New and Old Wars
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New and Old Wars

Organised Violence in a Global Era

Mary Kaldor

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New and Old Wars

Organised Violence in a Global Era

Mary Kaldor

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Mary Kaldor's New and Old Wars has fundamentally changed the way both scholars and policy-makers understand contemporary war and conflict. In the context of globalization, this path-breaking book has shown that what we think of as war - that is to say, war between states in which the aim is to inflict maximum violence - is becoming an anachronism. In its place is a new type of organized violence or 'new wars', which could be described as a mixture of war, organized crime and massive violations of human rights. The actors are both global and local, public and private. The wars are fought for particularistic political goals using tactics of terror and destabilization that are theoretically outlawed by the rules of modern warfare. Kaldor's analysis offers a basis for a cosmopolitan political response to these wars, in which the monopoly of legitimate organized violence is reconstructed on a transnational basis and international peacekeeping is reconceptualized as cosmopolitan law enforcement. This approach also has implications for the reconstruction of civil society, political institutions, and economic and social relations. This third edition has been fully revised and updated. Kaldor has added an afterword answering the critics of the New Wars argument and, in a new chapter, Kaldor shows how old war thinking in Afghanistan and Iraq greatly exacerbated what turned out to be, in many ways, archetypal new wars - characterised by identity politics, a criminalised war economy and civilians as the main victims. Like its predecessors, the third edition of New and Old Wars will be essential reading for students of international relations, politics and conflict studies as well as to all those interested in the changing nature and prospect of warfare.

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Informations

Éditeur
Polity
Année
2013
ISBN
9780745663036
1
Introduction
In the summer of 1992, I visited Nagorno-Karabakh in the Transcaucasian region in the midst of a war involving Azerbaijan and Armenia. It was then that I realized that what I had previously observed in the former Yugoslavia was not unique; it was not a throwback to the Balkan past but rather a contemporary predicament especially, or so I thought, to be found in the post-communist part of the world. The Wild West atmosphere of Knin (then the capital of the self-proclaimed Serbian republic in Croatia) and Nagorno-Karabakh, peopled by young men in home-made uniforms, desperate refugees and thuggish, neophyte politicians, was quite distinctive. Later, I embarked on a research project on the character of the new type of wars and I discovered from my colleagues who had first-hand experience of Africa that what I had noted in Eastern Europe shared many common features with the wars taking place in Africa and perhaps also other places, for example South Asia. Indeed, the experience of wars in other places shed new light on my understanding of what was happening in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union.1
My central argument is that, during the last decades of the twentieth century, a new type of organized violence developed, especially in Africa and Eastern Europe, which is one aspect of the current globalized era. I describe this type of violence as ‘new war’. I use the term ‘new’ to distinguish such wars from prevailing perceptions of war drawn from an earlier era, which I outline in chapter 2. I use the term ‘war’ to emphasize the political nature of this new type of violence, even though, as will become clear in the following pages, the new wars involve a blurring of the distinctions between war (usually defined as violence between states or organized political groups for political motives), organized crime (violence undertaken by privately organized groups for private purposes, usually financial gain) and large-scale violations of human rights (violence undertaken by states or politically organized groups against individuals).
In most of the literature, the new wars are described as internal or civil wars or else as ‘low-intensity conflicts’. Yet, although most of these wars are localized, they involve a myriad of transnational connections so that the distinction between internal and external, between aggression (attacks from abroad) and repression (attacks from inside the country), or even between local and global, are difficult to sustain. The term ‘low-intensity conflict’ was coined during the Cold War period by the US military to describe guerrilla warfare or terrorism. Although it is possible to trace the evolution of the new wars from the so-called low-intensity conflicts of the Cold War period, they have distinctive characteristics which are masked by what is in effect a catch-all term. Some authors describe the new wars as privatized or informal wars;2 yet, while the privatization of violence is an important element of these wars, in practice, the distinction between what is private and what is public, state and non-state, informal and formal, what is done for economic and what for political motives, cannot easily be applied. A more appropriate term is perhaps ‘post-modern’, which is used by several authors.3 Like ‘new wars’, it offers a way of distinguishing these wars from the wars which could be said to be characteristic of classical modernity. However, the term is also used to refer to virtual wars and wars in cyberspace;4 moreover, the new wars involve elements of pre-modernity and modernity as well. A more recent term used by Frank Hoffman, which has gained widespread currency, particularly in the military, is ‘hybrid wars’5 – the term nicely captures the blurring of public and private, state or non-state, formal and informal that is characteristic of new wars; it is also used to refer to a mixture of different types of war (conventional warfare, counter-insurgency, civil war, for example) and, as such, may miss the specific logic of new wars. Finally, Martin Shaw uses the term ‘degenerate warfare’, while John Mueller talks about the ‘remnants’ of war.6 For Shaw, there is a continuity with the total wars of the twentieth century and their genocidal aspects; the term draws attention to the decay of the national frameworks, especially military forces. Mueller argues that war in general (what I call old wars) has declined and that what is left is banditry often disguised as political conflict.
Critics of the ‘new war’ argument have suggested that many features of the new wars can be found in earlier wars and that the dominance of the Cold War overshadowed the significance of ‘small wars’ or ‘low-intensity’ conflicts.7 There is some truth in this proposition. The main point of the distinction between new and old wars was to change the prevailing perceptions of war, especially among policy makers. In particular, I wanted to emphasize the growing illegitimacy of these wars and the need for a cosmopolitan political response – one that put individual rights and the rule of law as the centrepiece of any international intervention (political, military, civil or economic). Nevertheless, I do think that the ‘new war’ argument does reflect a new reality – a reality that was emerging before the end of the Cold War. Globalization is a convenient catch-all to describe the various changes that characterize the contemporary period and have influenced the character of war.8
Among American strategic writers, there has been much discussion about what is variously known as the Revolution in Military Affairs, or Defence Transformation.9 The argument is that the advent of information technology is as significant as was the advent of the tank and the aeroplane, or even as significant as the shift from horse power to mechanical power, with profound implications for the future of warfare. In particular, it is argued that these changes have made modern war much more precise and discriminate. However, these apparently new concepts are conceived within the inherited institutional structures of war and the military. They envisage wars on a traditional model in which the new techniques develop in a more or less linear extension from the past. Moreover, they are designed to sustain the imagined character of war which was typical of the Cold War era and utilized in such a way as to minimize own casualties. The preferred technique is spectacular aerial bombing or rapid and dramatic ground manoeuvres and most recently the use of robots and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) especially drones, which reproduce the appearance of classical war for public consumption but which turn out to be rather clumsy as an instrument and, in some cases, outright counterproductive, for influencing the reality on the ground. Hence Baudrillard’s famous remark that the Gulf War did not take place.10 These complex sophisticated techniques were initially applied in the Gulf War of 1991, developed further in the last phases of the war in Bosnia–Herzegovina and in Kosovo, and, most recently, in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and also Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
I share the view that there has been a revolution in military affairs, but it is a revolution in the social relations of warfare, not in technology, even though the changes in social relations are influenced by and make use of new technology. Beneath the spectacular displays are real wars, which, even in the case of the 1991 Iraq war in which thousands of Kurds and Shi’ites died, are better explained in terms of my conception of new wars. In this third edition, I have added a new chapter on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to show the clash between what I call technology-updated ‘old war’ and the ‘new war’ in both places.
The new wars have to be understood in the context of the process known as globalization. By globalization, I mean the intensification of global interconnectedness – political, economic, military and cultural – and the changing character of political authority. Even though I accept the argument that globalization has its roots in modernity or even earlier, I consider that the globalization of the 1980s and 1990s was a qualitatively new phenomenon which can, at least in part, be explained as a consequence of the revolution in information technologies and dramatic improvements in communication and data processing. This process of intensifying interconnectedness is a contradictory one involving both integration and fragmentation, homogenization and diversification, globalization and localization. It is often argued that the new wars are a consequence of the end of the Cold War; they reflect a power vacuum which is typical of transition periods in world affairs. It is undoubtedly true that the consequences of the end of the Cold War – the availability of surplus arms, the discrediting of socialist ideologies, the disintegration of totalitarian empires, the withdrawal of superpower support to client regimes – contributed in important ways to the new wars. But equally, the end of the Cold War could be viewed as the way in which the Eastern bloc succumbed to the inevitable encroachment of globalization – the crumbling of the last bastions of territorial autarchy, the moment when Eastern Europe was ‘opened up’ to the rest of the world.
The impact of globalization is visible in many of the new wars. The global presence in these wars can include international reporters, mercenary troops and military advisers, and diaspora volunteers as well as a veritable ‘army’ of international agencies ranging from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Oxfam, Save the Children, MĂ©decins Sans FrontiĂšres, Human Rights Watch and the International Red Cross to international institutions such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the European Union (EU), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) itself, including peacekeeping troops. Indeed, the wars epitomize a new kind of global/local divide between those members of a global class who can speak English, have access to the Internet and satellite television, who use dollars or euros or credit cards, and who can travel freely, and those who are excluded from global processes, who live off what they can sell or barter or what they receive in humanitarian aid, whose movement is restricted by roadblocks, visas and the cost of travel, and who are prey to sieges, forced displacement, famines, landmines, etc.
In the literature on globalization, a central issue concerns the implications of global interconnectedness for the future of territorially based sovereignty – that is to say, for the future of the modern state.11 The new wars arise in the context of the erosion of the autonomy of the state and, in some extreme cases, the disintegration of the state. In particular, they occur in the context of the erosion of the monopoly of legitimate organized violence. This monopoly is eroded from above and from below. It has been eroded from above by the transnationalization of military forces which began during the two world wars and was institutionalized by the bloc system during the Cold War and by innumerable transnational connections between armed forces that developed in the post-war period.12 The capacity of states to use force unilaterally against other states has been greatly weakened. This is partly for practical reasons – the growing destructiveness of military technology and the increasing interconnectedness of states, especially in the military field. It is difficult to imagine nowadays a state or group of states risking a large-scale war which could be even more destructive than what was experienced during the two world wars. Moreover, military alliances, international arms production and trade, various forms of military cooperation and exchanges, arms control agreements, etc., have created a form of global military integration. The weakening of states’ capacity to use unilateral force is also due to the evolution of international norms. The principle that unilateral aggression is illegitimate was first codified in the Kellogg–Briand pact of 1928, and reinforced after World War II in the UN Charter and through the reasoning used in the war crimes trials in Nuremberg and Tokyo.
At the same time, the monopoly of organized violence is eroded from below by privatization. Indeed, it could be argued that the new wars are part of a process which is more or less a reversal of the processes through which modern European states evolved. As I argue in chapter 2, the rise of the modern state was intimately connected to war. In order to fight wars, rulers needed to increase taxation and borrowing, to eliminate ‘wastage’ as a result of crime, corruption and inefficiency, to regularize armed forces and police and to eliminate private armies, and to mobilize popular support in order to raise money and men. As war became the exclusive province of the state, so the growing destructiveness of war against other states was paralleled by a process of growing security at home; hence the way in which the term ‘civil’ came to mean internal. The modern European state was reproduced elsewhere. The new wars occur in situations in which state revenues decline because of the decline of the economy as well as the spread of criminality, corruption and inefficiency, violence is increasingly privatized both as a result of growing organized crime and the emergence of paramilitary groups, and political legitimacy is disappearing. Thus the distinctions are breaking down between external barbarity and domestic civility, between the combatant as the legitimate bearer of arms and the non-combatant, or between the soldier or policeman and the criminal. The barbarity of war between states may have become a thing of the past. In its place is a new type of organized violence that is more pervasive and long-lasting, but also perhaps less extreme.
In chapter 3, I use the example of the war in Bosnia–Herzegovina to illustrate the main features of the new wars, mainly because it is the war with which I was most familiar when I originally wrote this book. The war in Bosnia–Herzegovina shares many of the characteristics of wars in other places. But in one sense it is exceptional; it became the focus of global and European attention during the 1990s. More resources – governmental and non-governmental – have been concentrated there than in any other new war up until the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. On the one hand, this means that, as a case study, it has atypical features. On the other hand, it also means that it became the paradigm case from which different lessons were drawn in the post-Cold War period, the example which has been used to argue out different general positions, and, at the same time, a laboratory in which experiments in the different ways of managing the new wars have taken place.
The new wars can be contrasted with earlier wars in terms of their goals, the methods of warfare and how they are financed. The goals of the new wars are about identity politics in contrast to the geo-political or ideological goals of earlier wars. In chapter 4, I argue that, in the context of globalization, ideological and/or territorial cleavages of an earlier era have increasingly been supplanted by an emerging political cleavage between what I call cosmopolitanism, based on inclusive, universalist, multicultural values, and the politics of particularist identities.13 This cleavage can be explained in terms of the growing divide between those who are part of global processes and those who are excluded, but it should not be equated with this division. Among the global class are members of transnational networks based on exclusivist identity, while at the local level there are many courageous individuals who refuse the politics of particularism.
By identity politics, I mean the claim to power on the basis of a particular identity – be it national, clan, religious or linguistic. In one sense, all wars involve a clash of identities – British against French, communists against democrats. But my point is that these earlier identities were linked either to a notion of state interest or to some forward-looking project – ideas about how society should be organized. Nineteenth-century European nationalisms or post-colonial nationalisms, for example, presented themselves as emancipatory nation-building projects. The new identity politics is about the claim to power on the basis of labels – in so far as there are ideas about political or social change, they tend to relate to an idealized nostalgic representation of the past. It is often claimed that the new wave of identity politics is merely a throwback to the past, a resurgence of ancient hatreds kept under control by colonialism and/or the Cold War. While it is true that the narratives of identity politics depend on memory and tradition, it is also the case that these are ‘reinvented’ in the context of the failure or the corrosion of other sources of political legitimacy – the discrediting of socialism or the nation-building rhetoric of the first generation of post-colonial leaders. These backward-looking political projects arise in the vacuum created by the absence of forward-looking projects. Unlike the politics of ideas which are open to all and therefore tend to be integrative, this type of identity politics is inherently exclusive and therefore tends towards fragmentation.
There are two aspects of the new wave of identity politics which specifically relate to the process of globalization. First, the new wave of identity politics is both local and global, national as well as transnational. In many cases, there are significant diaspora communities whose influence is greatly enhanced by the ease of travel and improved communication. Alienated diaspora groups in advanced industrial or oil-rich countries provide ideas, funds and techniques, thereby imposing their own frustrations and fantasies on what is often a very different situation. Second, this politics makes use of the new technology. The speed of political mobilization is greatly increased by the use of the electronic media. The effect of television, radio or videos on what is often a non-reading public cannot be overestim...

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