War is a state of armed conflict, characterized by violence, aggression, destruction and mortality. War also signifies the absence of peace. Throughout the years war was and still is applied. It may be a different type of war such as economic, political or religious, but it still exists. Currently, the most outstanding countries that are at war are, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mexico and Central African Republic.
In International Relations and Politics, war is an important field and term. There are many kinds of wars as mentioned above, mostly stated as religious, economic and political. Although, there are also types of wars, such as Interstate, Intrastate, Total and Limited. Firstly, Interstate wars are between two or more states; Secondly, Intrastate wars are between groups within state, with or without international participation; Thirdly, Total wars are involving multiple great powers, include destruction and loss of life. Finally, Limited wars, the objective is not surrender and occupation of enemy territory, but rather attain limited goals.
However as Malesevic has stated, throughout the past three decades, it has been argued that ‘wars’ have changed. Some argue that the ‘new wars’ are more brutal, chaotic and decentralized. While others argue that all forms of violence are becoming ‘weaker’, by fewer wars, less lethal, localized and shorter than in the previous periods of history. He supported that both of these views identify features of contemporary war and other forms of organized violence. On the ‘new wars’ perspectives, they lack from economic reductionism witch attributes too much power to the forces of neo-liberal globalization and ignore geopolitics, organizational dynamics and ideological transformations. More importantly, he concluded that both perspectives do not provide adequate analysis of contemporary warfare. The outstanding weakness in both views is that they analyze large-scale social transformations without devoting much or any attention to the complex macro-sociological processes involved.
Kaldor sees within the end of the Cold War and the extension of globalization a weakening of the state-system that favored the emergence of a new kind of warfare different from the old one. It is distinguished as a result of war as civil, state plays a secondary role, identity is more significant than ideology and the distinction between fighters and civilians is blurred. However, critics of new wars theory argue that there is no clear historical division because this kind of warfare already existed in the past and thus the dichotomy old/new wars is pointless.Kalyvas sustains that “the distinction between post-cold war conflicts and their predecessors may be attributable more to the demise of readily available conceptual categories than to the existence of profound differences”. Newman and Schuurman agree with him on the rejection of “a general departure/change from the past and aim to the specific conditions of the contemporary conflicts to explain the disappearance of traditional inter-state wars.
The authors expand their argumentation with a long list of historical violent events from civil conflicts. However, the discussion seems futile because Kaldor denies that new wars theory manifested such ideas: “The only claim that the new wars thesis makes is most violence in new wars consists of violence against civilians rather than combat” and adds that “it would be mad to claim that violence against civilians is worse than the modernist state-based atrocities like the holocaust or the Soviet purges”. On the grounds of this misunderstanding I observe a lack of citations on Newman’s chapter Human Impact and Victimization that should note whom of the new wars authors suggested such claims. On the other hand, Kalyvas supports his thesis with a specific assertion by the poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger but not with a general theorization by new wars scholars. Furthermore, Kaldor’s model of new wars is a theoretical effort and thus she builds an ideal type. Hence, the methodology used by Kalyvas and Newman relies too much on empirical historical events.
Despite the numerous confrontations and misunderstandings between the defenders of new wars theory and the detractors of it, there is a common point in the awareness of its academic value. They may discuss if new wars are really new, if the motivations have changed, or if Clausewitz’s conception of conflict is still valid but the doubtless fact is that the traditional Westphalian war between two states and two armies is gone for now. Thus, the theses have to be clarified and the debate has to continue. As Kaldor intended, new wars theory is a useful approach for policymakers and scholars that helps bury old-fashioned conceptions of war rooted in the literature and arises a vivid and useful discussion on contemporary conflict.
In addition, there is a viewpoint that wars are not obsolete, but wars between major powers are. In this case, major powers may not be involved at actual wars, but still are responsible for encouraging others or ‘less powered countries-states’ to go to war. However, a lot of lives have been lost through wars. It is said that history repeats itself. The weakness at the past era was not able to truly acknowledge it, but the strength we must take advantage of is to learn from past mistakes and not repeat them. Also, through knowledge, wisdom and education, we have the advantage to negotiate, cooperate, and deal with certain circumstances differently.
Lastly, over the past decades parts all over the world have declined all forms of warfare. Interstate wars have become rare, and civil wars tend to generate less causality than before. Instead of reflecting a profound and permanent shift in historical development and a significant change in human attitude to war the contemporary decrease of organized violence is a product of specific geopolitical and organizational constellations. The main aim is for war to become obsolete in the future.
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