Learn English – A word or phrase for a non-military attack on a country’s home soil



The fact that my question remains unanswered suggests that such a term doesn't exist. That, by itself, is valuable information.

Consider this definition of asymmetric warfare:

Asymmetric warfare is war between belligerents whose relative military
power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ


Classic examples include the U.S. invasions of Vietnam (which beat the U.S.) and Afghanistan (where freedom fighters are still putting up a stiff resistance).

Now imagine a scenario where another country wages a non-traditional war against the U.S. not on its own soil but in the U.S. For example, the U.S. government has complained about China's cyberwarfare capabilities, and there are also concerns that China is capable of attacking America's infrastructure.

We could broadly describe such an attack as asymmetrical warfare, but I'd like to find a distinct word or term for such an attack, something that distinguishes it from the more traditional asymmetrical warfare we see in the various countries invaded by the U.S.

The term blowback comes to mind, but I think that's a little too broad. Can you think of a better term for a non-conventional attack on a country targeting not its military, but its infrastructure or other assets on its home soil?

Feel free to coin new terms.


My question is apparently confusing to some, so I wanted to add an example to make it more clear.

Suppose you could travel a hundred years into the future, and you read the following in book titled History of the 21st Century.

"World War I and World War II were the biggest 'conventional wars'
ever fought. In the face of continuing U.S. aggression, smaller,
weaker countries turned to guerilla warfare and what came to be known
as asymmetric warfare, which was stunningly successful in Vietnam.

"Towards the end of the 20th century, Afghan freedom fighters
practiced asymmetric warfare against the Soviet Union, then against
the U.S. during the first two decades of the 21st century.

"Though the Afghans enjoyed some success, the tide didn't really begin
to turn until the advent of ________, first employed on a large scale
by Iran, which launched a cyberattack against Israel in 2018. Two
years later, the U.S was dealt a stunning blow by a massive
cyberattack and an equally massive attack on its infrastructure,
apparently a joint Russian-Chinese operation with support from some
other countries, notably Latin American."

What word or term would you fill in the blank with to describe this new type of warfare?

Best Answer

Something like "alternative retaliation" or "alternative retaliatory measures"? Just thinking aloud here, giving food for thought"!