Are the ‘new’ wars recent phenomena or they have happened as result of a long process of development?
As demonstrated above by the wars in Angola and Syria compared to previous conflicts, there is a distinction between Clauswitzean warfare and ‘new wars’. One criticism on the new war theory is that ‘new’ wars have occurred throughout history, but were simply overshadowed by larger traditional wars such as the Cold War or World War I and II. This leads us to ask the question mentioned previously: how new are these ‘new’ wars? Edward Newman would argue that ‘new’ wars are in fact not new at all. He claims that all of the factors that characterize new wars have been present, to different degrees, throughout the last 100 years. He further argues that advancements in technology and communications have made the realities of civil war more transparent to the outside more than before.
Moreover he claims that there hasn’t been an increase in civil or ‘new’ wars corresponding with a decline in traditional interstate wars after the Cold War. Newman supports this claim with the Armed Conflict and Intervention Project (2003) at the University of Maryland where it claims that both interstate and civil wars have decreased since the 1990’s and even shows that interstate wars increasing marginally since 1997. In regards to a shift of violence aimed at combatants compared to civilians, conflicts such as World War I can be used to demonstrate this; Newman makes the point that World War I was not a usual conflict with cases of civilian victimization taking place elsewhere like the Armenian ‘genocide.’ Finally, the argument that ‘new’ wars are not that new can be supported as there were conflicts during the Cold War that also fit the frameworks of the new war theory, such as the Congo Civil War that took place in the 1960s. This conflict was characterized through a failing state after Belgium left the Congo as well as private economic interests playing a role in causing the war. Thus this can suggest that ‘new’ wars are not, in fact, a new phenomenon occurring with the turn of the century.