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Although asymmetrical warfare has been part of nonconventional warfare for much of human history, it has become increasingly prevalent in recent times. This entry argues that this form of warfare is characterized, first and foremost, by significant material asymmetries between belligerents, both in terms of number of troops and most significantly in terms of the vast technological differences between belligerents. Yet this type of conflict is also characterized by four additional albeit related asymmetries, namely, asymmetrical strategies, asymmetrical status, asymmetrical moral standing, and asymmetrical weapons systems. These features have further entailed that this type of conflict blurs the traditional borders separating war from peacetime, war from crime, combatants from civilians, and even traditional geographical borders. Finally, this entry examines the deep legal, ethical, and strategic challenges that asymmetrical warfare creates.
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