Preventing over Struggle: Change and Continuity within the Nature and Character of Struggle


The right way to outline and deal with struggle phenomenologically has been one of the crucial vexing issues occupying the minds of students and statesmen all through historical past. The very ubiquity of navy battle as a facet of human interplay between societies has spawned questions as wide-ranging because the causes of struggle, how you can forestall struggle, and considerably what precisely we perceive as struggle. All of those could be mixed into the overarching meta-historical query of whether or not and the way, struggle is topic to alter, and if that’s the case, what parts are particularly topic to alter?                      

To ensure that us to adequately present a solution to the query “Has struggle modified?” it’s crucial for us to initially elucidate what precisely is supposed by the idea of “struggle” itself, and the conjoined idea of “change.” If we outline change as consisting in an alteration of the basic nature of the topic in query, the explanandum can be the very nature of struggle itself. Conversely, if the idea facilities of the instrumentalism of struggle or the methods during which struggle is utilized as a sensible coverage device, then the explanandum can be the character that struggle assumes virtually, within the political sphere as an instrument to be utilized for the furtherance of a political finish. From these definitional questions we proceed naturally into the query of how during which struggle has modified.            

To Change or to not Change – Nature versus Character

How we strategy change as a facet of struggle will rely on how we conceptualize the idea of change relative to the phenomenon of struggle, which naturally produces the corollary query of what precisely struggle is. For solutions to each of those the preeminent mental authority to have been consulted because the French Revolutionary Wars is Claus von Clausewitz and his theoretical framework offered in On Struggle. As to the latter conundrum, Clausewitz supplies a succinct definition, that “Struggle is nothing however a duel on a bigger scale. Numerous duels go to make up struggle, however an image of it as a complete could be fashioned by imagining a pair of wrestlers. […] Struggle is thus an act of pressure to compel our enemy to do our will” (Clausewitz, 1976, p. 75). From this analogy it’s clear that situated on the middle of struggle is the dialectical confrontation between two opposing autonomous actors, using coercion to permit for the attainment of every actor’s finish.   

Turning to the previous query, whereas Clausewitz doesn’t present a complete framework for a causal sequence with regard to alter, he establishes a elementary distinction between contingent manifestation and a permanent core:

Struggle is greater than a real chameleon that barely adapts its traits to the given case. As a complete phenomenon its dominant tendencies at all times make struggle a paradoxical trinity – composed of primordial violence, hatred, and enmity, that are to be considered a blind pure pressure; of the play of likelihood and likelihood inside which the inventive spirit is free to roam; and of its aspect of subordination, as an instrument of coverage, which makes it topic to cause alone.

Clausewitz, 1976, p. 89

Clausewitz additional elaborates {that a} extremely variable interrelationship exists between these tendencies, to not be subjected to a set relationship, thus permitting for substantial variation within the relative weight ascribed to every throughout circumstances (Clausewitz, 1976).                            

This dichotomy between struggle’s nature and character stays one of the crucial contentious problems with interpretation for students on Clausewitz, and the phenomenology of struggle. In pointing a critique on the New America Basis’s Way forward for Struggle program’s equation of the altering nature of struggle with technological advances, Mewett contends that the “nature of struggle describes its unchanging essence: that’s, these issues that differentiate struggle (as a sort of phenomenon) from different issues,” whereas the “character of struggle describes the altering method that struggle as a phenomenon manifests […] by what Clausewitz referred to as the “spirit of the age”” (Mewett, 2014). In different phrases, whereas the sociopolitical variables defining the “spirit” of the given historic context, (corresponding to the extent of technological prowess, normative authorized views, tradition, and organizational construction of societies) could have an effect on the character of how the act of struggle is performed, what navy forces are used, and and so on., the character of struggle is constituted by its continuities transcending its temporal boundaries – in Clausewitzian concept the trinitarian nature of struggle. Implicit is the idea that an alteration in any of those variables will trigger a parallel transformation within the character of struggle, corresponding to was the case with the navy utility of gunpowder, the transition from small dynastic armies to the revolutionary levée en masse, and the so-called “Revolution in Army Affairs” (Mewett, 2014).

As regards discussions of the altering nature of struggle, Villacres and Bassford argue that the trinitarian idea has been topic to interpretive controversy, resulting in misrepresentations of the likelihood for a temporally steady essence of struggle. On the coronary heart of it’s Clausewitz’s identification of the three tendencies respectively with “the individuals; the second the commander of his military; the third the federal government” (Clausewitz, 1976). In line with Villacres and Bassford, quite a lot of students have conflated the trinitarian tendencies with the societal parts, that’s, individuals, navy, and authorities. This consequently results in a theoretical discrepancy between renderings of struggle’s nature as a perform of those particular establishments, versus Clausewitz’s concentrate on transcendent structural forces animating the human subject of battle (Villacres and Bassford, 1995).                                                                     

The analytical implication of this non-trinitarian view is that Clausewitz’s conceptualization of the enduring essence of struggle is taken into account out of date as a consequence of the reconfiguration of its societal parts, specifically the minimization of the state in processes of struggle, and the erosion of the excellence between the navy and the individuals as the first establishments waging struggle. This view is most explicitly articulated by Martin Van Creveld in his concept of non-trinitarian struggle. To dispel this conceptual confusion, Villacres and Bassford argue that whereas Clausewitz might need talked about these three particular sociopolitical classes, his use of the phrase “primarily”, signifies that the empirical manifestations inside which the trinity is embedded is topic to variation (Villacres and Bassford, 1995). As they conclude:

In any battle organized sufficient to be referred to as struggle, there shall be some type of management group, some group of fighters, some type of inhabitants base – if not individuals, military, and authorities per se, then individuals, military, and authorities analogs.

Villacres and Bassford, 1995, p. 15

Thus, whereas the traditionally contingent material of society and its organizational mode would possibly differ considerably from one age to a different, it’s the trinitarian tendencies embedded inside the given items expressing the animus of violence and hatred; doing the really preventing; and channeling of the aforementioned animus within the route of the attainment of a selected finish, which constitutes the enduring nature of struggle, as echoed by Azar Gat: “The “primordial violence, hatred, and enmity” of the character of struggle are directed by the “commander’s inventive spirit” by way of the “play of likelihood and likelihood” to realize the political purpose. That is the “exceptional trinity” […] which makes struggle “greater than a real chameleon that barely adapts its traits to a given case” (Gat quoted in Villacres and Bassford, 1995, p. 12).                                                            

As is clear from the earlier paragraphs, a pervasive facet of scholarly remedies of Clausewitz’s conception of struggle’s essence is its instrumentality embedded inside the political dimension. Colin Grey touches upon the perception that the subordination of navy technique, and thus struggle, as an instrument for the effectuation of political aims is the preeminent facet characterizing the place of struggle inside the broader sociopolitical context, clarifying that new “environments and new weapons will add to the pile of issues needing consideration by strategists, however the nature of struggle and technique, and the connection between coverage and navy instrument, endure” (Grey, 1999, p. 93). Grey’s assertion alludes to Clausewitz’s commentary that an exercise characterised by the applying of pressure between two organized entities, that’s, struggle, is inseparable from the general area of politics inside which it breathes. Therefore, “struggle shouldn’t be merely an act of coverage however a real political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse, carried on with different means. […] The political object is the purpose, struggle is the technique of reaching it, and means can by no means be thought of in isolation from their goal” (Clausewitz, 1976, p. 87). From this attitude, it’s implied that in the identical method that the correct that means of a historic occasion can by no means be understood in separation from its broader context, so struggle can by no means exist as a set of navy actions divorced from the political course of giving beginning to those.                                      

Bassford substantiates this argument as properly, whereas concurrently incorporating explanations of the causation of adjustments to the character of struggle as a facet of struggle as a political phenomenon:

Clausewitz, then again, sees struggle as merely what occurs when the method of politics, by which energy is distributed in any society, assumes an emotional depth that results in organized violence. […]Whatever the motivation, the competition is for energy and is due to this fact political. Struggle is thus liable to everlasting reinvention.

Bassford, 1994

Bassford’s exposition goes to the center of the inherently advanced nature of struggle as a human social phenomenon, deeply embedded inside the material of the group of political life, versus a merely mechanistic rendering of struggle as a rational instrument remoted from broader societal influences. What we see is struggle as merely one out of a large number of phenomena rising from the character of politics, struggle being distinguished by the inclusion of pressure to the political course of. This conceptualization is moreover echoed by Robert Dahl’s seminal definition of politics as equating with the train of energy, as “A has energy over B to the extent that he can get B to do one thing that B wouldn’t in any other case do” (Dahl, 1957, pp. 202-203). Insofar because the idea of energy is central to politics, struggle is thus merely the political train of energy with the added aspect of pressure.                                                                          

As regards the altering character of struggle, the second level in Clausewitz’s dichotomy, there appears to exist a tough consensus that transformations within the underlying sociopolitical construction of human relations and modes of societal organizations trigger parallel adjustments to the way in which during which struggle manifests in actuality. Echoing Clausewitz’s injunction that struggle’s manifestations “consequence primarily from the transformation of society and new social circumstances” (Clausewitz, 1976, p. 515), Moran states that variation in struggle is basically ruled by contingent circumstances specific to historic and social context, corresponding to “cultural or institutional preferences, financial sources, geographic information, or ethnic animosities, a lot of that are poorly understood even by the contributors.” (Moran, 2002, p. 19) In our modern age, nevertheless, a level of uniformity has been imposed throughout the navy institution of the worldwide system on account of the extension of Western mental fashions, variously by way of European colonialism, and from acutely aware emulation. (Baylis et al., 2002)                                                    

Whereas Clausewitz’s theoretical scripture has dominated the limelight of strategic research, his modern, Antoine-Henri Jomini, conceptualized warfare in methods reminiscent, and but distinct, from Clausewitz. His sign achievement was to infuse the enlightenment spirit of universalizable rules, which however allowed for broad adaptability relying on the circumstances. Jomini thus based warfare theoretically on a extra positivist-rationalist foundation, nonetheless exerting important affect inside the strategic research group. (Baylis, 2002)    

Wither Struggle?

Having outlined the theoretical foundation for serious about adjustments to the phenomenon of struggle, and the causal theories describing its change inside the worldwide system, we are able to now look at the methods during which struggle is altering.                                                                      

Whereas the trinitarian argument of Clausewitz clearly posits that the character of struggle appears fixed, different theories of struggle have been proposed in current scholarship. Mary Kaldor’s New Wars-thesis argues that struggle as a phenomenon of worldwide politic has been basically reworked from Outdated Wars. Central to that is the idea that the Weberian conception of the state’s monopoly on the usage of pressure has been eroded in parallel with the eroding autonomy of the state as a consequence of processes of globalization. Kaldor argues that this may be ascribed to forces pressuring from above (elevated destructiveness of weapons, transnationalization of navy pressure, and norms towards unilateral aggression), and from under (the privatization of violence). On the latter level, Kaldor concludes that “new wars happen in conditions during which state revenues decline due to the decline of the financial system in addition to the unfold of criminality, corruption and inefficiency, violence is more and more privatized each on account of rising organized crime and the emergence of paramilitary teams, and political legitimacy is disappearing” (Kaldor, 2012, p. 6). She additional goes on to state that “there was a revolution in navy affairs, however it’s a revolution within the social relations of warfare” (Kaldor, 2012, p. 4). Whereas the thesis is meant as a rebuke towards the dominance of the Clausewitzian paradigm of typical struggle, it however holds an amazing diploma of memory with the beforehand famous level, as elaborated by Clausewitz, that adjustments to the character, or manifestation, of struggle derive from sociopolitical transformations.   

Additional, as Kaldor elucidates, the intention along with her case research on the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan is to furnish an exposition of how differing classes of struggle coexist inside the similar conflict-zone. From a Clausewitzian angle, this analytical distinction appears to be a repackaging of the conceptual distinction between the character of struggle and the character of struggle. Put barely in another way, Kaldor’s evaluation pertains extra to variations within the mode of warfare. Therefore, Kaldor’s argument would possibly unwittingly be suitable with the Clausewitzian analogy of struggle as a chameleon (Hoffman, 2018, p. 32; Kaldor, 2012).

An argument not too dissimilar to Kaldor’s is articulated in Holsti’s thesis of wars of the third type. Holsti posits three standards for distinguishing between types of struggle, the identical three being the premise for figuring out whether or not struggle has undergone a change, arguing that when “two or extra of those standards change basically, we are able to say that there was a change of struggle” (functions; the function of civilians; and the establishments of struggle) (Holsti, 2010, p. 27). Holsti seeks to substantiate his speculation that struggle has basically modified by arguing that the function of struggle as an instrument of coverage is abolished in wars of the third type, as the needs for which they’re fought revolve round questions of statehood and identification, making the individuals the first goal in efforts to create states, within the course of dissolving the excellence between soldier and civilian. This attests to the view that inner battle has come to predominate the panorama of struggle to the detriment of trinitarian wars. As he writes the “clear distinction between the state, the armed forces, and the society that’s the hallmark of institutionalized struggle dissolves” in peoples’ struggle (Holsti, 2010, p. 37).                                                              

These arguments, nevertheless, whereas offering an alternate prism by way of which struggle could be conceptualized from typical state-on-state struggle, it however falls into the very entice recognized earlier by Villacres and Bassford. Whereas it is likely to be true that the actual composition of forces engaged in struggle is totally different from the period of Clausewitz, they’re however animated by the exact same trinitarian tendencies. Nothing in Clausewitz’s conception of the character of struggle impedes the primordial ardour and hatred, and the play of likelihood and likelihood, from inhabiting the identical bodily entity, in Holsti and Kaldor’s examples, navy forces comprised of residents. Right here once more, we could take Clausewitz use of the phrase primarily, on the subject of the three bodily parts, to represent greater than a semantic triviality, that’s, the trinitarian tendencies will not be topic to arbitrary fixation, however perform in accordance with the idiosyncrasies of the actual manifestation of struggle. Regarding Holsti’s argument relating to the elimination of struggle as an instrument of coverage, once more invoking the insights of Bassford and Dahl, insofar as politics is characterised as contestation of the relative distribution of energy inside or past a polity, the top of creating statehood, basically the car of politics, for a selected group, then taking on arms, as a navy pressure of and for a individuals, this should be thought of an eminently rational instrument for a political finish.

An try and resuscitate the trinitarian idea in a reconfigured type for the modern battlefield is supplied by Krieg and Rickli, of their concept of neotrinitarian warfare, thus specializing in the altering character/manifestation of struggle, versus its important nature. On the coronary heart of this concept is the kind of warfare generally known as surrogate warfare, by which an actor (normally, however not restricted to, state-actors) externalizes the burden of conducting warfare to quite a lot of surrogates, whether or not proxies, technological platforms, or the militaries of shopper states. Nonetheless, in mild of globalization, they determine a reconfiguration of the safety assemblages historically constituting the triptych of society, navy, and authorities, in that these evolve into transnational buildings, not essentially bounded territorially (Krieg and Rickli, 2019). Recognizing that whereas the character of struggle has not modified, warfare has:

It’s the reconstitution of sociopolitical complexes amid the period of globalization, exponential technological progress, and transnationalization that seems to redefine how communities work together with their political authority and finally how group and political authority strategy organized violence.   

Krieg and Rickli, 2019, p. 7

Whereas contestation as as to whether the important nature of struggle as a political phenomenon has modified or not is clearly evident from the divergent views offered above, that sure observable traits of struggle as a manifest type of sociopolitical apply have modified appears to be equally clear from historic comparisons. This assumption begs the easy query, how, and additional, do these adjustments have implications for a way we perceive and analyze struggle ontologically?                                                                        

One of the crucial vexing points in such discussions is whether or not strategies of coercion historically thought of to lie past the usual definition of struggle, that’s as containing a component of violence, could be reconceptualized as struggle. Jessica Wolfendale articulates a definition which seeks to seize unarmed battle as a manifestation of struggle, based mostly on three standards: (1) Contains two or extra organized teams; (2) these are engaged in intense hostility; (3) no get together, together with third events, possess authority or potential to adjudicate the dispute, or in any other case exert management over the battle (Wolfendale in Gross and Meisels, 2017, p. 16). If positioned in relation to a Clausewitzian way of thinking, there may be nothing a priori that may exclude the employment of unarmed technique of coercion from what might be thought of struggle, as is clear if we recall Clausewitz metaphor of the wrestlers and his admonition that “struggle is thus an act of pressure to compel our enemy to do our will” (Clausewitz, 1976, p. 75). Whereas most would intuitively affiliate pressure on this context with the usage of bodily means, it basically comes right down to our specific definition of what constitutes pressure. If taking our cue from the Cambridge Dictionary the time period could be understood as “affect and vitality” (Cambridge Dictionary), and is thus consonant with a broader understanding of politics. 

On this vein, Wolfendale clarifies that in her framework “the idea of hostilities ought to incorporate methods of inflicting hurt that don’t contain the infliction of bodily violence”, and due to this fact be understood as “the intentional infliction of considerable harm (which needn’t be restricted to bodily harm) to the lives and welfare of people […] and to the infrastructure, atmosphere, and primary functioning of states and communities” (Wolfendale in Gross and Meisels, p. 22). This definition permits us to incorporate modes of political contestation which, regardless of an absence of the direct utility of kinetic navy pressure, have as their major political finish the enforcement of desired targets vis-à-vis the adversary requiring coercive means.                                 

A doable instance of such types of unarmed struggle gaining, more and more in prominence in recent times, is so-called financial warfare. Pleasure Gordon chronicles how financial sanctions as a part of the financial warfare toolkit have been extensively used as an instrument of statecraft in various conceptions all through historical past, and in a method that conforms to a extra inclusive definition of struggle. In the course of the Chilly Struggle, for instance, the usage of financial sanctions was prevalent among the many superpowers as a way to achieve specific political targets by means of important financial disruption of the focused adversary, with “particular person international locations performing on their very own behalf, and in pursuit of their very own insurance policies” (Gordon in Gross and Meisels, 2017, pp. 49-50). By the 1980’s, financial sanctions had assumed a privileged place in U.S. statecraft as a cost-efficient method of effecting diplomatic and political leads to the worldwide enviornment with out incurring the dangers of a Vietnam-style navy interventions. Such was the case with sanctions regime instituted towards the apartheid-regime in South Africa, and Rhodesia (Gordon in Gross and Meisels, 2017). One would possibly see financial warfare buying ever better similarity to traditional state-on-state modes of battle with the Trump administrations commerce struggle towards China, and the latter conversely making use of reciprocal technique of financial coercion in a cycle of accelerating escalation (Rosenberg, Harrell, and Feng, 2020).

One other subject of contestation which we’d think about an enviornment of struggle is what Dorothy E. Denning calls data warfare (alternatively generally known as cyber warfare). Citing the definition formulated by John Alger, data operations are performed “in an effort to obtain a major benefit, goal, or victory over an adversary” (Denning, 1999, p. 10). The framework of the attainment of a selected finish in a contest of wills is once more current. Moreover, as Nugent and Raisinghani argue, cyber warfare will grow to be more and more prevalent with speedy digitalization of all spheres of life, together with infrastructure, communications, data-storage, and so on. This might need substantial implications for escalation dynamics because of the nature of technological capabilities, as these are extra simply obtained by second and third tier actors, offering an asymmetrical benefit towards extra developed, however extra digitalized adversaries (Nugent and Raisinghani in Janczewski and Colarik, 2008).                           

The essential implication of this extra inclusive definition for concept is that it begs the query: do these adjustments to the character of struggle consequently change the character of struggle? The issue could be illustrated by reference to differing perceptions between Western and Russian strategic tradition as to when a state of struggle exists. Whereas a comparatively clear-cut understanding of exists inside Western circles based mostly on a legalistic distinction between struggle and peace as separate, mutually unique spheres, Jonsson contends that if Russian data actions are measured towards “what Russian data concept suggests permissible in instances of peace and in instances of struggle”, a state of struggle already exists (Jonsson, 2019, p. 16).                                                  

This connects with a current proliferation of recent terminology to explain the novel state of battle incorporating non-traditional spheres of exercise into what constitutes struggle, corresponding to hybrid struggle, grey zone battle, new technology warfare, and so on. Hybrid warfare, for example, has historically been conceived because the mixing of assorted classes of means, corresponding to typical navy pressure and irregular forces, state and non-state actors (variously generally known as proxies, in furtherance of a political finish (Murray and Mansoor, 2012). If mixed with Krieg and Rickli’s concept of surrogate struggle, encompassing any substitute, whether or not non-state proxy, technological platform, or alternatively area (corresponding to cyber), the impact is that the conceptual boundary between struggle and peace successfully evaporates.               

Thus, whereas struggle’s important nature could not have modified, because the trinitarian tendencies could be argued to nonetheless exist, a extra fruitful avenue of inquiry is likely to be whether or not altering purposes of coercive pressure reconfigure our perceptual lens of what’s thought of to be, as a matter of truth struggle. If our notion of what constitutes a state of struggle based mostly on the character of the applying of specific means for political ends change, in order to successfully dissolve the division between struggle and peace, we’d ask whether or not the predominant change to struggle is likely to be our perceptual body, in order that actuality is outlined by a gradational spectrum of contestation with variations of battle coexisting.

Such a perceptual body would have implications for notions of the prevalence of struggle relative to peace. As an example, if struggle is known as a gradational spectrum of various typologies of contestation, the arguments of Mandelbaum as to the obsolescence of main energy struggle (Mandelbaum, 1998) can be blunted by positing {that a} type of struggle, or contestation, exists between the U.S. and Russia by reference to the numerous disruption leveled upon the American political system and infrastructure by data operations towards election integrity and infrastructure, in addition to the American sanctions regime instituted towards the Russian financial system because the 2014 annexation of Crimea (Jonsson, 2019; Gould-Davies, 2020).                      

Additional, our categorization of struggle must be reevaluated. The Correlates of Struggle dataset solely consists of the classes of interstate and intrastate struggle, nevertheless, as Andrew Mumford has argued, proxy struggle is shortly proliferating as a type of coercion utilized by the good powers (Mumford, 2017). Barkawi and Laffey equally argue that we have to escape the territorial entice, of conceiving struggle solely as an interstate phenomenon (Barkawi and Laffey, 1999).

Conclusion: Has struggle modified?

The query of whether or not struggle has modified basically comes right down to how we conceptualize the phenomenology of struggle. If discussing struggle’s nature – its enduring essence – a Clausewitzian perspective would stand on the unfavourable, whereas if adopting the non-trinitarian perspective of the brand new war-thesis the reply can be optimistic.    

Alternatively, if one considers struggle’s character – its contingent manifestations – most can agree that historic, technological, and socio-political elements have considerably reconfigured struggle as a social apply. What we must always think about, is how our conceptualizations of what constitutes a state of struggle have modified. By different phrases, it may be argued that with the current incorporation of various types of political contestation right into a extra inclusive definition of struggle, the division between struggle and peace is basically dissolved, and the aim of study facilities extra on the varied gradations and manifestations of multifaceted types of political battle as positioned on a typological spectrum, from typical armed confrontation, to non-kinetic types of struggle, based mostly extra on the time-honored Clausewitzian idea of politics as central to struggle.                                     

The implication of that is to nullify the idea of struggle as an distinctive state of affairs from peacetime and acknowledge that each one makes an attempt at compellence can basically be thought of a type of struggle.                                                                                                                      


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