Inconclusive Wars : Is Clausewitz Still Relevant Today These Global Times?

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In contrast to both Echevarria and Simpson, Mary Kaldor in her article “Inconclusive wars: Is Clausewitz still relevant in these global times?” argues that the nature of war today is so different that it is impossible to make a comparison between the wars of Clausewitz times and contemporary conflict. “The notion of absolute war and the inner tendency to lead to extremes” (Kaldor 2010, 271) is not applicable to modern warfare. The unlimited character of absolute war that Clausewitz saw in the Napoleonic wars today, due to technological developments like the atomic bomb , would lead to the annihilation of civilization. As a result contemporary warfare has developed the notion of deterrence or “wars fought in the imagination” (Kaldor 2010, 274) that tend to be long lasting, inconclusive and have the tendency to spread. Furthermore, Kaldor reasons, wars today not only involve non-state actors and international organizations, that were not present in Clausewitz intrastate conflicts, but they are about identity politics that target civilians as much as soldiers. Modern conflicts are a form of societal disintegration more so than the state building wars of Clausewitz’s period. It is therefore more accurate to define today’s wars as “an act of violence involving two or more organized groups framed in political terms” (Kaldor 2010, 271). Political motivations therefore become the driving force for war, nevertheless do they also question Clausewitz’s famous dictum: war is “mere

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