The 'New Wars' Thesis Revisited

TitleThe 'New Wars' Thesis Revisited
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsBerdahl, Mats
EditorStrachan, Hew, and Sibylle Scheipers
Book TitleThe Changing Character of War
PublisherOxford University Press

This chapter in the edited volume The Changing Character of War focuses on the so-called ‘new wars’ that emerged in the late twentieth century. It examines the proposition that contemporary wars are ‘substantively distinct’ from older patterns of armed conflict and, as such, the ‘new wars’ reflect a new reality. Two related aspects to this general proposition are considered. The first concerns the idea of a historical disjunction between ‘old’ and ‘new’ wars and the accompanying argument that links the emergence of ‘new wars’ to two fundamental processes of change: globalization in the late twentieth century and the end of the Cold War. The second aspect concerns the actual features of the ‘new wars’ and the way in which ‘they differ from earlier wars in terms of their goals, the methods of warfare, and how they are financed’. The most interesting of these relates to the economic underpinnings of contemporary intra-state armed conflicts.

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