Event Date/Time: Sep 07, 2006 End Date/Time: Sep 10, 2006
Registration Date: Dec 15, 2005
Abstract Submission Date: Dec 15, 2005
Paper Submission Date: Jun 30, 2006
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Has our understanding of the phenomenon of war changed of recent? Should we attempt to explore new ways of conceptualizing, theorizing, and synthesizing? Evidently, certain discontinuities mark the era that has followed the end of the Cold War: So-called humanitarian interventions have been multiplying; the considerable widening of the concept of security gave rise to the dissemination of the notion of war, which now embraces as heterogeneous discourse fields as preemptive war, terrorism, war on drugs, wars of civilizations, and post-national war, to mention just a few; furthermore, the ruptures are manifest in the Western world’s novel military technology, which has spurred the professionalisation of the military and – as a corollary – the fading away of the republican ideal of the soldier-citizen, whereas mass war is still prevailing in the Third World; the unipolar and hegemonic world order seems to facilitate the emergence of new armed conflicts; the spreading and putting into practice of the neo-liberal ideology has caused the partial privatization of war, stretching from subcontracting of non-combatant tasks by private firms to the “new mercenaries” and introducing a new articulation of the relationship among public power, political legitimacy, and (material and human) cost extrernalisation. At the same time, in the periphery of the world system, neo-patrimonialism and clientlism are increasingly gaining ground through the violent rent seeking appropriations by warlords and local militias (e.g. in the gold or diamond mines, narcotics, etc.); wars linked to ethnic or religious identities are burgeoning; the proliferation of peace keeping missions leads to the “gendarmisation” of the military; the nuclear strategies, which have been predominant during the Cold War, appear to have been relegated to second stage.

Notwithstanding, not all aspects are completely new. The total number of armed conflicts has stayed roughly stable (forty simultaneously) - the immense majority comprising of intra-national (civil) war or of armed conflict between a state and a non-state actor. Inter-national war, the frame of reference of political philosophy, public international law, and political theory of international relations, remain the exception. Likewise, the influence of the military-industrial complex has certainly not diminished, and imperialist wars did not disappear.

Challenged by the new complexity of the phenomenon of war, some theoretical approaches, considered to be mono-causal, have been outmoded, e.g. Malthusian inspired theories – for example the polémologie - which confound (demographic) cause and effect. Other theories, such as just war ethics, game theory, and Clausewitzan and Aronian driven approaches, which had been very popular a few years ago, seem to suffer from fatigue and failure to renew. The legal utopias promising to regulate organized violence by means of the rule of law and the progressive criminalisation of war are no longer unanimously shared. At present, the traditional philosophy of war appears increasingly incapable of comprehending the new realities. Filling the void and mark the contemporary debate are constructivist theorizings, postmodern and feminist deconstructions, some neo-Gramscian approaches or the combination of post-modernism with neo-Marxism, as well as the grand (and worrisome) return of the Schmittan (friend-foe) dichotomies.

The main objective of this conference is not just to chronicle the situation and bring out new streams of reflection within the three disciplines of political science, philosophy, and law. More importantly, the ultimate goal is to compare the disciplinary perspectives, and, to the extent possible, “crossbreed” them. Faced with the considerable impending challenges of the phenomenon of war, disciplinary compartementalization proves, indeed, unproductive.


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