In the modern era, warfare came to play a crucial role in the
formation of states, whereas the new wars emerging at the beginning
of the 21st century have mostly gone together with the failure or
collapse of states. The author draws out the key shifts involved in
this process: from symmetrical conflicts between states to
asymmetrical global relationships of force; from national armies to
increasingly private or commercial bands of warlords, child
soldiers and mercenaries; from pitched battles to protracted
conflicts in which there is often little fighting and most of the
violence is directed against civilians. Changes in weapons
technology have combined with complex economic factors to make the
prospect of endlessly simmering wars a real danger in the years to
Against this background, the author outlines the rise of a novel form of international terrorism, conceived more as a political method of communication than as an element in a military strategy. The resulting challenges faced by Western governments, and the costs and benefits associated with any response, are taken up in a concluding section that contrasts the characteristic European and American approaches and examines the implications for the future of international law.
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“Münkler helpfully sets out three ways in which the
emergence of ‘new wars’ is framed by globalisation and
relates to the high-tech war ... In so doing, he clearly sets out
some of the global trends, and systematically demonstrates the
relationship between ‘new’ forms of warfare, Western
war, and the forces of globalisation.”
Australian Journal of Political Science
“A good overview of the ‘new wars’: mainly
intrastate wars that are characterized by the breakdown and failure
of the state.”
“The concept of new wars has been controversial, not least
because of the many features they share with old wars. Herfried
Münkler understands this, especially the comparison with wars
of the pre-modern era, and so is able to make more sense of the
concept than most. Not only is this book full of sharp analysis, it
also brings insights from contemporary German scholarship to the
notice of English language readers.”
Lawrence Freedman, King's College London
1. What is new about the new wars?.
2. Warfare, state-building and the Thrity Years War.
3. The statization of war.
4. The economics of force in the new wars.
5. International terrorism.
6. Military interventions and the West’s dilemma.