The cold war affected the whole world in different ways. Along with political and diplomatic relations of different nations, the cold war also substantially changed the character of warfare. A majority of scholars believe that the change is apparently reflected in wars that took place after the era of cold war. This essay proposes a discussion on nature of warfare that was changed after the era of cold war.
The issue is interpreted differently by different scholars. Some believe that there are certain things in the war that are changing but there is no change as such in the warfare itself (Gray, 2005). At the other hand, there are some other scholars who believe that the change is substantial. They also use terms like “Old Wars” and “New Wars” for wars that took place before and after of the cold war (Strachan and Scheipers, 2011). One thing that is common in both arguments is that both accept the change in the warfare after the era of the cold war. It becomes unavoidable to discuss what has been changed and what is not changed while discussing the issue.
Newman describes six variables that play significant role while discussing the change in warfare after the cold war. These variables consist of protagonists including state and non state actors, terrorists or similar warring groups, objectives of protagonists, technology of weapons, social and political composition of war and its effect of humanity, as well as, society (Newman, 2004).
Scholars that believe in the idea of old and new wars argue that old wars were usually fought between states that possessed same amount of military power and influence (Strachan and Scheipers, 2011). Munkler (2004) suggests that motive is one of the major differences between old and new wars. He adds that the major reason of almost all old wars was state building. All European wars were fought for extending empires and areas. However scholars argue that new wars are more lethal and dangerous.
Kaldor (2013) suggests that new wars affect warring states in different areas and alters their economy in adverse ways. Kolder suggests that new wars adversely affect economies of warring states due to globalisation. This trend was not similar in old wars. Decline in tax income, increasing unemployment, as well as, fluctuation of other economic activities are cited by Kaldor as main economic differences between old and new wars. Kaldor says that new wars are more complicated and are fought with advanced technologies. He says that predator states finance the potential winners and they also use identity politics in wars. Non state actors have started playing bigger and significant roles in new wars (Strachan and Scheipers, 2011).
Nuclear weapons did not exist in old wars and existence of nuclear weapons has substantially changed the concept of war. These weapons play role of major deterrent but at the same time, they are extremely dangerous. It is argued that armed conflicts between different states have declined substantially after 1990’s (Cooper et al 2011). Although states keep building, strengthening and maintaining advanced weapons and their armed forces but they hesitate in entering into any conflict with other states.
Now states avoid armed conflicts and they are also afraid that use of nuclear weapons will deteriorate the situation. States believe in negotiation and solving issues with mutual consent instead of entering into conflicts. Kreutz (2010) says that states realize that conflicts and dangerous and wars are difficult to win in modern times. Cooper et al (2011) suggest that today states prefer peace agreements for solving their disputes in comparison to the era of old wars. A majority of conflicts have been solved by mutual agreement in a peaceful manner after the era of the cold war. One interesting thing to observe is the number of peace keeping missions irrespective of the fact that states keep increasing and strengthening their armed forces and stocks of weapons (Cooper et al, 2011).
A very significant change that is observed in the era of post cold war is the general approach against wars among common people. Wars have lost their significance and people have started seeing them as unacceptable (Gray, 2005). Gray (2005) suggests that mass media has played very important role in opinion building on the basis of its limitless reach. Today people are affected by wars directly or indirectly whether they live in the warring country or in other parts of the world.
Cooper et al. (2011) in their article describe how characteristics of the war are changing; geographical coverage of the war is also decreased. The authors mention that even in contemporary world, civilians are being attacked during the time of war, and there are no signs that show that civilians are targeted intentionally.
It also can be said that the nature of wars has changed significantly due to the use of the technology at various levels of the war. The use of technology can be viewed by observing theory of Revolution in Military Affairs. The major characteristics of military revolution are significantly improved and efficient command, precision, minimum or nil lethality and welfare of information (Kievit and Metz, 2005).
After going through the subject, it can be concluded that the nature of warfare has been substantially changed after the era of cold war. There are various differences between old wars and new wars and there are various reasons of the same. The essay has tried to focus on several changes that are visible in the warfare of old times and after the era of cold war. There are many things in wars that do not change ever but there are certain things that change and the same change is visible in wars of old times and wars that took place in the post cold war era.
Cooper, T., Merz, S., and Shah, M. (2011). A More Violent World? Global Trends in Organised Violence, in Trends in Human Security, Human Security Report
Gray, C. S. (2005). How has war changed since the end of the Cold War? Parameters, 35(1), 14-26
Kaldor, M. (2013). New and old wars: Organised violence in a global era. John Wiley & Sons.
Keivit, J., and Metz, S. (2005). Strategy and the Revolution in Military Affairs: From Theory to Policy [online] available at <http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/summary.cfm?q=236> [accessed 16th May 2015]
Koo, E. (n.d).The changing face of warfare in the post cold war period.Arabesques: Cultures and Dialogues [online] available at <http://www.arabesques-editions.com/journal/eric_koo/3160819.html> [accessed 10th May 2015]
Kreutz, J. (2010). How and when armed conflicts end: Introducing the UCDP Conflict Termination dataset. Journal of Peace Research, 47(2), 243-250
Münkler, Herfried. The new wars.Polity, 2005.
Newman, E. (2004). The ‘new wars’ debate: a historical perspective is needed. Security Dialogue, 35(2), 173-189
Strachan, H., &Scheipers, S. (Eds.). (2011). The changing character of war.Oxford University Press.