New Wars

I found Kaldor’s argument “In Defense of New Wars” quite convincing. She describes a current age of new wars by increasing conflict over identity, the proliferation and use of more advanced technology (such as bombs that can kill massive amounts of people at once, or drones that can both kill and spy), and conflicts in which actors are both state and non-state. Kaldor’s point about the growing number of non-state actors, including identity groups and activists, seems to resonate with Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations”, in which he describes the main conflicting actors to be groups of states united by common cultural/ethnic/historical ties, warring against other such civilizations. Huntington describes these clashes between civilizations as being rooted in differing identities and values; these are in themselves a kind of new war.

Neither Kaldor nor Huntington directly mention terrorism: Huntington ignores the role of non-state actors as prominent in future clashes between major worlds powers. Kaldor, meanwhile, could be read as including terrorist groups as major actors in new wars when she describes identity groups and activists. The presence and power of terrorist groups today ought to be a major part of the discussion concerning new wars and the changing nature of war, especially when it comes to the complex conversation about how to create and maintain peace. Perhaps as we seek a better understanding of the changing nature of modern warfare we ought to be considering what a new kind of peace could look like as well.

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