than one motivation for forming and maintaining the alliances. Given that the motivations for forming alliances are varied, especially during different threat environments, it is important to ask what the consequences are. In this vein, scholars consider two primary issues: if these alliances can fulfill their intended missions, and if there are unintended consequences which may arise and lead to undesirable results. A related issue to the study of what motivates alliances is in how well they perform in terms of cohesion. Cohesion is, roughly speaking, the capacity of an alliance to effectively carry out its goals. Finally, there are the coalitions—ad hoc multinational understandings that are forged to undertake a specific mission, and dissolve once that mission is complete. They are not wholly analytically distinct from wartime alliances, although the latter may have a greater degree of institutionalization and may predate a specific wartime operation.
Military effectiveness is defined as the ability to produce favorable military outcomes per se, incluuding the outcomes of minor skirmishes at the tactical level of war and the outcomes of wars or even long-term politico-military competitions at the strategic or grand strategic levels of war. An alternative, narrower definition equates “effectiveness” with skill, the ability to make the most of one’s material resources, or qualities such as “integration” and “responsiveness.” Regardless of definition, military effectiveness is a central issue for international relations and lies at the heart of key policy debates. Until very recently, military effectiveness had generated little sustained interest from scholars. However, a new generation of academics, armed with new methodologies and analytical approaches, has begun to pay more attention to the subject. Contemporary literature on effectiveness describes three classes of candidate determinants: numerical preponderance, technology, and force employment. Despite increasing attention to effectiveness per se and to non-material contributors to effectiveness, especially force employment, many topics deserve further consideration in future research. These include maritime warfare, amphibious warfare, space warfare, and cyber warfare, chemical, biological, or nuclear combat operations; effectiveness in non-combat missions such as peacekeeping, nation building, signaling, or humanitarian assistance; systematic differences in military behavior for non-state actors, or for state actors in the developing world; and the roles of organization, logistics, leadership, morale, ethnic homogeneity, civil–military relations, and social structure, for example, as determinants of military effectiveness.
The just war tradition is the most dominant framework for analyzing the morality of war. Just war theory is being challenged by proponents of two philosophical views: realism, which considers moral questions about war to be irrelevant, and pacifism, which rejects the idea that war can ever be moral. Realism and pacifism offer a useful starting point for thinking about the ethics of war and peace. Feminists have been engaged with the just war tradition, mainly by exposing the gendered biases of just war attempts to restrain and regulate war and studying the role that war and its regulation plays in defining masculinity. In particular, feminists claim that the two rules of just war, jus ad bellum and jus in bello, discriminate against women. In regard to contemporary warfare, such as post-Cold War humanitarian interventions and the War on Terror, feminists have questioned the appropriateness of just war concepts to deal with the specific ethical challenges that these conflicts produce. Instead of abstract moral reasoning, which they critique as being linked to the masculine ideals of autonomy and rationality, many feminist argue for certain varieties of an ethics of care. Further research is needed to elaborate the basis of an ethical response to violence that builds on philosophical work on feminist ethics. Key areas for future investigation include asking hard questions about whom we may kill, and how certain people become killable in war while others remain protected.
Emily O. Goldman
The term “revolution in warfare” refers to a pronounced change or discontinuity in warfare that radically alters the way a military operates and improves relative military effectiveness. Revolutions in warfare emerged as a subject of considerable debate in the 1990s in the wake of the United States’s resounding victory over Iraqi military forces in the Persian Gulf War. These debates highlight three different concepts: military revolution, military-technical revolution, and revolution in military affairs. During this period, the idea of an “information technology” revolution in military affairs became deeply embedded in American defense planning and evolved into a call for “transformation,” or more precisely transformational innovation. Two lines of critique have been leveled against the revolution in warfare concept and the revolutionaries themselves. The first, advanced by Stephen Biddle, claims that an RMA is not currently under way. Rather, what we are witnessing is the continuation of a century-long increase in the importance of skill in managing complexity. The second insists that the RMA as a policy direction is a risky path for the United States to pursue because it will undermine the country’s power and influence. There are also two schools of thought that explain the causes of revolutions in warfare: the “economic determinist” school and the “contingent innovation” school. A number of questions remain unanswered that need further consideration in research, such as whether the United States and its allies should continue to prepare for a “long war” against violent extremists, or whether transformation is dead.