Can There Be War Without Soldiers?

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Media Outlet: Foreign Policy

"What if they gave a war, and nobody came?” asked anti-war activists in the 1960s. After a day spent at New America’s Second Annual Future of War Conference, I think I can answer that question: If they gave a war and nobody came, the war would carry on quite happily without us.

For most of human history, “the three indispensable ‘hardware’ elements of any war” have been “soldiers, weapons, and a battlefield,” observed Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui in their 1999 book, “Unrestricted Warfare.” But as several speakers at the Future of War conference emphasized, many of today’s conflicts don’t require soldiers — or, for that matter, weapons or battlefields. Tomorrow’s wars will require them still less.

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Rosa Brooks is an ASU Future of War senior fellow at New America, working with the International Security program and the ASU Future of War project. She writes about the changing nature of warfare, the changing role of the U.S. military, and need to rethink core assumptions about the laws of war.