Cyber Terror Next?"
Dorothy E. Denning, Computer Science, Georgetown University
Before, After, and In Between"
James Der Derian,
Political Science, Brown University, University of Massachusetts,
the War Against Afghanistan"
Richard Falk, International Law, Princeton University
Militarism, Arms Races and Arms Control"
Mary Kaldor, Political Science, London School of Economics
Psychology of Terrorism"
Clark McCauley, Psychology, Bryn Mawr College
Armed Force and the Laws of War"
Adam Roberts, International Relations, Oxford University
Charles Tilly, Sociology, Columbia University
to Tilly's 'Predictions'"
Jack Goldstone, Sociology, University of California, Davis
Afghan Civilians from the Hell of War"
Nicholas Wheeler, Political Science, University of Wales,
War and Peace-Building: Unfinished Legacy of the 1990s"
Militarism, Arms Races and Arms Control
Kaldor, Professor and Director of the Programme on Global
Civil Society; London School of Economics
Since the end of the Cold War, a profound restructuring of
armed forces has taken place. During the Cold War period,
armed forces tended to resemble each other all over the world.
They were disciplined, hierarchical, and technology intensive.
There were, of course, guerrilla and/or terrorist groups but
they were considered marginal and their demand for weapons
was small in relation to the overall demand for weapons.
The Cold War could be described as the final
stage of what has come to be known as modernity, or to use
Anthony Giddens' terminology, the final stages of the first
phase of modernity. By modernity, I mean that period of human
development that began somewhere between the fifteenth and
the eighteenth centuries, characterised by the development
of science and technology, the nation state, modern industry,
and, I would argue, Clausewitzean or modern war. By modern
war, I mean war between states, fought by armed forces, for
state interest; the type of war that was theorised so brilliantly
by Clausewitz. The development of modern war cannot be disentangled
from the development of modern states. It was in war that
European states, which were to provide the model for other
states, established their monopoly of organised violence within
the territorial confines of the state; they eliminated competitors,
centralised administration, increased taxation and forms of
borrowing, and, above all, created an idea of the state as
the organisation responsible for protection of borders against
other states and for upholding a rule of law within the state.
The sharp distinctions between the military and civilians,
public and private, internal and external, are a product of
these developments. As Charles Tilly put it in a famous phrase:
'States made war and war made the state'.
After 1945, the whole world was parcelled up into individual
states, each with their own currency and their own armed forces.
Each state was a member of a bloc (West, East and non-aligned)
and within each bloc, there were transfers of weapons and
other types of military assistance according to a very similar
model of warfare. The idea of war and of preparations for
war was bound up with the ways in which states established
their political legitimacy.
Since the end of the Cold War, military spending by governments
has fallen substantially. But what we have witnessed is less
a contraction of military forces than a restructuring and
increased diversity of types of military forces. There is
a parallel with the pre-modern period, which was also characterised
by a diversity of military forces - feudal levies, citizens
militias, mercenaries, pirates, for example - and by a corresponding
variety of types of warfare.
Two inter-linked developments have been critical, in my view,
in bringing about these changes. One is the sheer destructiveness
of modern warfare. As all types of weapons have become more
lethal and/or more accurate, decisive military victory has
become more and more difficult. The scale of destruction in
World War II (some 50 million dead) is almost unbearable to
contemplate. The Cold War could be understood as a way of
evading or psychologically suppressing the implications of
that destructiveness. Through the system of deterrence, the
idea of modern war was kept alive in the imagination and helped
to sustain the legitimacy and discipline of modern states.
The military planners and scenario builders imagined wars,
even more destructive than World War II, and developed competitive
new technologies that, in theory, would be used in such wars.
There were, of course, real wars and some 5 million people
have died in wars in every decade since 1945 but, among the
dominant powers, these were regarded as 'not-war' or marginal
to the main contingency - a global inter-state clash. With
the end of the Cold War, we have to come to terms with the
impossibility of wars of the modern type.
for more on Anthony Giddens' view of modernity.
here for the first four chapters of Clausewitz's On War.
The second development is the process known
as globalisation. By globalisation, I mean increasing interconnectedness,
the shrinking of distance and time, as a result of the combination
of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and air
travel. A central issue for theorists of globalisation has
to do with the implications for the modern state (See Held).
Some argue that the state has become an anachronism and that
we are moving towards a single world community. Some take
the opposite view, that globalisation is an invention of the
state and can easily be reversed. Yet others insist that globalisation
does not mean the end of the state but rather its transformation.
I share the last position but I would argue that there is
no single method of transformation. States are changing in
a variety of ways and, moreover, these changes, I shall argue,
are bound up with changes in the types of armed forces and
the forms of warfare.
The terms 'militarism', 'arms races' and 'arms control' are
expressions drawn from the Cold War era and before. Militarism
refers to excessive levels of military spending by the state
and excessive influence of armed forces over civilian life.
'Arms races' refer to the competition between similar types
of military forces. 'Arms control' refers to the process of
treaty making between states based on the assumption that
stability can best be preserved through a 'balance of power
(or terror)' between states.
In this essay, I shall distinguish between the different types
of armed forces that are emerging in the post-Cold War world,
only some of which can be characterised in terms of militarism
and arms races, and discuss how they are loosely associated
with different modes of state transformation and different
forms of warfare. I have identified four different types of
armed forces. They could be described as Weberian idealtypes.
They are probably not comprehensive and no single example
exactly fits a particular type. There is also a lot of overlap.
The point is to provide a schematic account of what is happening
in the field of warfare so as to be able to offer some new
ways of thinking about the possibilities for controlling or
limiting the means of warfare and why we need a new terminology
beyond militarism, arms races and arms control. I shall suggest
that the emphasis that has been increasingly accorded to international
law, particularly humanitarian law, offers a possible way
Netforce: Informal or Privatised
A typical new phenomenon is armed networks of non-state and
state actors. They include: para-military groups organised
around a charismatic leader, warlords who control particular
areas, terrorist cells, fanatic volunteers like the Mujahadeen,
organised criminal groups, units of regular forces or other
security services, as well as mercenaries and private military
The form of warfare that is waged by these networks is what
I call 'new war' (Kaldor 1999). New wars, which take place
in the Balkans, Africa, Central Asia and other places, are
sometimes called internal or civil wars to distinguish them
from intra-state or Clausewitzean war. I think this terminology
is inappropriate for a number of reasons. First, the networks
cross borders. One of the typical features of the 'new wars'
is the key role played by Diaspora groups either far away
(Sudanese or Palestinian workers in the Gulf states, former
Yugoslav workers in Western Europe, immigrant groups in the
new 'melting pot' nations like North America or Oceania) or
in neighbouring states (Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia, Tutsis
in Burundi or the DRC). Secondly, the wars involve an array
of global actors - foreign mercenaries and volunteers, Diaspora
supporters, neighbouring states, not to mention the humanitarian
actors such as aid agencies, NGOs or reporters.
And thirdly, and most importantly, the 'new wars' tend to
be concentrated in areas where the modern state is unravelling
and where the distinctions between internal and external,
public and private, no longer have the same meaning. Such
areas are characterised by what are called frail or failing
states, quasi or shadow states. These are states, formally
recognised by the outside world, with some of the trappings
of statehood - an incomplete administrative apparatus, a flag,
sometimes a currency - but where those trappings do not express
control over territory and where access to the state apparatus
is about private gain not public policy. In particular these
are states where the monopoly of legitimate organised violence
In many of the areas where new wars take place, it is possible
to observe a process that is almost the reverse of the process
through which modern states were constructed. Taxes fall because
of declining investment and production, increased corruption
and clientilism, or declining legitimacy. The declining tax
revenue leads to growing dependence both on external sources
and on private sources, through, for example, rent seeking
or criminal activities. Reductions in public expenditure as
a result of the shrinking fiscal base as well as pressures
from external donors for macro-economic stabilisation and
liberalisation (which also may reduce export revenues) further
erode legitimacy. A growing informal economy associated with
increased inequalities, unemployment and rural-urban migration,
combined with the loss of legitimacy, weakens the rule of
law and may lead to the re-emergence of privatised forms of
violence: organised crime and the substitution of 'protection'
for taxation; vigilantes; private security guards protecting
economic facilities, especially international companies; or
para-military groups associated with particular political
factions. In particular, reductions in security expenditure,
often encouraged by external donors for the best of motives,
may lead to break away groups of redundant soldiers and policemen
seeking alternative employment.
Of course, the networks that engage in new wars are not all
to be found in these failing states. They include nodes in
advanced industrial countries and, in the inner cities of
the West, it is possible to observe gang warfare that has
many of the characteristics of 'new wars'. Nevertheless, this
type of state provides a fertile environment for these types
There are three main characteristics of the 'new wars'. First
of all, I use the term 'war' to emphasise the political character
of the new wars, even though they could also be described
as organised crime (illegal or private violence) or as massive
violations of human rights (violence against civilians). Because
networks are loose horizontal coalitions, unlike vertical
disciplined armies of the past, a shared narrative, often
based on a common identity, ethnic or religious, is an important
organising mechanism. In the case of the netforce, the networks
engaged in the new wars, what holds them together is a generally
an extreme political ideology based on the exclusive claim
to state power on the basis of identity - ethnic chauvinism
or religious communalism. I stress access to state power because
these ideologies are not about substantive grievances, such
as language rights or religious rights, although these may
be indirectly important; rather they are about control of
power and resources for an exclusively defined group of people.
I take the view that these ideologies are politically constituted.
Even though they are based on pre-existing cleavages of tribe,
nation and religion, and even though they may make use of
memories and experiences of past injustices, they are constructed
or accentuated for the purpose of political mobilisation.
Modern communications are important for the new networks both
as a way of organising the network and as a form of mobilisation.
Constructions of the past are developed and disseminated through
radio, videos and television. Thus hate radio was of key importance
in Rwanda. In Serbia, television was effectively used to remind
people of the injustices of the past - the defeat of the Serbs
by the Turks in 1389 and the fascist Croat treatment of Serbs
during World War II. In the Middle East, videocassettes of
Bin Laden's speeches circulate widely. The effect of television
and radio in speeding up mobilisation especially in the countryside
or among newly arrived urban migrants, who do not have the
reading habit, should not be underestimated. There is an important
contrast here with nineteenth century 'imagined communities'
which were propagated through the print media and involved
the intellectual classes. The more populist electronic media
are designed to appeal primarily to the least educated members
of the public. In general, it is states that control the radio
and television. But non-state groups can make use of other
forms of media: Diaspora broadcasts through satellite television,
which were important in Kosovo; the circulation of videos;
or local radio in areas under political control.
A second characteristic of the 'new wars' is that war itself
is a form of political mobilisation. In what I have called
wars between states, the aim of war was, to quote Clausewitz,
'to compel an opponent to fulfil our will'. In general this
was achieved through the military capture of territory and
victory in battle. People were mobilised to participate in
the war effort - to join the army or to produce weapons and
uniforms. In the new wars, mobilising people is the aim of
the war effort; the point of the violence is not so much directed
against the enemy; rather the aim is to expand the networks
of extremism. Generally the strategy is to control territory
through political means and military means are used to kill,
expel or silence those who might challenge control. This is
why the warring parties use techniques of terror, ethnic cleansing
or genocide as deliberate war strategies. In the new wars,
battles are rare and violence is directed against civilians.
Violations of humanitarian and human rights law are not a
side effect of war but the central methodology of new wars.
Over 90% of the casualties in the new wars are civilian and
the number of refugees and displaced persons per conflict
has risen steadily.
The strategy is to gain political power through sowing fear
and hatred, to create a climate of terror, to eliminate moderate
voices and to defeat tolerance. The political ideologies of
exclusive nationalism or religious communalism are generated
through violence. It is generally assumed that extreme ideologies,
based on exclusive identities - Serb nationalism, for example,
or fundamentalist Islam - are the cause of war. Rather, the
spread and strengthening of these ideologies are the consequence
of war. 'The war had to be so bloody', Bosnians will tell
you, 'because we did not hate each other; we had to be taught
to hate each other.'
A third characteristic of the new wars is the type of economy
they generate. Because these networks flourish in states where
systems of taxation have collapsed and where little new wealth
is being created, and where the wars destroy physical infrastructure,
cut off trade and create a climate of insecurity that prohibits
investment, they have to seek alternative, exploitative forms
of financing. They raise money through loot and plunder, through
illegal trading in drugs, illegal immigrants, cigarettes and
alcohol, through "taxing" humanitarian assistance, through
support from sympathetic states and through remittances from
members of the networks. All of these types of economic activity
are predatory and depend on an atmosphere of insecurity. Indeed,
the new wars can be described as a central source of the globalised
informal economy - the transnational criminal and semi-legal
economy that represents the underside of globalisation.
The logical conclusion that can be drawn from these three
characteristics is that the new wars are very difficult to
contain and very difficult to end. They spread through refugees
and displaced persons, through criminal networks, and through
the extremist viruses they nurture. We can observe growing
clusters of warfare in Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia
or the Caucasus. The wars represent a defeat for democratic
politics, and each bout of warfare strengthens those networks
with a vested political and economic interest in continued
violence. There are no clear victories or defeats because
the warring parties are sustained both politically and economically
by continuing violence. The wars speed up the process of state
unravelling; they destroy what remains of productive activities,
they undermine legitimacy, and they foster criminality. The
areas where conflicts have lasted longest have generated cultures
of violence, as in the jihad culture taught in religious schools
in Pakistan and Afghanistan or among the Tamils of Sri Lanka,
where young children are taught to be martyrs and where killing
is understood as an offering to God. In the instructions found
in the car of the hijackers in Boston's Logan Airport, it
is written: 'If God grants any one of you a slaughter, you
should perform it as an offering on behalf of your father
and mother, for they are owed by you. If you slaughter, you
should plunder those you slaughter, for that is a sanctioned
custom of the Prophet's.'
It should be noted that there are other private or informal
forces that do not correspond to this analysis. For example,
in many of the new wars, villages or municipalities establish
citizens' militias to defend local people - this was the case
in among some groups in Rwanda and also in Tuzla and Zenica
during the Bosnian war. There are also more traditional guerrilla
groups, whose strategy is to gain political control through
winning hearts and minds rather than through sowing fear and
hatred; hence they attack agents of the state and not civilians,
at least in theory. Finally, there are numerous private security
companies, often established to protect multinational companies
in difficult places, and mercenaries, who fight for money;
tactics and forms of warfare, in these cases, depend largely
on the paymasters.
See also the essay by David
Held on this site.
The New American Militarism
It could be argued that if September 11 had not happened,
the American military-industrial complex might have had to
invent it. Indeed, what happened on September 11 could have
come out of what seemed to be the wild fantasies of 'asymmetric
threats' that were developed by American strategic analysts
as they sought a new military role for the United States after
the end of the Cold War. A reporter for the London Observer
claimed to have found in one of the headquarters for terrorist
training in Afghanistan, a photocopy of the 'terrorist cookbook'
which circulates among the American fundamentalist right.
World military spending declined by one third
in the decade after 1989. America military spending also declined
but by less than the global average and began to rise again
after 1998. As of the year 2000, American military spending
in real terms is equivalent to its spending in 1980, just
before the Reagan military build-up. More importantly, what
took place during the 1990s was a radical shift in the structure
of US military expenditure. Spending on military research
and development declined less than overall military spending
and has increased faster since 1998. As of 2000, US military
R&D spending is 47% higher in real terms than in 1980 (SIPRI
2001). Instead of ushering in a period of downsizing, disarmament
and conversion (although some of that did take place at local
levels in the US), the end of the Cold War led to a feverish
technological effort to apply information technology to military
purposes, known as the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA).
here for the Information
Warfare Site's entry on RMA.
Indeed, it can be argued that the cuts of
the early 1990s are equivalent to the reductions that can
be expected in the normal post-1945 US military procurement
cycle. The high points in the procurement cycle were in the
early 1950s, late 1960s and early 1970s, and the early 1980s.
During the downturns, military R&D is always sustained, designing
and developing the systems to be procured in the next upturn.
As new systems reach the more expensive development and procurement
phases, this has always coincided with renewed preoccupations
with threats of various kinds. The North Korean invasion of
South Korea in 1950, for example, occurred at a moment when
pressure to increase military spending was mounting as a result
of over-capacity in the arms industry, especially the aircraft
industry, and of fears about the return of mass unemployment
after the end of the post-war consumer boom. NSC 68, the famous
report, which recommended an increase in military spending
to meet the Soviet threat, was published just before the Korean
invasion. A parallel can be drawn with the current situation
since the systems developed under the rubric of the RMA are
reaching the development and production phase and there is
over-capacity in the aerospace industry.
During the 1990's, great efforts were expended in 'imagining'
new 'worst-case scenarios' and new post-Soviet threats. With
the collapse of the Soviet military-industrial complex, strategic
planners have come up with all sorts of inventive new ways
of attacking America, through spreading viruses, poisoning
water systems, causing the collapse of the banking system,
disrupting air traffic control or power transmission. Of particular
importance has been the idea of state-sponsored terrorism
and the notion of 'rogue states' who sponsor terrorism and
acquire long range missiles as well as WMD (Weapons of Mass
Destruction). These new threats emanating from a collapsing
Russia or from Islamic fundamentalism are known as 'asymmetric'
threats as weaker states or groups develop WMD or other horrific
techniques to attack US vulnerabilities to compensate for
conventional inferiority. Hence what happened on September
11, and the subsequent anthrax scare, seems like a confirmation
of these anticipations of horror.
RMA consists of the interaction between various systems for
information collection, analysis and transmission and weapons
systems - the so-called 'system of systems'. It has spawned
a suitably Sci fi jargon - 'battlespace' to replace 'battlefield'
connoting the three dimensional character of contemporary
battle; 'dominant battlespace knowledge'; 'precision violence';
'near-perfect mission assignment'; C4I/BM (command, control,
communications, computers, intelligence, and battle management);
'co-operative engagement capability' (Navy); 'digitalized
ground forces' (Army); and (one of my favourites) 'just-in-time
warfare' (referring to reduced logistical requirements) (Freedman,
The cruise missile, the target of peace movement campaigns
in the 1980s, can be described as the 'paradigmatic' weapon
of RMA. It is a 'system that can be delivered by a variety
of platforms (i.e., all three services can use it) and strike
in a precise manner and with low collateral damage' (Freedman,
1998: 70). It was the cruise missile that was used in the
summer of 1998 against terrorist camps in Afghanistan and
an alleged chemical weapons factory in Sudan after the bombings
of the US embassies in Kenya and Uganda.
Enthusiasts for RMA suggest the introduction of information
technology is akin to the introduction of the stirrup or gunpowder
in its implications for warfare. Unlike these earlier innovations,
however, RMA takes place within the traditional force structures
inherited from the past. Earlier innovations were only adopted
when force structures changed in such a way as to be capable
of assimilating the new technologies. Thus the introduction
of the stirrup depended on the evolution of feudal relations
and the emergence of knights, while gunpowder was only applied
to warfare after capitalist development made possible the
use of mercenaries.
The origins of the RMA can be traced to the 1970s when the
effect of growing accuracy and lethality of munitions was
observed in the wars in Vietnam and the Middle East. The so-called
military reformers suggested that this implied an historic
shift to the defence. The offensive manoeuvres characteristic
of World War II and planned in Europe for World War III were
no longer possible since tanks and aircraft were almost as
vulnerable as troops had been in World War I. In particular,
it was argued that this historic shift lessened the need for
nuclear weapons to compensate for Soviet conventional superiority
since this could be nullified by improvements in conventional
defence. The opponents of this view argued that the offence
was even more important in the context of information technology
because it made possible unmanned guided offensive weapons
and because of the importance of area destruction munitions,
which could destroy widely scattered defensive forces. It
was the latter view that prevailed, perhaps because it left
force structures undisturbed and sustained defence companies,
retaining an emphasis on offensive manoeuvres and delivery
platforms in a more or less linear extension from the strategic
bombing missions of World War II.
The consequence was what became known as 'emerging technologies'
in the 1980s. These were long-range strike weapons using conventional
munitions that were nearly as lethal as nuclear weapons. Terms
such as 'deep strike', 'airland battle', and the 'maritime
strategy' became the buzzwords of the 1980s. The idea was
that the West would meet any Soviet attack by striking deep
into Soviet territory. When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 and
the Pentagon was asked to present the military options, they
were able to roll out a plan that had been prepared in the
event of a southward Soviet thrust.
for the full text of the NSC 68 report.
The Gulf war provided a model for what can
be described as casualty-free war - that is to say the use
of high technology either directly to attack an enemy or to
support a proxy, say the KLA in Kosovo or the Northern Alliance
in Afghanistan. The idea now is that this high-tech warfare
can be used against 'rogue states' sponsoring terrorists.
The same techniques were used against Iraq in December 1998,
in Yugoslavia in 1999 and now in Afghanistan. They satisfy
a confluence of interests. They fulfil the needs of the scientists,
engineers and companies that provide an infrastructure for
the American military effort. They allow for a continuation
of the imaginary war of the Cold War period from the point
of view of Americans. They do not involve American casualties,
and they can be watched on television and demonstrate the
determination and power of the United States government -
the 'spectacles' as Der Derian has put it, that 'serve to
deny imperial decline'. It is this imaginary character from
an American perspective that explains Jean Baudrillard's famous
remark that the Gulf War did not happen.
The programme for national missile defence has to be understood
in the same vein. Even if the system cannot work, it provides
imaginary protection for the United States, allowing the United
States to engage in casualty-free war without fear of retaliation.
This notion is evident from the way in which Donald Rumsfeld,
the US defence secretary, talks about how NMD will enhance
deterrence through a combination of defensive and offensive
measures. The weakness of deterrence was always the problem
of credibility; a problem that leads to more and more useable
nuclear weapons. With casualty-free war, the credibility of
US action is more convincing; after all, it is said, that
the attack on the World Trade Towers was equivalent to the
use of a sub-strategic nuclear weapon. NMD, at least psychologically,
extends the possibilities for casualty-free war.
However, from the point of view of the victims, these wars
are very real and not so different from new wars. However
precise the strikes, it is impossible to avoid 'mistakes'
or 'collateral damage'. It does not make civilian casualties
any more palatable to be told they were not intended. Moreover,
the destruction of physical infrastructure and the support
for one side in the conflict, as in the case of proxies, results
in many more indirect casualties. In the case of the Gulf
War, direct Iraqi casualties can probably be numbered in the
tens of thousands but the destruction of physical infrastructure
and the ensuing wars with the Kurds and the Shiites caused
hundreds of thousands of further casualties and seem to have
entrenched the vicious and dangerous rule of Saddam Hussein.
In the current war in Afghanistan, there have probably been
thousands of casualties, both civilian and military as well
as thousands of people fleeing their homes and a humanitarian
disaster because aid agencies have not been able to enter
the country. The help provided to the hated Northern Alliance
reduces the prospects of a broad-based Afghan government that
might begin a process of stabilisation. Far from extending
support for democratic values, casualty-free war shows that
American lives are privileged over the lives of others and
contributes to a perception of the United States as a global
Terms like imperialism are, however, misleading. The United
States is best characterised not as an imperial power but
as the 'last nation state'. It is the only state, in this
globalised world, that still has the capacity to act unilaterally.
Its behaviour is determined less by imperial considerations
than by concerns about its own domestic public opinion. Casualty-free
war is also in a sense a form of political mobilisation. It
is about satisfying various domestic constituencies, not about
influencing the rest of the world, even though such actions
have a profound impact on the rest of the world.
Neo-modern militarism refers to the evolution of classical
military forces in large transition states. These are states
that are undergoing a transition from a centralised economy
to a more internationally open market-oriented system and,
yet, which are large enough to retain a sizeable state sector.
Typical examples are Russia, India and China. They are not
large enough to challenge the US and they are constrained
by many of the imperatives of globalisation, subject to many
of the pressures that are experienced by frail or failing
states. They tend to adopt extreme ideologies that resemble
the ideologies of the 'new wars' - Russian or Hindu chauvinism,
for example. And there are often direct links to and even
co-operation with the shadier networks, especially in Russia.
Israel should probably also be included in this category,
although its capacity to retain a sizeable military sector
is due less to its size than to its dependence on the United
These states have retained their military forces, including
nuclear weapons. In the case of India, there has been a significant
increase in military spending throughout the 1990s and it
could be argued that the term 'arms race' could be applied
to India and Pakistan, especially after the 1998 nuclear tests.
Pakistan, however, could be said to be closer to the networks
of the new wars with its links to militants in Kashmir and
Afghanistan; in other words somewhere between netforce and
neo-modern militarism. In the case of Russia, there was a
dramatic contraction of military spending after the break-up
of the Soviet Union and a deep crisis in the military-industrial
complex. But pressure to increase military spending has increased
and the demands of the war in Chechnya is leading to a reassessment
of the relative importance of conventional versus nuclear
weapons. The proposed cuts in nuclear weapons discussed between
Putin and Bush will release funds for conventional improvements.
China is also engaged in military expansion especially since
1998, when the military were prohibited from engaging in commercial
activities. Given the reductions in Russian nuclear capabilities
and the new generation of Chinese systems, China will come
to look more like a competitor to Russia, especially in the
The type of warfare that is associated with neo-modern militarism
is either limited inter-state warfare or counter-insurgency.
These states envisage wars on the classic Clausewitzean model.
They engage in counter-insurgency in order to defeat extremist
networks as in Chechnya or Kashmir. Or they prepare for the
defence of borders against other states, as in the case of
the Kargil war between India and Pakistan in 1998. Unlike
the United States, these states are prepared to risk casualties
and, in the case of the Chechen war, Russian casualties have
been extremely high. The typical tactics used against the
networks are shelling from tanks, helicopters or artillery,
as well as population displacement to 'clean' areas of extremists
or 'terrorists'. The impact on civilians is thus very similar
to the impact of the 'new wars'. Yet precisely because of
the growing destructiveness of all types of weapons and the
consequent difficulty of overcoming defensive positions, military
victory against an armed opponent is very hard to achieve.
Grozny has virtually been reduced to rubble. Yet still resistance
The networks have understood that they cannot take territory
militarily, only through political means, and the point of
the violence is to contribute to those political means. The
states engaged in neo-modern militarism are still under the
illusion that they can win militarily. The consequence is
either self-imposed limits, as in the case of inter-state
war, or exacerbation of 'new wars' as in the case of Kashmir,
Chechnya or Palestine, where counter-insurgency merely contributes
to the political polarising process of fear and hate. In other
words, the utility of modern military force, the ability to
'compel an opponent to fulfil our will' is open to question
An important trend in the last decade has been the increase
in peacekeeping operations. At the start of the decade, there
were only eight United Nations peacekeeping operations; they
involved some 10,000 troops. As of the end of 2000, there
were 15 United Nations operations involving some 38,000 military
troops (Global Civil Society 2001). In addition, a number
of regional organisations were engaged in peace-keeping: NATO
in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia; the Commonwealth of Independent
States (CIS), mainly Russia, in Tajikistan, Transdinestr,
Abkhazia, and South Ossetia; the Economic Community of West
African States (ECOWAS) in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
See also the essay by James
Der Derian on this site.
Peacekeeping has not only increased in scale;
there have been important changes in the tasks peacekeepers
are asked to perform and in the way we think about peacekeeping.
During the Cold war period, peacekeeping was based on the
assumption that wars were of the Clausewitzean type. The job
of peacekeepers was to separate the warring parties and to
monitor cease-fires on the basis of agreements. Peacekeeping
was sharply distinguished from peace enforcement, which was
equated with war fighting, i.e. intervening in a war on one
side, authorised under Chapter VIII of the UN Charter.
In terms of organisation, peacekeeping has more in common
with the networks than with classic military forces. Peacekeeping
forces are generally loose transnational coalitions. Although
they usually have a clearly defined multinational command
system, peacekeepers are also subject to national commands,
which erodes the vertical character of the command system.
Because they are often far away from the decision-makers and
because of the nature of their tasks, individual initiative
is often more important than unquestioning obedience. Moreover,
peacekeepers have to work together with a range of other agencies,
international organisations like UNHCR or UNDP and also NGOs
involved in humanitarian assistance or conflict resolution.
A shared normative narrative based on humanitarian principles
is critical in holding the networks together.
The new tasks for peace-keepers include the protection of
safe havens, where civilians can find refuge, the protection
of convoys delivering humanitarian assistance, disarmament
and demobilisation, providing a secure environment for elections
or for the return of refugees and displaced persons, or capturing
war criminals. These tasks reflect the changes in the nature
of the warfare. New terms like 'second-generation peace-keeping',
'wider peace-keeping' or 'robust' peacekeeping have been used
to describe these new roles. Peacekeepers nowadays operate
in the context of continuing wars or insecure post-conflict
situations, and they are more likely to risk casualties than
were traditional peacekeepers.
for the text of Chapter VIII of the UN charter.
A number of recent reports have emphasised
that the new role of peace-keeping is, first and foremost,
the protection of civilians since they are the main targets
of the new wars (Brahimi). The new peacekeeping is indeed
somewhere between traditional peacekeeping (separating sides)
and peace enforcement (taking sides). I have argued that outright
military victory is very very difficult nowadays, at least
if we are unwilling to contemplate mass destruction. The job
of the new protectionforce is not to defeat an enemy but to
protect civilians and stabilise war situations so that non-extremist
tolerant politics has space to develop. The task is thus more
like policing than warfighting although it involves the use
of military forces. Techniques like safe havens or humanitarian
corridors are ways of protecting civilians and also increasing
the international presence on the ground so as to influence
for the full UN report on peacekeeping operations.
In practice, peacekeeping has not lived up
to this description. Partly this is due to lack of resources.
Not nearly enough has been invested in peacekeeping and in
providing appropriate training and equipment. More importantly,
international lives are still privileged over the lives of
the civilians they are supposed to protect. OSCE monitors
left Kosovo hurriedly when the bombing of Yugoslavia began,
leaving behind a terrified population who had believed rightly
or wrongly that the orange vans of the OSCE monitors were
some protection; the local OSCE staff left behind were all
killed. Likewise, Dutch peacekeepers handed over the 8000
men and boys of Srebrenica to Serb forces in July 1995 and
they were all massacred. In Rwanda, UN forces were withdrawn
just as the genocide of 800,000 Tutsis began, despite the
impassioned plea of the Canadian UN Commander, General Dallaire,
to establish safe havens. There are, of course, also moments
of heroism, like the Ukranian peacekeepers in Zepa or the
British in Goradze, or the UN staff in East Timor who refused
to evacuate their headquarters unless the people who had sought
refuge there were also saved. But, as yet, these moments are
insufficient to be seen to justify the commitment in resources
and will that would be necessary for a serious and sustained
use of peacekeeping.
Click here for the
home page of the OSCE mission in Kosovo.
Peace-keeping/peace enforcement is associated
with states that could be described as post-modern (Cooper)
or globalising (Clarke). These are states that have come to
terms with the erosion of their autonomy (their ability to
retain control over what happens in their territory), in the
context of growing interconnectedness. They have thus adopted
a deliberate strategy of multilateralism, of trying to influence
the formation of global rules and participating actively in
the enforcement of those rules. The British Prime Minister
Tony Blair attempted to articulate this position in his speech
on the 'Doctrine of the International Community' during the
Kosovo war. 'We are all internationalists now whether we like
it or not ' he told an audience in Chicago. 'We cannot refuse
to participate in global markets if we want to prosper. We
cannot ignore new political ideas in other countries if we
want to innovate. We cannot turn our backs on conflicts and
the violation of human rights in other countries if we still
want to be secure' (Blair 1999).
The states that fit this category include most European states,
Canada, South Africa, Japan, as well as a number of others.
Of course, most states, including the United States and Russia,
engage in this type of peace operation. But it is not viewed
as the main contingency for which they prepare. The new globalising
states are reorienting their military doctrines along these
lines. The wars in the Balkans have had a profound impact
in Europe, where concern about Balkan stability and experience
in the region is shaping military thinking.
During the Cold War period, the main concern was how to prevent
a war of global annihilation. Arms control was seen as one
of the most important methods of prevention; it was a way
of stabilising the perception of a balance of power. A true
balance of power is a war that no side can win. Because armed
forces were roughly similar during the Cold War period, it
was possible to estimate a surrogate balance of power based
on quantitative estimates of military forces, which could
be codified in arms control treaties. This surrogate balance
of power was seen as a way of preventing perceptions of imbalance,
which might have tempted one or other side to start a war.
In practice, of course, numbers are irrelevant since any nuclear
war is likely to lead to global annihilation but the exercise
of measuring a balance of power shored up the notion of an
imaginary war that could not be won.
The danger of a war of global annihilation has, thankfully,
receded since the end of the Cold War. What we are now witnessing,
however, is a series of real wars that cannot be won. There
are no surrogate balances, except perhaps between the neo-modern
military forces. The US no longer has what is known in the
jargon as a 'peer competitor' and other types of armed forces
are too varied to be compared. What I have tried to argue
is that the first three types of armed forces (the networks,
the new American military forces, and the neo-modern military
forces) all engage in real wars with very similar consequences
- indiscriminate suffering for civilians (even though the
Americans claim that their greater precision and discriminateness
minimises such suffering). Nowadays, therefore, the emphasis
of those who are concerned about such suffering has to be
directly with the ways to control war. Limitations on weapons
may be part of that wider goal but have to be viewed from
a different perspective than in the Cold War period.
for the full transcript of Tony Blair's speech.
Perhaps the most hopeful approach to the
contemporary problem of controlling war, nowadays, is not
through arms control but through the extension and application
of international humanitarian law (the 'laws of war') and
human rights law. During the 1990s, much greater importance
was accorded to humanitarian norms - the notion that the international
community has a duty to prevent genocide, violations of humanitarian
law (war crimes) and massive violations of human rights (crimes
against humanity). The idea of overriding state sovereignty
in the case of humanitarian crises became much more widely
accepted. The establishment of the Yugoslav and Rwanda Tribunals
paved the way for the establishment of an International Criminal
Court. The Pinochet and Ariel Sharon cases removed the principle
of sovereign immunity.
the UN web site of the International Criminal Court
Humanitarian law is not, of course, new.
Its origins lie in the codification of 'laws of war', especially
under the auspices of the International Red Cross, in the
late nineteenth century. The aim was to limit what we now
call 'collateral damage' or the side effects of war, above
all, to prevent the indiscriminate suffering of civilians,
and to ensure humane treatment for the wounded and for prisoners
of war. These laws codified rules in Europe, which dated back
to the Middle Ages and underlay a notion of 'civilised' warfare,
which was important in order to define the role of the soldier
as the legitimate agent of the state, as a hero not a criminal.
(Of course, these rules were not applied outside Europe against
'barbarians' or the 'rude nations').
Humanitarian law was greatly extended after
World War II. The Nuremberg and Tokyo trials marked the first
enforcement of war crimes and, indeed, crimes against humanity.
The Genocide Convention of 1948 as well as further extension
of the Geneva Conventions, and, the newly developing human
rights law, all represented further strengthening of humanitarian
law, albeit marginalised by the dominant Cold War confrontation.
What has changed in the last decades is the change in the
nature of warfare, even though some aspects were presaged
in the holocaust and the bombing of civilians in the Second
World War. As argued above, violations of humanitarian law
and human rights law are no longer 'side effects' of war,
they represent the core of the new warfare. Therefore taking
seriously humanitarian law is one way of controlling the new
for the text of the Genocide Convention and here
for the text of all the Geneva Conventions.
This is the context in which the limitation
of armaments should also be understood. Recent efforts to
limit or eliminate categories of weapons, like the Land Mines
Convention or the protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention,
or the efforts to control small arms are not based on the
assumption of a balance between states. Rather they are the
outcome of pressure by global civil society to uphold humanitarian
norms and prevent indiscriminate harm to civilians. The 1996
International Court of Justice decision about nuclear weapons,
as well as several recent cases in Scotland, is based on the
same line of thinking.
Taken seriously, a humanitarian approach would outlaw netforce
and would restructure legitimate, i.e. state, military forces
from classic war fighting tasks to a new and extended form
of protectionforce. It would outlaw WMD as well as weapons
like land mines that cause indiscriminate harm. Peace keeping
and peace enforcement could be reconceptualised as humanitarian
law enforcement, with appropriate equipment and training.
Such an approach would be consistent with the transformation
of states along the lines of the post-modern or globalising
states. It would imply a strengthening of global rules and
greater participation in the enforcement of rules. All three
of the other types of warfare I have described are based on
particularist assumptions about the need to protect particular
communities, networks or states, and to privilege their lives
over others. There is no reason why growing interconnectedness
cannot be combined with particularism and fragmentation; indeed
that is the characteristic of the contemporary world. But
it is no longer possible to insulate particular communities
or states; even the United States is now vulnerable to transnational
networks. If we are to find ways to cope with the uneven impact
of globalisation and to deal with the criminal and violent
underside of globalisation, then the main task is to construct
some form of legitimate set of global rules. This is not the
same as a global state; rather it is about establishing a
set of global regimes underpinned by states, international
institutions and global civil society. The humanitarian regime
would be at the heart of such a set of rules because of the
legitimacy that derives from the assumption of human equality.
If the legitimacy of modern states derived from their ability
to protect borders against external enemies and to uphold
the law domestically, then the legitimacy of global governance
is likely to be greatly enhanced by a humanitarian regime
that takes ultimate responsibility for the protection of individuals
and for upholding international law. I am not implying a single
world security organisation. Rather I am talking about a collective
commitment by states, international organisations and civil
society to act when individual states fail to sustain these
norms and to do so within a framework of international law.
How would this approach have changed the reaction to the events
of September 11? What happened on September 11 was a crime
against humanity. It was interpreted, however, in the US as
an attack on the US and a parallel has been repeatedly drawn
with Pearl Harbour. Bush talks about a 'war on terrorism'
and has said that 'you are either with us or with the terrorists'.
The approach of casualty-free war had been adopted, using
high tech strikes and a proxy, the Northern Alliance, to destroy
the state sponsoring terrorism, the Taliban, and to destroy
the Al-Qaeda network. (At the time of writing, some US Special
Forces and Marines have been deployed on the ground). We do
not know how many people have died as a result of the strikes
or have fled their homes but it undoubtedly numbers in hundreds
if not thousands. The chances of stabilising Afghanistan exist
but are reduced by the dominant role played by the Northern
Alliance. Most importantly, perhaps, the approach contributes
to a political polarisation between the West and the rest,
both because of the privileging of American lives and the
language in which the war is conducted. While the Taliban
has been overthrown and, hopefully, bin Laden may be caught,
there is unlikely to be any clear military victory. As I have
argued, the political narrative, in this case of jihad against
America, is central to the functioning of the network. Casualty-free
war confirms the political narrative and sets up exactly the
kind of war envisaged by the Al-Qaeda network.
A humanitarian approach would have defined September 11 as
a crime against humanity. It would have sought United Nations
authorisation for any action and it would have adopted tactics
aimed at increasing trust and confidence on the ground, for
example through the establishment of safe havens in the North
as well humanitarian corridors. It would have established
an International Court to try terrorists. It would have adopted
some of the means already adopted to put pressure on terrorist
networks through squeezing financial assets, for example,
as well as efforts to catch the criminals. Such an approach
would also have to eschew double standards. Catching Mladic
and Karadic, the perpetrators of the Srebrenica massacre,
is just as important as catching bin Laden. Human rights violations
in Palestine and Chechnya are no less serious than in Kosovo
A humanitarian approach, of course, has to be part of a wider
political approach. In wars, in which no military victory
is possible, political approaches are key. An alternative
political narrative, based on the idea of global justice,
is the only way to minimise the exclusive political appeal
of the networks. What this involves is, no doubt, being discussed
in other sessions of this symposium.
I am aware that all this sounds impossibly utopian. Unfortunately,
the humanitarian approach may be seen in retrospect as a brief
expression of the interregnum between the end of the Cold
War and September 11, 2001. We are, I fear, on the brink of
a global new war, something like the wars in the Balkans or
the Israel-Palestine war, on a global scale with no outsiders
to constrain its course. Sooner or later, the impossibility
of winning such a war must become evident and that is why
we need to keep the humanitarian approach alive. Even if it
cannot solve these conflicts, it can offer some hope to those
caught in the middle.
This essay was prepared for the Nobel Peace Prize Centennial
Symposium, December 6-8, 2001.
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Click here for the Land
Mines Convention the Biological
Weapons Convention, and the text of the ICJ