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Friday, January 21, 2011
John Robb, who writes about asymmetric warfare and networked organization, is one of my favorite writers. A central theme of his work is what he calls “systems disruption.” To disrupt centralized, hierarchical systems, it’s not necessary to take over or destroy even a significant portion of their infrastructures. It’s simply necessary to destroy the most vulnerable of their key nodes and render the overall system non-functional.
These vulnerable, high-value nodes are what Robb calls the “systempunkt.” It’s a concept borrowed from German blitzkrieg doctrine. The “schwerpunkt” was the most vulnerable point in an enemy’s defenses, on which an offensive should concentrate most of its force in order to achieve a breakthrough. Once this small portion of the enemy’s forces was destroyed, the rest could be bypassed and encircled without direct engagement. Likewise, a few thousand dollars spent incapacitating several nodes in a gas or oil pipeline system can result in disruption that costs billions in economic damage from fuel shortages and spikes in prices.
Enforcement is the State’s Systempunkt
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