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"New wars" true to its name is a new and post- modern type of warfare in which actors use tactic different from that of the classical battles fought like both World Wars. Arguments are rife that there is really nothing new about this form of war and it really just goes back to before technology was discovered and modernization reached, but the fact is the recent wars the world have seen are different. What is new about the new wars? Everything, Ranging from tactics to funding to those involved. This purpose of this paper is to point out what makes present wars new by looking at the factors mentioned above.
What is war? It is 'an act of violence intended to compel our opponents to fulfill our will' (Clausewitz in Kaldor 2001:17). This is what is considered the classical war (, also referred to as old wars in this paper) under this definition, it is concluded that "our" refers to a collective body, a state. This has been the assumption accorded to war, the old ones that is. Mary Kaldor (2001) describes "new wars" as organized violence, which commonly comes in the form of civil wars and terrorism. One might ask if classical warfare were not organized. Agreed all kinds of warfare are organized but what is different about the new wars is the way they are organized. Different state bodies organized old wars. It was one nation against another. The new wars however are mostly intra-state wars within a nation with external parties often aiding them along. Groups within a nation oppose one another or the state body. It is often conflict between different ethnic groups within the nation like the Nigerian Biafra war where the Igbo ethnic group tried to secede (Golbalsecurity.org), or based on different religious belief and ideals coupled with struggle for political power.
The new kind of war is characterized with identity politics (Kaldor, 2001). This means in new wars it is about what you identify with, what group, beliefs, and traditions. The new war is about power, it is a fight to gain power based on personal identities 'in contrast to the geo-political or ideological goals of earlier wars' (Kaldor, 2001:6). Take for instance the Rwandan case where civil war was started based on ethnic identities and struggle over political position and power between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups. (discussed in Caplan 2007). Old wars although also about identities were about national identities, the ideology of a particular nation overriding that of another, as a collective group like the independence wars, one nation fighting for its own identity not groups within a nation trying to place what they identify with in power.
The New wars also lack well-defined wartime stages. The distinction between factors that distinguished wartime from peacetime in the old wars is blurred in the new wars; this blurring of conflict periods is an outstanding feature of the new wars. The various distinctive factors discussed by Kaldor (2005) as the elements that defined war time during the eighteenth century are ignored during new wars. There is no difference between civil and military, under the new wars the citizen at large are attacked. The distinction between public and private is also blurred in the sense that in the new wars, people are attacked in their own homes and communities for lack of designated battlefields and battles flare up anywhere. The most important distinction that is the one between civil and military is completely ignored in new wars with most of the conflict occurring between militant civilian groups. The idea that war should be between state actors is also not a rule adhered to by the new wars which involve both state and non-state actors. These clear-cut differences between factors involved in the old type of wars are the exact opposite of the new wars. Because differences do not exist, new wars also lack the rules and codes of conduct that guided old wars. New wars are fought indiscriminately and although they involve many crimes and atrocities, it is safe to conclude that new wars lack war criminals. To be classified as a criminal, there must be rules to violate, since rules and codes of conducts are alien to the new wars, there is nothing to violate, which means no crimes are committed, only inhumane behavior.
The participants and victims of the "new wars" are also a new type. They now include non-state actors versus state actors. It is the military and police force against civilians and not other military forces. The actors mostly involve rebels and their gangs, local warlords and often times mercenaries against themselves, civilians, the police and military forces with little or no support from the public at large. 'Thus, 'new wars' are characterized by the deliberate targeting and forcible displacement of civilians as a primary objective of violenceâ€¦' (Newman, 2004:168). New civil wars as Kalyvas (2001) points out are different from the old ones based on the fact that they are fueled by the idea of loot, lack public support, and involve extreme violence. Old wars whether they were civil or not used to be for a general public cause, for the people and not against the people as new wars currently are. Kalyavas (2001:102) also notes that 'old civil wars were motivated by broad, well-defined, clearly articulated, universalistic, ideologies of social change, whereas, new civil wars tend to be motivated by concerns that often boil down to little more than simple private gain'. In the new wars, most of the casualties are attributed to civilians as opposed to the military. This is because the new wars are fought not against other military groups as pointed out earlier but against civil state members. According to Munkler (2005) majority of the victims of new warfare are civilian (80%) and only a few military men (20%).
Also new to the participants of new wars are children. The new types of war not only employ and attack civilians, but they also recruit children. The idea of child soldier itself is not a new concept to war .Old wars like that of the American Revolutionary war (Discussed in Ronsen 2005) often included child soldier who enlisted voluntarily into the army. The new wars however recruited children (most of them by force and through kidnapping and fear) and not as military soldiers but as rebel group soldiers. This can be attributed to the killing of eligible recruits during attacks on civilians, whatever the reason maybe; child soldiers defined as 'any persons under eighteen years of age who is recruited or used by an army or armed group' (Ronsen, 2005: 3) are an increasing attribute of the new wars. Many of the recent African wars like the genocide in Rwanda and the war in Sierra Leone (discussed in Ronsen, 2005), Sudan, and Mozambique have included the abduction and training of kids to become weapons of destruction and violence. According to Honwana (2006: 11) '(b)etween 8,000 and 10,000 children in Mozambique participated in the conflicts as soldiers, most fighting with RENAMO[ the Mozambique national resistance group that fought for independence]'.During the war in Angola, about a million children were involved in the war both as victims and soldiers.(Honwana 2006). The inclusion of children as war participants has increased the level of crimes and violence (Munkler 2005) as they are given free reign and weapons to exact their will within the society. The children out of the need to be accepted by their peers and to gain respect from their superiors go to extreme lengths to prove themselves.
The inclusion of child soldiers in the new wars gives room for increase in sexual assault as a weapon. Children with guns and weapons get so much power from it and use it without discretion to assert their selves as powerful, '(t) hese gun toting adolescents have been responsible for many particularly gruesome rapes and mutilations of sexual organs' (Munkler, 2005:20). The use of sex as a war weapon is targeted mostly towards women, which is also something different about new wars the targeting of females as victims. The numbers of sexually assultaed war victims have also grown phenomenally during the new wars compared to old wars where sexual assaults were not so much a weapon but a distraction from the war itself. The estimated amount of sexually assaulted women after and during the Rwandan incidence was about one third of a million while does during the Balkan wars were fifty thousand at the most (Munkler 2005). Using sex as a weapon is also a method used to instill fear in the minds of the people and reduce their sense of morale, which is one tactic, used for combat in the new wars.
Accompanying the emergence of forced child soldier in war is also the rise of warlords. Warlords are an important and distinct characteristic of the new wars. These people organize racketeering in a society experiencing civil unrest. Warlords by definition '"refers to the leader of an armed band, possibly numbering up to several thousand fighters, who can hold territory locally and at the same time act financially and politically in the international system without interference from the state in which he is based"' (Duffield 1997 in McKinlay, 2000:48). McKinaly (2000) draws a parallel between new warlords, the barons of European states and Chinese warlords with the exception being that barons and Chinese warlords had a responsibility to protect the civil society, a responsibility they fulfilled when the need arises. The modern warlords however, with all their plundering and atrocities have a negative effect on the civil society and have no social responsibility to the community. Their victims were members of the society; they stole from them, recruited from them and oppressed them. Warlords used refugee camps as their stock room both for resources to enhance their roles as warlords like foodstuffs to sell and sustain themselves and to increase their fighting force by recruiting refugees from the camps into their armies. (Munkler 2005). Warlords have played a major role in ensuring the continuation of new wars because of the benefits they derive from the chaos of war and looting that accompanies it.
Also new to the prevalent type of war in the late twentieth and twenty first century (new wars) is the type of war economy. The new war economy has become globalized and decentralized (Kaldor2001). 'The environment [is] characterized by the collapse of the formal economy and public authority, and the exploitation of this by organized criminal groups. Conflicts in Burundi, Sierra Leone, Chechnya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Liberia, Congo, and Angola, among others, reflected some degree of these factors in the 1990s' (.Newman, 2004:179), in the new wars, the economies of the country are degenerated because of conflict, which slows down production. This is because the war is often in a country and not outside of it. The old wars were characterized with peace at home and war abroad instead the new war brings the conflict home. Therefore, the economy of countries experiencing conflict in the form of new wars takes hits that have more direct effect on their economy and because of this, they become reliant on external factors, countries donating aids, arms and weapons or even tactics. The war economy becomes one based on the perpetuation of robbery (needed to continue financing the war) and violence to instill fear in the hearts of the people.
Also new about the new wars is the source and method of funding. As mentioned earlier, the funds and aids for the new kind of war comes from outside party support and little form the government itself. Rebels and non-state actors of the war get funds from external parties in the form of ' remittances from the diaspora, 'taxation' of humanitarian assistance, support from neighboring countries or illegal trade in arms, drugs or valuable commodities such as oil and diamonds' (Kaldor, 2001:8) while also plundering and looting to fund their war activities. The Old wars were state funded; the state in combat funded its soldiers. In instances where they received help from outside sources and other countries, it was in the form of soldiers from alliances like those during the cold war and not weapons and funds from antagonistic rival states.
The tactics employed in the new wars are also new to warfare. The "new wars" tactic to warfare ' draw on the experience of both guerrilla warfare and counterinsurgency' (Kaldor, 2001:7) although such tactics have always existed they were merely considered as tools in low intensity conflicts and not a means of actual warfare as defined between nations. The strategies employed by the new wars are a series of hide and sick attack and retreat games. Actual confrontation with the opposing force is avoided with the combatants attacking each other from points of considerable advantage. The old wars however involved actual confrontations in the form of battles with winners and losers and designated battle grounds (Munkler 2005), '(t) ypically, then, the new wars lack what characterised the interstate wars: the decisive battle' (Munlker, 2005:12).
Guerilla warfare is designed to get around large military forces and had been used for ages where small groups are faced against large ones like the Spanish resistance to napoleon (discussed in Guevara1997) and China's resistance to Japanese imperialism (Tse-Tung 2001) during these battles a decisive war was eventually fought after the opponents were worn down through guerrilla tactics. It was a nation against another nation battle, weak against the strong, what makes it new is the way it is used in the new wars. The new wars have distinctly combined capturing the heart of the people with instilling fear in this same hearts. The new wars have revolutionized the idea of Guerilla war, turned what was considered the fight of the people against oppression, invasion, and to gain national liberation (Guevara 1997) as it was used in the old wars to a fight against the people themselves by combining it with counterinsurgency tactics. Kaldor (2001:8). states that:
'the new warfare borrows from counterinsurgency techniques of destabilization aimed at sowing 'fear and hatred'. The aim is to control the population â€¦hence the strategic goal of these wars is population expulsion through various means such as mass killing, forcible resettlement, as well as a range of political, psychological and economic techniques of intimidation'.
Guerilla warfare in old wars was one on step in many of war and it was usually coordinated with military backing (one of the basics of successful guerilla tactic) and was always for a political purpose endorsed by the people (Tse-Tung 2001). Under the new wars, however it is not a step but the only form of warfare used and often misses the special element of military support, and this is what makes it new.
The ability to disintegrate and break down the state is also considered new. Old wars in their destruction were carried out for building nation states like in Europe and North- America (discussed in Münkler 2005), the war although causing considerable damage while it was in effects was fought to better a nation. New wars however often arise from degenerate situations and often end without correcting the situation. They are fought for selfish reasons that and under conditions that disintegrate the state. Activities like looting and black-market used to fund new wars affect the market. The economy declines because of widespread criminal activities and violence against civilians. State resources (both capital and labour) are depleted, 'the new wars occur in situations where state revenues decline because of the decline of the economy as well as the spread of criminality, corruption and inefficiency' (Kaldor, 2001:5). Also adding to the element of state disintegration is the outside influence and support received during the new wars. The new war economies due to bad economic state and outside aid become dependent on external sources for services that should be provided by the state.
New wars lack a specific duration and are usually of a longer length. This is because with the guerilla method being employed, a decisive battle is avoided at all cost and both parties never come to peace. New wars are long-term conflicts within a nation with no declaration of war or peace. New wars are not constricted to a particular space or time and can start up anywhere and at any time. Combatants of new wars are not really looking for resolutions and so the conflict goes on for longer than it would in regular war, and because there is no declaration of war concluding the end of new wars is difficult, this is also so because they have the potential to abate and flare up again without warning. Unlike old wars which are ended with peace agreements, the end of new wars are marked through peace processes (Munkler 2005) and are evident 'when the overwhelming majority of people behave as if there were peace, and have the capacity overtime to compel the minority to behave in that way too' (Münkler, 2005:13).
Classic wars involving different nations had certain characteristics, they were governed by rules, and involved various elements that are discarded my new wars. New wars although borrowing from the methods and techniques of old wars, implement such techniques differently. The use of child soldiers an age-old tradition is spinned in the new war they are forced into combat and not voluntarily for the political reasons of the classic wars. The children are kidnapped, drugged and told to perform heinous acts or forfeit their own life and sometimes those acts are done against their own communities. The new wars are also specifically characterized by intra-state violence and outside influence. They lack specific duration and go on for as long as those benefiting from such wars can make it last. New wars are also not constricted by space, and attack flare up at any location. The use of guerilla tactic as the sole form of battle is adds to the distinct new war attribute. Even though some of the things considered new about new wars like guerilla warfare, child soldiers, and warlords were already existing methods and characteristics of classical war and combat, they are considered new types warfare because of the way they are carried out in the new wars not because they newly emerged during new wars.