Colonial Violence: European Empires and the Use of Force

November 28, 2020
Colonial Violence: European Empires and the Use of Force

Western interventions today have much in common with thecountless violent conflicts that have occurred on Europe'speriphery since the conquest of the Americas in the sixteenthcentury. Like their predecessors, modern imperial wars are shapedespecially by spatial features and by pronounced asymmetries ofmilitary organisation, resources, modes of warfare and cultures ofviolence between the respective parties. Today's imperial wars areessentially civil wars, in which Western powers are only one playeramong many. As ever, the Western military machine is provingincapable of resolving political strife through force, or ofengaging opponents with no reason to offer conventional combat, whoinstead rely on guerrilla warfare and terrorism. And, as theyalways have, local populations pay the price for theseshortcomings. Colonial Violence aims to offer, for the first time,a coherent explanation of the logic of violent hostilities withinthe context of European expansion. Walter's analysis revealsparallels between different empires and continuities spanninghistorical epochs. He concludes that recent Western militaryinterventions, from Afghanistan to Mali, are not new wars, butstand in the 500-year-old tradition of transcultural violentconflict, under the specific conditions of colonialism.