|Mary Kaldor’s book is an attempt to analyze the nature of post-Cold war conflicts. Using the examples from Yugoslav wars, Iraq, Nagorno-Karabah and Afghanistan, Kaldor is extracting common features which sharply differentiate those conflicts from the traditional conception of war, as rooted in writings of Klausewitz and further theoretized ever since. Kaldor maintains that new wars are occurring in the context of the collapse of state order, and hence different from warfare between the two states. Such setting is conditioning predatorial warfare in which agency is blurred, as well as differentiation between combatants and non-combatants. Wartime activity is tightly connected to criminalized economies of failed states, para-states or movements. She states that in such situation civilian population becomes the true target of military operations, as the control over territory is achieved by policies of terror and the war is financed by pillaging from the targeted groups of population. She notes the difference between the guerrilla warfare, which was using the friendly response of the local population with the new type of warfare which is exactly based in subjugating the locals.
Kaldor states that such type of warfare is likely to be legitimized with national rhetoric, as such policy is most likely to produce deep hatred and alienation among combating sides and provide basis for the required total mobilization. Appeal on ethnic loyalties is framing the population in fixed identities, and mutual targeting is reinforcing the hatred. She argues that the international responses to those conflicts were inadequate, as they were strengthening such lines of division, negotiating with the warlords and undermining the responsive abilities of remnants of the civil society. Kaldor is arguing for a cosmopolitan response to a challenge of new wars, based on protection of international humanitarian law and human right norms.