Since 1966 – International School on Disarmament and Research on Conflicts – Italian Pugwash Group

23rd ISODARCO Summer Course

Trento (Italy), 3 – 13 August 2002

Course on:

Cyberwar, Netwar and the Revolution in Military Affairs: Real Threats and Virtual Myths

Director of the School: Carlo Schaerf (University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Italy)
Directors of the Course: Gary Chapman, Diego Latella


PURPOSE

This will be the second time an ISODARCO summer course will focus on information technologies and their relation to war and international relations. A course on “Computers, Networks and Prospects for European and World Security” was held in 1999. The 2002 course will be less broad in scope than the first one and, in particular, it will be focused on Cyberwar (CW), Netwar (NW), the current Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) and related issues.
Despite there are no unique definitions for CW, NW and RMA yet, a lively discussion on their nature, the threats they bring, the possible counter-measures to be undertaken by nation states, as well as other organizations, is taking place in political and military circles as well as academia.
Issues of major importance in such a discussion are: the relation between computers and regional defense; the threat of “cyberterrorism” as well as “cyberwar”; new forms of group organization like “networks” and how information technology supports them; the impact of information technology developments on military doctrine and organization of military forces.
Without any doubt, some of the above issues are connected to real threats, but the dimension of such threats is far from being fully assessed and understood.  Thus, as it often happens when new scenarious are elaborated, a proliferation of myths related to CW, NW and RMA is also taking place and it brings with it a possible real threat of widespread global surveillance. Ironically enough, information technology is itself supporting also such a proliferation by providing a “virtual space” where a great deal of the ongoing discussion on the above issues is taking place.