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The World of Wars: Risky Systems - A second-order observation of future wars

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The world of the future will not be one without wars. The many hopes we have about a future peace governed by a more or less confederal state will not make wars obsolete. Regular wars and irregular wars will continue and probably about different subjects than we are used to. The article proposes that the form of war will be more about temporalities, i.e. fast interchanges or, rather, more risky protracted wars of attrition and exhaustion and less about tactical well defined territories. The West can neither dominate such wars nor establish one world that is ruled or even governed. The risk is that we have the systems we have. They have their own path dependencies, their temporal bindings and their own stories to tell. In the worst case, the West sticks to an imaginary of almighty power – and then it will lose. We tend to forget that our present past will be experienced and told differently in the future. The “extreme 20th century” will have another history and another impact. Its extremes will be narrated as more extreme, and its temporal bindings become easier to observe. The much celebrated “revolutions in military affairs” will not dominate future war systems. Unipolarity is fading away. Kantian convergences may appear.
Bidragets oversatte titelEn verden i krig: en anden-ordens iagttagelse af fremtidige krige
TidsskriftNordicum - Mediterraneum
Antal sider26
StatusUdgivet - 2014

Bibliografisk note

The article was presented, first as a paper at a seminar in Skagen about a future World society (cf Cooperation and Conflict (47,2: 145-156), later in Helsinki at a NSU conference about Security Politics. It has not been revised since spring 2014, i.e. before the events and risk inherent to rise of Islamic State, and, in addition, the conflicts between Russia and Ukraine, which only confirm the theses of the paper therefore reprinted as an article, thanks to the advice of the editor, professor Giorgio Baruchello.


  • war, future, risk, systems theory, Clausewitz, asymmetric wars, drones, peace

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