War Has Changed Through the Ages

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War has been one of the key institutions of the practice of international relations, and has always been a central focus of the study of international relations. In the post-cold war period many observers have suggested that the nature of war is undergoing fundamental changes, or even that in some parts of the world at least, it has become obsolete. With the advance of economic interdependence through globalization, and the spread of democracy, some groups of states seem to have formed security communities where war between them is no longer a possibility.Elsewhere, however, war has continued to exist, and to take a number of different forms. For some countries, such as the United States, the use of advanced technology to achieve dramatic victories against conventional armies has led to suggestions that a revolution in military affairs is under way. Other parts of the world, however, have been characterized by warfare in whichnon-state actors have been prominent, the military technology employed has been relatively unsophisticated, and atrocities have been commonplace. Such new wars, it is argued by many, are a direct result of the process of globalization. War has not disappeared as a form of social behaviour and shows no signs of doing so, though it is not necessarily an inevitable form of human behaviour and seems to have become ef ectively extinct in some parts of the world. Since the end of the cold war, the annual number of wars, the number of battle deaths, and the number of war-related massacres have all declined sharply compared with the cold war period. Between 1989 and 1992 nearly one hundred wars came to an end, and in terms of battle deaths, the 1990s were the least violent decade since the end of the Second World War (University of British Columbia, Human Security Center 2005: 17). Despite the overall decline in the incidence of war, however, in many regions it is very much present and is displaying some novel features in comparison to those...
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