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The New Western Way of War: Risk-Transfer War and its Crisis in Iraq Hardcover – July 1, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0745634104 ISBN-10: 0745634109 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 164 pages
  • Publisher: Polity; 1 edition (July 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745634109
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745634104
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,531,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“A compelling piece of engaged social science (that) does much to clarify what is at stake in contemporary warfare.”
International Affairs

The New Western Way of War is about new ways of interpreting war. By engaging innovative concepts like “global surveillance” or “risk-transfer”, Martin Shaw offers us an intriguing glimpse of a world beyond war.”
Mary Kaldor, London School of Economics and Political Science

“Roll over Clausewitz: in the global war on terror, politics has become a continuation of war by other means, including global surveillance, disinformation, unlawful detention, abrogation of civil liberties, faith-based violence, pervasive fear, accidental killing, and the transfer of risk to an increasingly vulnerable citizenry. Martin Shaw targets this new western way of war with the kind of discriminate intelligence and discrete passion that makes all the smart bombs and latter-day Slim Pickens riding them look very dumb indeed.”
James Der Derian, Brown University

From the Back Cover

In this seminal new work, Martin Shaw, a leading expert on the sociology of war, argues that the new Western way of war is in crisis. He charts the development of a new warfare, after Vietnam, through the Falklands, the Gulf, Kosovo and Afghanistan. He argues that in the Iraq (mis)adventure (of which he provides a detailed analysis) and the War on Terror, the US has consistently flouted the key rules that enabled Western states to fight these earlier wars successfully. The results are not only political failure and a disaster in Iraq, but also a loss of credibility for the very idea of Western warfare.

For Shaw, the new way of war focuses on containing risks to the lives of Western soldiers in order to minimise political and electoral risk to governments. Risk is transferred to innocent civilians, whose killing is explained away as 'accidental'. Yet the idea of managing risk is fundamentally at odds with the brutal, unpredictable nature of war. Ultimately, attempts to manage, govern and rule over the risks of war produce greater risks for those in power.

The New Western Way of War is a moral and political statement as well as a major contribution to sociology and international relations. It will make compelling reading not only for students and scholars of these disciplines, but for anyone concerned about Western political and military power, and the future for global justice.

More About the Author

MARTIN SHAW is a sociologist of global politics, war and genocide. He is currently Research Professor of International Relations at the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (IBEI) and Professorial Fellow in International Relations and Human Rights at the University of Roehampton, London. He is also a Research Professor of the University of Sussex, where he held the Chair in International Relations and Politics from 1995 to 2008, and was Professor of International and Political Sociology at the University of Hull.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Clauser on August 21, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How does the West transfer risk during combat? How does this reflect developments in society? What key historical events led to the West to conduct warfare in this manner? What is the future of the Western use of force? If you are interested in a scholarly work tracing the development and transformation of Western War from the US-Vietnam Conflict to the Second Gulf War than this book is for you.

Dr Shaw, a Professor of International Relations and Politics at the University of Sussex (UK) is the latest scholar to look at a new Western way of arms-length warfare. Drawing from works such as 'Spectator-Sport War' by Colin McInnes, 'Virtual War' by Michael Ignatieff, and his own 'Post-Military Society,' Dr Shaw unites the observations of these scholars and more into a synthesized list of fifteen `Rules of Risk-Transfer War' in chapter four. He aptly applies his findings to case studies ranging from the Falklands-Malvinas and First Gulf War to the Afghanistan conflict and ultimately the Second Gulf War. But it is the Second Gulf War in Iraq where he demonstrates how this form of Risk-Transfer Warfare is in crisis.

Dr Shaw's work demonstrates a sharp erudition of the key literature. His insights are keen and striking. Sadly, he colours his work with a distinctly leftist tinge fashionable among contemporary academics especially those in Europe. This is manifest in the secondary sources lurking in the bibliography. He routinely takes shots at the United States and her President which is unbecoming of such a well distinguished scholar. However, his work delivers such a piercing and pointed argument against risk-transfer warfare that his 'ad hominem' attacks can be summarily dismissed. Dr Shaw's writing style is both rewarding and easy to read. I would suggest this work to students of strategy, security, international relations, and military arts and sciences.

Michael A. Clauser

M.A., European Studies, 2006

The University of Exeter, UK
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Federico on December 8, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No complains for this purchase. I did not have to wait so long and The status of The book was perfect.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. Sullivan on April 28, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Martin Shaw's "New Western Way of War", written by yet another Marxist academic who has never been in uniform, set foot in a combat zone, or held a responsible decision-making political position, yet feels righteous in skewering the means, methods and intentions of those who do make those decisions; another cold and timid soul who neither knows victory nor defeat.

This book starts with a conclusion and finds selective *facts* to support the established conclusion. His arguments rely on hyperbole and an admittedly leftist sense of outrage that *any* civilians are killed in recent military conflicts, rather than acknowledging the fact that Western militaries go to extraordinary lengths to minimize civilian casualties. Compared to the way things could be done, far fewer are killed than if the ethically-deprived methods of true practitioners of genocide or terrorism were practiced by Western militaries.

Nor does he truly acknowledge that of those who are killed by western militaries in recent conflicts, none are specifically targeted for their civilian nature, unlike those killed by Al Qaeda or Rwandans for example. It would be interesting to see him produce a companion volume perhaps titled "The New Genocidal Way of War" that chronicles the genocidal depravity (his terms) of the Russian, Rwandan, Cambodian, Tamil, Al Qaeda, Algerian, FARC, Serbian, and Timorese adventures in recent years.

While I like his conceptualization of the idea of "global warfare", he also contradicts himself between his discussion of his concept of global warfare and the Balkans situation of the late 1990's.
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