Understandings of war - its shape, form, character and content - are conditioned by conceptualizations and narratives of social and political space. As such, the history of writing on war is also a history of spatiality, expressed through a particular circumstance and practice. Through analysis of early modern conceptualizations of space, politics and war, this article considers the shift in political spatiality associated with the demise of modern linear spatiality that firmly established the territorial state as site of politics and war. The central argument of this article is that contemporary accounts of war reveal a political spatiality in flux coupled with an insistence on the global, such that many accounts of war neglect its political content. Three key accounts of contemporary war are engaged: liberal discourses of war as 'policing'; accounts of war as 'biopolitical empire'; and discourses of war as 'risk management' - all found, in different ways and collectively, to disregard the political confrontation that war necessarily entails. Abstract published by arrangement with Taylor and Francis.