Liquid warfare

The project team examines how the proliferation of modern military technology on remote warfare—including ballistic missiles, precision-guided munitions or drones—transforms war and warfare practices of autocratic states and non-state armed actors.

Based on the thoughts of Zygmunt Bauman on the reduced role of territory in ‘liquid modernity’, the project develops a typology of solid (territory-focused) and liquid (target-focused) warfare in interplay with each other. Democratic states exhibit a tendency towards the latter, as research on specific ‘Western’ practices of warfare has already demonstrated. The team, therefore, asks whether we can observe similar developments with regard to autocratic states and non-state armed actors if they have the respective military technology at their disposal. In this regard, the project team analyses the development of warfare practices of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates since the early 1990s, as well as the warfare of the Houthi in Yemen and the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq. In the second phase (December 2023–March 2025), the focus will shift to Russia, China and Turkey.

The findings of the research will be disseminated primarily as articles published in peer-reviewed academic journals.



Journal article

Swan, R., & Mutschler, M.

China’s ‘Liquid’ Warfighting Shift and Its Implications for Possible Future Conflict

Sage Publications, Ltd. , London (2024)

Book chapter

Bales, M.

Yemen: Civil War as a Driver of Regional Arms Dynamic

Springer Link , Heidelberg (2023)

Other publications

Bales, M., & Heinze, M., & Mutschler, M.

Zooming in on the Yemen War - The Future of Warfare and Human Rights in the Middle East

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung , Bonn (2023)

Book chapter

Mutschler, M.

Auf dem Weg zur flüchtigen Kriegführung? Flüchtige Moderne und Krieg im 21. Jahrhundert

Nomos , Baden-Baden (2017)

bicc Working paper

Mutschler, M.

On the road to liquid warfare? Revisiting Zygmunt Bauman's thoughts on liquid modernity in the context of the "new Western way of war"

BICC , Bonn (2016)

Journal Article

Mutschler, M., & Bales, M.

Liquid or Solid Warfare? Autocratic States, Non-State Armed Groups and the Socio-Spatial Dimension of Warfare in Yemen


Journal article

Mutschler, M., & Bales, M., & Meininghaus, E.

The Impact of Precision Strike Technology on the Warfare of Non-State Armed Groups: Case Studies on Daesh and the Houthis

Routledge , London (2024)


Project Team

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Dr Max Mutschler

Senior Researcher


Marius Bales



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