29/1/2021–|Last updated: 1/29/202109:02 PM (Makkah)
The war is evolving and no longer boils down to the use of weapons against targets, but is about gathering and processing information.
In the editorial published in the French magazine Le Point, writer John Gisnell says that war is evolving and no longer consists solely of “kinetic” operations, that is, the use of weapons to hit a physical or human target in order to destroy it.
To be sure, these methods still exist, but more than ever before, they are preceded, supplemented, or replaced by increasingly complex influencing processes that are carried out using electronic means.
The collective book “Information Wars in the Digital Age”, written by Celine Marangi and Mod Quissard as part of their research activities at the Institute for Strategic Research at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, focuses on the most recent studies on information wars.
The bibliography at the end of the volume contains only two references issued before 2012. But both Marangi and Quessard mention in the introduction to the book that psychological warfare is not recent, and that the Cold War represented the golden age of propaganda and disinformation.
They also stress that the situation has witnessed profound changes during the current “digital age”, “the authorities are facing declared opponents, but also various private actors who carry out various media and sabotage activities.”
In 2020, information warfare was all about the armed forces that use it as one of their tactical and strategic weapons. Lt. Col. Eric Gómez, National Center head and researcher at Irsim, explains in his book co-authoring that the armed forces have preferred “large-scale targeting” over the past ten years.
Gomez draws an approach between “actions performed in the kinetic sphere with those carried out by non-lethal means, such as military influence, communication operations, internet warfare, or acts of electronic warfare.”
In the face of an organized enemy such as a state, the American Colonel John A. Warden, which is based on the idea that the enemy is a system composed of 5 concentric rings, namely: the armed forces, the people, the infrastructure, the basic elements, and the leadership.
But the enemy has changed, and regular armies face “non-governmental movements, organized according to a completely different logic, in a world in which the ties are less solid than they were in the past.” Today the war is fought “by coordinating lethal and non-lethal actions.” On the other hand, the old propaganda based on the principle of the victory of the powerful is still present.
A hidden and secret war
The author states that “classic” warfare applies to those who bear arms. As for information warfare, it differs from it because it is a covert and covert action led by states as well as private groups.
In this regard, the book stresses that Russia has taken the lead, “through the presidential administration, the ministries of foreign affairs and defense, and“ influential structures, ”the Russian state succeeded within a decade in employing modern technologies to serve the concept of information that is still inherited from the Soviet era to to a big limit”.
The attacks on the 2016 campaign trail of US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have been attributed to Russians. However, French intelligence chiefs do not want to hold Moscow responsible for the 2015 TV5 Monde attack, or the hacking of emails by Emmanuel Macron’s team in the final days of the 2017 campaign.
This book confirms that the challenge appears difficult for authoritarian regimes, as “the task is difficult for those who want to monitor information, suppress dissent, or prevent embarrassing facts from circulating.”
An example in Russia demonstrated this reality through the “informational” response of opponent Alexei Navalny to his arrest and imprisonment. As soon as he was imprisoned, his teams revealed on social media the existence of a secret palace of Vladimir Putin.
The author adds that in democratic societies, the challenges are no less difficult. “Online data collection and analysis makes it possible to know a person’s tendencies and attitudes, while processing algorithms facilitate their targeting.”
Referring to the scandal associated with Cambridge Analytica’s practices during the 2016 US campaign, the authors unexpectedly noted that “generally, information wars are factors that accelerate the development of democratic societies and put their resilience to the test.”