Evaluating a Policy Problem and Remedy for Intervention Challenges Mary Kaldor’s New and Old Wars

Evaluating a Policy Problem and Remedy for Intervention Challenges Mary Kaldor’s New and Old Wars

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Failures in intervention are primarily due to conceptual inaccuracies about the characteristics of wars according to Mary Kaldor in New & Old Wars. Specifically, Kaldor states, “the most important explanation [for intervention failure] is misperception, the persistence of inherited ways of thinking about organized violence, the inability to understand the character and logic of the new warfare.” The characteristics of “new wars,” as defined by Kaldor, contrast with old, or Clausewitzian, wars in the actors, goals, warfare strategies and financing methods. However, the international community continues to use the conceptual framework and strategies of Clausewitzian wars to intervene in “new wars;” as a result, intervention attempts empower the actors, fail to protect civilians, and perpetuate the conflict. In concluding her argument, Kaldor proposes a cosmopolitan approach grounded on humanitarian law-enforcement as the most appropriate strategy to intervene in “new wars.” Although Kaldor’s solution appears idealistic, her premises on the misinterpretation of wars using traditional terms by the international community has rendered humanitarian intervention ineffective are sound – a change in strategy is clearly needed.

War, as defined in Clausewitzian terms, is “between states for a definable political end [state interest].” Accordingly, the actors are states, the goals are geo-political or ideological, the strategies are based on attrition and territorial control through military force, and financing is derived from state revenues. These wars involve clear distinctions between state and non-state, internal and external, economic and political, civil and military, and legitimate bearers of arms and non-combatants or criminals. W...


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...bility of recognizing a legitimate political authority imbedded in Kaldor’s cosmopolitan approach, her analysis of the ineffectiveness of Clausewitzian-based strategies in intervening in wars is accurate. Clearly, the Clausewtzian framework is incapable of recognizing the various complexities of a globalized society and current wars. Furthermore, the cosmopolitan approach is more appropriate for humanitarian intervention by emphasizing the protection of civilians, and resolving the impact of the collapse of an authoritarian state. Ultimately, the international community must construct a policy for addressing conflicts based on identity politics that violate human rights utilizing a framework other than the traditional Clausewitzian model.



Works Cited

Kaldor, mary. 2007. New and Old Wars: Organized Violence in a Global Era. 2nd Edition. Stanford University Press.

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