O what extent can conflicts in the post-cold war era be characterized as ‘new wars’?

Páginas: 10 (2357 palabras) Publicado: 7 de marzo de 2011
Student: W10672297

Question 1: To what extent can conflicts in the post-cold war era be characterized as ‘new wars’?

This essay will attempt to draw attention to events that unfolded in the aftermath of the Cold War and that have led our understanding of war to a different level. It will take into account the more prominent role of the United Nations Security Council and other INGOs and itspast humanitarian interventions, the Bosnian-Herzegovina conflict and transactional movements. Furthermore, in light of the change of the world’s architecture since the post-Cold War period it will argue that the way in which wars are being fought, the reaction of the global actors in light of war prospects and the participation of non-state actors (private actors) have re-shaped theunderstandings of wars.

The advent of the Internet era, fast transnational movements, growth of NGOs and INGOs have shed some of the state’s responsibilities to a greater amount of actors. This has made the Clausewitzean assumptions of war, for instance, that of the notion of war as a state activity and ‘as an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfil our will’ (Kaldor, 2006: 17) have to berevised in order for a better understanding of conflict, humanitarian and military interventions after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

For Kaldor (2006:27) the total wars premises, despite having its certainties, do not taken into account the growth of a thinner division line between the state and non-state actors and the contrast between military and the civil, between combatants and noncombatants started to break down in the twentieth century.

In discussions of international relations the vision of conflict described by Thomas Hobbes, in Leviathan, is taken into account, for Hobbes, cited in Dunbain, accordingly kings ‘are in continuing jealousies and the state and posture of gladiator, having their weapons pointing and their eyes fixed on one another; that is, their forts,garrisons and guns upon frontiers of their kingdoms, and continual spies upon neighbours-which is a posture of war (Leviathan, chaps. 17, 13- cited in Dunbain, 1994:437). Further, Hobbes saw the struggle for power and acknowledge the premise of state sovereignty and the need for its protection by all means and its self-centred interests, ‘for their own security enlarge their dominions upon all pretencesof danger…, and endeavour…to subdue or weaken their neighbours by open force and secret arts…; and are remembered for it in after years with honour’ (Hobbes cited in Dunbain1994:437).This description of relationship between states may reflect the situation encountered in the Middle East and its constant Israeli-Palestine tensions around the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; quest for borders legitimacyand the anti-Israeli rhetoric exacerbated by the Arab summit in January 1964. However, the transactional movements of the 20th Century, the ever-growing cooperation amongst states in humanitarian missions, economic policies, inter-state cooperation and participation of non state actors in national affairs have made Hobbes’ assumptions limited in relation to our understanding of new types of warsemerged in the last two decades, for instance. Further, it does not explain the ethnic conflicts in Bosnia-Herzegovina, described as a new type of war by Kaldor (2006: chapter 3).

Conflicts can no longer only be explained by the premises of the old war assumptions of territorial annexation, protection of national borders and altruistic motives. For instance, ethnic cleansing was acharacteristic of East European nationalism in the twentieth century (Kaldor, 2006:35). The war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was fought for political goals and assumed unique characteristics (therefore can be classified as a new war). The magnitude of the conflict, the involvement of non-state actors such as the United Nations (UN) and North Atlantic Treaty Organizations (NATO) as well as the American attempts...
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