How has the concept of violence been changing from the 20th to the 21st century?
Towards the end of the 20th century moving into the 21st, the way wars are waged shifted towards the concept of ‘new’ wars contrary to the traditional ‘old’ wars fought up until the middle of the 20th century. This essay aims to prove that ‘new’ wars are indeed a new form of warfare and not merely a continuation of traditional wars. To illustrate this, the respective causes of new and old wars will be examined, the way in which they are fought and the impact that each type of war has; whether it be political, economic or social.
Throughout history violence has been used as a tool in order to achieve certain goals, with Von Clausewitz in On War stating that, ‘War is a mere continuation of politics by other means’. With the end of the Cold War in the 1990’s a new area for debate is the concept of ‘new’ wars, put forward by Mary Kaldor. ‘New’ wars occur in the context of a disintegrating state, are fought by a combination of state and non-state actors and most violence takes place against citizens instead of on a battlefield. Overall, ‘new’ wars are fought based on identity politics. In comparison, the ‘old’ wars are the wars that have dominated Europe throughout the late 18th century up until the end of the Cold War; typically fought according to certain rules at least in theory, codified in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the Geneva and Hague Conventions. With these new wars becoming more prominent, it is important to understand how they are different to the ‘old’ wars in order to solve new questions on security that face the international community.