Journal of the Faculty of Humanities and Human Sciences - Volume 3

War and Technology: A Critical Investigation

Majima, Shunzo

Permalink :


In this article, I examine the relationship between technology and the conduct of war in order to consider whether and how technological development in military affairs makes the conduct of war barbarised/civilised. There are at least two different views on this issue: One view is that technological development has made warfare more barbarised and the other is that it has made warfare more civilised. These two views seem correct when considering that technological development in military affairs contributes to shaping the characteristics of warfare, some of which have the impact of increased barbarisation whereas others have the impact of increased civilisation during armed conflict. However, these two views do not seem to perfectly describe the relationship between technological development and the conduct of war in that technological development does not automatically determine the course of the barbarisation/civilisation of warfare. The primary reason for this is that the application of new technologies to military affairs and the actual use of technological artefacts (i.e. weapons and weapons systems) are undertaken in the politico-military context. I argue that such a course is primarily determined by the mode of warfare,which is strongly influenced by the strategic need, mission objectives and tactical environments which the political elite and military brass envisage. I conclude by arguing that it is not necessarily technological development per se that makes warfare civilised or barbarised. The core line of argument of this article is that whether and how warfare could be civilised/barbarised primarily depends on the political elite and military brass who can utilise technologies for military affairs.