The Atlantic

The Grim Future of Urban Warfare

New technologies are making war even more horrific.
Source: Robert Burns / AP

War is won by breaking an enemy’s morale until their ability to resist collapses. In Iraq, the U.S. military employedshock and awe,” demonstrating overwhelming force while using superior technology and intelligence. It was a new term for an ancient approach: “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt,” Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War, centuries before Christ. Strike suddenly, brutally, and with the element of surprise to sow confusion and encourage surrender and retreat—or to stage annihilation.

The Third Reich’s blitzkrieg techniques did the same (“the engine of the Panzer is a weapon just as the main gun,” the German general Heinz Guderian noted), along with the shrieking “Jericho Trumpet” sirens its Luftwaffe attached to planes making dive-bomb attacks on cities. The aim was not just the shattering of buildings but the shattering of nerves.

In the present, war’s terror arrives more silently. Soon, , traveling in excess of five times the speed of sound,.

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