Chechnya: A Glimpse of Future Conflict?
Netwar, an emerging mode of conflict engaged in by networked, mostly nonstate actors is associated most with social activism (e.g., the Zapatistas), terror (e.g., bin Laden's Al Qaeda) and crime (e.g., the Asian triads). However, netwar can also manifest itself in highly militarized settings, particularly in the context of ethnonationalist conflict. The recent war in Chechnya provides a good example of how netwar can be used in extremely violent ways to confront and overcome the much larger conventional forces of nationstates. In this conflict, a network of clan-based Chechen fighters, organized in closely internetted small fighting cells, was able to defeat a valorous, but still-hierarchical, balky Russian army in the field. This case is also analytically important because the Chechens employed a wide range of netwaroriented activities, from social activism to terror and strategic crime in order to complement their military netwar.