Kaldor – new wars are “mutual enterprises”

In “In Defense of New Wars,” Kaldor asserts that most war as we know it today can better be described as a “mutual enterprise” than by the Clausewitzean definition of war as a “contest of wills.” Using the example of the US war on terror, she points out how each attack and counter-attack by the US and terrorist organizations only serve to perpetuate the conflict and drum up additional forces, funds and social/political clout for both sides, resulting in long, inconclusive, and dismayingly profitable conflicts. She says:

“…Warring parties are interested in the enterprise of war rather than winning or losing, for both political and economic reasons” (p. 13).

If participants in wars of the 21st century intentionally pursue long conflicts for the various benefits they yield, then the “new war” described here is no longer about the outcome of the fighting but the fighting itself. By the logic of this passage, new wars are no longer fought as means to an end, but as means to more means. Is it cynical to suggest that new wars are primarily ventures of profit and patriotism?

Kaldor explains that the key to ending a new war comes through attacking the mutual enterprise, rather than feeding the efforts of one side or the other. If war has evolved to fit the model she suggests it has, then the manner by which wars are resolved must also change. What would “new peace” look like?

-Travis P.

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