Strategic ignorance and the legitimation of remote warfare: The Hawija bombardments

The article “Strategic ignorance and the legitimation of remote warfare: The Hawija bombardments” By Dr Lauren Gould and Dr Nora Stel was recently published by Security Dialogue.

The article examines the Dutch officials relationship with their responsibility for the 2015 attack of a weapons factory in Hawija, Iraq, as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. The attack is estimated to have killed 70 civilians, injured hundreds, and resulted in wide-scale building and infrastructural damage to the city.

Gould and Stel bring together the concept of secrecy from critical security studies and the concept of ‘strategic unknowing’ from ignorance studies to propose a new take on the Foucauldian “regimes of truth”. In analyzing the Dutch officials engagement with their responsibility, the article illustrates how the official narrative “shifted from denial to secrecy to strategic ignorance” highlighting how ignorance can be applied deliberately to impede and obstruct processes of transparency and accountability.

You can find the article here.

Dr Lauren Gould is the co-founder of the Intimacies of Remote Warfare research programme, she is also an assistant professor at the Centre for Conflict Studies at Utrecht University.

Dr. Nora Stel is an Assistant Professor in Conflict Studies at the Center for International Conflict Analysis and Management at Radboud University Nijmegen. She is also an Affiliated Scholar at Utrecht University’s Center for Conflict Studies.