The Transformation of War

10/18/2007
How relevant are the lessons of the last war is to the current war or the next one? How far back you can look to find history that is relevant to the future? In The Transformation of War, Martin Van Creveld looks back 400 years to the Thirty Years War to find a model for the conflicts of the future. He describes the loss of power to the nation-state—the result of nuclear weapons whose destructive potential makes unlimited conflict between states too risky and antithetical to their goals, and the lack of enforceable international law to effectively mediate and defend the interests of nation-states. He describes the rise of multinationals, NGOs and private armies, all operating independently of national interests and oversight, which make up the complicated landscape of future war. Multinationals like Halliburton and Brown & Root, where private commercial interests take precedence over national or popular interests. NGOs like international aid workers, environmental groups or Missionaries posing as aid workers operating independently while sometimes sidestepping or even violating national laws. Private armies like Blackwater, Al Qaeda and freelance interrogation facilities with great potential for violence but lacking the oversight of national laws or the need to defend national interests. Each of these groups has their own agendas and dramatically complicates the political landscape of any future conflict. His description is surprisingly familiar to what we see in Afghanistan, Somalia, and Iraq—and his book was written before the collapse of the Berlin Wall!

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~ by severalfourmany on October 18, 2007.

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