We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Shadow Wars

Chasing Conflict in an Era of Peace

Axe, David

Publication Year: 2013

WarfareÆs evolution, especially since 2001, has irrevocably changed the meaning of war. In the twentieth centuryùhumankindÆs bloodiestù231 million people died in armed conflicts. Battlefield deaths since then have been steadily declining, despite the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by 2012 less than 1 person in a million dies in war every year. This drastic change has led some academics to label our era one of peace, recalling the erroneously named ôHundred YearsÆ Peaceö or ôPax Britannicaö of the nineteenth century, which nonetheless saw many violent conflicts.

But war hasnÆt gone extinct. It has merely evolved. In Shadow Wars, journalist David Axe tells the story of the new war eraùone of insurgents and counterinsurgents, terrorists and their hunters, pirates, mercenaries, smugglers, and slavers wreaking havoc on regions where conditions are brutal, people are poor, governments are weak, and the world rarely pays attention. Axe shows us what war has become in our era of peace. The mainstream media, meanwhile, ignores it. This book profoundly challenges readersÆ conceptions of war and peace in the twenty-first century.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-4


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. v-vi

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. vii-x

Rebels in the Congo. Improvised bombs in Afghanistan. Drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen. Abductions in Somalia and, sometimes, dramatic rescues by U.S. Navy SEALs. ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xi-xii

I would like to thank the journalists, analysts, and former military officers whose written work I utterly relied on to fill in the vast gaps in my own knowledge and experience. They include: Spencer Ackerman, James Bamford, Alan Boswell, Steve Coll, Steve Fainaru, Curtis Feebles, David Fulghum, ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xiii-xx

I was in my room at a guesthouse in sweltering Abéché in eastern Chad on a Friday evening when I heard the women’s voices harmonizing. My photographer Anne bustled over. “Do you hear it?” she asked. “I think it’s a wedding.” ...

Part I

read more

1. Tinkerers, Dictators, and Soldiers of Fortune

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 3-24

It was 1980 in Hacienda Heights outside Los Angeles. Karem, a then-forty-three-year-old aeronautical engineer born in Baghdad and raised in Israel, was spending much of his time in his garage. The garage doubled as headquarters for Karem’s own aerospace design firm, Leading Systems, Inc. ...

read more

2. Disillusioned

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 25-40

By 1992 no fewer than twenty-seven different factions battled for control of Somalia. In Mogadishu the fiercest fighting was between Ali Mahdi Mohamed, nominally the appointed successor of deposed president Siad Barre, and Mohamed Farah Aidid, an accountant-turned-warlord who headed the United Somali Congress, ...

read more

3. Balkanization

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 41-58

The General Atomics team led by Abraham Karem had brought the Predator drone from blueprints to functional hardware in just six months, a feat that Paul Kaminski, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, later called “amazing.”1 ...

Part II

read more

4. Backwaters

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 61-72

For years following the end of the UN peacekeeping mission in Somalia, Washington—and most foreign governments, for that matter—all but gave up on trying to influence events in the ruined country. In a decade of isolation, a new form of government arose in the war-torn country. With everyday Somalis becoming more radicalized, a loose system of Islamic judges arose in Mogadishu. ...

read more

5. Distracted

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 73-90

In early 2003 the White House under President George W. Bush provided Secretary of State Colin Powell with a list of intelligence claims purporting to tie Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to international terrorism. ...

read more

6. Empowered

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 91-116

Kenyan Kennedy Mwale was a fisherman, plying the waters off Kenya and Somalia in search of tuna and other big fish. But with piracy taking root in lawless Somalia, fishing and the sea trade were becoming riskier and less profitable by the day for the small operators. ...

Part III

read more

7. Backlash

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 119-132

On October 29, 2008, Shirwa Ahmed drove a car full of explosives up to a government compound in Puntland, a region of northern Somalia, and blew himself up. ...

read more

8. The American Way of War

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 133-164

The U.S.-led training began in Kinshasa in December 2009 with a small contingent of FARDC officers. The idea was to create a new battalion around a core of officers steeped in human rights and international law, without disbanding the entire army—a major flaw in American security-reform efforts in Iraq. ...

read more

9. Full Circle

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 165-188

It was hot. And after three days spent searching the village of Andar in eastern Afghanistan for insurgent bombers and bomb-making materials, the U.S. and Afghan troops were tired and hungry. With a few soldiers keeping guard on the perimeter, the others removed their body armor and sat down to eat lunch in the courtyard of an abandoned mud home. ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 189-190

For years darkness had slowly been gathering over America’s wars. U.S. involvement in armed conflict had never been so obscured. It was rarer by the day for large numbers of Americans to even do any direct fighting. ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 191-196

As the initial deadline for this book passed, a long-running and highly secretive U.S. counterterrorism campaign in the African Sahel region emerged from the shadows, dragged into the sunlight by a French military operation that bore no small resemblance to the American-backed attacks by Ethiopia and Kenya in Somalia. ...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 197-226


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 227-235

read more

About the Author

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 236-258

David Axe is a freelance journalist based in Columbia, South Carolina. He is a regular contributor to Wired, Voice of America, and many other media outlets. A war correspondent since 2005, David has reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Congo, East Timor, Lebanon, and other conflict zones. ...

Image Plates

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 259-262

E-ISBN-13: 9781612345710
E-ISBN-10: 1612345719
Print-ISBN-13: 9781612345703
Print-ISBN-10: 1612345700

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 859537512
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Shadow Wars

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Low-intensity conflicts (Military science) -- Case studies.
  • Counterinsurgency -- United States -- History.
  • Irregular warfare -- United States -- History.
  • Drone aircraft -- History.
  • Special forces (Military science) -- United States -- History.
  • Terrorism -- Prevention -- History.
  • Insurgency -- Developing countries -- Case studies.
  • Developing countries -- History, Military -- Case studies.
  • Strategic culture -- United States.
  • United States -- Military policy -- Case studies.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access