San Diego International Law Journal

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



The composition of warfare is changing. There is an increasing transformation in the traditional aspects of waging a war: conventional techniques of warfare are in decline and newer tactics and tools of warfare, such as information warfare, asymmetric warfare, media propaganda, and hybrid warfare, are filling the gap, blurring the lines between combatant and noncombatant, and between wartime and peacetime. The basic framework of modern warfare was elaborated by Carl von Clausewitz in his magnus opus On War. He defined modern warfare between states as “a duel on larger scale,” and explained its purpose as “a continuation of politics by other means,” with its core elements of “rationality of the state, probability in military command, and rage of the population.” Building on Clausewitz’s work, William S. Lind distinguished between four generations of warfare since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, each generation having its own way of fighting war. This Article intends to explore Lind’s fourth-generation warfare and Daniel H. Abbott’s fifth-generation warfare. It provides different interpretations of fourth-generation warfare (4GW) by several scholars. First, it explains that 4GW is asymmetric warfare fought by nonstate actors and by nonstate cultural groups, where asymmetric warfare and shadow wars are waged by nonstate actors and mercenaries for the political interests of aggressive states. Then, it provides additional interpretations of 4GW, which is often understood as fighting on a moral level employing light infantry. By contrast, other scholars believe that 4GW is fought with the tools of information and technology using cyberspace. Afterwards, this Article explores how to fight 4GW and how it is being fought. The Article also investigates Abbott’s fifth-generation warfare, a war of perceptions, and explains how to fight 5GW and how it is being fought. Furthermore, this Article explains how technological progression is used as a tool of modern warfare.