Spectator Sport War: The West and Contemporary Conflict

Research output: Book/ReportBook


At the end of a century dominated by global conflict - and despite the unchanging nature of the human suffering it causes - the nature of war itself, argues Colin McInnes, has been transformed. McInnes considers the key developments that have led to this metamorphosis: the possibility of a major war in the West has become remote, and the limited Cold War conflicts in which superpower rivalries were played out have been succeeded by local conflicts with little or no potential for escalation. There has been a change in the relationship between war and society, with wars now fought by specialized professionals and viewed from a safe distance on television. Simultaneously, technological developments have made it easier for Western states to minimize the risks to their combatants, keeping casualities at a level that their citizens will tolerate. War, in short, has entered a new era. For only a small minority in the West does it have any direct meaning - it is no longer participatory for Western society as a whole, but has become for too many a kind of spectator sport. The implications of this phenomenon, for both the military and the broader community, are explored in the final chapter of the book.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBoulder COLO
PublisherLynne Rienner Publishers
ISBN (Print)158826047X, 978-1588260475
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2002


  • new wars
  • contemporary warfare


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