The Intimacies of Remote Warfare programme seeks to build an independent, evidence-based repository of knowledge and field of experts for informing the public about the intimate realities of the wars waged in their names.
What is Remote Warfare?
In recent years, Western states have increasingly resorted to practices of remote warfare to govern threats at a distance across the Middle East and Africa. Remote warfare is a form of military interventionism characterised by a shift away from “boots on the ground” towards light-footprint operations, often outside conventional warzones. This typically entails combining the use of drones and precision airstrikes in the air with special forces, private contractors and military training teams on the ground.
Why does it matter?
While often successful in eliminating enemy combatants, practices of remote warfare carry a number of distinct consequences and wider repercussions. Remote technologies, partner forces and private contractors allow Western militaries to physically withdraw from the battlefield. A war without soldiers is a war without body bags, meaning this physical withdrawal may entail an evasion of public oversight and scrutiny. The shadowy practices of remote warfare and the oft-repeated claim that interventions are ‘precise and clean’ means when civilian casualties are sustained, they are less likely to be made public. And when they are, a lack of transparency on who is involved and in what capacity blurs the public debate on responsibility and accountability.
This is problematic. Without tracing how creating security for some may lead to a heightened insecurity for others, we run the risk of misjudging the interconnectedness of today’s war zones. This interconnectedness may lead to not only clusters of conﬂict cross-infecting and exacerbating each other, but also augment the risk of blowback. In our digital age, it is an illusion to think that the atrocities of war will remain unseen.
What are the aims of the Intimacies of Remote Warfare Programme?
In the light of the above, the Intimacies of Remote Warfare project aims to build an independent, evidence-based expert field, which focuses on three core activities:
- Conducting cutting-edge, critical and robust academic research;
- Engaging and informing public and political debate by facilitating access to expert knowledge; and
- Promoting dialogue and synergy by building a network of experts in the field.
On this website you will find our own research output and a variety of other thematically relevant publications, blogs, events and podcasts we have been inspired by in our investigations into the Intimacies of Remote Warfare.