Conceptualising Modern War
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Since the end of the Cold War, scholars, military historians and analysts have struggled to agree a workable definition of contemporary warfare with reference to the conflicts that have erupted since 1989, whether in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq or Afghanistan, to name only a few. Among the many attempts to hit the right conceptual note are asymmetrical war, 'Fourth' Generation War' and, perhaps the most influential of all, 'New Wars'. In addition to these attempts to define war, the West's military establishments, with the Pentagon in the vanguard, have worked hard to map out new strategic and tactical concepts in order to try to win these wars. Two of the more influential from recent years are Network-Centric Warfare (NCW) and Effects-Based Operations (EBO). The contributors contend that very few of these terms and concepts are particularly useful when it comes to defining war or to creating a winning strategy. On that basis it is easy to ridicule every one of these terms and concepts, but the aim of the contributors to this book - - who include Hew Strachan, David Kilcullen, Steven Metz, Helen Dexter and Ian Beckett - - is instead to search for meaning where meaning can be found. Can these terms and concepts tell us something about the development of war and how wars can be won?
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