Lecture: The Remote Warfare Paradox and the Dutch Airstrike on Hawija

On Tuesday 14 June, IRW’s Dr. Lauren Gould will give a lecture on the ‘remote warfare paradox’ and her successful efforts to expose the civilian harm effects of the 2015 Dutch airstrike on Hawija. The lecture, which is an initiative of the Utrecht Student Association for International Relations, will take place at the Instituto Cervantes in Utrecht from 20:00 to 21:30 CEST and is open to the public.

War is increasingly exercised without exposing advanced military personnel to opponents in a declared warzone under the condition of mutual risk. In her lecture, Gould aims to understand why we see this shift to remote warfare now and seeks to review the moral and political challenges that this new way of war has given rise to.

The core of Gould’s argument is that the secrecy around remote warfare operations, their portrayal as ‘precise’ and ‘surgical’, as well the asymmetrical distribution of death and suffering they entail, thwarts democratic political deliberation on contemporary warfare. Gould foresees that it is these qualities of remote warfare that will make Western liberal democracies more war-prone, not less. This is the remote warfare paradox: the military violence executed is rendered so remote and sanitized, that it becomes uncared for, and even ceases to be defined as war.

To empirically illustrate her points during this lecture, Gould will draw from the extensive work she has done in conjunction with PAX and Iraqi NGO Al-Ghad to expose the civilian harm caused by the remote airstrike that the Dutch armed forces conducted in Hawija, Iraq, in 2015.

For those interested in preparatory readings, Gould recommends the following publications: