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Paul Virilio, "A Crash of Strategic Thought?"

hydrarchist writes: "A Crash of Strategic Thought?

Paul Virilio
, an essayist who has written a lot about war, diagnoses a completely novel form of conflict.

The massive destruction of September 11 has taxed the term "war". Is
that self-evident to you?

Absolutely. The great terrorism which is beginning doesn't have anything to do with the small terrorism of the 20th century. On September 11, 2001 we entered in historic fashion a form of war at once worldwide and "accidental ". Clausewitz qualified as
"substantial" war as the continuation of politics by other means. But he also noticed, regarding Napoleon in Spain, that
"substantial" war could decompose, fall apart, stop pursuing
its political objectives and become a sort of frenzy impossible to
put down. That latter form was "accidental" war, and civil wars
constitute a known form. But that which has just begun is without
reference. Up to now "accidental" war was local, not global. We are
involved despite ourselves in a new form of war that we must learn like a foreign language.

Must the United States then revise their strategic choices?

One can say that we have just witnessed two crashes. That of the net-economy in 2000. And that of the net-strategy of the Pentagon in 2001.

All the strategies elaborated until now, information war,
aero-orbital war which we saw in Kosovo or the antimissile
shield, all this has just been swept away by a large-scale terrorist
action which caused twice as many victims as the air armada which
destroyed Pearl Harbor. We are before a logic which does not
have anything to do with traditional militaro-strategic thought.
As an urbanist, I will underline that terrorism has just
inaugurated an anti-cities strategy. This means that all towers
are today threatened. Instead of being a place of dominion, as the
dungeons of the past, the tower has become a place of weakness: vertically, it
is henceforth the equivalent of the outer wall which the artillery
blew up.

Can such a war be won?

That's the whole question. It would need a political invention as
great as the threat. But Bush is not Churchill. And neither is Sharon . For
the moment, it is necessary to defend ourselves, in particular at the
level of cities: it is too early to consider the offensive. I especially
distrust the reactions which it is going to arouse. My main
fear, is that all this degenerates into a religious war impossible to
master. As was said when I was young, one must start
by running the tongue around the mouth seven times. Because the tongue of
war is the tongue of a viper.

Original in French from the Swiss weekly magazine 'L'Hebdo'."