Following the end of the Cold War, many scholars have engaged in discussion about the nature of war in the contemporary era. This chapter evaluates the claim that there is something significantly new about the conduct or nature of contemporary conflict. It argues that limited wars, ethnic conflicts and low-level warfare have been perennial features of the twentieth-century international landscape, but that the Cold War distorted and narrowed our understanding of the nature of global politics. Until the beginning of the Cold War in 1945 a number of features characterized the evolution of modern conflict. It is generally accepted for example that as states evolved they began to oversee a growth in war-making capabilities and to acquire a monopoly on legitimate and organized violence. Conventional wars in the Third World were incorporated into the Cold War competition, and even the few classic interstate conflicts that might have conformed to a traditional pattern of war were affected by superpower intervention.