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date: 26 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

War exists at the fault lines of any international system. Whether wars are fought in an attempt to break a system, to change it or uphold it; whether wars are defined as big or small, cataclysmic or limited, just or unjust, the very term ‘war’ is used to describe a conflict that is, by definition, exceptional. ‘Wars’ are declared in many political circumstances: wars on illiteracy, on drugs, or terrorism, or even on a foreign power. Always, the concept is used to imply an exceptional response to a problem that cannot be regarded as tolerable as it stands. A problem is made into a ‘security’ problem precisely because it is exceptional; it prevents a society from being otherwise normal and unexceptional. If wars are constantly being perceived within the wide spectrum of international political violence that now exists, then trying to understand the phenomenon leads us necessarily to reflect on the way the international system has been evolving and about which types of violence mankind now chooses to regard as exceptional, abnormal, or dangerous.

Keywords: international system, war, political violence, conflict, political circumstances, civil conflicts

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