Currently viewing the tag: "new wars"

What’s in a number?

On February 14, 2012 By

So not all numbers are ‘Mister Right’ and some are downright liars. But, to push the analogy a bit, that is no reason to then conclude that ‘all numbers are pigs’ and throw our hands up in the air in despair.

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Determining what is “old” and “new” about conflicts demands attention to how we know what we know. Despite increasing demands for conflict data, as Kelly Greenhill argues in this post, “accurately assessing the human costs of conflict can be difficult at best.”

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Perhaps, then, the question should be restated. Instead of debating what is new versus what is old when it comes to war, those who wish to understand conflict should pose the more straightforward question: what has changed in the realm of armed conflict since the end of the Cold War?

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But surely the discovery that there is a political economy of conflict has had more to do with shifting geopolitical winds than a sudden transformation in the nature of warfare itself. This does not mean to suggest that conflict and the global context within which it takes place have not changed at all, but rather to simply point out that the end of the Cold War is what created the political opening to bring political economy more centrally into the study of conflict in the first place.

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Mary Kaldor’s New and Old Wars (first edition, 1999) crystallized thinking about the changing nature of war in the globalized post-Cold War era, in particular focusing on the proliferation of non-state actors and the systematic targeting of civilians, the importance of identity politics, and the inter-relationship between private and often criminal interests and [...]

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