The Changing Character of War

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Over the last decade (and indeed ever since the Cold War), the rise of insurgents and non-state actors in war, and their readiness to use terror and other irregular methods of fighting, have led commentators to speak of 'new wars'. They have assumed that the 'old wars' were waged solely between states, and were accordingly fought between comparable and 'symmetrical' armed forces. Much of this commentary has lacked context or sophistication. It has been bounded by norms and theories more than the messiness of reality. Fed by the impact of the 9/11 attacks, it has privileged some wars and certain trends over others. Most obviously it has been historically unaware. But it has also failed to consider many of the other dimensions which help us to define what war is--legal, ethical, religious, and social.

The Changing Character of War, the fruit of a five-year interdisciplinary program at Oxford Univeresity of the same name, draws together all these themes, in order to distinguish between what is really changing about war and what only seems to be changing. Self-evidently, as the product of its own times, the character of each war is always changing. But if war's character is in flux, its underlying nature contains its own internal consistency. Each war is an adversarial business, capable of generating its own dynamic, and therefore of spiralling in directions that are never totally predictable. War is both utilitarian, the tool of policy, and dysfunctional. This book brings together scholars with world-wide reputations, drawn from a clutch of different disciplines, but united by a common intellectual goal: that of understanding a problem of extraordinary importance for our times.

This book is a project of the Oxford Leverhulme Program on the Changing Character of War.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199596737
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 7/2/2011
  • Pages: 530
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Hew Strachan is Chichele Professor of the History of War and Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford University. He is also Director of the Oxford Program on the Changing Character of War.

Sibylle Scheipers is Director of Studies for the Changing Character of War Program at Oxford University. Previously she held a postdoctoral fellowship at Chatham House, London.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Changing Character of War, Hew Strachan and Sibylle Scheipers
Part One: The Need for a Historical Perspective: What has Changed?
1. The Changing Character of War, Azar Gat
2. Had a Distinct Template for a 'Western Way of War' Been Established Before 1800?, David Parrott
3. Changes in War: The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, Michael Broers
4. The Change from Within, Gil-li Vardi
5. 'Killing is Easy': The Atomic Bomb and the Temptation of Terror, Gerard J. DeGroot
6. The 'New Wars' Thesis Revisited, Mats Berdal
7. What is Really Changing? Change and Continuity in Global Terrorism, Audrey Kurth Cronin
Part Two: The Purpose of War: Why go to War?
8. Humanitarian intervention, David J.B. Trim
9. Democracy and War in the Strategic Thought of Giulio Douhet, Thomas Hippler
10. Religion in the War on Terror, Alia Brahimi
11. The Changing Character of Civil Wars, 1800-2009, Stathis N. Kalyvas
12. Crime versus War, William Reno
Part Three: The Changing Identities of Combatants: Who Fights?
13. War Without the People, Pascal Vennesson
14. The Changing Character of Private Force, Sarah Percy
15. Who Fights?-A Comparative Demographic Depiction of Terrorists and Insurgents in the Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries, Bruce Hoffman
16. Warlords, Kimberly Marten
17. The European Union, Multilateralism, and the Use of Force, Anne Deighton
18. Robots at War: The New Battlefield, Peter W. Singer
Part Four: The Changing Identities of Non-combatants
19. The Civilian in Modern War, Adam Roberts
20. Killing Civilians, Uwe Steinhoff
21. The Status and Protections of Prisoners of War and Detainees, Sibylle Scheipers
22. The Challenge of the Child Soldier, Guy S. Goodwin-Gill
Part Five: The Ideas Which Enable us to Understand War
23. American Strategic Culture: Problems and Prospects, Antulio J Echevarria II
24. Morality and Law in War, David Rodin
25. Target-selection Norms, Torture Norms, and Growing US Permissiveness, Henry Shue
26. he Return of Realism? War and Changing Concepts of the Political, Patricia Owens
27. Strategy in the Twenty-first Century, Hew Strachan
Conclusion: Absent War Studies? War, Knowledge, and Critique, Tarak Barkawi and Shane Brighton

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