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The Changing Character of War

Hew Strachan and Sibylle Scheipers


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 certai ... More

Keywords: Cold War, non-state actors, new wars, armed forces, 9/11, policy, old wars

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2011 Print ISBN-13: 9780199596737
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015 DOI:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199596737.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Hew Strachan, editor
Chichele Professor of the History of War and Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford; Director of the Oxford Programme on the Changing Character of War

Sibylle Scheipers, editor
Lecturer in International Relations, University of St Andrews and Senior Research Associate, Changing Character of War Programme, Oxford University

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Hew Strachan and Sibylle Scheipers

Part I The Need for a Historical Perspective: What Has Changed?

3 Changes in War

Michael Broers

5 ‘Killing is Easy’

Gerard J. DeGroot

Part II The Purpose of War: Why Go to War?

12 Crime versus War

William Reno

Part III The Changing Identities of Combatants: Who Fights?

13 War without the People

Pascal Vennesson

16 Warlords

Kimberly Marten

18 Robots at War

P W. Singer

Part IV The Changing Identities of Non-combatants

20 Killing Civilians

Uwe Steinhoff

Part V The Ideas which Enable us to Understand War

23 American Strategic Culture

Antulio J. Echevarria II


Tarak Barkawi and Shane Brighton

End Matter