Academic journal article Military Review

Conceptualizing Modern War

Academic journal article Military Review

Conceptualizing Modern War

Article excerpt

CONCEPTUALIZING MODERN WAR

Karl Erik Haug and Ole Jorgen Maao, eds.

Columbia University Press, New York, 2011, 344 pages, $80.00

Conceptualizing Modern War is a crash course in the current trends in defining war and strategic concepts. Written by a variety of U.S. and Norwegian officers and academics, the book brings a high degree of intellectual vigor and historical perspective to questions of modern war. The authors examine a wide assortment of basic assumptions and definitions of war, including asymmetry, Generations of War, Effects Based Operations, insurgency, terrorism, guerrilla wars and others. They bring useful historical perspective to these definitions. For example, over 80 percent of wars in the last two centuries have pitted state against nonstate actors. Even "normal" wars between states usually involve significant action by nonstate elements (for example Tito's guerrillas in Yugoslavia during the Second World War). This alone makes one wonder why the most common state of war is referred to as irregular and why most modern nations continue to organize and train their forces for state-on-state warfare.

Several strategic concepts come under heavy criticism in Conceptualizing Modern War. Several authors deconstruct the concept of Generations of War (be it 4GW, 5GW, or even 6GW) and question its usefulness as an analytical model. Antulio Echevarria attacks the Generations of War's simplistic model of historical progression for overemphasizing the role of technology in changing war. Ole Maa0 attacks Mary Kaldor's paradigm of New Wars--arguing that Kaldor's combination of identity politics, displacement of peoples, and a decentralized global military economy, is anything but new. …

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