Is a tool a weapon or is a weapon a tool?
This might seem like a strange or trivial question, but it cuts to the heart of the matter, of what war is and what it is not, of whether it is being waged against us or not, of whether we are waging it or not, of whether it should be waged or not . . .
The short answer is that a weapon is a tool, a tool for committing disruptive action. We could look at it in the reverse, with the tool being a weapon for disrupting a problem, but blowing up a car doesn’t fix a flat tire. Burning an algebra book doesn’t help you pass a math test. Killing or otherwise neutralizing an opponent, in any game, doesn’t solve the underlying problem so much as nullify it. Putting a gun to someone’s head does disrupt a conflict with them, but it doesn’t FIX it. The cashier still wants $1.29 for that pack of Twinkies; Jane or Joe are still more well liked than you; your spouse still wants a divorce. It just so happens that they are far more concerned with having their brains blown out than whatever petty problem started the conflict.
Disruption is a crude solution and there are limits to what it can accomplish, and we even just illustrated several in the previous paragraph. Killing a property owner may leave you free to claim and consume their property; killing Jane or Joe might mean you become homecoming king or queen by default; but, killing your spouse won’t make him or her love you or stay with you. The last example, especially, is not one of disruption, but the threat of disruption, or in other words, cooperation by communication of disruption (or something like that).
Disruption, war, is a meta-solution to problems, i.e. solving problems by destroying, but it is only a sub-category of all problem solving. When it doesn’t work, when we are combat ineffective, we must pull back from disruption to the broader category, which I believe is “adaptation”. We must re-adapt, essentially, but with a more focused view towards disruption (or not).
That pull-back and re-approach has often led to some novel approaches to how war is conducted. There have been many labels applied to such novel approaches: guerrilla, assymetry, insurgency, privateering, war crime, dishonorable, advanced, special, etc. What they all have in common is that they are an adaptation or set of adaptations to the disruption process. For that reason, it might be correct or useful to think of them as “adaptive disruption” or “adaptive warfare”. “A strategy of destroying, using differing methods and/or targeting different objectives, as needed.”