One weapon of war that has not changed and will not change is the control of food. People can even withstand bandits, bombing, and being thrown out of their homes IF they can get enough to eat. Famine wipes out all the children and the old people, but not the men because the men can just take whatever food there is from everyone else. People die one by one on the street and whole nations die where there is drought.
Let's talk about space war first. Many people have framed scientific progress as understanding how to use space as a race, a competition rather than a war. Normally we do not shoot down each others' satellites nor rockets unless they are military missiles meant to destroy some point on the globe. (Given the ease with which one could cut ocean floor cables, or mess with the electrical grid, it is no surprise that it happens already.) The many movies about war in space are either recycled WWII fighter jet combat or war against alien life forms, all of which use rather conventional weapons, beams of somethingorother. Swordplay. The Death Star is framed in terms of explosions. Even the War of Worlds was won by microbes, more imaginative than relying on Nazi tropes. We cannot give up our Nazi tropes, even as we replicate them in our conventional governance.
The exploration and understanding of space is so expensive and demands such developed skills that it cannot be "owned" by one nation. Collaboration or its imitation by stealth as piggy back or international spy corporations are about the sum of how to proceed. Physical war in terms of smashing everything can only destroy the assets that would result in reaching the goal. But space missiles are rooted in military assault.
More problematic and more crashingly successful are the satellites. They have two sides: the bright side is communication and observation and the dark side is debris and as a bomb base. For the last ten years Russia has understood that controlling satellite communication through popular media is smashingly successful in wiping out the standing order, which is a form of war like a hydrogen bomb or a biological agent, which leave the buildings and equipment still intact, merely evaporating or demoralizing the humans of the other side.
Our president is doing this without owning satellites because the media feels obliged to report everything, even when it demonizes them, so they become his satellites. The more they report, the better it works. Trump has explained (he is always explaining) that if someone hits him, he hits them back harder. But we don't hit him. We stand gaping. Fascinated.
If this escalation continues and the stakes get higher, the ultimate is his destruction, one way or another. In fact, at this point he can never go back to his old life and his re-election is ridiculous. Incarceration has already begun. But he was never the real instigator of this cyber-war anyway, nor are the people who understand and maintain the Internet, even the Dark Internet. The real heart of war is the desire to dominate and control. He just uses his computer for a telephone.
Putin, first of all, must keep his own country dominated and controlled, but that has been an educational experience that he has learned from. Its potency is much extended from what the USSR was able to do, because now it's a cyber war. No tanks or fighter jets are necessary: human psychology is essential plus a covering-all blanket of information that is not particularly communicative except by spinning yarns, esp. stories that discredit leadership that is democratic.
The time is right because "democracy" has been called into question by predatory capitalism. Trump has mendaciously done this for his whole life: work out strategy to evade rules of law, court oversight, and inclusion of any kind. Every time I point out that the Trump Tower is basically a radio antenna relaying everything to whatever counts as mafia, I see peoples' eyes turn into pinwheels. They "know" what Trump Tower is: wealth and power, which they can describe only in terms of TV crime shows. Crime bosses come off rather well in those tales, but wealth and power are often the "war within" both as morality and gaming.
Old people in our culture are unlikely to even understand the language of the Internet. I can't keep up. In fact, just mechanically I can't see small print or find the place to click on the arrow. Some days I can't touch type. Irrelevant stuff jumps out at me on the screen. Programs stall and I can't figure out how to continue except to begin again. (I stop to "save" this, which I had forgotten to do.) I have a whole notebook of passwords and downloaded advice. I have only one wired phone, but the programs demand my pocket phone number. Unless I constantly wipe out spam, my email is full of offers to make my penis awesome, even though I'm female.
Sex has always been an undercurrent of war. One constantly reads about "courtesans" of famous and powerful men who offered advice and secrecy that made all the difference. Outright assaultive rapes and their detailed descriptions are incendiary bombs but the most colorful porn is on the internet. The first sensational data-scraping was "A Billion Wicked Thoughts", a survey of on-line porn providers, but no one wants to say so. They'd rather stick to "Fifty Shades of Grey" because it's about the war between the sexes, not whether you can have sex with an octopus. And there's violence -- best not to beat an octopus.
No one can imagine having sex with Putin. Trump is easy: pop a Viagra, eat the most beautiful and expensive food, imitate relations with a professional imitator, and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep her quiet. That's what happens in the US. We don't know what happened in Russia. Eventually we'll all have a chance to watch the pipi tapes, but they are much more powerful when they are only imagined.
This is about war -- adversaries. Winning. The competition that is sometimes progressive and sometimes wipes out everything that has been accomplished by people struggling to adapt to a changing world. The terms of engagement are likely to be overwhelmed by natural change, which is augmented by unnatural change, which we do ourselves. The terms of money are drastically changing. The institutions that were protective watchdogs have been bought out by the Rule of Law reinterpreted as regulations and executive decisions. The courts are overwhelmed. Education is stuck. The best observations of religion that I know of are suggesting that the far right has captured religion and become a cult. Except for the present Pope, that symbol of ultimate power, that flaming heart.
Ideas are the most possible and dangerous force possible for humans. It may destroy them. At least a lot of them. Maybe tomorrow. But there are quiet forces gathering: a boomerang effect that changes the terms of everything.