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Warfare in the 21st Century




Admissions requirements



In an era which has seen a predominance of intra-state wars this reading-intensive course will study the main conflicts that have occurred, or are on-going, during the first decade and a half of the 21st century. The course will concentrate on 9/11 and the wars in its aftermath – America’s so-called “war on terror” and the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq that ensued and have continued there ever since the Americans intervened. Linked to those conflicts are the uprisings in the Arab world, and the wars they have engendered in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Besides giving students a clear understanding of the background and consequences of these conflicts, they should also gain a perspective of how immensely difficult it is for outside powers to intervene in any other state and of the absolute need for a deep understanding of societies that are so very different to those of the West. Linked to this students will be able to critically analyze the impact traditional mass media and social media have had, both in covering the conflicts and in fostering resistance or opposition to the powers that be.

Course objectives

After successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • demonstrate clear insight into some of the conflicts that have occurred in the first 15 years of the 21st century – specifically in the Middle East and Afghanistan: the principle region in which western governments and armed forces have been engaged.

  • explain and analyse the political, social and regional effects of military intervention. Students will know how the decision of the US and NATO to intervene militarily impacted on societies as different as Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. They will also show an appreciation of how the nature of warfare has changed over the past 15 years and of how that both limits and augments the possibilities for future military intervention.

  • critically review the effects and limitations of the traditional mass media in the internet age in covering both inter- and intra-state wars in the 21st century and the effects that has on political decision making.

  • describe and analyse the role social media are playing in helping to augment opposition and even engender revolution in certain autocratic societies.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

Apart from doing the first week, when there will be two lectures, classes will be split by lectures and student-led discussions and presentations. There will be a set book to accompany the lecture every week, about which students will be expected to write a 600-800 word essay.


In class participation: 10%
Presentation and leading class discussion: 15%
6 weekly essays (600-800 words): 10%
Final essay (1000 – 1200 words): 15%


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Be aware that the book list may be modified
Disordered World – Amin Maalouf
Zinky Boys – Svetlana Alexievich
War – Sebastian Junger
The Forever War – Dexter Filkins
ISIS – Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan
The Square – documentary on the Egyptian Revolution
War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning – Chris Hedges


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Aernout van Lynden


Given the fast changing pace of change in the Middle East new readings or books may be added to the list. Students should check with the lecturer closer to the time of the course.