PO135 Summative Essay: 1506013
What characterises the nature of contemporary warfare?
This essay will focus on the most popular contemporary warfare theory, Mary Kaldor’s ‘New War’ thesis which contributes a formulaic approach to the revolution in warfare following the Cold War Era. Working with Kaldor’s lens, I will examine the supposed defining features of ‘new wars,’ including the role of civilians within the framework of modern-war and the methods used to finance the War Economy. Many have speculated that an equation-like approach to contemporary warfare is not complete and fails to capture its complex and multi-varied nature. This essay will engage with these notable critics, like Berdal, Hoffman and Booth to evaluate the limiting features and usefulness of her theory. Kaldor places great significance on the spread of globalisation that has arguably lead to the death of territorialized sovereignty (Agnew, 2009, p. 9). I will call into question the effect of this, namely focusing on war driven by identity politics and the decline of political legitimacy. The reduction in numbers of inter-state warfare has been furthered by technological advancements in precision weaponry, like drones. Argued by Kaldor to be a ‘technology intensive’ (Kaldor, 2012, p. 180) form of Old War, I will consider what effect a physical detachment to ongoing conflict has on our interpretation of war and its place in society. Using Kaldor’s suggestion of a more civilised form of security that established a viable legal system, I will consider the problems posed by the aims of contemporary war. In addition, this essay will engage with the ‘Network War’ and ‘Hybrid War’ theses’ from a critical point of view, to extend Kaldor’s existing argument.
One of the most frequently cited aspects of contemporary warfare has been the eradication of inter-state conflict, now shifted to be conducted by both state and non-state actors. Kaldor attributes this change to be driven by globalisation ‘breaking up…cultural and socio-economic divisions (Kaldor, 2012, p. 72),’ therefore characterised by conflict based on conflicting social identities. In the supposed era of ‘post-truth’ politics, populist movements clash over immigration in the West whilst Hindu and Chinese nationalism drive policies in the Indian and Chinese governments respectively. However, the most extreme form of identity politics today has been manifested in the rise of Islamic State (Lind, 2015). Kaldor’s position that identity struggles are ‘new’ is open to doubt; it has been noted by Ken Booth that political mobilization on the grounds of identity was the very hallmark of nationalist movements against anti-imperialism half a century ago (Booth, 2001, p. 166). Nonetheless, both writers agree that modern warfare must be understood in the context of what Kaldor calls a ‘global dislocation’ (Kaldor, 2012, p. 72).
The role of civilians within the framework of modern warfare has been frequently debated. Kaldor asserts that...